Most Belknap County reps supported tax breaks for companies that contribute to private school scholarships, Laconia Daily Sun, 3/31/12

posted Mar 31, 2012, 2:22 PM by Bill Duncan

DNHPE Comment: Senator Forrester's comment (highlighted) is interesting.  The amendment did not appear to address the concerns she raises here.

By Michael Kitch
Mar 31, 2012 12:00 am

CONCORD — The overwhelming majority of the 18 representatives from Belknap County — all Republicans — voted in favor of a bill that would grant credits against business taxes to firms contributing to a scholarship fund to assist families choosing to send their children to private and parochial schools.

House Bill 1607 carried the House of Representatives this week by a vote of 173 to 127.

The bill was opposed by the New Hampshire School Boards Association, the National Education Association (NEA) — New Hampshire and American Federation of Teachers-NH.

Representatives Bob Luther of Laconia, Alida Millham of Gilford and Elaine Swinford of Barnstead were the only three members of the county delegation to vote against the bill. Representatives Harry Accornero,, Bob Kingsbury and Frank Tilton of Laconia, Peter Bolster, Robert Malone and Jeffrey St. Cyr of Alton, Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Jim Pilliod of Belmont, Dave Russell of Gilmanton, and Bob Greemore and Colette Worsman of Meredith and Dennis Fields of Sanvbornton all voted in favor.

Representatives Don Flanders of Laocnia, Tyler Simpson of New Hampton and Bill Tobin of Sanbornton, who is on medical leave, did not vote.

HB 1607 is closely mirrored by Senate Bill 372, sponsored by Senator Jim Forsythe of Strafford, who represents Laconia and five towns in Belknap County. The Senate adopted SB 372 this week by a vote of 17 to 7.

Earlier this month, SB 372 carried the Senate 15 to 9 and then was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. At the time, Senator Jeanie Forrester of Meredith was among four Republicans to join the five Democratic senators in opposition. She said that she was concerned that the tax credits for education would compete with credits against business taxes for those who invest in community development. The Finance Committee amended the bill to address her concerns and she supported it when it returned to the Senate floor. "I was not voting against school choice," she said. "I looked at the bill from a different perspective."