Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The New Hampshire Advantage Coalition

Yesterday we had the pleasure of meeting Tammy Simmons of The New Hampshire Advantage Coalition at the Education Forum in Manchester.

Taxpayer advocates including The New Hampshire Advantage Coalition lobbied on the courts ruling to define an "adequate education", their activities were acknowledge by the Union Leader in the following article.

Tax foes lobby on schools ruling
State House Bureau Chief

CONCORD – Broad-based tax opponents called on lawmakers yesterday to reject state Supreme Court rulings that call for a definition of an adequate education by June 30.

Leaders of the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition said complying with the court's orders will force the state to adopt a sales or income tax to raise more money for public schools.

""The best course of actions would be for the Legislature not to give in to the court's demand," NHAC executive director Tammy Simmons said. She estimated the cost that will be put upon the state at $2 billion. Current state aid is in the $850 million range, including funds raised by the statewide property tax.

Members of the group argued that the court overstepped its constitutional authority in ordering the Legislature to act.

"Now's the time to call the court's bluff," said Rep. Gregory Sorg, R-Franconia.

But other members of the New Hampshire House from both parties said the state needs to act to avoid more court intervention in the long-running Claremont school funding case. "There is no way to back away from the position. We have to adopt something," said Rep. David Hess, R-Hooksett.

He and other Republicans argue that the state should define adequacy and put a funding plan in place at the same time.

"There is an inextricable connection between costing and a definition," Rep.

Neal Kurk, R-Weare, said.

Rep. Kimberley Casey, D-East Kingston, who serves on the House Education Committee with Hess, said that ignoring the court will not work.

"Should we do nothing? If we do nothing, just watch property taxes continue to rise and really hurt the New Hampshire advantage we have," she said. "If the state is going to give any money at all to schools, we need to know what we're paying for, so defining adequacy is a necessary exercise right now." Gov. John Lynch wants to adopt a definition of adequacy now and figure out the cost later. He also plans to propose a constitutional amendment to give the state flexibility in allocating aid among school districts.

NHAC director Gardner Goldsmith argued that it is impossible to objectively define a subjective notion like adequacy. He also said any definition needs to have a cost attached.

"States who adopted standards to gauge student performance without any idea of the cost ended up with more lawsuits and higher taxes," he said.

NHAC officials said they plans to launch a series of community forums at the local level, and to publicize their opposition to the court's orders.

Quote of the day.

There is, in fact, only one solution: the state, the government, the laws must not in any way concern themselves with schooling or education. Public funds must not be used for such purposes. The rearing and instruction of youth must be left entirely to parents and to private associations and institutions. Ludwig Von Mises

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