Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Businesses urge action on education funding constitutional amendment

The following piece appeared in the Union Leader. I wish the actual businesses that are supporting this amendment would list the name of their businesses. I would make every effort not to spend my hard earned dollars at such businesses. These people are ill informed and were likely contacted by the teachers' unions, their lobbyists, educrats and their lobbyists with requests to support this awful amendment. I would not be surprised if these groups were Delphi'ed. Take note of some of the excellent comments by Union Leader readers at the bottom of the article at unionleader.com.

Businesses urge action on education funding constitutional amendment
State House Bureau Chief
Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008

CONCORD – A coalition of businesses threw their support behind a constitutional amendment yesterday as a way to solve education funding problems.

The Business and Industry Association, with large and small retailers, grocers, restaurant and hotel operators, auto dealers and home builders, urged legislators to settle on wording for a constitutional amendment and pass it along for voter approval in November.

"Send this issue to the voters of New Hampshire and let them decide," said Nancy Kyle of the Retail Merchants Association.

Jim Roche, president of the BIA, said the hands of the Legislature are tied by a 2006 court decision that said the state is responsible to provide the first and last dollar of the cost of adequate education for all students. It cannot spend more of the statewide cost of adequacy for each pupil in one community than in another.

"That is bad public policy, bad for education and bad for taxpayers," Roche said.

The New Hampshire Senate begins hearings today on four proposed constitutional amendments, all dealing with school funding. One returns to local school districts the power to decide curriculum, and directs the state to provide "some funding" to offset costs. Another reprises last year's effort to allow aid to be targeted to needy districts, while requiring all districts to get some funding.

The BIA began backing constitutional amendments to allow targeting of state school aid in 2000.

The RMA and Grocers Association last year also supported amendment efforts. Kyle said her organization has not thrown its weight behind a specific proposal, instead urging a bipartisan effort to bring the question to voters.

Gov. John Lynch backs an effort by Senate Majority Leader Joseph Foster that will allow the state to target a bigger share of its school aid to poorer communities, in a way that "alleviates local disparities." Roche said his organization is not wedded to the Foster proposal.

He said the BIA supports "any constitutional amendment that has the legs to pass both chambers and get to voters, and allows the Legislature to target education dollars."

Roche said the organizations involved in the new coalition will urge their members to contact lawmakers, "so they all know that this ought not be a partisan issue. It ought to be an issue that is important to everybody across the board."

Besides BIA and the retailers, members of the coalition include the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association, the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Auto Dealers Association and the New Hampshire Grocers Association.

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