Voucher bill fails, but supporters vow to bring it back next session

A spokesman for Governor Sununu says he will continue to pursue school choice in future legislative sessions.

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On Thursday, the House killed a bill that would create a statewide voucher program in New Hampshire after the Senate attached it to an unrelated bill. However, school choice supporters say they will bring forward a different version next year.

From WMUR:

A bill to authorize education savings accounts was killed by the House of Representatives Thursday on a roll call of 180-163 after members refused on a closer vote to set up a committee of conference to negotiate a compromise plan with the state Senate.

Gov. Chris Sununu was among the leading backers of education savings accounts, and after the vote, his spokesman said the governor will continue to pursue “expanding educational opportunities” in future legislative sessions.

A fellow Republican, House Finance Committee Chairman Neal Kurk of Weare, led opponents of the bill and successfully pushed for the House to reject a committee of conference and kill the bill outright.

He and other Republican opponents have said that the plan would divert a large chunk of taxpayer money from public schools to fund the private school education of some students…

He said that after studying the issue, lawmakers “will come up with a better bill that does not downshift the cost of the new program onto the backs of local property taxpayers…”

Sununu spokesman Benjamin Vihstadt said after the vote:

“Gov. Sununu understands that the road to substantive education reform is filled with challenges, and that reforming New Hampshire’s education system will not happen overnight.

“Gov. Sununu has been a relentless champion of expanding educational opportunities for low income families, which is why he stood his ground and exhausted every possible opportunity to move this issue forward, and looks forward to continuing this discussion in the legislative sessions ahead.”

Coincidentally, the plan was killed four days before U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a school choice advocate, arrives in New Hampshire on Monday to keynote a private, closed-to-the-media fundraiser for the state Republican Party.

The bill would have allowed parents to receive state education funding for private and religious school tuition, homeschooling expenses, and other education-related expenses. The Senate passed the voucher bill in April 2017 on a party-line vote, but the House studied it for over a year and made changes to limit costs to taxpayers and limit the impact on local public schools. The House killed it on May 3, but the Senate attached it to a bill later that night to send back to the House.

Get a quick look at how the bill evolved over time with this infographic, and catch up on our analyses of the different versions here.

Source: NH House kills school choice bill authorizing education savings accounts