November 13, 2013
The June ruling by a Strafford County Superior Court judge prohibits parents participating in New Hampshire’s scholarship tax credit program from using the scholarship to send their children to religious schools. The judge’s ruling is based on an erroneous finding that the private donations from business to private, nonprofit scholarship organizations, like NEO, are public dollars, simply because the program grants an 85 percent tax credit to the businesses for their donation. The ruling deprived many parents the opportunity to send their kids to the schools best suited to meet their individual needs.
We are optimistic that justice will prevail in our appeal to the NH Supreme Court because private contributions to fund scholarships are simply that, private contributions. Providing businesses with a tax credit no more transforms those contributions into public funds than does giving individuals a tax deduction for donations to the United Way or their local church or synagogue.
The judge’s decision contradicts the understanding of every high court to address this question thus far. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held that when “taxpayers choose to contribute to (scholarship organizations), they spend their own money, not money the state has collected from …[or] other taxpayers.”
Fighting on our behalf, the Institute for Justice, along with the NH Department of Justice, filed the initial briefs with the NH Supreme Court on Nov. 12th and amicus (supporting) briefs were also filed by The Cato Institute, Pacific Legal Foundation, The Becket Fund and the Giving Going Alliance.
We look forward to the NH Supreme Court hearing arguments in the case, which will most likely be during the winter months. We will keep you up-to-date so that you can attend the hearing. It is critical that we show the NH Supreme Court that parents not only have the right to direct their children’s education, but that parents know best what educational setting best suits their children’s precise learning needs.
The battle for educational choice in New Hampshire is a long game. We will not rest until we secure genuine choice in education in New Hampshire.
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