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HomeEducationPromising Futures baby care scholarship invoice advances in Tenn. Senate

Promising Futures baby care scholarship invoice advances in Tenn. Senate

A invoice to create a scholarship program to assist Tennessee’s low- and middle-income households pay for high-quality early baby care cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday — at the same time as some lawmakers questioned whether or not funding baby care must be the state’s duty.

The Senate Schooling Committee voted 7-2 to advance the laws, which may faucet as much as $40 million yearly in tax income from the state’s newly legalized sports activities betting trade.

Dubbed Promising Futures, this system would take a cue from Tennessee Promise, the state’s groundbreaking 2014 initiative providing highschool graduates an opportunity at two years of tuition-free group or technical faculty. 

If Promising Futures launches, Tennessee would once more change into a nationwide chief in utilizing lottery- or sports activities betting-funded scholarships to handle a serious workforce problem, in line with Max Altman, director of analysis and coverage for the Southern Schooling Basis. 

“There’s a large open area, particularly within the South, for states to step in and tackle the mantle of management to extend baby care entry,” Altman informed Chalkbeat.

An early baby care “disaster” is costing Tennessee mother and father, companies, and taxpayers an estimated $2.6 billion yearly in misplaced earnings and revenues, in line with a 2022 research. And enterprise teams from throughout the state have signed a letter urging lawmakers to create the brand new authorities scholarship program.

Excessive-quality baby care packages emphasizing early literacy additionally would assist kids change into proficient readers by the third grade — a serious focus of Tennessee’s schooling enchancment technique, stated Sen. Becky Massey, a Knoxville Republican who’s co-sponsoring the laws with Rep. Mark White of Memphis.

“This invoice could have a double backside line, as a result of it’s going to strengthen our workforce of at this time and the workforce of tomorrow concurrently,” Massey informed the committee.

However a number of legislators who voted towards the invoice famous that, whereas Tennessee’s structure ensures “a system of free public faculties,” it doesn’t determine baby care as a state obligation.

“I fear that this isn’t our function,” stated Senate Schooling Committee Chairman Jon Lundberg, a Republican from Bristol. 

He steered that one motive baby care is tough to afford is that the state added rules lately that prompted many small, home-based baby care companies to shut.

“Now we come again and say we’ve an enormous drawback,” Lundberg stated, “and we’ve acquired to place in $40 million to unravel this drawback that we created.”

Leaders with Tennesseans for High quality Early Schooling, which is spearheading the Promising Futures initiative, stated a evaluate of rules is suitable — however so is a brand new funding to assist kids, mother and father, and employers.

Blair Taylor, the advocacy group’s CEO, famous {that a} 2022 survey of Tennessee mother and father with kids underneath age 6 discovered that 80% reported employment disruptions resulting from insufficient baby care, and practically a fifth ended up leaving the workforce resulting from these challenges.

Tennessee legalized sports activities wagering in 2019 and collects 20% of the gaming trade’s adjusted gross revenues as taxes. Of that, 80% presently goes to the lottery fund used for increased schooling scholarships, 15% to the state to distribute to native governments, and 5% towards psychological well being packages. 

The Promising Futures invoice proposes beginning the scholarship program with 60% of sports activities wagering tax revenues subsequent yr, rising to 70% the next yr, and 80% for every year thereafter.

However Lou Hanemann, chief of workers for the Tennessee Increased Schooling Fee, testified that diverting lottery cash could be “devastating” to monetary help packages such because the HOPE scholarship, Tennessee Promise, and Tennessee Reconnect, which helps adults return to high school to realize new abilities.

“I’d strongly encourage warning in pulling away income streams which can be coming in and getting used immediately for scholarship packages presently,” Hanemann informed the panel. “This isn’t a reserve account the place cash is simply type of hanging out. The earnings off of those {dollars} immediately fund scholarships each time period for college kids.” 

Sen. Raumesh Akbari, a Democrat from Memphis, identified, although, that sports activities betting is a comparatively new income stream, past the Tennessee lottery created in 1974.

At a legislative listening to in January, Mary Beth Thomas, govt director of Tennessee’s Sports activities Wagering Advisory Council, reported the state collected greater than $68 million in sports activities betting privilege taxes in 2022, in contrast with $40.6 million a yr earlier.

You’ll be able to observe the invoice’s progress on the state legislature’s web site. 

Marta Aldrich is a senior correspondent and covers the statehouse for Chalkbeat Tennessee. Contact her at

Rafael Gomes de Azevedo
Rafael Gomes de Azevedo
He started his career as a columnist, contributing to the staff of a local blog. His articles with amusing views on everyday situations in the news soon became one of the main features of the current editions of the blog. For the divergences of thought about which direction the blog would follow. He left and founded three other great journalistic blogs,, and With a certain passion for writing, holder of a versatile talent, in addition to coordinating, directing, he writes fantastic scripts quickly, he likes to say that he writes for a select group of enthusiasts in love with serious and true writing.


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