According to a new piece in Forbes, the cost of Governor Sununu’s school voucher scheme — endorsed by Betsy DeVos — is “mushrooming,” and now will cost the state “up to $6.9 million, with hundreds more applications yet to process.” Governor Sununu and his Republican allies jammed through the voucher scheme in the budget this June. Since then, reports have shown how the plan will raise property taxes, lead to runaway costs, and drain money from public schools. Forbes notes that the voucher scheme “may be a win for the GOP, but it’s bad news for public education in New Hampshire.” Forbes: The Cost Of New Hampshire’s School Voucher Program Is Mushrooming By Peter Greene Key Excerpts: New Hampshire Republicans have been unsuccessfully pushing for school vouchers for years. This year, they circumvented the public by slipping a voucher program into the budget, but the program is turning out to be far more expensive for Granite State taxpayers than proposed. [...] In 2020, the GOP flipped both the House and Senate. One of their first orders of business was a new voucher bill, one of the most sweeping in the country. They used the name “education freedom accounts,” an echo of Betsy DeVos’s ill-fated national voucher plan. The state would hand its share of a student’s education funding to a scholarship organization to give to families for a wide assortment of expenses, with loose limits on who could get the voucher, few limits on how it could be spent, and no oversight of the taxpayer dollars. The hearing for this bill drew 3,800 people to speak, only 600 of whom were in favor. Opponents warned that the cost of the program would be far higher than the $130,000 advertised. Rather than buck the wave of public opinion against the bill, the legislature turned it into a last-minute addition to the state budget. In her latest newsletter, former state senator Jeanne Dietsch points out that those who warned about the excessive cost of the program are being proven correct. The price tag is now up to $6.9 million, with hundreds more applications yet to process. The program got a bit of a goose when Americans for Prosperity sent out mailers and canvassed door to door to encourage people to sign up. The influx of clients, says Dietsch, was so great that the New Hampshire company that handles the scholarship vouchers subcontracted the work to Class Wallet, a Florida company that performs the same function in several states (scholarship voucher management companies typically pocket a percentage of the money they handle; in New Hampshire that amount is 10%). The impact of the program will be felt across the state. Under the program, parents who already homeschool or private school their children can also apply for the vouchers, meaning that public schools receive less money while handling the same number of students. Public schools will lose the state’s share of financial support, meaning that local districts may have to choose between cutting programs or raising taxes. Meanwhile, taxpayers will have no say or accountability for how those state education tax dollars are spent. It may be a win for the GOP, but it’s bad news for public education in New Hampshire.
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