Final Stretch of State Budget Approval Process
State Budget and Education Funding Every single Granite State student, no matter which district they come from, deserves a well-resourced neighborhood public school fully staffed by experienced, caring teachers and well trained paraeducators to support their learning. They also need the whole village of other people who help a student learn and take care of student needs during the school day such as: library media specialists, school counselors, behavior specialists, school nurses, secretaries, administrators, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers and many others. Those students need a local neighborhood school building in which to learn, with lights, heat, safe water and breathable air that won’t make them sick. They need transportation. They also need curriculum and supplemental learning materials such as: books, computers, digital licenses, paper, whiteboards and markers.
Currently, NH taxpayers spend $3.55 BILLION on educating the 165,000 students who rely on their local neighborhood public schools to get their constitutionally guaranteed right to a public education. The State of NH only provides about $1 billion of that through state taxes. The rest falls on the shoulders of local property taxpayers in the cities and towns across the Granite State, which means what a district is able to offer varies widely from place to place. It also means how heavily the tax burden falls on local taxpayers varies widely – even in the same regional school district where students attend the same schools!
While legislators in Concord work to figure out the formula for what they are willing to spend, remember, they are working on a formula that covers about 1/3 of their constitutional obligation to NH’s public school students. They are putting the rest directly on the backs of local taxpayers. Over the past 30 years, the State of New Hampshire has lost repeated lawsuits for failing to live up to their obligation to fund public education adequately and fairly. With the ConVal public education funding suit currently in the courts and awaiting a decision, and another one with individual taxpayers coming in Sept. the courts could play a role in the state’s public school funding debate in Concord before year’s end.
Public School Funding continues to be a focus this week as the Senate Finance Committee acted on an amendment to the budget that once again changes the funding formula. The Senate formula increases per pupil adequacy aid a little, increases aid based on students receiving free and reduced lunch and to towns with low property tax bases for each student they have receiving free and reduced lunch. The Senate formula is an improvement from the current funding formula but falls short of the formula the House passed earlier this year, and falls woefully short of what we really need to fund what our students deserve in our neighborhood public schools. The Senate did increase its funding proposal at the last minute to try to address the fact that most communities got less under the initial Senate proposal than in the House budget, but even with that sweetener the funding formula is far short of what our students need and deserve in their neighborhood public schools so they can learn and thrive.
This budget, like budgets before it, fails to adequately fund education. In fact, more money is spent on accelerating the interest and dividends tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy and on a bill to expand vouchers (HB367) than on the education funding increase in this budget. The expansion of the voucher program appears small but now a family of 4 earning up to $105,000 a year will be eligible for the voucher program. Since the vast majority of students in the voucher scheme already attend private schools or are being homeschooled, the expansion could cost $48 million dollars each year of largely NEW state spending.
For decades New Hampshire has been embroiled in lawsuits around funding for our neighborhood public schools. Once again, the budget fails to make the necessary changes for to help our 165,000 public school students who deserve fully staffed and well-resourced neighborhood public schools and our local property taxpayers. Our students and families across the state of New Hampshire deserve a funding formula that works for all hardworking Granite Staters and this budget once again falls short.
Expansion of School Vouchers The journey for voucher expansion is not yet over, however. Although the Senate Finance Committee passed the expansion, the full Senate must take a vote to pass it next week. Please see our action below to contact your senator and tell them to vote “no” on voucher expansion!
YOUR ACTION IS NEEDED TO STOP SCHOOL VOUCHER EXPANSION. CONTACT YOUR STATE SENATOR NOW.
Please click the following link, CONTACT YOUR STATE SENATOR, and ask them to vote NO on HB 367.
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You can also read written testimony submitted to the legislature at STATE HOUSE NEWS.
Upcoming Legislative Hearings
Wed 6/7 10:00 AM
Relative to Public School Human Rights Complaints.
Rep. Glenn Cordelli
LOB 206-208 (Judiciary/H)
Wed 6/7 10:00 AM
Relative to Complaint Procedures In Cases Before The Commission For Human Rights.
Rep. Mark McLean
LOB 206-208 (Judiciary/H)