Here’s Kevin Landrigan in the Nashua Telegraph on the Governor’s amicus brief asking the NH Supreme Court to strike down the voucher bill. The brief itself is here, along with the many other briefs opposing the law.
CONCORD – Gov. Maggie Hassan urged the state’s highest court Monday to strike down a state law that gives business owners tax credits to support religious school scholarships.
In a brief filed by her lawyers, Hassan said Strafford County Judge John Lewis rightly decided tax credits supporting religious schools violated separation of church and state.
“The education voucher tax credit program is a misguided policy that undermines New Hampshire’s public education system and violates our state’s constitutional separation of church and state,” Hassan said in a statement.
“The New Hampshire Constitution explicitly prohibits the use of public funds for the benefit of schools or institutions of any religious sect or denomination. Diverting millions in already limited education funds from public to religious schools violates this important constitutional protection while making it more difficult for the state to meet its obligation to provide an adequate public education to all of New Hampshire’s young people.”
The Concord Monitor coverage points out,
Governors have opposed laws the attorney general’s office defends in the past, although it is not common, said Assistant Attorney General Richard Head. The attorney general’s office has argued the law is constitutional because the money is not public and that the purpose of the law is secular. After the lower court ruling, Head also said it made sense for the Supreme Court to weigh in, as it’s never ruled on the constitutionality of this type of credit, something other states and the U.S. Supreme Court have done.
The Portsmouth Herald ran the AP story, saying,
Hassan filed a brief with the court Monday supporting the lower court’s ruling. She said the program is misguided policy that undermines the public education system and violates the constitutional principle of separating church and state.
In its story on the Governor’s brief, NHPR said,
Opponents argue the program is functionally equivalent to a school voucher program and diverts tax payer dollars to religious schools. Advocates say the tax credits cannot be viewed the same as spending state dollars, and so the scholarships should be constitutional.
And the Union Leader said,
Attorneys for the state of New Hampshire defended the program, claiming the money cannot be considered public funds because it never comes to the government.
But Hassan, in her brief, said state case law repeatedly treated tax credits as spending public tax dollars.
And she claims diverting public money to religious schools through education voucher tax credits could undermine the finances of local communities and the state’s ability to meet its responsibility to provide every child with an adequate public education.