New Hampshire businesses forced to take back money donated for school choice

February 04, 2014 | By JOSHUA THOMPSON

Here is some very sad news out of New Hampshire.  As you recall, PLF has filed multiple briefs in New Hampshire, supporting that state’s recently enacted tax credit program.  We represent the primary legislators that worked to pass one of the nation’s premier school choice initiatives. The program allows businesses to donate up to $1000 to tuition organizations, and claim a corresponding tax break on their New Hampshire taxes. The tuition organizations must then use that money in scholarships to kids from low-income homes so that they can attend a school of their choice.  The scholarships can also be used to fund textbooks and other materials for parents that choose to homeschool their kids.

Anti-choice activists sued the state, arguing that the scholarship program violated the New Hampshire Constitution.  Last June, the trial court bought the arguments from the anti-choice groups, and struck down provisions of the program that allow businesses to donate to organizations that give scholarships to kids to attend religious schools. The state appealed, and the case will be heard by the New Hampshire Supreme Court presently.

Businesses that already donated to the tuition organizations had their money returned.  In other words, dollars that were targeted for scholarships to low-income kids to attend private schools vanished.  Fewer families will be allowed to educate their children as they see fit, and will be forced to send them to traditional public schools that have been failing them.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court cannot act fast enough.