House Democrats Sponsor Legislation to Provide Full Funding for Public Kindergarten and Repeal Education Voucher Law

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, the House Education Committee held public hearings on HB 155, relative to funding for kindergarten programs, and HB 129, repealing the education tax credit. 

Representative Mary Stuart Gile, a former Chair and Ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee released the following statements subsequent to the public hearings on HB 155 and HB 129. Representative Gile, who holds her Doctorate in Education from Vanderbilt University and her Master’s in Education from UNH, began her teaching career as a kindergarten teacher at the Whitefield School in Jefferson, NH. She is a renowned expert in the area of child development and, among other accomplishments, established the Child Development Center and Laboratory School at NHTI.

“The skills attained by children during their early, impressionable years of life are critical to their development throughout adolescence and into adulthood.  Overwhelming research shows the value of kindergarten programs to social and academic development,” said Representative Gile.  “It was not until 2009 that New Hampshire caught-up to the rest of the nation by offering public kindergarten in every school district. However we remain one of the few states that do not provide funding for full-day kindergarten programs.  Our failure to reimburse cities and towns for full-day kindergarten acts as a deterrent to communities that wish to enact these critical programs.”  

HB 129 would repeal the education voucher tax credit law which was first passed in 2012 over the veto of Gov. John Lynch.  That law was subsequently ruled unconstitutional in 2013 by NH Superior Court Judge John Lewis because it violated NH’s separation of church and state (NH Constitution Part II, Article 83). On appeal, the NH Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit due to lack of standing by the plaintiff and did not rule on the constitutionality of the education voucher law. 

“With the difficulties that we have securing needed funding for our public schools, it makes no sense to siphon money away from the tax base that provides that funding.  Further, the New Hampshire Constitution expressly prohibits the financing of religious schools that the education voucher tax credit authorizes,” said Representative Gile.  “Repealing this unconstitutional voucher law will return some sorely needed funds to our public education system.” 

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