Maggie Hassan: Republican Candidates, Legislature Have Wrong Priorities for Education, Middle-Class Families

Hassan, Education Advocates, Call on Legislature to Sustain Veto of Bill Sending Millions in Taxpayer Money to Private Schools

CONCORD –The Republican candidates for Governor and the legislature are wrong to divert millions of dollars in taxpayer money to private schools at the same time that state education cuts have increased property taxes and tuition costs for middle-class families, said Maggie Hassan, Democratic candidate for governor. 

Hassan was joined by Executive Council candidate Bill Duncan and Mary Heath, the former Deputy Commissioner of Education, at a press conference today calling on the legislature to sustain Governor Lynch’s vetoes of SB 372 and HB 1607. 

“As Governor, my first priority will be to build an economy that attracts innovative, growing companies to invest and create jobs in the Granite State,” said Hassan.  “The foundation of that effort is ensuring we have the best-trained workforce in the country.   I have visited businesses across the state and their message is clear: their own success and the success of our future economy depends on the success of our public schools.” 

Both Republican candidates for Governor, Ovide Lamontagne and Kevin Smith have signaled strong support for private school vouchers, and said they were “deeply disappointed” and “dismayed” by Governor Lynch’s vetoes.   

“Nearly 200,000 students – the vast majority of children in New Hampshire – attend public schools. Ensuring that our public schools are the best in the nation must be our priority as a state,” continued Hassan. 

The legislature has cut millions to local public schools, which has resulted in teacher layoffs and increases in local property taxes. The legislature also cut funding for public higher education in half, which resulted in nearly 10 percent tuition increases at the University of New Hampshire. 

“Republican leaders made cuts raising local property taxes and tuition on middle-class families, saying we couldn’t afford to support our public schools. Now they are planning to divert millions of dollars in taxpayer money to private schools. That is the wrong choice for New Hampshire,” Hassan said.  “ This legislation is just another example of how the priorities of Ovide Lamontagne and this legislature are wrong for middle-class families and wrong for our economy.”

“Public schools should be the first priority for public money, not a handful of private schools, and that is the main fault in this legislation,” said Bill Duncan.  “Ovide Lamontagne and the Republican legislature would divert limited state resources from public schools – which have already sustained in cuts from this legislature – to private schools. That is wrong for our taxpayers, our students and our economic future.”

“SB 372 is devised as a “tax credit” in an effort to get around New Hampshire’s constitutional prohibition against sending taxpayer money to religious schools. But New Hampshire citizens are too smart to be fooled.  This is taxpayer money and instead of going to local public schools – or to help offset local property taxes – it will be send to private, religious schools,” Duncan said.  

“Ovide Lamontagne said he was “deeply disappointed” in the veto,” said Mary Heath.  “Where was Ovide Lamontagne’s disappointment when this legislature cut funding for public schools and dropout prevention programs?  Where was Ovide Lamontagne’s disappointment when funding for our public colleges and universities was cut in half?” 

“We didn’t hear it,” continued Heath. “Instead we heard Ovide Lamontagne praising the leadership and guts of Bill O’Brien and this legislature’s extreme agenda. We need a Governor who is going to stand up for our public schools and our taxpayers.  Maggie Hassan understands that ensuring New Hampshire has the best-educated workforce in the country is key to attracting innovative, growing companies to our state.”

Bill Duncan is a candidate for the Executive Council in District 3.  Duncan is an entrepreneur and a widely known education advocate and is the founder of Defending New Hampshire Public Education. 

Mary Heath is a former fourth grade teacher, the former Deputy Commissioner of Education and the former Southern New Hampshire University School of Education Dean.