Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is defending his decision to use a non-competitive grant process to hire a company to implement his school voucher program but that decision has state Rep. Jeremy Faison questioning his support.
Fiason is not alone.
A number of Lee’s fellow Republicans in the General Assembly are unhappy over the move to award a $2.53 million non-competitive contract to Florida-based ClassWallet to implement the voucher program.
Republican Caucus Chairman Faison, R-Cosby, was critical of the process, saying it had caused him to lose faith in the voucher program.
“In my core of who I am, I believe in parental choice. I made the decision to support the legislation,” he said. “Since that day, I have probably regretted that vote more than any vote I’ve taken.”
Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough), argued the administration impeded efforts by the Fiscal Review Committee to get documents related to the contract. During Wednesday’s loud subcommittee hearing,
Hill told Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, “At the end of the day, we have some unanswered questions that need to be addressed.” Schwinn and others defended the process saying ClassWallet was the only firm capable of handling the online program used by parents to sign up their children to use an estimated $7,400 in taxpayer funds annually to pay for private school tuition.
On Thursday the governor addressed the Tennessee Press Association, and was asked about the no-bid contract decision.
“I care more about kids in the state than I do about a process that is trying to be hampered by those who are detractors to a process,” he responded.