The bill was killed by unanimous consent in the New Hampshire Senate Thursday. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)
The New Hampshire Senate killed a proposed expansion of the state’s education tax credit program Thursday, arguing that it would diminish the benefits for current beneficiaries.
House Bill 1298 would have raised the upper income limit for the state’s tax credit scholarship program from 300 percent of the federal poverty level to 500 percent.
Created in 2013, the program provides scholarships for students by allowing businesses to donate to the scholarship fund that administers the program and receive a credit on their business taxes. The scholarships may be used for private school tuition.
Advocates for the bill had argued that the expansion would allow the program to boost families in the middle class. Currently, the program can benefit any family of four making up to $83,250 per year; expanding it would allow a family of four making up to $138,750 to access the funds.
But a bipartisan group of state senators said the expansion would only mean that more students would be competing for the same pool of funds donated by businesses.
“The (Senate Education) committee heard concerns about the neediest of students receiving less funding from this tax credit program as this bill would open the pool to a larger population of students,” Sen. Denise Ricciardi, a Bedford Republican, said explaining the opposition. “Raising the cap could limit the amount of funding received by children of modest means.”
The bill was killed by unanimous consent in the Senate Thursday.
The education tax credit program is in some ways a precursor to the state’s newly created program, the education freedom account program, which allows parents making up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level to direct New Hampshire Education Trust Fund dollars to help with private school and homeschooling costs. Some supporters of that program have called for lawmakers to increase the income limits on that program, too; the Legislature is not entertaining legislation to do that this year.
Democrats opposed the creation of the education freedom account program and are expected to stand against any proposed expansions, arguing that it would be too much of a drain on the state’s Education Trust Fund.
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