NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Hampshire School Choice Program Upheld

September 3, 2014

Just last week, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the state's tuition tax credit program, marking an important victory for supporters of school choice, writes Scott Shackford at Reason.com.

The state began its tax credit program in 2012, providing a credit to businesses that donate money to organizations that fund scholarships for low income students in the state. Parents could use the scholarship funds as they wish, whether to send their children to private school or public school in another district or to homeschool them.

A group of litigants, including parents, taxpayers and interest groups, challenged the tax credit program in January 2013. Five months later, a superior court judge ruled the program unconstitutional insofar as it granted scholarship funds to students enrolled in religious schools.

But last week, the state's supreme court vacated that ruling, insisting that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the program. According to the court, the parties challenging the law had not been injured by the existence of the tax credit scheme, despite their claim that the law would take funds away from traditional public schools. That claim, said the court, was entirely "speculative," as it was unclear that governments would see fiscal losses from an increase in the number of students using the tax credits.

While the school choice law was not upheld on constitutional grounds, the court's ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the tax credit program means New Hampshire students will continue to benefit from the tax credits, allowing more low-income children to attend the schools of their choice.

Source: Scott Shackford, "N.H. Private School Scholarship Program Saved by a Technicality (But an Important One)," Reason.com, August 28, 2014

 

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