Education Chairman “not optimistic” about future of statewide voucher bill

"We've tried to strike that middle path weaving through this minefield," said Chairman Ladd after a subcommittee voted to further study the bill.

442

The House Finance subcommittee has voted to keep studying SB 193, the statewide voucher bill, in a recent 7-1 vote. According to the Union Leader, during the second year of a two-year session, a vote to keep a bill in interim study would kill it, meaning that it would have to be introduced as a new bill in 2019:

The prospects for passage of a school choice bill have gone from bad to worse as SB 193 limps toward the legislative deadline, now only weeks away…

In the second year of a two-year session, interim study means SB 193 is dead. The concept could be revived under a newly elected Legislature in January 2019, but it would be a new bill.

 

SB 193 would create a scholarship program from state education funds for qualified parents to send their kids to private schools, if they so choose.

There are five Republicans and three Democrats on Division II, and it would be a mistake to conclude that only one Republican on the committee supports SB 193. An earlier vote on a motion to endorse the bill failed 3-5, which is a more accurate reflection of GOP sentiment.

The two Republicans who voted with the three Democrats on the 3-5 vote were Finance Committee Chair Neal Kurk, R-Weare, and Rep. Robert Theberge, R-Berlin.

So the full Finance Committee of 26 members has received an interim study recommendation from its subcommittee, and is scheduled to vote on the bill Wednesday.

“I’m disappointed,” said House Education Chairman Rick Ladd, R-Haverhill, the chief sponsor of the House rewrite of the Senate bill. “I certainly understand some of the financial issues they are talking about. I’m going to wait and hold my remarks until I see what happens in the full Finance Committee.”

In the past several weeks of negotiations, every change made to appease one faction resulted in losses elsewhere.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve looked at accountability, eligibility and finances,” said Chairman Ladd. “We’ve tried to strike that middle path weaving through this minefield.”

A negative vote from the full Finance Committee could still be overturned on the House floor, but Chairman Ladd is not optimistic about that outcome.

“That would be a long stretch,” he said.

The bill has gone through several revisions since it was first introduced in January of 2018. Follow how the bill has changed here, and the analyses that Reaching Higher NH has done on the bill and its impact on our students, schools, communities, and state here

The full Finance Committee is holding an executive session to vote on SB 193 on Wednesday, April 25 at 10 a.m. in LOB 210-211. Reaching Higher NH will be live streaming the session on Facebook–be sure to tune in!

Source: Dave Solomon’s State House Dome: School choice bill fading fast | Union Leader