Capitol Watch Update: Education tax credit bills move forward, pledge of allegiance bill killed
Friday, May 4, 2012
CONCORD – State senators gave initial approval Wednesday to a bill that would establish education tax credits for businesses and offer scholarships to students who attend private, religious or home schools.
The Senate voted 17-7 in favor of HB 1607, which has been cause for controversy in Concord.
The education tax credit program would allow low- and middle-income students to receive an average of $2,500 per year if they choose to attend a private school or public school outside their home district, and home-schooled students would be eligible for up to $725 in annual scholarship money.
Businesses would fund the scholarships and receive an 85 percent tax credit in return, on either the business profits tax or the business enterprise tax.
Proponents of the bill have said the legislation will create more competition in education and offer lower-income families the chance to attend private schools. However, estimates from the state Department of Education show that New Hampshire could lose more than $7.75 million in state grant funds currently given to local cities and towns, or about $4,100 in state aid for every student who leaves public school.
The measure was moved forward Wednesday, but it will be reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee before the Senate takes final action on the bill. The House passed the bill on March 29.
The bill is one of several that The Telegraph wrote about in early March for its Capitol Watch series. About two months later, two of the six bills surrounding education have stalled and another was killed in committee.
A bill similar to the education tax credit program, SB 372, was passed in the Senate, 17-7, on March 28 and is due for an executive session in the House on Tuesday. The session will be at 10:30 a.m. in Room 202 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord.
The Senate also took action last week on a bill that proposed elimination of the chancellor’s office at the University System of New Hampshire by next summer. The bill, HB 1692, passed the House in March, 247-105, but the Senate changed the bill and voted to keep the office, as long as it submits annual accountability and financial reports to the state.
A bill to deregulate home schooling in New Hampshire, HB 1571, was heard in the Senate on April 17, but no updates have since been posted.
No further action has been taken on CACR 12, which is a constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature full power and authority and the responsibility to define accountability standards and the amount of state funding for public education.
The bill that would require students to stand for the pledge of allegiance in schools, HB 1146, was determined inexpedient to legislate by the House in early March.
Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow Kittle on Twitter (@Telegraph_CamK).
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