Legislative Update – February 18, 2023

Major Action Items for Next Week – Oppose More Voucher Expansion (Including Local District Vouchers are Back!)

Action Items For Next Week!

HB 331 would blow open the doors on the school voucher program by eliminating any income criteria to qualify for the program.
Currently, to enter into the school voucher program, a household income must be at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level, or around $83k for a family of four in 2023. Under these current guidelines, the program has already exceeded spending by 500%. More than three quarters of the participants in the program now had already made the decision to send their child to private, religious or home school. We would expect that trend to continue and under this proposal even millionaires would be able to utilize the school voucher program. When we can’t even fund our public schools who are accessible to all now, it is unconscionable to expand the voucher program to an unlimited amount of wealthy families who already chose to seek other forms of education.

ACTION ITEM: Please sign in, write in, or testify in OPPOSITION to HB 331. The public hearing is Tuesday, February 21st at 9:00 am in Room 205 – 207 of the Legislative Office Building

HB 538 would bring back a similarly failed bill from last year that would allow a school district to adopt a local school district voucher program.
Local school district taxpayers that voted in this program would be required to fund a voucher account worth twice the state aid they would have received from the state for that child attending the local district school. Please urge the House Education Committee to reject expanding the school voucher program to also include using your local property taxes in addition to funding your local district needs.

ACTION ITEM: Please sign in, write in, or testify in in OPPOSITION to HB 538. The public hearing is Tuesday, February 21st at 2:30 pm in Room 205 – 207 of the Legislative Office Building.

State Budget Delivered – Education Funding and Voucher Expansion

Governor Sununu delivered his much-anticipated state budget address this week and education funding and school vouchers topped this list of the major components to his proposal. Included in his proposal is increasing the state adequacy grants to local school districts by $127 million over the next 2 years. However, this proposal also comes with reducing other grants to local school districts and so we have yet to see numbers on how this will play out in each school district. We are still awaiting the actual language of the budget bill to discern to what extent this will be a long term win for communities, particularly those who struggle to raise adequate funding with their property tax base. We hope to have a more robust analysis on this component next week.

The Governor’s proposed budget also doubles funding to the school voucher program which is very concerning by expanding the income eligibility to 500% of the Federal Poverty Level for certain categories of students.

Book-Ban Bill Comes Out of Committee Tied

Unfortunately, rather than recommend killing HB 514, an attempt at banning books in our public schools and libraries, the parties tied on a 10 – 10 vote in the House Education Committee on the bill so it will be going to the floor in March where the first vote will be on whether to pass the legislation.

HB 514 proposes to do away with the due process afforded by our courts for K-12 school employees and instead, make a court where politicians or the state board will make unilateral determinations using a subjective standard as to what is considered “obscene” material. Again, this is the NH version of an attempt at a book ban.

Instead of supporting parents and teachers working together, this bill is another prosecutorial power grab by the Commissioner of Education in his attempt to stoke a culture war rather than supporting a high-quality public education for our students.
Stay tuned for actions upcoming on our Legislative Action page when we get closer to the session date it will be on the floor.