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Steve Winter
State Representative District 3


December 3, 2011
"CACR 14 - Comparison "

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).

 

"We want to break the logjam by giving the governorís amendment a vehicle to be considered by the House." 
Ė NH House Speaker, Rep. William L. OíBrien


In our last two columns we discussed the Claremont decisions that resulted in the NH Supreme Court taking control of the stateís education funding and educational requirements. For the 209 years prior to 1993, those policy decisions were in the hands of the school districts and towns.

The voters and the legislature each rejected attempts at constitutional conventions to move control to the state. Those rejections exemplified the fact that nobody ever thought that our constitution ever mandated either state control of education policy or, more importantly, education funding. Those issues had been left to local control by local voters.

Previous attempts to return education policies from the state to the local school districts have failed because these constitutional amendments were put forward to change Part II, Article 83 of our constitution, the article on which the Supreme Court based its opinions. Many legislators were opposed to changing Article 83 because, they maintained, there was nothing in that article mandating state control, contrary to what the court said. Their view was that Article 83 was not wrong; the Supreme Courtís interpretation of Article 83 was wrong.

The main purpose of a Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolution (CACR) is to allow the legislature to continue assisting school districts in need of aid by targeting funds where needed. The Supreme Court had dictated that all school districts must receive funds on a per-child basis whether the district needed the funds or not. That edict is what created donor and receiver towns, a policy that has Balkanized this state and pitted one town against another. That is not the New Hampshire Way.

Most observers agree that targeting aid to schools is the most rational way to solve the problem of the disproportionate local funding ability for schools. The debate has been how to get there.

But the two sides are now coming together. On November 30 the House will be in session to hear and vote on the Governorís proposed CACR which would take education decisions away from the court. It differs significantly from CACR 14 which is proposed to be amended by the House.

The Governorís CACR would again attempt to amend Part II, Article 83, "Encouragement of Literature, Control of Corporations, Monopolies, etc." just as the previously failed CACRs have done. The Houseís version would leave Article 83 alone. The amendment to CACR 14 would instead add a new paragraph to Part II, Article 5 "Power to Make Laws, Elect Officers, Define Their Powers and Duties, Impose Fine and Assess Taxes, etc."

The two proposals are similar but with distinct differences. The Governorís change to Article 83 would enshrine the illegitimate Claremont decisions in our constitution. By establishing control by the legislature in Article 5, that enshrinement would be neutralized if not completely removed.

If either of these amendments passes, the change enabling targeted aid will go to the voters in November, 2012.

 

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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