School-Choice Bill Poisoned
Why you should vote “No” on SB193 (Medicaid Expansion for Education)
and join the effort to permanently reduce the state’s involvement in Education.
Maximizing educational opportunities for our children is one of the most impactful
mechanisms for building a prosperous future for everyone. Government’s intrusive role
in education at all levels remains one of the biggest threats to our liberty and the data
shows has been a sinkhole for tax dollars while producing flat to declining results.
School choice has been an important issue for me. I send my 7 year-old twins to private
school and ran for school board in Bedford on a platform of reducing costs and
increasing transparency and accountability.
I was initially intrigued by SB193, as it was a program that would allow any parent to
direct a portion of their state adequacy funds to a school of their choice without any
impositions on the private school or home school markets.
As the bill went through the amendment process, it was transformed into a welfare program
that will likely increase overall government spending. In essence, it is ;Medicaid
Expansion; for education:
● It’s a welfare benefit; The program will only be available to people at 185% of
the federal poverty level or below (~$45k for a family of 4).
● It won’t have a significant impact: A limited number of spaces will be
available per school district.
● It won’t save money: The state will provide financial support to the local
schools for losing the state adequacy money.
● It will add bureaucracy: There are initial reporting requirements for the
program that will become more burdensome over time.
Proponents of this amended bill claim that you can’t predict what future legislatures will
do, and that making negative assumptions about how the program will work is
fear-mongering. They maintain that this is a “step in the right direction”.
However, almost all school choice advocates agree that the real long term goal is to get
the state out of local government altogether, and that the proper approach for this is via
a Constitutional Amendment. This should be our long term focus.
In the short term, we should focus on reducing the overall level of taxation, not join in
an epic battle over who will win at the welfare benefit trough. This bill is the wrong fight
at the wrong time, and we musn’t let fatigue and the simple desire to “get something
done” interfere with doing the right thing for the long term.
It is true that you can’t predict what a future legislature will do, which is precisely why
you should never give the state expanded power. Our elections are not done by lottery,
and you can make reasonable predictions on the range of likely outcomes based on
knowledge of the actual circumstances.
Given the degree to which this bill was degraded under the most auspicious of
circumstances (complete Republican majorities in all branches of government), this
amended bill is likely the near-term high watermark for school choice. I have been
involved in candidate recruitment for the past few elections cycles, and I can tell you:
● Many of our strongest liberty Reps and Senators are not planning to run again.
● To date, many of those leaving do not have pro-liberty replacements.
● Since the 2016 election, the Republicans lost most of the special elections (even
in the most Republican of districts).
● Relative to the Democrat Party, the NHGOP is virtually broke and has no real
● The anti-Trump sentiment on the left has brought in a disproportionate share of
resources for the Dems.
● This legislative session has been an abject failure for fiscal conservatism.
The budget increased more under Sununu than under Hassan, there were major
defeats regarding Right-to-Work, expanded Medicaid is likely to get its longest
extension yet, and structural problems with pensions have gone unaddressed.
Republican-designed Mediscam has created a $36 million budget hole and
continues to mask 27 years of fiscal irresponsibility. Our children will get the tab.
As amended, SB 193 is structurally very similar to Medicaid Expansion and must be
rejected for the same reasons.
The New Hampshire version of Medicaid expansion redistributes existing federal money
to low-income people for the purpose of buying private health insurance.
Amended SB 193 redistributes property tax money to low-income people for the purpose
of buying private school services.
Any optimism about the future direction of school choice in NH needs to be tempered
by an examination of what has happened with Medicaid and Medicaid Expansion in
It is important to note that many of the same politicians who are responsible for the
destruction of healthcare in this state are still in Republican-leadership today and are supportive of SB 193 as amended. We need to be honest about what is likely to happen, not
base our desires on hopes and wishes that are not backed up reality.
This is what has happened to Medicaid (driven by the Republicans) over the past 27
years. I have included links to references that support each point.
