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Voters Urged to Ask Reps To Also Support Targeted Aid

Apr. 4, 2003

New Hampshire voters who overwhelmingly prefer targeting aid to solve the education funding problem should contact their state representatives and ask them to vote next week for House Bill 717 to implement a targeted aid transition plan this year, the director of the Coalition Communities said Friday after a key committee gave the legislation an "ought to pass" recommendation.

The full House is scheduled to vote Thursday, April 10, on education funding proposals, including the HB717 targeted aid plan developed by the Coalition Communities. An independent statewide survey released this week shows that New Hampshire voters overwhelmingly prefer the targeted aid approach, even if it means their community has enough fiscal capacity that it would receive less education funding from the State.

The House Finance Committee voted 15-7 earlier in the week to give the measure an "ought to pass" recommendation, but amended it to delay implementation by two years - which the 34-member Coalition opposes.

"The facts show New Hampshire voters want targeted education aid. Now it's time for the Legislature to listen and do what the voters want. This isn't a Republican or Democratic issue. This is an issue of everyone knowing that there is a problem with the current system and the people of New Hampshire wanting a solution now so the Legislature can turn its attention to other issues," said Ted Jankowski, director of the 34-member Coalition.

"We are urging all New Hampshire citizens to contact their state representatives before Thursday's vote and state their preference for targeted aid -- and for a solution this year," said Jankowski.

"Some lawmakers are trying to cloud the issue by claiming there is a question of constitutionality with HB717, and someone might go to court and challenge it. But frankly, we feel very confident that HB717 clearly meets the objectives of the Claremont rulings far better than either the current system or HB608.

"It's time for the Legislature to lead, take a stand and do what's right. The voters will need to hold their lawmakers accountable on this one. Some legislators want to implement a temporary solution and then kill the idea of targeted aid later. Let's fix this problem now. We've done the research. The facts show targeted aid is the best solution and the unbiased survey shows that's what the voters want," he said.

The prestigious Becker Institute recently conducted an independent telephone survey and found that targeted aid was overwhelmingly preferred, and also that support for targeted aid has increased.

"By a decisive margin of close to 2-1, New Hampshire voters prefer a school funding distribution plan that sends aid targeted only to those municipalities that cannot afford to provide adequate education and this is a significant gain in such support since it was last measured two years ago," said John Becker, president of the survey firm.

The Coalition Communities, a group of municipalities committed to finding a fair education funding formula, assembled a team of nationally recognized funding experts to develop HB717, sponsored by Rep. Edmond Gionet of Lincoln. It would gradually phase in a targeted aid funding formula based on a town's education needs and ability to finance them, set predictable controls on State costs, and return control of property tax dollars to the local communities. Currently, the State controls $1 of every $3 in property tax dollars raised in each town.


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