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WATCH: TN Governor Bill Lee delivers first State of the State address

Education groups are offering mixed responses to Gov. Bill Lee's proposal to spend $25 million for a new education savings accounts program in Tennessee.
Monday, March 4th 2019, 3:42 PM EST by Associated Press
Updated:
Monday, March 4th 2019, 8:33 PM EST
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UPDATE: NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Latest on Gov. Bill Lee's budget and State of the State address (all times local):

 
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 7 p.m.

Education groups are offering mixed responses to Gov. Bill Lee's proposal to spend $25 million for a new education savings accounts program in Tennessee.

Tennessee Education Association President Beth Brown said Monday that the proposal sparked concerns because ESAs are "vouchers with less accountability." Brown added that teachers currently struggle to pay for classroom supplies and the state should help public school classroom and not pay for a program that could harm student achievement.

Meanwhile, pro-voucher group Tennessee Federation for Children State Director Shaka Mitchell says Lee's ESA program reaffirms the state's commitment to school choice.

Lee's plan would allow parents of students in certain low-income districts with three or more schools ranked in the bottom 10 percent to receive $7,300 from a government-authorized account to pay for approved expenses.

6:45 p.m.

Gov. Bill Lee's budget calls for a $50 million economic development infrastructure grant for Volkswagen, which plans to expand its Chattanooga plant and create 1,000 jobs there as it gears up for electric vehicle production beginning in 2022.

The budget proposal Lee released Monday offered the first look at the state dollar total sought for the project.

In January, Volkswagen announced that the Tennessee factory will be the focus of an $800 million investment in its manufacturing of electric vehicles in North America.

The factory will produce a vehicle using a modular chassis the company has said will help build electric vehicles for the mass market. Volkswagen currently builds two vehicles in Chattanooga.

Volkswagen said it posted an annual sales record in 2018. The company has paid more than more than $31 billion in fines and settlements after it was caught installing software that let cars cheat on U.S. emissions tests.

Here is the entire State of the State address:

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PREVIOUS STORY: NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee will present his first budget and outline his legislative agenda to state lawmakers following an eventful first 45 days in office.

 
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The new Republican governor will give his first State of the State address before the GOP-dominated Tennessee General Assembly on Monday.

The address comes less than two months after Lee was sworn into the position. The Republican has spent the past few weeks offering hints at his top priorities as governor but has also had to deal with the unexpected, something he rarely encountered during his campaign. Lee admitted wearing a Confederate soldier uniform for "Old South" parties at Auburn University.

Lee said he has come to regret the costume.

Lee won the top political seat in November, replacing outgoing Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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