Around Midnight, Voucher Plan Amendment to HB 1636 Increased Costs to $265M for Taxpayers
Concord, N.H. - After Governor Chris Sununu’s school voucher plan was rejected twice by the New Hampshire House, Senate Republicans revived the bill late at night in a last-minute ploy by attaching it as a non-germane amendment to HB 1636, one of the final bills of the session. This bill would downshift $265 million in costs over 13 years to local school districts, taking these critical funds away from public schools and sending them to unregulated private and religious schools. This is a significant increase from the projected costs of previous versions of the bill (see below).
Governor Sununu praised the underhanded maneuver, hoping that he could quietly push through a costly and disastrous overhaul of the state’s education system.
Sununu and Senate Republicans’ efforts failed when the House voted against sending the school voucher bill to committee of conference, rejecting it for the third time.
Even so, Sununu remains committed to passing this bill.
Sununu will continue to fight for programs like SB 193, according to his spokesperson, Ben Vihstadt, who said in an Union Leader article: "Gov. Sununu understands that the road to substantive education reform is filled with challenges, and that reforming New Hampshire’s education system will not happen overnight. He has been a relentless champion of expanding educational opportunities for low income families – which is why he stood his ground and exhausted every possible opportunity to move this issue forward – and looks forward to continuing this discussion in the legislative sessions ahead."
“After two rejections of his costly and unpopular school voucher plan, Governor Sununu ought to have realized that it had no chance of becoming law,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley, “Instead, he encouraged Senate Republicans to attach a more expensive school voucher plan to an unrelated bill hoping it would pass without anyone noticing. Well, New Hampshire noticed, and we’re going to repudiate Sununu’s dishonest politics by voting in a Democratic majority in the Senate and electing Molly Kelly as governor on November 6.”
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From: Gabrielle Farrell <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, Oct 2, 2018 at 12:26 PM
Subject: Re: Sununu Will Defund New Hampshire’s Public Schools
Sununu Will Defund New Hampshire’s Public Schools
Governor’s Voucher Plan to Cost Granite State $100M Over Next 11 Years
Concord, N.H. - Governor Chris Sununu will seek to defund New Hampshire’s public schools if he’s re-elected this fall, costing the Granite State $100M over the next 11 years. During the past legislative session, Sununu made every effort to pass the school voucher bill SB 193, modeled after the voucher agenda of President Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Sununu’s plan will transfer taxpayer dollars away from public schools to fund unregulated private, religious, and parochial schools, downshifting the costs to towns and raising property taxes.
Despite the financial burden this plan poses to Granite Staters, Sununu has already promised that this would be, once again, a top priority as governor if re-elected.
“Chris Sununu’s radical education plan has no place here in New Hampshire,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “It really comes as no surprise that Sununu is focused on pursuing his out-of-touch, corporate-sponsored agenda, making clear he doesn’t care about the thousands of students, teachers, school board members, and even Republicans who opposed this legislation. New Hampshire is lucky Sununu was so ineffective that he wasn’t able to pass a bill with Republican majorities in the State House and State Senate. That’s why we’re so confident in Molly Kelly, a proven leader who is committed to strengthening public schools instead of tearing them down.”
Republicans joined Democrats to defeat the bill on three separate occasions. According to an analysis by Reaching Higher NH, under this amendment:
School districts could lose between $2.4 million and $6.3 million in state aid in year 1;
The state could incur new costs of between $900,000 and $2.4 million in year 1;
Private scholarship organizations could receive between $110,000 and $290,000 of public dollars in year 1; and,
Financial impacts of the new amendment would be challenging for some of NH’s largest and least affluent districts, like Manchester, Nashua, Rochester, Laconia, and Claremont; each could lose between $95,000 and $850,000, annually if the maximum number of students allowable participate.