House Ed Sub closes up shop, stows voucher bill away just in case

After repeatedly delaying Rep. John DeBerry’s alternative school voucher proposal as the hour grew late Tuesday night, the House Education Subcommittee slipped his bill onto the next calendar, then closed up the committee for the year.

The move keeps the voucher bill, also sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey in the Senate, alive for the time being. Lawmakers focusing on controversial plans to offer private school scholarships to public school students are largely narrowing in on the governor’s version which has yet to move in the Senate Education Committee and was put on pause in the House.

Sources say the governor’s voucher bill could have a tough time emerging from the lower chamber, saying the bill is a couple votes short in the House Finance Committee. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey -- who was sitting on House Speaker Beth Harwell’s bill to create a state-level charter school authorizer to encourage movement on vouchers -- said last week he is convinced the House is doing “the best they can” but acknowledged it is short on votes.

“It’s not like they didn’t try. I want to make sure we’re at least making an effort to get to the end game,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Dolores Gresham plans to make Wednesday’s meeting it’s last, meaning both the governor’s version of a voucher plan and Kelsey’s alternative are likely up for a vote Wednesday.