Tuesday, June 18, 2013
A New Hampshire judge ruled yesterday that the state's Education Tax Credit Program violates Article 83 of the state constitution, which forbids public funds going to religious schools. In Duncan v. New Hampshire, Judge John Lewis held that tax credits for private and home schooling were constitutionally permissible but the part of the law that allows funds to go to religious institutions could not stand. The education tax credit law has been a contentious issue from its beginning and passed last year over a veto from then-Gov. John Lynch. Supporters of the bill argue that the tax credit money is supplied by charitable donations from New Hampshire businesses and not from public tax money. The tax credit bill allows businesses to receive an 85% tax credit for donations to nonprofit scholarship organizations. The organizations then award scholarships up to $2,500 to primary and secondary school students to attend non-public schools or public schools outside of their districts, or they may use the award for home schooling. The law does not bar scholarship recipients from using the money for tuition at a religious institution. Three organizations, the ACLU, the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, and Americans United For Separation of Church and State criticized the tax credit as a "neo-voucher" program that diverts money from state coffers to religious institutions. Read more at the Concord Monitor here.