Charles Arlinghaus: Gov. Hassan takes both sides of school choice debateBY CHARLES ARLINGHAUS
January 14. 2014 5:13PM
directly from the state government to St. Anselm or to Southern Methodist is an innovative and noble cause that increases opportunity among students of lower-income families, but allowing a business to take a tax credit for making its own contribution to a scholarship foundation that helps parents afford to send their children to Trinity High School is a subversive act that threatens the 'hallowed underpinnings' of democracy.I want to take her seriously, but rarely has a politician taken opposite positions on items of such stark similarity. The college program is a significantly greater entanglement for the state, yet it is touted as the very model of promoting opportunity. Perhaps she thinks so because it's her idea. My ideas are grand and noble. Yours, however similar, are threats to 'hallowed underpinnings.'The intellectual goofiness (a technical term) of the argument is as amusing as it is sad. I suppose the argument asks us to believe that colleges with religious affiliations are dandy, but high schools with religious affiliations threaten democracy.In addition, we are asked to believe that an indirect tax credit that partially funds scholarships used at religiously affiliated schools is the equivalent of a direct expenditure from the state treasury, and therefore unconstitutional, but a direct state tax exemption for churches and religious non-profits is not.Despite decades of court rulings holding that money that never was sent to the state is not actually state money (for example, taking a charitable deduction for a donation to your church is not the same as the government writing a check to your church), the administration would have us believe that for this one purpose it is.Jason Bedrick, my former colleague at the Josiah Bartlett Center now spreading freedom from the Cato Institute, has the last word on this amusing protest. Jason concludes: 'What's noteworthy here is not the legal reasoning, but the governor's chutzpah.'.
Charles M. Arlinghaus is president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Concord.