HB 370: Repeal of the Education Tax Credit Law
NHSBA Support for HB 370
NHSBA is a voluntary membership organization, with approximately 90-95% of all school boards annually belonging as members of the association. NHSBA represents locally elected school board members statewide, who have consistently adopted resolutions opposing programs such as the Tax Credit law adopted by this legislature last year. HB 370 repeals that legislation which in effect established vouchers to provide support for attendance at private schools.
Last year’s legislation was the wrong public policy statement, and sent the wrong message. Our system of public education is for ALL children: a tax supported system that exists for a common good, the availability of a free public education for all. And THAT system is what should remain the focus of public policy makers; not a program to divert public tax dollars for the benefit of private and religious schools.
The simple fact is that the Education Tax Credit program diverts money FROM the state (general fund and education trust fund) to individuals – purportedly to support their personal choices. But who really has that choice? NOT the parent or child – it is the private school that has the choice of who to accept. Vouchers actually ‘leave behind’ many disadvantaged students because private schools may not accept them or do not offer the special services they need. The value of an “average” voucher, at $2,500, does not cover a typical private, or religious, school’s cost of tuition. This is not school choice.
The current Tax Credit Program simply siphons away state revenue meant for public purposes to fund private purposes. This is undeniable: without a tax owed to the state, there would be no “credit” to offer. It is a violation of our state’s tradition of not allowing public funds to be utilized for private purposes. And why would the state consider diverting money away from state revenues when you are not meeting the commitments currently owed? Last session and again this session, we have all heard comments on “difficult choices” and how to “spread the pain” of budget cuts. The state chose to not meet its current commitments for special education. That lack of reimbursement for costs already incurred leaves districts with less than 70% of what the state promised in revenue to support these required services. Building aid for new projects has been “on hold” for four years. Vocational Tuition & Transportation aid was significantly reduced, putting regional tech programs at risk, and ultimately funded at less than 70% of entitlements. Funding for dropout prevention and Local Education Improvement Programs was eliminated. The state’s historical long-standing participation in retirement costs has been eliminated. And the response to these cuts was to reduce incoming revenue by allowing tax credits that fund private schools – this doesn’t help our public schools at all. This program diverts attention, commitment and dollars from public schools to pay private school tuition for a few. Public money should be invested in meeting current commitments and strengthening the schools that educate the vast majority of our students – our public schools.
But the downshift in cost is even more extensive since LOCAL DISTRICTS are subject to cuts in their Adequacy Aid. Losses in revenue at the local level will not be known until September and AFTER budget adoption, impacting current year operations. Despite claims of some level of operational savings for anticipated small reductions in enrollments, any real savings are a doubtful prospect at best given fixed operational costs.
School board members across the state have considered and discussed this issue for many years, and at our annual Delegate Assembly meeting, where we consider resolutions of the Association, the following resolutions have been adopted:
II:A• NHSBA proposes that the state fully fund all state education aid formulas before the funding of any other state obligation. (1994)
I:A• NHSBA supports the utilization of public education funds solely for public school purposes as determined by the local school boards. (1991)
I:B• NHSBA urges the NH Legislature and Congress to oppose any efforts to subsidize elementary or secondary private, religious or home schools with public tax dollars. Specifically, NHSBA opposes the creation of vouchers, tax credits and tax subsidies that in any form are targeted to the tuition or expenses for non-public K-12 schools. Rather than diverting scarce tax dollars away from our public school classrooms, NHSBA urges the NH Legislature and Congress to support improvements in our public schools and meet current funding obligations and promises, benefiting the vast majority of America’s children who are educated daily in our public schools. (2005)
We urge your support and passage of HB 370.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Dean Michener, NHSBA