Monday, January 22, 2007

Study finds education suits do little to improve schools

The following article appeared in the Union Leader on January 19, 2007. The article below is a must read in light of the Claremont decision and the need to define an "adequate education". More taxes, for example an increase in the income taxes for schools will only beget more taxes in the future. Public schools are government schools and like all forms of government there is waste, corruption and fraud. Public schools have a spending problem not a funding problem.

Study finds education suits do little to improve schools
Union Leader Staff
Friday, Jan. 19, 2007

A report released yesterday contends states that increased their share of spending on education in response to legal challenges throughout the 1990s did not see corresponding benefits such as tax relief and tax equity among communities.

Even the promise of more overall spending on education was not realized, according to the report, when a state's burden was increased.

The report by the Committee for Sensible School Funding, "State Education Finance Reforms: Fiscal Lessons for New Hampshire from Other States," was distributed yesterday to the governor's office and state lawmakers.

Rick Jenkinson, of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. and a member of the committee comprised of a variety of New Hampshire businesses, said he hopes the report is used as a resource in the Legislature's looming debate on education funding.

"It shows there are unintended consequences, both on the expenditure side and tax side," said Jenkinson, to increasing school funding at the state level.

The state Supreme Court in October charged state lawmakers with devising a funding mechanism that provides each child with an "adequate" education. If that undefined standard isn't met by June 30, the court has threatened to impose its own funding plan.

New Hampshire is not alone. Education funding has faced legal challenges in 45 states since the 1970s. Education finance laws have been overturned in 27 states, but most that have adopted reforms continue to face litigation.

"It just never goes away," said Brian Gottlob, principal of PolEcon Research and author of the report, "so there's got to be some lessons to be learned from this."

Among the report's findings:

Overall state and local taxes per capita increased more in states that increased their share of education funding.

Local taxes drop at first in response to more state aid, but within three years that effect is eliminated and local property taxes return to rapid growth.

Increasing a state's share of education funding comes at the expense of funding other state programs and activities.

Within New Hampshire, Gottlob cited programs with bipartisan support, such as the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program and spending for the developmentally disabled, that have lost funding to the "super right" mandate of education funding.

Over the long term, per-pupil expenditures grow more slowly in states that provide a larger share of education funding.

In states that take a larger portion of education funding, local government spending grows more than in states that don't take on an increased education funding burden.

Lawsuit abuse is a major contributor to the increased costs of healthcare, goods and services to consumers.
Charles W. Pickering

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