The Concord Monitor has teed up the education funding debate with a detailed report laying out the markers on all sides. The legislators maintain the positions they took last year. The difference is the Governor-Elect (statement highlighted) who apparently does not see an amendment as a given. Here are some excerpts. Click the Link for the full piece.
By MOLLY A.K. CONNORS Monitor staffSaturday, November 24, 2012
(Published in print: Saturday, November 24, 2012)
In June,state lawmakers came as close as they ever have to passing a constitutional amendment changing the way New Hampshire schools are funded.
They failed, but this January, a new governor will be inaugurated, Democrats will take control of the House and there will probably be yet another attempt to fix what critics say is an ineffective and inefficient system.
It’s just going to be an uphill battle.
The Legislature has tweaked the funding formula to award money on top of the $3,400 based on considerations such as the number of students who speak English as a second language, qualify for a free or reduced lunch or have special needs, said Sen. Nancy Stiles, a Hampton Republican on the education committee.
But there’s room for improvement, and she said she will re-introduce the amendment that failed in June with the understanding it will likely be amended.
“I think we probably will have the votes in the Senate,” Stiles said. “A lot will depend on the relationship that Gov. Hassan will have with the House members, because it is a Democratic House.”
In a statement yesterday, her spokesman, Marc Goldberg, said Hassan – an Exeter Democrat – will not support anything that “lets the Legislature walk away” from its responsibility to fund education.
“The Governor-Elect believes we must be continually reviewing the school-funding plan to make sure we are keeping track of the ever-changing educational demands of our state, but does not foresee major immediate changes to current formulas,” Goldberg said in a statement.
Rep. Gary Richardson, a Hopkinton Democrat, also voted against the measure but for the opposite reason Hoell did: It didn’t keep enough court authority over school funding.
“If you give the Legislature full discretion, they will balance their budget by cutting down on the amount of money that is provided for education,” Richardson said.
He said he hopes to introduce an amendment that will allow lawmakers to better target funding to school districts that need money while preserving some of the courts’ authority.
“I think the tide has turned,” Richardson said. “I think people support targeting, and I think that if we can bring a pure targeting amendment on the floor, I think we can get the votes to pass it.”
Easier said than done, said Martin Gross, a lawyer who’s advised Lynch on education funding since his election in 2004.
Gross said there are “taker towns” that benefit just enough from the formula that they’ll block reform efforts.
“They say ‘No, no, no, no, no, don’t go to an equalization approach’ because they probably won’t end up doing as well,” Gross said.
(Molly A.K. Connors can be reached at 369-3319 or
email@example.com or on Twitter @MAKConnors)