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Legislative Update from the NH School Funding Fairness Project

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There will be no public hearings on education funding bills this week.  However, this Thursday, April 11, the NH House of Representatives will vote on two critical bills:

a.  The budget proposed by the House Finance Committee  (HB 1A, as amended).  This proposed budget includes $164 million to support increased aid to local school districts.  The additional funding would come from a capital gains tax.

b.  The “Trailer Bill” (HB2, as amended), which contains substantive information about what’s in the budget.  Among other things, HB 2 incorporates the contents of the three funding bills we’ve been following:  HBs 177, 709, and 551.  It would restore stabilization grants to 2016 levels for FY 2020, add fiscal capacity disparity aid and additional free and reduced lunch aid beginning in FY 2021, and establish a commission to develop a new funding formula.

HB 1A and HB2 each passed the House Finance Committee on a vote of 13:9 along party lines.

Reaching Higher NH has published a detailed analysis of the impact of the proposed budget on specific school districts, which you can see here.

Before Thursday’s vote, the Finance Committee will review the entire budget with House members.  This briefing is scheduled for Tuesday, 4/9, from 10:00 to 11:30 in Representatives Hall. You can watch it in person from the gallery or on line here.
What to do

Now that the funding bills have been folded into the budget, their fate will be determined by negotiations between the House, Senate and Governor over the State budget as a whole.  Although the first House vote will take place this Thursday, negotiations will be ongoing.  Here are some actions you could take to help protect the school funding portion of the budget bills:

1.  Reach out to your Senator and Representative(s) to help them understand how the school funding proposals in HB 1A and HB2 will help taxpayers, schools and businesses in your district.  If your legislators are already on record supporting these efforts, please thank them for their past support and let them know you hope the education funding portions of the bills will be non-negotiable.  To find out who your legislators are, go here.
*You can see how your representative(s) voted on HBs 177, 709 and 551  here.

*The Senate hasn’t yet voted on the adequacy formula or the independent commission as proposed in HBs 709 and 551.  However, a bill freezing cuts to stabilization grants and restoring them to 2016 levels passed unanimously in the Senate before they tabled it in order to fold it into the budget.

2.  Consider pulling together a group of constituents and making an appointment with your Senator (and a separate appointment with your Representative(s) if you can), to discuss the importance of education funding with them.  Include people who can speak to the concerns of taxpayers, the business community and the education community (including students, who can be powerful and persuasive advocates of fair school funding.)

3.  If you’d like to help organize a School Funding 101 presentation in your area, please send an email to schoolfundingfairness@gmail.com. It’s important that citizens all around the state understand the problems that result from the current funding system, so that they’ll put pressure on their legislators to fix it.

4.  Help spread the word.  School Funding 101 presentations are currently scheduled in the following places (and a few others are in the works):

  • Portsmouth:  Tuesday, April 16 at 6:00 p.m. at Portsmouth High School, 50 Andrew Jarvis Drive, Portsmouth, NH
  • New Durham, April 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the New Durham Public Library, 20 Old Bay Road, New Durham, NH

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