Nashville and Memphis authorities challenged the law, passed largely by Republicans last year, because it applied in only those two cities, the state’s largest. Local officials said it was a violation of the state constitution’s home rule amendment. Republican sponsors whittled the applicability of the bill down from five counties to two as they scrambled to secure enough votes to pass the governor’s signature first-year effort: some lawmakers even acknowledged they voted for it only once it excluded their counties.
State officials and their nonprofit allies are expected to take their appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
“This is an important victory for local government in Tennessee,” said Bob Cooper, Metro director of law. “It reaffirms that the State cannot impose burdens on a select few counties or cities without their permission.”
The law would take more than $7,000 in public school funding and transfer it to qualifying families for use on private-school tuition and related costs.
"The Education Savings Account program is, and always has been, a program to benefit kids and parents and empower them to make the best decision for their family,” said Shaka Mitchell, state director for the American Federation for Children, one of the groups supporting the law. “Ultimately, all parents want their child to go to a good school —one that is right for them. We disagree with the conclusions reached by the Tennessee Court of Appeals, and look forward to the State and our partners taking the next and final step of appealing to the Tennessee Supreme Court."