About the Coalition
Stretching from one end of New Hampshire to the other, and ranging in size from tiny Hart's Location to the bustling City of Portsmouth, the communities in our Coalition share a common goal: To find a long-term, sustainable education funding solution that provides equal education opportunity to every schoolchild.
Our members believe the State must establish a method to ensure truly needy communities receive extra help to meet that goal. We also believe one community should not be forced to fund education in another, as is the case under a "Donor" town -- or negative aid -- system.
The Coalition was formed in 1999 after the Legislature implemented a state property tax in an effort to meet the N.H. Supreme Court's directives to provide an "adequate" education statewide. Because it primarily relied on equalized property values to determine education grants, this system severely penalized communities that were rich in property values even if their citizens were not -- forcing them to raise and "donate" extra tax dollars to pay for education in towns that were home to people who often had much higher incomes.
The Coalition has battled in the Legislature, in the Courts and through education to replace the "Donors" vs. "Receivers" situation with a long-term, sustainable solution. For a timeline, click here.
In 2002 we assembled a team of the nation's top education funding experts and developed a plan to target aid to the neediest communities while using existing tax resources, along with a common-sense transition mechanism. House Bill 717 used realistic factors to determine education need, such as a town's fiscal capacity, cost of living and the special needs of its students. We proposed a streamlined version, House Bill 684, in 2005. The Legislature in June 2005 approved a new education funding law that included many of the elements and philosophies of the Coalition's proposals.
Since 2005, "Donor" communities have been allowed to retain any money raised from the Statewide Education Property Tax in excess of the State-defined cost of an adequate education - if the extra money is spent on local education. However, a future Legislature could change this arrangement. That is why we believe a constitutional amendment that allows for targeting of aid to the neediest communities – as is done in 48 other states – rather than allocating the same base amount per schoolchild even in exceptionally wealthy towns could help permanently eliminate the need for the Statewide Education Property Tax and also “Donor” communities.