Milton Friedman, the godfather of the movement for private school vouchers, said in his famous paper, “Public Schools: Make Them Private”: “Vouchers are not an end in themselves; they are a means to make a transition from a government to a free-market system.”
This week, the New Hampshire House of Representatives is expected to vote a plan to do just that.
SB 372 funds vouchers with business tax credits. It starts small, with a state grant of $3.4 million in tax credits, but it could grow at a compounded rate of 25 percent every year.
That means the state could grant more than $130 million in tax credits over its first 10 years – $130 million in lost revenue to the state of New Hampshire.
The sponsors assert the program would be “revenue neutral,” because that money would be taken back from state aid to the school districts.
For instance, if 10 kids leave with vouchers in September, the school would lose $42,670 for that year. So the instructional program suffers right away. The next year, that amount would be added to the tax bill.
The state wouldn’t really get all the tax credits repaid out of the school budgets. The program would take some unpredictable amount out of the state budget as well.
But whether the state pays or the local property taxpayers pay, this is a terrible bill. Our public schools are being privatized, and New Hampshire communities will pay the price.
The governor should veto the voucher bill.