Saturday, June 9, 2007

Education Funding Lawsuits Nothing New

The following piece was presented by Jim Peschke at the hearing regarding CACR 18. As you will read adequate education lawsuits are nothing new.

The proposed constitutional amendment is a troublesome vehicle for addressing the court’s education funding mandate. I wish to make this case from three points of view: constitutional, historical, and practical.

In directing the legislature to pass specific laws, the court has overstepped the authority granted it by the New Hampshire Constitution and cast aside over 200 years of legal precedent establishing education as a local function. In effect, the court
has enacted its own amendment with consent from neither the people nor the legislature. Addressing this constitutional crisis with an amendment is inappropriate and sets a dangerous precedent.

Just how dangerous? I searched the web looking for other states recently sued for education funding. This was not difficult; forty seven states have been targeted by education funding lawsuits in recent years. In many cases, plaintiffs consisted of groups positioned to reap direct financial benefits from increased education spending.

A few examples. In 1988 Californians passed Proposition 98, a constitutional amendment sponsored by the California Teachers Association guaranteeing state funding of education for grades K-14(1). This amendment mandates spending increases regardless of the financial health of the state. The results have been disastrous. From 1992 to 2002, inflation adjusted per-pupil education revenue increased 29%(2), with no corresponding increase in academic achievement.

If Californians believed that Proposition 98 would at last bring an end to education lawsuits, they were in for a surprise. In May 2000 a group of organizations led by the ACLU filed Williams v. California, resulting in an August 2004 settlement costing California taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually(3).

Before the ink on Williams v. California could dry, the CTA and other groups launched an all-out assault on Governor Schwarzenegger’s reform proposals, proposals which would not have cut education funding but merely slowed the rate of increase(1). The multimillion dollar TV ad blitz paid off handsomely. All four reform proposals were defeated, and education spending in California is at an all time high.

Illinois’ constitution promises “primary funding” for education in Article X. In 1990, 60+ school districts named the Committee for Educational Rights sued Illinois demanding 51% state education funding.(4) It sounds like something that could happen here, except that 51% was never even written into Article X. If the education industry is willing to sue Illinois for a non-codified 51%, imagine what we’ll have to look forward to if we actually write 50% into our constitution.

In spite of their 3% income tax, multibillion dollar budget deficit, and some of the highest business taxes in the nation, pressure from rallies organized by the Illinois Education Association and other school groups has forced lawmakers and the Governor into battle over which new multibillion dollar tax proposal should be enacted for - you guessed it - education spending increases.

These examples show that passage of CACR18 will not only fail to stem the tide of funding lawsuits, it will actually encourage them, and almost certainly lead to sweeping new taxes. We might as well place a red sign on the front door of the statehouse that reads “sue me!”

If the perils of our neighbors are not persuasive enough, consider this. There is every chance that this amendment will never get past the people of New Hampshire. If the people defeat CACR18, we’ll be right back where we started, having done nothing to dissuade the court from interfering in what is rightly a legislative responsibility. The time to stop the courts is now. The time to stop the lawsuits is now. CACR18 will do neither.

1. California Education Reform - Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California Berkeley.

2. How Important Are Education Funding Comparisons? - Lance T. Izumi, Pacific Research Institute, Feb. 23, 2005

3. California Judge Finalizes Historic Education Settlement in ACLU Lawsuit - and

4. Supreme Court of Illinois in Docket No. 78198 The Committee for Educational Rights et. al., Appellants v. Jim Edgar, Governor of the State of Illinois, et al., Appellees.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Lynch has no intention of spending your money wisely.

The pandering to unions and spending will continue under Lynch's reign. Lynch never had any intention of controlling spending or running the New Hampshire Government in a fiscally responsible manor. Once he allowed state employees to unionize all control of efficiency and fiscal responsibility were lost. The three major things unions produce are mediocrity, bloated bureaucracy and wasteful spending. The more spending the democrats enact the more likely they will remain in office as more and more people start living off of taxpayers hard earned dollars.

Ethical and hard working individuals do not need unions only lazy unproductive individuals need unions.

The editorial below appeared in the

Lynch's party: The headless donkey

Friday, Jun. 8, 2007

GOV. JOHN LYNCH exerted considerable energy in attempting to persuade legislators to pass a constitutional amendment that would restore legislative control of education funding. He might as well have tried to move Mount Washington.

