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Education Tax Credit Challenge To Be Heard In N.H. Supreme Court

Ben McCleod via Flickr CC

The New Hampshire Supreme Court will hear arguments today on whether it’s constitutional to give tax credits to businesses that donate to private scholarship funds. The program in question has been hamstrung by a lower court ruling.

Only one organization has awarded scholarship under the law, which began last year, and because of a ruling last spring in the Strafford County Superior court, the Network for Education has not been able to give any scholarships to religious schools. The judge ruled that because donors to the organization were given tax credits, the scholarship dollars amounted to public money.

The case now goes before the Supreme Court.

The NEO will argue that money subtracted from tax receipts is not the same as public funds expended through the state budget.

So far the Network for Education has given out $128,000 dollars for scholarships to 103 students. 13 of those students were from public schools, and received the lion’s share of the scholarship dollars.

The program's critics, which include Governor Maggie Hassan, have equated it to a school voucher scheme. It passed in 2012 over then Governor Lynch’s veto.

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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