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Steve Winter
State Representative
District 3


June 11, 2011
"Down-shifting"

Steven Winter represents the towns of Newbury and Sutton, Merrimack District 3, in the NH House of Representatives.

Representative Winter is a member of the House Executive Department & Administration  Committee, The Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Reform and the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR).

"Many individual cuts may be unpopular or difficult but these are the difficult decisions and political compromises we expect from our leaders in times of fiscal crisis."
 -
Charles Arlinghaus, Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy


Our friends on the other side of the aisle put on a good show last week. Using a three person tag team approach, the Democrats read off the education funding cuts for the 119 towns that would not get anticipated funding in the new 2012-2013 budget that begins on July 1, 2011. The cuts ranged from approximately $2,000 for some small towns up to $30,000,000 for the city of Manchester. It "proved" the Republicans were down-shifting costs to the cities and towns.

At the same time, however, the Republicans claimed that there were no cuts to cities or towns for education in the new 2012-2013 budget. No town would receive more or less than the amount received in the 2010-2011 budget. How could this be?

It turns out that cuts to education were not contained in the new budget. The "cuts" were made in 2008 by the Democrats themselves. Their plan was to restore funding under the old distribution plan when the economy improved – in 2011. As we can read in the newspapers, the economy has not improved. Moreover, as this is written, there are indications that the national economy is at best in the doldrums and at worst possibly slipping backward.

It would be irresponsible for the budget planners to "restore" anticipated funding for education as the economy heads south. Besides, we have heard from many school officials that they have successfully accommodated the current budget and are thankful that no further cuts are being made. So much for the accusation that Republicans are down-shifting education costs to the cities and towns.

What about the down-shifting of costs to the municipalities for "local aid" other than school funding? Part I, Article 28-a of our Constitution reads in part, "The state shall not mandate or assign any new, expanded or modified programs or responsibilities to any political subdivision in such a way as to necessitate additional local expenditures by the political subdivision unless such programs or responsibilities are fully funded by the state…"

There are no mandates involved in any of our cuts in local aid funding. The funds being cut are not applied locally for any programs mandated by the state. Nearly half of our state’s budget is made up of local education funding and "local aid" funding for our municipalities. Charles Arlinghaus, quoted above, suggests that the 45% of the budget that is state aid to towns and schools should not be exempt from cuts. He feels that the notion of "we’re all in this together" should not be translated to "half of us are in this together."

I agree. There should be no need for local governments to raise property taxes because of these cuts. They should instead make tough decisions and courageously tighten their belts, as the state has had to do, to meet the challenges of this fragile economy.

 

 

Steve Winter, Representative, Merrimack District 3
Newbury and Sutton, New Hampshire 

Telephone:  603-271- 3125 and 271-3319
Email: libertynh@myfairpoint.net


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