Vouchers

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: April 27, 2017

Apr 27, 2017

A  rape shield law passes the House committee and heads to the House for a vote. A voucher bill that is playing a big role in the school choice debate was discussed at the statehouse earlier this week, and the drug Carfentanil was linked to three overdose deaths. We'll discuss these topics and more of this week's headlines.


Jason Moon for NHPR

Lawmakers in the House put the brakes on a sweeping school choice bill that would have allowed parents to use public money for private school and homeschool expenses.

The House Education Committee voted to retain the bill, which means it is effectively dead for the current session.

Photo Credit woodleywonderworks via Flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers will debate a controversial education bill Tuesday that would allow parents to use state tax dollars to pay for private school tuition and homeschool expenses.

The bill is testing how far and how fast school choice advocates are willing to go in implementing their agenda.

Brett Levin / Flickr

  Opponents of a school voucher bill say the proposal would violate the state constitution by allowing public money to be used at private, religious schools.

The Republican-backed bill would create Education Freedom Savings Accounts, allowing parents to use public money for a broad range of education expenses, including tuition at private schools. Families would get roughly $3,400 dollars per child, or 90 percent of the average per-pupil state adequacy grant.

Tom Woodward / Flickr Creative Commons

  A school choice bill making its way through the legislature could have major implications for the way public education is funded in New Hampshire.

The Republican-backed proposal would create what the bill calls “Education Freedom Savings Accounts.”

Ben McCleod via Flickr CC

The New Hampshire Supreme Court will hear arguments today on whether it’s constitutional to give tax credits to businesses that donate to private scholarship funds. The program in question has been hamstrung by a lower court ruling.

Oral arguments were heard Friday in a lawsuit which will determine if the state’s new education tax credit is constitutional. The state argues that for the tax credit to be considered unconstitutional, the judge has to consider first if directing money through a tax credit is the same as spending money in the budget. Next the judge will have to determine if because some parents use that money to send their kids to religious schools, does that violate the state’s constitution?

Ben McLeod / Flickr Creative Commons

Civil liberties groups have filed suit challenging the constitutionality of New Hampshire’s Tax Credit Scholarship law. The ACLU has teamed up with Americans United for Separation of Church and State to for the complaint.

Flikr Creative Commons / Kawwsu29

On January 1st businesses can start getting tax breaks for donating to organizations that give public school students money toward going to a private school. But before that law has even taken effect, there are proposals to change it.

The business tax credit scholarship law was never popular with Democrats, who called it a back-door school vouchers measure. Governor-elect Maggie Hassan has said that she would try to repeal it, and a Manchester Representative, Peter Sullivan, will file a bill that would do just that.

Amanda Loder

Wednesday the New Hampshire House and Senate overrode seven of Gov. John Lynch’s vetoes and allowed six to stand.

The voting came rapid-fire in the Senate, which made it through seven of its own bills in the morning, and then waited for the House to work through its backlog in the afternoon. The House votes came at a statelier pace at first, but then picked up after lunch. At the end of the day seven of Lynch's vetoes were knocked down, and six allowed to stand.

On Wednesday, the legislature will vote on whether or not to override Governor John Lynch’s veto of a bill supporters call School Choice Scholarship Act.

Both Democratic gubernatorial candidates are calling on the legislature to uphold the governor’s veto. Their republican opponents came out in support of the school choice bill last week. There are two, nearly identical, versions of the education tax credit coming back before the legislature tomorrow.

At a campaign event Tuesday,  Maggie Hassan used the veto vote to lash out at one of her Republican opponents.

Flikr Creative Commons / Mike Willis

Governor John Lynch has vetoed a bill that would create a tax credit for businesses donating to not-for-profit scholarship organizations.

 

The New Hampshire Senate passed a bill sponsored by school choice advocates that would create a tax credit for businesses that donate to scholarship organizations.

Many public school educators oppose the measure saying that it would sap schools of already scarce resources, but opponents in the senate tried to block the bill by calling into question its constitutionality.

Flikr Creative Commons / evmaiden

Many proposals encouraging educational choice are pending in Concord this year. One with strong backing would use tax credits to encourage businesses to pay for school scholarships.

Critics say this would starve public schools of much needed funding, but supporters say this is a way to give students more options while avoiding constitutional concerns that have doomed past proposals for school vouchers.