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Public School Proud   This week showed what happens when you stand by your values, stand with your allies and call on lawmakers to stand up for the people in your communities. When you fight for what’s important you win, and this week, we did - for our, public schools, communities, and local property taxpayers. All About the Budget  At the beginning of the week, it looked like the NH House would take a vote on a state budget that was bad for public education. The budget that came out of House Finance this past week had a funding formula for public schools that hurt our communities that needed the most help, drastically expanded the over budget, unaccountable school voucher program and combined the Education Trust Fund – the dedicated piggy bank to pay for public education - with the General Fund. It also prevented new Community College System employees from joining the NH Retirement System. Thankfully, yesterday public education champions in the legislature fought to improve the budget and bring much needed changes. The funding formula was changed in the budget so that it helps all of our communities—especially those communities that need it the most. The voucher program was removed completely from the budget. The Community College employees will continue to be able to join the NH Retirement System. Unfortunately, the amendment to separate the Education Trust Fund from the General Fund again and protect it failed BUT the budget process is not over.  There will be time for the Senate to make that change and we will need your voices to make sure that happens. MORE
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AFT-NH: House Budget Deal Appreciated CONCORD, N.H.—The following is a statement from AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes on the New Hampshire House’s budget deal: “Thank goodness the House approved a deal that rejected several proposals which would have endangered public education funding and raised local property taxes to fund what our public school students need to succeed and thrive. It’s become exhausting as extremist lawmakers try repeatedly to destroy public education with culture-war, pro-privatization education proposals and then, thankfully, the House throws most of them out in the end. Today’s successful House budget deal removes any expansion of school vouchers and changes the education funding formula to put more money in targeted education aid for towns with poor property-tax bases. This means 185 out of 245 districts get more funding to better support student learning. The deal also removed proposed language that would have cut off new employees in the community college system from joining the New Hampshire Retirement System pension plan. “Not everything was a victory, however. The House also narrowly voted down the proposal to restore the Education Trust Fund as a lockbox for funding public education, as it was intended. That will be a fight with the next budget and the next Legislature.” MORE
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AFT-NH: House Should Reject Budget Proposed Budget Would Raid State’s Education Trust Fund Howes: It Would Become a Reverse “Rob Peter to Pay Paul” Scheme CONCORD, N.H.—The following is a statement from AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes, urging the New Hampshire House to reject the proposed budget for many reasons, including the fact that it would raid the Education Trust Fund for any non-education purposes and make public schools depend on even more local property taxes and lottery revenues: “All 165,000 Granite State public school students should be guaranteed safe and welcoming public schools that are fully staffed, well-resourced and provide curriculum to meet their learning needs. Instead, the proposed budget would raid the Education Trust Fund of hundreds of millions of dollars for non-education purposes, even tax cuts for the wealthy. This would become a reverse ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ scheme that would mean more tax cuts for the rich, less money for our public schools, and therefore inadequate and inequitable education funding. Our public schools would be totally dependent on lottery revenues and local property taxpayers, who already are buckling under the burden. This budget demonstrates that New Hampshire couldn’t care less about properly supporting our public school students. Budgets are about values; this proposed budget gambles with our children’s future. The House must reject it.” # # # MORE
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We made it into April, which in New Hampshire means 3 things: mud season is in full swing, the Red Sox are playing baseball and every other year the wrangling over the state budget kicks into high gear. Next week the NH House will vote on the budget of the next two years. While this budget does not contain many of the non-budget related policy items we saw two years ago, it still fails the needs of most Granite Staters in many areas. One key area is public education. This budget begins to fully bring Frank Edelblut’s vision of education as a commodity rather than a public good for the community to life. It makes major cuts to public education, puts the current school voucher program on steroids, and changes the public education funding formula to hurt towns that need help the most. These cuts to public education are combined with tax cuts for ultra-millionaires at our expense, as local property taxpayers are left to pick up even more of the burden when the state provides almost no aid to property-poor towns. MORE
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We scored a major victory this week in keeping our public schools safe and welcoming places for ALL of our students and preventing teachers and school staff from being punished for respecting their students’ privacy. That is the good news. The bad news is that we will have to fight the same fight again next week as a very similar bill crosses over from the NH Senate.

Recap  The full House was in session two days this week up against a major deadline and they had almost 100 bills to get through. These bills included HB 10, the House version of the so-called parental bill of rights, HB 331, a

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CONCORD, N.H.—The following is a statement from AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes on today’s N.H. House defeat of parental bill of rights legislation and the tabling of two voucher bills: “The defeat of these bills signals that the Granite State doesn’t support extremist politicians’ efforts to wage culture wars in the classroom and divert more public dollars for expanded voucher programs. Students and families deserve a state government and Legislature that is laser focused on ensuring that our public schools provide robust academic programs and offer appropriate social and emotional assistance to students. “The proposed parental bill of rights legislation was a shameful effort straight out of a culture war handbook, rather than a sincere effort to enable teachers and parents to work together in the best interest of students. Let’s hope this brings an end to a terrible foray into the euphemism of parental rights but really was an abuse of students’ and educators’ rights. MORE