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?
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.
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.
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.
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.