Here is a press release I sent out this morning. It's got some important information for anyone planning to testify on the voucher bills tomorrow or Tuesday. Everything you need is in the press release and the revised analysis so be sure to read it and follow the links.
If the SB 372 does address the donor town and the low income issues, as discussed in the press release, there are still a number of major issues:
The main point is, though, that there is no real rationale for this program other than as part of the array of bills that would, in effect, dismantle the New Hampshire public school system - immobilize it, de-fund it and move as much of the money as possible into private, religious and home schools.
For anyone who can make it, the sponsors and supporters of HB 1607 and SB 372 are holding a press conference in the Legislative Office Building at 10:00 AM Monday morning. There's been so little said about these bills publicly that we will inevitably learn a lot from this. Please attend if you can.
See you Monday and Tuesday if possible,
Defending New Hampshire Public Education
Contact: Bill Duncan 603-682-4748
Revised Analysis of SB 372, the Education Tax Credit (School Voucher) Bill
Defending New Hampshire Public Education, a group of New Hampshire citizens dedicated to opposing anti-public education legislation in the New Hampshire Legislature, released on January 17, 2012 an analysis of the fiscal impact of SB 372 and HB 1607, the two companion bills that would establish an Education Tax Credit (school voucher) program in New Hampshire.
Today, the Portsmouth Herald published a story reporting on that analysis, "Private school scholarship bills rebuked." Here is the full story.
The paper quotes Senator James Forsythe (R, Concord), the prime sponsor of the Senate bill, making several new points that change our analysis. We provide our updated analysis here.
Senator Forsythe is quoted as saying that the bill will be amended to target "needy students." Needy students in New Hampshire are defined as those qualified to participate in the Free and Reduced Lunch program. We consider this an important change to the program and the program's targeting will be the subject of future analysis when the bill is actually amended.
Senator Forsythe also committed in the Portsmouth Herald article to taking back no property tax funds to off-set state budget expenditures, calling our analysis "completely wrong." While we consider the bill ambiguous on that and several other points, our updated analysis reflects this commitment by Senator Forsythe.
However, Senator Forsythe's new comments do not change the fiscal impact of his bill on the state budget. The DNHPE projection is that, if used at its full capacity, the Senate Education Tax Credit bill, SB 372, could cost over $60 million, plus administrative costs, in the first 5 years. For each child leaving public schools with a scholarship (or voucher) to attend a private or home school, SB 372 would take back the State Aid for that child, an average of $4,112 per scholarship student who leaves public school for private school. Each year, however, the bill allocates fewer scholarships to public school students and more to private school students. After a few years, it appears that most of the scholarship money would go to private schools students, with the result that there would be little or no revenue recovery available to the state.
Bill Duncan, DNHPE analyst, said, "Senator Forsythe's commitment that his legislation would take back no property tax funding and that the program will target needy students are important clarifications. However, our analysis remains the same: the SB 372 Education Tax Credit program would not be revenue neutral as currently drafted. And the need for a voucher program in New Hampshire has not been demonstrated."
The full original analysis and update are here.
Legislative committee hearing dates on HB 1607 and SB 372 have been set and are as follows: