AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-22

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Local School Voucher Bill Recommended by House Education Committee

Just when we thought it might to safe to take a deep breath, late in the night this past Wednesday the legislature—cheered on as always by our anti-education commissioner, continued their radical push to defund public education. House Bill 607 as amended contains a sweeping amendment that was passed Wednesday. This bill would allow for our public property tax dollars to be sent to private schools, religious schools, or to students who are homeschooled. As we know in New Hampshire because the State refuses to adequately fund education most of the money that goes towards our neighborhood public schools comes from our local property taxes. Unlike the voucher bill that passed last year that would take the state portion of money that is supposed to be spent on public education; this bill takes our local property tax money.

Much like the version that takes public state dollars and sends it to private schools, there is zero accountability associated with this program. A person with 4 kids could receive as much as $120,000 in taxpayer money and could do with it whatever they want!  Want to go to Disney World? Call it is an “educational expense” and your tax money is paying for someone’s vacation. Want to buy a jet ski? Call it a physical education expense and taxpayer money is now buying individuals jet skis. This may seem like an exaggeration but with the total lack of accountability and oversight, this is exactly what could happen.

The one major change from the state voucher bill to the local property tax voucher bill? The state voucher program eligibility was limited to 300% of the federal poverty level. This local voucher bill has no income cap.  Someone who makes a million dollars a year can still take your property tax money and spend it on whatever they want to.

The next steps for this bill are clear.  The bill just passed the House Education Committee, and it will be voted on when the House reconvenes on either January 5th or January 6th. From now until then we need to make sure our State Representatives know that we will not stand for the constant defunding and assault on education and that when this bill comes to the floor-- they must vote no.

Without exaggeration, this bill could end public education in some communities. We know public education is critical and now is the time we must stand up and fight for it. We will remain in touch with critical next steps to help defeat this harmful legislation.

Thank you as always for all that you do.

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