How NH politicians destroyed healthcare:
Step 1: In order to help a Republican Governor
get elected elected to the US Senate, a loophole in
a federal Medicaid matching program (Mediscam)
was exploited to cover our fiscal irresponsibility at
the state level by borrowing billions from our
children and grandchildren (instead of cutting
spending or adding an income/sales tax).
Step 2: To further cover-up our financial
mismanagement, we shortchanged our non-profit
hospitals out of proceeds from the Mediscam
creating a $36 million budget shortfall for
uncompensated care for the past year alone!
Step 3: Only hospitals that accept Medicaid
patients are eligible for this financing scheme. To
protect this funding mechanism and protect our
poor performing non-profit hospital system, the
state has used the Certificate of Need to keep out
new and innovative healthcare delivery options for
the citizens of New Hampshire (e.g. Cancer
Treatment Centers of America)
Step 4: Seeing an opportunity to further expand
Medicaid, Republican leadership designed a
mechanism to extract additional Federal funds (to
be repaid by future generations) and then
funnelled that money to private insurers. The
architect of this program was a consultant who
also architected the Medicare Part D Prescription
Drug Program at the federal level. He was found
guilty of lying to Congress about the cost
implications of that program.
Step 5: To pay for the part of the expansion not
reimbursed by the federal government, the state
decided to place an additional tax on the hospitals
that are already being shortchanged and add a tax
to the private insurers as well (passed on as higher
premiums in the private market).
Step 6: Health and Human Services denied this
new tax and has threatened to cut funding to the
entire program by the end of 2018 unless a new
solution is found.
Step 7: To make-up for the illegal tax on hospitals
and insurers, the state has proposed a sales tax on
our state monopoly-controlled liquor stores, and
are using the urgency of the opioid crisis as
justification for this approach.
Step 8: Alcoholism is a bigger problem in New
Hampshire than the opioid crisis.
Given the similarity of approach and players involved, I predict you will see one or more
of the following unintended consequences if amended SB 193 passes:
1) Overall spending on education will increase.
2) Burdensome regulations will be placed on private schools regarding testing and
eligibility for the program.
3) There will be a push to exempt religious institutions from this funding.
4) To make up for the loss of local revenue, a special tax will be proposed on private
schools (similar to the Medicaid Enhancement Tax on hospitals).
5) Local school districts will not respond to losing students by cutting costs, but will
raise taxes and spending (this is already what is happening in school districts that
face declining enrollment).
6) In order to protect the optics of this as “school choice win”, proponents will fight
not to reduce the overall tax burden but accept this as the new norm. Horse
trading with the left regarding pet welfare programs will become the standard
operating procedure, and people will rationalize this approach as being
7) Tuition will increase at private schools and taxpayers who currently pay for
public schools will now be subsidizing low-income students to attend private
schools while simultaneously paying for higher private tuition.
8) Most of the school choice supporters will be stuck protecting this program and
will not focus efforts on reducing local school costs, improve accountability, or
work on a more ambitious Constitutional Amendment.
We can do better.
We are bringing back Stark360 with a long-term focus on reducing the absolute size of
government at the local and state levels. We are building a decentralized network of
activists starting with precinct leads across the state. We are implementing a reward and
measurement system based on actual measured reductions in the size of government.
We are skipping the 2018 election to focus our efforts on the 2019 local elections. Our
emphasis will be on candidates and ballot initiatives that will reduce the size of local
school budgets. We have already developed GOTV tools for prior work on statewide
elections. We will build on and refine this platform every year for local, state, federal,
and special elections.
One of our key policy initiatives over the next 5+ years is to leverage our local
infrastructure to recruit candidates at the state level and position ourselves to be able to
successfully pass a Constitutional Amendment removing the state from local education.
Passing amended SB 193 will divert school choice resources to an approach that will
increase the overall size of government and threaten to destroy the private school
market in the same way the government has destroyed the free market in healthcare.
Amended SB193 is not pro-liberty and will hinder any real progress towards getting the
state out of education. Vote NO.