Gov. Bill Haslam says he will introduce his own proposal to create a school voucher program in Tennessee.
The Republican governor told reporters after an education discussion with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Monday that his voucher bill will be targeted at children from lower-income families who attend the state's worst schools.
"We will have a voucher bill. We are working out the specifics of that and talking with a lot of interested parties," Haslam said.
Haslam last year persuaded the Legislature to defer on voucher proposals while a task force he appointed studied the various options on school choice.
The governor had previously been undecided about whether he would take the lead on vouchers, would allow some students to use public money to attend private schools, or if he would let lawmakers control the measure.
Haslam declined to give further details about the proposal, but he said it would be paid for with the state's education funds that go to public school districts for teachers, classrooms and supplies.
"I think one of the things we wanted to show is how committed we are to the funding of public education, and I think in our proposal you will see that," he said.
Haslam also mentioned he wants to be able to give districts more flexibility to be able to pay high-performing teachers more money, but he won't touch the classroom size mandate that caused so much controversy last year.
As governor in Florida, Bush also ushered in a voucher program and told Haslam to expect a fight.
"You probably can't see the tire marks on my forehead anymore. It was a big deal. It was a big fight and we won," Bush said.
Haslam said he plans to unveil his full proposal at his annual State of the State address Jan. 28.
Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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