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Business tax credits for private schools face repeal

CONCORD - Splitting along partisan lines, a House committee on Tuesday recommended the repeal of a 1-year-old law designed to use business-tax credits to fund private-school tuition payments.

The 10-7 recommendation of the House Ways and Means Committee now goes to the full House, where Democrats have control.

"It looks pretty good in the House," said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Susan Almy, D-Lebanon. She said positions on the issue are solidified because the tax-credit program was an issue in this past election.

Passed last year over Gov. John Lynch's veto, the law allows businesses to claim an 85 percent tax credit on donations they make to a program to provide private-school tuition for underprivileged New Hampshire children. Tuitions payments would go to students of both religious and non-religious schools.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Republican Party Chairman Jennifer Horn said 250 students have applied for the more than $150,000 raised so far in scholarship money.

"The attempt to repeal this bill is an elitist effort to deny the highest quality education to our most vulnerable students. I call on Governor (Maggie) Hassan to make it clear that should this bill makes it to her desk, she will veto it," Horn said.

Almy said: "there are so many complications in that law. It is extremely difficult to administer, and difficult for businesses to use."

If it ends up raising significant funds, either the general fund or local public schools will suffer, she said.

And she doubted the law will survive a constitutional challenge; if the law gets thrown, out the state will have to pay the legal costs, Almy said.

Repeal would mean another $9 million in state revenues over two years, according to estimates attached to the legislation.


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