For almost eight months Lynch worked legislators, particularly his fellow Democrats, to back an amendment that would allow the state to target education aid to less affluent school districts. On Thursday the House killed an amendment personally endorsed by Lynch, and Democrats made sure it stayed dead even after Lynch asked them to revive it.

Lynch first endorsed an amendment on Oct. 11 of last year. In his inaugural address on Jan. 4 he called on legislators to come together to pass an amendment. Since then he has worked with Democrats and Republicans to find a deal both sides could support. He made clear to Democrats that he wanted an amendment, and he pushed for one both privately and publicly.

But it was all for naught. Despite his best efforts, he could not persuade even half of House Democrats to support an amendment that allowed targeted aid, wrote the central premise of the Claremont rulings into the state constitution and left the courts with oversight of the issue.

It was the most important of two critical defeats legislative Democrats gave Lynch this session. The other was on the budget. The governor introduced a large state budget, but House Democrats immediately inflated it, ignoring his entreaties to budget more responsibly. Senate Democrats trimmed the House version, but not back to the level Lynch had proposed.

On easy, popular issues, the governor has had his way. The Legislature raised the high school dropout age to 18, banned smoking in bars and restaurants, rolled back some welfare reforms passed last year, and approved a renewable energy mandate -- all items Lynch requested in his inaugural address and that had widespread backing within his party.

But when it came to controlling the Democratic Party's insatiable appetite for new spending, Lynch was powerless. He could only watch as his party loaded up the budget and killed the last chance legislators would have this session to prevent a broadbased tax to finance public schools.

Legislative Democrats showed the governor this week that he might be the head of the party, but they are the ones in charge. The donkey is running around without direction from the top, kicking over all sorts of New Hampshire values and traditions.

Lynch calmly reassured voters last year that they could elect a Democratic Legislature without worry because he would keep spending under control and prevent lawmakers from imposing a sales or income tax. He has failed to do the former and now appears in danger of failing to do the latter.

The question now is not where will Gov. Lynch lead us. It is where will the liberal majority of his party drag us, with him helplessly in tow along with the rest of the state?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


The following was sent to us by Tammy Simmons of The New Hampshire Advantage Coalition at


One of the arguments being advanced in favor of the constitutional amendments presently percolating in the House, the most prominent of these being the Whalley and Smith amendments (I’ll call them the House amendments), is that they would restore the status quo prior to the Claremont decisions. This argument is stunningly wrong.

The status quo ante Claremont, in terms of constitutional law, was that the representative branches had plenary power to set education policy. It was not that the Legislature had to utilize a centralized, top-down system of public education or, more specifically, that the Legislature had to define curriculum, set standards and determine funding for the entire State, which is what the House amendments would write into the Constitution.

Advocates of the House amendments argue that, because there has been State control of public education for a really long time, there really has never been any such thing as “local control.” It’s just a myth. So, according to them, we’re not really losing anything by giving up local control to forestall a potential court-ordered income tax. They couldn’t be more wrong.

While it is true that there has been a State Board of Education and State standards since 1919, the important point is that these things have never been constitutionally compelled. The House amendments, however, would constitutionally compel this bureaucratic, top-down approach to public education. Thus, such an amendment would permanently enshrine in our Constitution a failed, obsolescent 19th century model of public education. No future Legislature or Governor would be able to affect any meaningful change by, for example, devolving authority to local decision-makers.

Further, there is such a thing as “local control” and the House amendments would surely kill it. While the State may have been setting standards for a long time, it has been local decision-makers that have decided how much to spend to implement these standards. This degree of local control is what has kept New Hampshire’s tax burden low relative to the other states.

The House amendments, however, would kill local control because the Legislature would be required to determine how much should be spent in each school district. The passage of any of the House amendments would result in the proverbial race to the bottom.

Efficient and frugal school districts would be forced to spend up to the level set by the education mandarins in Concord, even though they could do it cheaper and better. Taxpayers would no longer be able to vote with their feet by moving to a different school district to escape overspending, mismanagement and waste because overspending, mismanagement and waste will be ubiquitous. The only relief from high taxes and bad public schools will be to move out of the State.

