Published DateTo the editor,
I received a postcard today from Mark Billings urging me to vote for him on for the Inter-Lakes School Board as a representative from Meredith. On the postcard, Mr. Billings says "I will bring diversity and a fresh perspective to the school board with no conflicts of interest." This statement compels me to point out a serious conflict of interest for an individual seeking a position on the school board of a public school: namely Mr. Billings support of the state Education Tax Credit/Voucher program. This program effectively weakens state aid to local school districts, including Inter-Lakes. I view Mr. Billings' support for this voucher program as a conflict of interest for a public school board member.
The education tax credit/voucher program, enacted in 2012, allows a business to contribute a percentage of its business profits tax/business enterprise tax to a scholarship organization that could be used by students to attend an independent school, including religious ones. This program weakens New Hampshire's school districts, including Inter-Lakes, by taking state adequacy aid from them and putting it into support for private, religious and home schools. The State Board of Education has estimated that without the repeal of this tax credit/voucher program, the state will loose $3.7 million in FY 2014 and increasingly more in subsequent years — revenue that could be used to support public education. Last month the NH House passed a bill (HB-370) that would repeal the program; the state Senate will take up this legislation next month.
At the "Meet the Candidates" forum in Sandwich on February 23rd, Mr. Billings gave enthusiastic support for the education tax credit/voucher program. In contrast, Chris Mega, the other candidate for this school board position, argued against this program and described its negative impact on the Inter-Lakes budget. I will cast my vote for Chris Mega who advocates for public financial support of the public schools.