Outnumbered Democrats to Play Defense

Rep. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley describes legislation Democrats plan to file in 2013. Photo credit Blake Farmer/WPLN

Rep. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley describes legislation Democrats plan to file in 2013. Photo credit Blake Farmer/WPLN

Democrats in the state House laid out an agenda Tuesday that includes expanding government programs like pre-K and TennCare. But they admit most of their time will be spent trying to slow down a Republican supermajority.

The state doesn’t necessarily have to invest more money in pre-K. It could get additional classrooms by spending less on each one, though Democrats had trouble explaining how.

And the minority party is also pushing to bring as many as 200,000 new people into the TennCare program as envisioned under Obamacare.

Mostly House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh says Democrats will be fighting back Republican-led proposals.

“We will certainly be in a defensive posture on many issues. Vouchers for the most part is an issue that we see that a program that would take public money and put it into private schools would do nothing to help either one, frankly.”

Vouchers have found support among the GOP, though Governor Bill Haslam has yet to make a proposal.

Haslam appointed a task force to study vouchers, but its final report was short on specific recommendations. He says he will advocate for a voucher bill. It’s just a question of whether the proposal comes from his office of another lawmaker.

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