Friday, March 30, 2012

Granite State Legislature Sets Support for School Choice in Stone

House and Senate both pass legislation to create a scholarship tax credit program

South Carolina isn’t the only state passing school choice legislation this week.

The New Hampshire House yesterday overwhelmingly approved a scholarship tax credit bill by a 173-27 vote.  The Senate passed similar legislation last week with a 17-7 vote.

The School Choice Scholarship Act would create a scholarship tax credit program allowing businesses to donate money to scholarship organizations for an 85 percent tax credit.  The donated money would help students attend the private or public school of their parents’ choice.

Championed by House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, House Bill 1607 is also expected to save the state $8 million over the next two budget cycles, according to a study by the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy.

In the legislation that passed the Senate, the program is capped at $3.4 million in the program’s first year and $5.1 million in the second year.  Beginning in the program’s third year, the statewide cap would increase by 25 percent in any year when donations reached 80 percent of the cap.  The House version differs slightly by limiting the statewide cap to $6.8 million in the third year.

Governor John Lynch has expressed concern about the legislation, but has not said how he will move forward when the legislation reaches his desk.

Already in 2012, 32 legislative chambers in 17 states have passed private school choice bills this legislative session.  Virginia is poised to create a scholarship tax credit bill that has passed both legislative chambers and is awaiting a signature from the governor.  In addition, Arizona and Florida already have expanded school choice programs this year.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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