CONCORD, N.H.— Today, Governor Sununu delivered his budget address. During the budget address the governor announced more money to our neighborhood public schools while also increasing public money to the ballooning, unaccountable and unproven voucher program. AFT-NH President Deb Howes released the following statement:
“The money to our local neighborhood public schools is welcome and long overdue. Our public schools have long been some of the least funded in the country and local property taxpayers have been forced to pick up the tab. We are happy to see more state funds going to support the educational needs of our students in our local neighborhood schools by increasing the base adequacy aid and free and reduced aid per student.
However, the governor’s budget also included a dramatic increase of funding for the state’s voucher program. The funding for the program, which is already massively over-budget, should not come out of the education trust fund, which is constitutionally obligated to fund only our public schools.
Voucher expansion is right around the corner. We thought we would see a vote of the full House on voucher expansion on Tuesday, February 14th, but it was not placed on the House calendar. The full House will have to vote by the week of February 20th. We need your help to make sure our legislators understand the out-of-control voucher program cannot be expanded and that they should be making sure all students have a robust public education system. The two bills which would expand the current voucher program are HB 464 and HB 367.
In case you missed it, you can read the written testimony submitted by AFT-NH on these two bills at the following link AFT-NH President Deb Howes' Written Testimony In Opposition to HB 464 and HB 367.
Update on Action Needed We need you to start today by contacting your state representatives even though the vote won’t be this week. Once you take action, please share the action with family, friends, and allies.
You can click on the following link to find the contact information for your own state representative.
AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin
Public Education is still under attack. It was another busy week of public hearings on education bills. The bills ranged from public school choice allowing attendance at any school district in the state to trans bathroom bans to book bans. Extremism by anti-education politicians was in full force this week. Those bills and many others will be voted on in committee next week and we will keep you up to date on how the committee deals with these bills.
CONCORD, N.H.—The following is a statement from AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes on HB 514, a bill to provide a procedure for people to complain about so-called obscene materials in K-12 and higher education classes and public libraries but that does not even clearly define what would be considered obscene:
“For all intents and purposes, this legislation about the dissemination of obscene materials is a book ban bill. Incredibly, the bill’s sponsors don’t even have the guts to clearly define what would be considered obscene, so it’s really meant to intimidate teachers and deprive students—both school-aged and adults—of books that one person who files a complaint deems objectionable. It practically begs parents or guardians to complain about a particular book to their local school board in the case of public schools, opening the way to a chaotic free-for-all. For public universities, public libraries and museums, it adds the Department of Education to the agencies that can initiate legal hearings to find material ‘obscene’ after receiving anonymous citizen complaints. Higher education faculty actually could be arrested, charged and indicted if they are found to be using a book that is judged to be obscene, whatever that means.
AFT-NH Testimony on HB 441
From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH
Thank you, Chairperson Ladd and Members of the House Education Committee, for reading my testimony.
My name is Debrah Howes. I am the president of the American Federation of Teachers-NH. AFT-NH represents 4,000 teachers, paraeducators and school support staff, public service employees and higher education faculty across New Hampshire. My members work with approximately 29,000 of the 165,000 public school students in New Hampshire in one way or another. I am writing today in opposition to HB441, eliminating residency requirements for public school attendance.
We often say that all Granite State students should have access to a great public education regardless of which zip code they live in, and we mean it. New Hampshire has a long tradition of cherishing public education. It is so important, we enshrined public education in our constitution. Despite cherishing public education, New Hampshire has a problem with how it funds public education, as the courts have found repeatedly. And that is where the problem with this proposal comes in. NH ranks last in state funding for public schools. In fact, out of every dollar spent by a local school district, about $0.64 comes from local property taxes, $0.31 comes from state funding and the remaining $0.05 comes from federal funding, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
CONTACT THE NH SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE TODAY!
On Tuesday, the NH Senate Finance committee will begin discussing SB57: relative to the reduction in the calculation of state retirement annuities at age 65. This bill is one we have seen several times in the last few years because it moves the 10% reduction Group I members receive in their pension benefit at age 65 to social security age, which currently is 67.
Below there is a link to talking points with historical information as well as an email/call template for your outreach Most importantly, this year we are the CLOSEST to passing such legislation and WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Please take a moment to email and call the members of the Senate Finance committee who will vote on this bill next week. This bill impacts ALL active Group I members, but those closest to retiring could see an impact very soon. This bill would allow you to collect 20% more pension benefit between age 65-67.
Currently, the average Group I benefit average is approximately $20,000. This would mean if passed a Group I member will be able to collect an additional $4,000 between age 65 and 67 that they currently lose due to this law.