The irony in all this is that one of the arguments ventilated for the House amendments is that sacrificing local control is a small price to pay to prevent an income tax. Ending what local control we have over public education will not prevent an income tax, as there is nothing in the House amendments prohibiting an income tax. Just the opposite, killing local control makes an income tax much, much more likely. The inevitable result of the loss of local control over property taxes is that the income tax will be seen as the only potential source of tax relief.

The House amendments are policy and tax pigs, no matter how much lipstick their advocates apply.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. It is the Ingbretson amendment. Instead of writing the failed policies of the past into the Constitution, as the House amendments would do, the Ingbretson amendment builds on what has worked and allows us the flexibility to make real improvements to education. And unlike the House amendments, it does not grease the skids for an income tax.

Undoubtedly one of the knocks on the Ingbretson amendment will be that it was not crafted by the “expert legal minds” that crafted the House amendments. But remember what caused our present state of affairs: five expert legal minds took it upon themselves to impose their views on education policy on the rest of us. Isn’t it about time that the lawyers went back to lawyering and left public education to those who actually know something about it?

If the goal is to pass an amendment that preserves what is good and unique about New Hampshire while allowing us to meet the challenges of the future, the only choice is the Ingbretson amendment.

Tammy Simmons
Executive Director
The New Hampshire Advantage
(603) 235-9998

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Estabrook's fantasy: Schools with limitless resources

Hmm. How did we miss this great editorial in the Union Leader.

The Editorial below is dead on correct. Not only is this Estabrook's fantasy it is the fantasy of all NEA and AFT members. Government school employees have an insatiable appetite for money and no amount of money will satisfy these greedy individuals.

The Education Intelligence Agency is a must read for all those who want to follow the antics of the unions who are destroying America's public education system.

Estabrook's fantasy: Schools with limitless resources

Friday, Jun. 1, 2007

SEN. IRIS ESTABROOK, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has crafted a definition of adequate education so comprehensive that it would either bankrupt the state or require the immediate imposition of a sales or income tax. Or both.

Estabrook has amended House Bill 927, which would define an "adequate education," as mandated by the state Supreme Court in last year's Londonderry decision. For "enhanced needs schools," it would mandate experienced teachers, smaller class sizes, full-day kindergarten, "student support services, including special education, guidance, nursing, psychological services and speech/language services," staff training and development and "instructional resources, including library and technology." All of this the state must finance.

It also would remove the modifier "half day" from the bill's kindergarten requirement for all schools.

Having committed the state to a huge spike in school aid, Estabrook then leaves for future legislatures the "determination of the specific resource elements essential to providing the substantive educational content of an adequate education." Oh, and the cost, too.

If these elements are "essential," then why not attach a price tag to them? If we cannot do without them, their cost matters not. But of course, we can do without them. New Hampshire consistently posts among the best test scores in the nation, year after year, without these costly mandates of questionable value.

The Senate Education Committee, if it is wise, will vote down this thinly veiled attempt to create a broadbased tax.

Monday, June 4, 2007

SB 216 and SB 91

SB 216 means bad news for taxpayers across the state and for Croydon citizens. This bill will give power to city and state employees while weakening taxpayers abilities to keep government spending under control. Please call your senator and ask them to vote no on SB 216.

For more information you can read the story in the Union Leader.

No bargain: Keep elections for public unions

THE STATE Employees Association already has the power to dock the pay of non-members and use their money for its own purposes. Now legislators are considering granting the association and other public employee unions the power to organize a collective bargaining unit by obtaining employee signatures. It is a serious transfer of power away from employees and to the unions.

Under current law, public employees must vote to unionize. Senate Bill 216 would revoke the employees' right to determine their representation by secret ballot. With a secret-ballot election, the fear of retaliation from either union bosses or managers is greatly mitigated. That is not the case with pledge cards or petitions.

Union bosses can intimidate employees into signing petitions or cards, which by their nature are not secret. Managers can intimidate employees into not signing them.

The current law, which calls for an election if 30 percent of a bargaining unit's employees petition for one, is far superior to the system presented in SB 216, which would take power from employees and give it to the unions. That is a bad deal for employees. Legislators need to kill the bill.

