School scholarships bill is bad legislation
January 30, 2012 2:00 AM
Jan. 25 — To the Editor:
SB 372 gives businesses a tax credit against contributions to private and home school scholarships, and it is a bad bill. It is part of a number of bills under consideration in the New Hampshire Legislature that import a national movement and would dismantle public education. Don't forget that we are a state whose public education system is outperforming the rest of the nation.
I am a resident of New Castle and a former member of the New Castle Budget Committee. All my children have attended public school and I have run companies, which paid the business profits tax.
This country was built on the philosophy that public education is the right of all citizens. And it is the duty of all citizens to fund it. This bill injects just the type of privilege and exclusion into the system that our forefathers fought against.
First, this bill could reduce the state's revenue by $85 million over the next four years and decrease education adequacy payments to our towns by $18 million. Many of the recipients of these funds could be private school parents who don't need them.
If it encourages other families to put children in private schools, this means loss of revenue for the local public schools.
Second, under this bill, businesses that want the credit will contribute to a "scholarship organization." The provision for establishment of these organizations is unclear in the bill as introduced.
Under the bill, there is some accountability for "scholarship organizations" to the Department of Revenue Administration but no accountability to the Department of Education. The Department of Revenue Administration is not set up to enforce the stipulations of the bill and, like most of the state government, it does not have the funds to do so.
There is already a tried-and-true system for allocating funds to pay for education and this is a system under the control of local, duly elected officials — the public school system.
Third, the bill cites as its purpose the "freedom of choice" for parents. But freedom of choice is in the eye of the beholder. Parents already have the choice to home school or send their kids to charter schools. But, by defunding adequacy payments, this bill reduces local choices over the quality of education for the rest of the population.