A school choice bill in New Hampshire passed a major milestone in November 2017 when it was passed by the state’s House education committee.
Senate Bill 193 was originally designed to create an expansive education savings account (ESA) program that would allow nearly any family in the state to put a little over $3,000 towards their child’s education. However, to win the support of legislators, new language was added to the bill that limits the eligibility. Now, only low income and special needs students, those unable to get into a charter school, or students rejected by the state’s tax credit system can qualify. In addition, a hold-harmless provision and a sunset clause, which ends the program in 2023 unless it is renewed by legislators, were also added to the bill.
While it is unfortunate legislators watered down the original version of Senate Bill 193, the current version still has the potential to help students. ESA programs continue to be popular in states where they have been enacted. For example, a 2013 EdChoice study found that 71 percent of parents using Arizona’s ESA were “highly satisfied” with the program.
The bill is expected to be head to the full House this month. If passed, the program would join two existing programs aimed at expanding school choice in the state. Some New Hampshire students can already use a 2013 tax-credit scholarship program, the New Hampshire Education Tax Program, as well as a voucher program, the New Hampshire Town Tuitioning Program, which was launched in 2017 and allows towns without district schools at a student’s grade level to use public funding for students to attend any other public or approved private, non-religious school in or outside of New Hampshire.