Senate, House Approve More Money And Accountability For Schools

Nashville (AP) -- Lawmakers approved a half-billion dollar plan to overhaul the state's complex school funding formula Thursday.

The Senate voted 32-to-1 and the House 84-to-11 to raise school funding by reworking the complicated Basic Education Program, or BEP, which allocates spending between state and local governments.

Governor Bredesen said the entire proposal would cost the state about $524 million more a year, but the governor has said he wants to start out by funding about a $280 million segment of it in the upcoming budget year.

Bredesen wants to pay for the school changes by raising the state's current cigarette tax of 20 cents per pack to 60 cents. The hike is still pending.

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