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N.H. Senate passes school-funding fix, research-and-development tax credit expansion

A unanimous state Senate voted yesterday to expand New Hampshire’s research-and-development tax credit and fix a technical problem that would otherwise cost local schools a total of $3.4 million this year in state aid.

In a 28-minute session, the Senate passed eight pieces of legislation and killed one, all unanimously or on voice votes. The bill that was killed would have studied the possible consolidation of school administrative units.

The bill expanding the research-and-development tax credit program from $1 million a year to $2 million, and removing its 2015 sunset date, passed on a 23-0 vote. A similar bill passed the Senate last year, but died after the then-GOP-controlled House attached an anti-abortion amendment.

The legislation “represents an important way that we as a government can encourage and support the businesses that have invested their resources in our great state,” said Sen. Bob Odell, a Lempster Republican and chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Having passed the GOP-led Senate, the bill now goes to the House, where Democrats hold a majority. Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, has said she’ll sign it into law.

“This measure is a significant step forward in our efforts to attract new businesses, support our existing companies and keep New Hampshire a leader in the innovation economy,” Hassan said in a statement yesterday. “I applaud members of the Senate from both parties for their action, and I look forward to working with the House to quickly enact this important priority.”

The Senate also voted, 23-0, to pass a bill fixing a technical issue with a formula for distributing state grants to local schools. Without it, scores of school districts across the state would receive less money than they had expected this year.

“By passing the legislation, we will prevent confusion, we’ll prevent delay and the potential for higher taxes for the people who live in those communities,” said Sen. Molly Kelly, a Keene Democrat and the bill’s prime sponsor.

The Senate also passed a bill to fix a problem with local tax caps. It’s a permanent version of the temporary fix passed by both the House and the Senate on Jan. 2 for the Newfound Area School District, which last year became the first school district in the state to adopt a tax cap.

And the Senate voted to grant degree-granting authority to the American University of Madaba, a private college in Jordan that legally is based in Concord. Under state law, institutions of higher education need permission from the Legislature to grant degrees, with a few exceptions.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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