New Hampshire Advantage Coalition - CACR Announcement

Compromise Amendment Drafted to Preserve Local Control
NH Advantage reiterates argument against CACR18

June 4, 2007
For immediate release

Manchester, NH – Local control of the educational process in our schools has New Hampshire ranked third in the nation in academic achievement, though the critical issue before the NH House this week will be the matter of amending the NH Constitution to somehow improve the chaos caused by the Claremont/Londonderry decisions. All amendments currently on the table – Lynch’s, Whalley’s, Kurk’s, Smith’s – eliminate or diminish local influence over the education of our children. They hand over all control to the State...permanently and fatally.

New Hampshire Advantage Coalition announced today that the new amendment that has been drafted and that will be presented on the House floor on Wednesday by Rep. Paul Ingbretson, R-Haverhill, is not only a compromise we can live with, it is one we can support.

The amendment reads as follows: (new Article 83-a, Part II) [Local Education] The local political subdivision responsible for providing public education shall have the power to determine curriculum, to set standards and to determine the amount of funding thereof. The Legislature shall have the power to provide supplemental funding and to determine the amount and the allocation of these state funds.

“While NHAC holds the opinion that the Supreme Court has overstepped their bounds, we believe that this compromise amendment recognizes the supremacy of local control and will once and for all end the continuous lawsuits that have plagued our state,” said Mike Biundo, NHAC Chairman. “This amendment also protects the NH Advantage by avoiding the need for an income tax,” he continued.

We understand the reasoning on why many on both sides of the aisle have been of the opinion that a constitutional amendment was not needed, however, this amendment reaffirms local and legislative authority over our schools.

“If passed, this ‘big picture amendment’ would assure that New Hampshire's schools would remain for the future, under the close influence of those who entrust the care and education of their children for seven hours of each day of the work week – parents,” commented NHAC Legislative Director Paul Mirski.

For more information, contact Tammy Simmons, Executive Director, at 235-9998 or visit our website at

Tammy Simmons
Executive Director
The New Hampshire Advantage
(603) 235-9998

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The big NH issue isn't presidential

There are three flaws in the editorial below with regard to the amendment.

First, it writes the very flawed Claremont decision into the constitution. Second, it will guarantee an income tax or other tax to cover the educrats spending addiction. Third, it will not prevent future lawsuits by the Big Ed establishment. If Democrats and Republicans really want to work together they need to fight the education interest groups. There is no logical explanation as to why school money should not follow the child instead of the institution except to pander to education special interest groups. If teachers and administrations really cared about New Hampshire's children they would write school choice into the constitution instead of this dreadful court decision. Claremont I, Claremont II and the Londonderry Decision were about greed not about the best interests of New Hampshire's Children.

New Hampshire is ranked number 3 in student performance in the nation at it's current rate of spending and with its funding structure. Why change the funding system to one that is failing students in other states? Our Government Schools have a spending problem and not a funding problem. Unless we stop the spending spree no amendment in the world will fix the underlying problems plaguing New Hampshire government schools.

The below editorial appeared in the Union Leader.

Editorial: The big NH issue isn't presidential
New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher
10 hours, 43 minutes ago

A lot of national attention will be paid New Hampshire this week, underlining our important role in presidential primary politics. But there is a much more vital local issue facing our state. If it is not handled in reasonable, bipartisan fashion, the timing of primaries will be the least of our worries.

Key legislators from both parties appear close to acceptable wording on a constitutional amendment proposal that would, finally, allow the PEOPLE of New Hampshire to affirm their belief that the state's role in education funding is to target limited aid, not pick up the whole tab.

We believe the people would wholeheartedly ratify such an amendment and would give credit where it would be due -- to the Republicans who have long favored it and also to Gov. John Lynch and those Democrats who have now agreed that an amendment is needed to negate a far-wrong state supreme court ruling.

The amendment proposal may not satisfy everyone. We have heard that one side worries that the other will claim all the credit for it.

This is way too important for New Hampshire to be viewed in partisan terms. If the amendment proposal is to succeed, it is going to take Republicans and Democrats who appreciate the New Hampshire Advantage.

Believe it or not, on this most important issue, that sort of consensus was once the norm. If Republican leader Mike Whalley and Democratic Finance Chair Marjorie Smith -- along with Gov. Lynch -- put their heads together this weekend, it can be done again. If they don't, New Hampshire will have lost its best chance to finally resolve this long, wasteful battle that threatens the very essence of our state.