June 18, 2012
CONCORD – Sen. Jim Forsythe, R-Strafford, issued the following statement regarding today’s veto of SB 372 by Gov. John Lynch:
“This veto is incredibly disappointing considering how education tax credits in other states have been proven to improve performance, not only for the students receiving the scholarships, but for the public schools as well, due to increased competition. His statements on the financial impact to the local school districts are inaccurate. If he truly cared about the impact to property tax payers he wouldn’t have cut $30M in school building aid in his budget, which the legislature restored. It’s frustrating that he has not worked with us on this legislation which helps low income students go to the school of their choice, and then makes the false claim that there are no income restrictions for a portion of the scholarships. Given the twisted arguments he makes, it is clear he is listening to special interest groups, not the families of NH.”
- The Governor's veto message of SB372 contains several false and misleading statements about the source of the scholarship money, the impact to local school districts, and who is control of the money.
- First the Governor states, "The bill... does not fully target scholarship funds to students most in need” and then later “a substantial portion of scholarships are available with no income restrictions". He should read the bill - 100% of the students are means tested, and 40% of the scholarships are required to go to students eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch meals program.
- He also consistently called the money used for these scholarships “public money,” a common, but false tactic used by opponents of school choice. This “theory” that tax credits are the same as public money was soundly rejected in a U.S. Supreme Court case on Arizona’s education tax credit program. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy wrote that the plaintiff’s argument improperly “assumes that income should be treated as if it were government property even if it has not come into the tax collector’s hands.” The Court rejected that premise since it “finds no basis in standing jurisprudence. Private bank accounts cannot be equated with the Arizona State Treasury.” The money used for this program would come from businesses in N.H., not the State. If the Governor believes this is public money, then the money donated to a church or the Salvation Army would also have to be considered public money.
- The Governor’s statements on the impact to local school districts leaves out key analysis and provisions added to protect the local school districts. He states that the proponents of the bill estimate $500 saved per pupil, but this is actually the estimate by NH DOE based on input from a few superintendents, hardly an unbiased or scientific opinion. In contrast, several scientific studies using regression analysis, including one from the Josiah Bartlett center, showed that the variable costs of public education are in the 70-85% range, and so the state aid is significantly less than the variable cost, since per pupil spending is over $15,000. While the savings in variable costs might be unevenly distributed among school districts depending on how close they are to consolidating classrooms, overall there should be savings over time. Additionally, the Governor also failed to mention that the bill has a provision that would limit any aid reductions due to students changing schools to be less than a quarter of one percent of any school district’s budget.
For Immediate Release:
June 18, 2012
Carole Alfano, 271.7585