1 Junkins Ave., Portsmouth, NH, 03801, Tel: (603) 610-7281Fax: (603) 427-1575 Email: Coalition@ch.cityofportsmouth.com

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Coalition Communities Announce New Targeted Aid Bill

Jan. 5, 2005

argeted education aid legislation supported by the Coalition Communities has been given House Bill Number 684 and assigned to the House Education Committee for consideration, the Coalition announced Wednesday.

No date has been set for a hearing on the bipartisan legislation, which targets education aid to needy communities and gradually phases in a common-sense education funding formula while putting an immediate end to the Statewide Property Tax.

House sponsors are Reps. Edmond Gionet, R-Lincoln; Jane Langley, R-Rye; Betsey Patten, R-Moultonborough; Margie Maybeck, R-Holderness, and Democratic Rep. Randy Foose of Lincoln. The Senate sponsors are Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth; Joe Kenney, R-Wakefield; Carl Johnson, R-Meredith, and John Gallus of Berlin.

"This bill already has gained bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, and we know the Governor supports targeted aid and an end to the Statewide Property Tax," said Portsmouth Mayor Evelyn Sirrell, leader of the 34-member Coalition of towns stretching from one end of the state to the other.

"The House Education Committee will be carefully reviewing all of the education funding bills over the next few weeks and we look forward to presenting HB684 to them. Our legislation is based on sound educational and financial research, and fulfills our goal of making sure that every New Hampshire schoolchild has access to a quality education.

"We are very hopeful that this will be the year that the Legislature agrees on a true targeted aid formula that efficiently uses available resources and provides a stable transition for all communities in the State. We look forward to working with the Legislature to reach this goal and we are confident that with the leadership of our sponsors, the House and Senate will carefully consider our proposal."

Rep. Gionet two years ago introduced a similar proposal on behalf of the Coalition -- House Bill 717 that passed the House but died in the Senate. HB684 is an updated and fine-tuned version of the legislation developed by a team of education funding and constitutional experts, including economist Dr. Daphne Kenyon and attorney Martin Gross.

By targeting aid to communities that truly need it - based on well-researched formulas that weigh each town's need against fiscal capacity - the State's proportionately raised existing resources in the Education Trust Fund can be used to foster equal education opportunity for every New Hampshire schoolchild. The legislation eliminates the shell game of the Statewide Property Tax - which pretends that local property tax dollars raised from local residents are "State taxes." Actually, Statewide Property Tax dollars never physically leave a community, except in the case of "Donor" towns forced to export local property tax dollars regardless of their residents' ability to pay.

The proposal establishes the State's commitment to education at the current level plus the increase in the Northeast Consumer Price Index -- $467 million in FY06 -- and sets a clear-cut reasonable cap of future growth by tying it to the Northeast CPI and the size of the student population. It enables all school districts to plan budgets around future aid payments that will be gradually adjusted over a six-year period.

The distribution formula uses the nationally recognized target of state average per-pupil spending as a measure of "adequacy" ($7,809 in NH) and goes beyond the current system by taking into account such factors as the additional costs associated with educating high school pupils, as well as students with limited English proficiency or those receiving Special Ed services, or free and reduced lunch. They become "weighted students." Multiplying the $7,890 by the ratio of total students to "weighted students" results in a per-pupil base amount of $5,816. The current base amount is $3,390.

For more information, contact Pat Remick, 610-7281


 1 Junkins Ave., Portsmouth, NH, 03801, Tel: (603) 610-7281Fax: (603) 427-1575 Email: Coalition@ch.cityofportsmouth.com