The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Budget Assistant told a House Finance subcommittee that SB 193, the bill that would create a statewide voucher program, could cost the state $36 million over 12 years, according to the Concord Monitor:
“Over that same period, school districts statewide would lose out on $143 million in state aid. It’s unknown whether this would actually be a net loss or savings to local schools, because the LBA’s model didn’t calculate how much districts would save on costs when students transferred out. A representative from the LBA said his office didn’t have enough information about how variable or fixed costs are at the district level.
“We just didn’t want to assume anything across the board,” LBA Budget Analyst Michael Landrigan told lawmakers Tuesday…
If the bill were eventually tweaked to restrict participation – or reduce reimbursements to local schools – in order to limit the state’s financial liability, it would likely be on the committee’s recommendation…
The projections presented by the LBA, on the other hand, assumed 1,114 participants in the first year, and 3,895 in the program by 2031.
Still, even at the LBA’s much more conservative estimates, Rep. Karen Umberger, the Kearsarge Republican who chairs the subcommittee, said she’s “not really” comfortable with the potential price tag.
“That’s money that will be not able to go to some other program. And so we have to make a decision – does education, as a whole, have a higher priority than the opioid crisis?” she said.
The subcommittee will hear additional testimony Thursday, but it could be months before changes, if any, are made.
“The bill is not due out to the floor until March 31. And so I’ve got some time to do this, and I just want to make sure we’re covering all the bases,” Umberger said.”