More Information about New Hampshire SB 193

Under SB 193, parents who pull their children out of the public school system may have the state pay into an educational savings account an amount equal to 95 percent of the statewide average basic support per pupil, plus “differential aid” that the student may qualify for. This amounts to at least $3,600 per student, but could be more than $8,000 for some students.

Parents could then use those funds for a variety of purposes, including enrolling their children in private religious schools, buying computers, or even paying for tutors.

The current bill includes an amendment that would give local school districts a paltry one-time grant of $1,500 for each student that leaves the district through this program, but the amendment does not go nearly far enough. This program would financially devastate public schools and would force New Hampshire taxpayers to fund private religious education. Further, the program would have virtually no accountability — a problem that has plagued voucher schemes around the country.

Notwithstanding a one-sentence opinion from the New Hampshire Attorney General, this program would violate the state constitution’s prohibition on using public funds for religious education. In 1992, the New Hampshire Supreme Court declared that another voucher scheme was unconstitutional because “[n]o safeguards exist[ed] to prevent the application of public funds to sectarian uses.” Opinion of the Justices (Choice in Education), 136 N.H. 357 (1992). SB 193 also has no safeguard preventing parents from redirecting public funds to religious education.

FFRF has consistently opposed voucher schemes around the country. These programs have hurt public schools in states such as Wisconsin, Indiana and North Carolina, while trampling the wall between state and church. New Hampshire should learn from these failures by rejecting SB 193 and any future attempts at sacrificing public education to advance religion.

Freedom From Religion Foundation