The Tri-Star State: School Vouchers, Block Grants And Other Big GOP Wins Of 2019 | Nashville Public Radio

The Tri-Star State: School Vouchers, Block Grants And Other Big GOP Wins Of 2019

This year’s legislative session has come to an end, and a new wave of Tennessee Republicans scored some big wins during the last couple of weeks.

WPLN’s political reporter Sergio Martínez-Beltrán has been on the hill for the last four months, and he says the final weeks were very hectic.

The following are excerpts from recent interviews:

Gov. Bill Lee on the negotiations needed to get his signature legislation —  Education Savings Accounts, or school vouchers —approved by the Tennessee General Assembly:

“There’s agreement, there’s conversation and then there’s a final resolution and that’s what we did. And I’m excited about it. I’m grateful that we got it done. The children of Tennessee, particularly those who are going to qualify for this program, are going to have access to a high-quality education that they didn’t have access to before.”

Nashville Rep. Mike Stewart, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, on Medicaid block grants and school vouchers:

"The block grant bill would, in most sessions, be the worst bill. But the ESA bill stepped forward in this particular session to probably take that unfortunate credit."

Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, on the state legislature's approval of the Medicaid block grant proposal:

“We lead the nation in medical bankruptcy. We are at the bottom when it comes to life expectancy. And rather than do something sensible like expanding Medicaid, they passed a hyper-partisan bill to move towards block grants that we all know will lead to people losing health care.”

Our ongoing conversations about Tennessee politics are available in The Tri-Star State podcast. You can listen by visiting or subscribe using your favorite podcasting app.