Letter: Threat to N.H. Liberty
To the Editor:
The New Hampshire Education Tax Credit Program (“N.H. School Tax Credit Under Fire,” Jan. 30) is an insidious type of voucher program that sounds wonderful until the details are revealed.
Three civil liberties organizations filed suit to challenge this statewide tuition tax-credit program that would subsidize private religious schools. They seek to have the program declared unconstitutional and to block the state from implementing it. These organizations assert that the Education Tax Credit Program would divert taxpayer funds to religious schools in violation of the state constitution. It allows up to $3.4 million in tax credits to be claimed in the first year and $5.1 million in the second. It provides for additional increases in tax credits for subsequent years.
The program allows businesses to reduce their tax liability by receiving an 85 percent tax credit in exchange for donations made to K-12 scholarship organizations, which will pay for tuition at religious and other private schools. Since there will be no state oversight of the schools receiving scholarship money, religious schools will be able to use the funds for religious instruction, indoctrination and discrimination. Heather L. Weaver, staff attorney for the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said, “The New Hampshire program is similar to other tax-credit programs proposed across the country. These troubling programs cannot be allowed to stand because they erode bedrock religious liberty principles.” The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said, “This is just a backdoor voucher scheme. Whether it’s through a traditional voucher or a tax credit, the result is the same: Taxpayers are subsidizing religious instruction.” The New Hampshire Constitution plainly bars this type of scheme and Barbara R. Keshen, staff attorney for the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, further explained: “A robust respect for the separation of church and state is vital to protecting the religious freedom of all New Hampshire citizens. That’s why our state Constitution contains several provisions intended to prevent this type of program.”
New Hampshire residents should call or email their state representatives and ask them to support a repeal of this scam.