Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Legislative Update: From the Bayou State to the Granite State

The school choice world was abuzz yesterday with exciting news from our nation’s capital, but D.C. isn’t the only place where school choice news is brewing.  Here’s a legislative and news update on bills all across the nation:


The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved measures on the framework for the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program, which was expanded statewide earlier this year.  BESE included a new provision, creating a cap on how much private schools can raise tuition as they accept voucher students. The state Department of Education is continuing to develop accountability requirements for the program.

The expanded program is set to begin in the 2012-13 school year with more than 5,000 scholarships spots available in schools statewide.

New Hampshire

Governor John Lynch yesterday vetoed legislation that would create a scholarship tax credit program in the Granite State.  Senate Bill 372 would allow businesses to donate to scholarship organizations that would provide scholarships to children from low- and middle-income families.  The veto comes despite broad support for the legislation in both chambers of the legislature, which passed the bill with a veto-proof majority.  In his veto message, Lynch falsely cited that the bill had no income restrictions, despite the legislation requiring that students come from families with a household income of 300 percent or less.

The legislature is set to convene on June 27, where it can take up the bill and override Governor Lynch’s veto.

North Carolina

The Equal Opportunity School Tax Credit, proposed legislation that would provide scholarships for students from low-income families to attend the public or private school of their parents’ choice, has been integrated into a larger education overhaul bill.  The House Education Committee rolled HB 1104 into the Excellent Public Schools Act, which also includes measures to grow public school reading programs, end teacher tenure, and implement merit pay.

The proposed scholarship tax credit program would allow businesses to donate money to scholarship organizations that would in turn provide scholarships to students whose household income does not exceed 225 percent of the federal poverty level.

The North Carolina legislature is set to adjourn in the next two or three weeks.


State Representative Bill Patmon (D) included improvements to the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program in the mid-biennium budget review bill (HB 487).  The included amendment eliminates the parent contribution portion of the scholarship amount.  Under the current program, low-income parents must contribute 10 percent of the scholarship.  All other parents must contribute 25 percent.  The bill, which had strong  bipartisan support, was signed into law by Governor John Kasich.

Washington, D.C.

We reported yesterday, that Speaker John Boehner and Senator Joe Lieberman reached a deal with the Obama Administration on the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which will be fully funded and implemented thanks to the hard work of Congressional leaders.

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

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