Gov. Bill Haslam says lawmakers still have a "ways to go" in reaching a consensus on his school voucher legislation.
But the Republican governor told reporters on Thursday after speaking at a higher education event organized by the Tennessee Business Roundtable that he's optimistic a measured approach to his proposal will prevail.
Haslam originally sought to limit the vouchers to students from low-income families attending the bottom 5 percent of failing schools.
On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee passed a version that would expand eligibility to low-income students in districts that have a school in the bottom 5 percent if the initial slots aren't filled.
The House version, which has stalled, would expand eligibility to the bottom 10 percent of failing schools if slots are left. Haslam acknowledged Thursday there's still work to be done in the House.
Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says legislative efforts to make children of people living in the country illegally eligible for in-state tuition "have some merit," but that he has no plans to change his own free tuition proposal to include those same students.
Haslam wants to create the country's first free community college program for all high school graduates by using state lottery reserves to cover the difference between tuition costs and all available aid.
The governor's proposal would require students to exhaust all possible support by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which requires a Social Security number.
Haslam told reporters Wednesday that removing the requirement to fill out that federal form would cause the cost of the tuition plan to become too high for the state.