The Kids Win

In 2012 the New Hampshire Legislature passed the Opportunity Scholarship Act over Governor Lynch’s objections, and veto. This law gave the children of poor and middle class families the opportunity to get the same educational choices that the children of better off folks have.  This law allows businesses to give a small amount of their pretax dollars to private charities which are set up to administer a scholarship program for children from families earning no more than 300% of the federal poverty line.  Controls were put in place to ensure that these organizations did not benefit, no director gets rich, and the benefit flowed to the children.

This law, and subsequent court case, highlighted an issue that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but is nonetheless critical to a fundamental concept that requires definition.  When does your money belong to the government?  I have contended in every election that the voters should remind those that they vote for that there is no state money, no public money, no government money… it is YOUR money.  The constitutional objection to this low income/middle class scholarship contended that potentially allowing some to go to parochial schools was tantamount to breaking down the church and state separation by sending “public money” to religious schools.  If this were true, I would have agreed with the claimants.  The problem is, this can only be true if the government is allowed to consider the money in your pocket “public money” before they even collect it.  This is a dangerous attitude and I am grateful that the NH Supreme Court has not allowed it to go forward.  It isn’t any of my business what you spend your money on.

Thank you to the NH Supreme Court, and the Legislators who had the courage to pass it.  I am proud to have been one of the votes for this landmark bill.  There were a lot of well funded special interests against it.  A lot of money was spent in trying to stop it.  In the end, the money and politics didn’t matter.  Today, the kids have won.


About Rep. Steven Smith

Steven Smith is a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, serving his 7th term. Rep. Smith currently represents Charlestown, Newport, and Unity. Rep. Smith is the Deputy Speaker of the NH House.
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