Nashville Public Radio
January 21, 2010

The state Senate has approved the governor’s plan to increase college graduation, and the House is poised to do so as well this afternoon.

Memphis Senator Jim Kyle steered the bill through the upper chamber this morning, winning a 32 to zero vote after a week of intense committee work.

“We’re going to remove Tennessee off the list of being the 43rd state in the nation in educational attainment. And this is a start, but it’s not concluded.”

The bill makes it easier to transfer credits earned at a two-year college to a four-year university. And over the next few years it is designed to calculate state appropriations to schools based on their graduation rate, not their enrollment.

Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris says his party is happy with the Democratic governor’s bill.

“This is a major step forward. It incorporates a number of reforms that a lot of us have been advocating for a number of years, and the timing was just right.”

If the bill passes both chambers today, the special session on education that convened last week could come to a close.


Republican lawmakers dissected the governor’s P-12 bill during the first week of the special session. This week, the higher education bill moved through the system with fewer waves.

Senator Norris says Republicans recognized many of the provisions.

“A number of the members of my party have worked for about a decade to achieve some of these reforms, and…to the extent that we were able to finally make progress there, we did it in a bipartisan fashion, and we’re glad that this governor saw fit to make this one of his last reforms, and embraced a lot of the changes that we’ve talked about.”

As the two houses neared the end of the work on the bill, Kyle argued in favor of the bill’s specific aims.

“We need to remove barriers and obstacles to people getting a college education. And we’ve started the process with this bill. Insofar as how we’re streamlining the process to admission, how we’re gonna streamline the process to get an education, how we’re gonna recognize when you take a course that those hours are going to transfer to another school if you should have to move.”

The state Senate was remaining in Nashville today – ordinarily they would have dismissed and gone home about noon – hoping the House would pass the bill in essentially the same language that passed in the Senate.


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