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INVESTIGATION: Just like GOP Candidates around the Country, RGA Chair Gov. Bill Lee Supports Ripping Away Funding From Public Schools

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INVESTIGATION: Just like GOP Candidates around the Country, RGA Chair Gov. Bill Lee Supports Ripping Away Funding From Public Schools

Republican State Senator who says RGA is pushing anti-public school agenda: “We’re going to wind up taking money from public schools…”

An investigation by Nashville’s NewsChannel 5 reveals that RGA Chair Gov. Bill Lee’s legislative priority — an expensive scheme whose author said would strip money from public schools and funnel it into unaccountable private and charter schools — is on the brink of collapsing as it loses support from his fellow Republicans.

Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky, a Republican who is leading the House effort to pass the governor’s priority legislation, was caught on a previously unreported recording stating that “We’re going to wind up taking money from public schools because the kids are not going to be there,” with the report adding that “the Republican lawmaker noted that it is an effort being pushed by the Republican Governors Association.”

Cepicky warned about the failures of similar anti-public school plans across the country saying, “The myriad of pitfalls of school choice across this country is well documented,” and argued that “If school choice is going to pass, it cannot be the governor’s… version,” or else it would end up costing taxpayers “a billion dollars in two years.”

While Lee is in hot water from Republicans back home, it’s clear many of the Republicans running for governor in states like North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Missouri among others, are following his lead by pushing for similarly harmful schemes to take money away from public schools.

“While Democratic governors are finding new ways to support students, parents, and teachers, enacting free school meals and funding public schools at historic levels, Republicans like Gov. Bill Lee and GOP candidates are supporting plans to undermine public schools,” said DGA National Press Secretary Devon Cruz. “Students, parents, and teachers cannot afford the anti-public school agenda being pushed by the RGA and Republican candidates for governor across the country.”

Here’s Where GOP Candidates Stand on Defunding Public Schools: 

  • North Carolina: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has long called for funding cuts to public schools, falsely claiming that “it has already been proven that school systems get better results on less money,” and arguing that public schools “don’t need more dollars, we need to redirect dollars.” This is in addition to Robinson urging parents not to send their children to North Carolina’s public schools and proposing to cut science and social studies classes from elementary schools.
  • New Hampshire: Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and State Sen. Chuck Morse both support defunding public schools. Ayotte has publicly supported the “education freedom accounts” that Morse “presid[ed] over” in the State Senate, that are designed to fund private and charter schools by stripping resources from public schools. As of 2022, New Hampshire already had the lowest per student spending in public schools of all 50 states, the state’s public school system enrollment was projected to fall, and teachers were paid nearly $5,000 less than the national average.
  • Missouri: Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, and State Sen. Bill Eigel support a dangerous tax credit program that would siphon tax dollars away from public schools and services and give them to private schools, in addition to reckless tax cuts and economic policies that could bankrupt Missouri’s public schools and stick working families with the bill.