Despite having no specific proposal put before him and his fellow lawmakers, state Rep. Richard Floyd said Wednesday he would support an expected bill forming a school voucher program when he returns to the General Assembly next year.
Floyd, who recently won re-election to another term representing House District 27, made his remarks at the annual Hamilton County Council of PTAs state legislators forum at Orchard Knob Elementary. The representative, who is about to begin his third term, said he would support a program enabling certain students to use taxpayer-funded vouchers to attend private or alternative schools out of a desire to provide them with the best possible education.
Floyd said he planned to attend a meeting on vouchers later this week, adding that the House was "taking this thing seriously." But if voucher legislation came before him for a vote, the representative indicated he would support it.
"I support school vouchers," Floyd said. "I know the argument is that it takes away from public schools, but I think every child needs to be given the best shot at an education … the best shot needs to be available. So I support school vouchers."
Floyd was joined on stage by both state Sen. Bo Watson and Rep.-elect Todd Gardenhire, neither of whom offered an answer to the question of vouchers as clear-cut as Floyd's.
On a question related to vocational and trade schools, Gardenhire said he hoped to be a facilitator for conversation on bringing skill-based schools to the area. Gardenhire had made the idea of bringing trade and vocational-related schools and programs to Chattanooga a part of his campaign.
"If I can be a facilitator and then figure out how the state can get involved and do it, that's my goal," Gardenhire said.
Along with the three state lawmakers, several other elected officials were in attendance at the event. The group included Hamilton County Superintendent Rick Smith; school board members Mike Evatt, Donna Horne, Greg Martin, David Testerman and Jeffrey Wilson; and Councilman Manny Rico.