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

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New Education Funding Law "Major Step Forward"

July 8, 2003

Gov. Craig Benson's decision to allow a new education funding plan to become law is a major step forward because it finally addresses the unjust issue of "Donor" communities and allows the State to focus on the business of providing a fair education funding plan for New Hampshire, Coalition Communities officials said Tuesday.

"We've been fighting this ridiculous idea that one town should subsidize another at the expense of its own schoolchildren since 1999," said Portsmouth Mayor Evelyn Sirrell, leader of the Coalition. "Finally the Legislature has recognized this injustice, and I'm thrilled that the Governor kept his campaign promise to address the Donor town issue by letting this bill become law.

"This is a major step forward toward seeing an end to the statewide property tax and a new focus on education," she said.

The Governor on Tuesday allowed the compromise version of House Bill 608 - which was approved by the New Hampshire House and Senate on June 24 - to become law without his signature. It adopts many significant elements of the Coalition Communities' proposal to target aid to needy communities. This fiscal year, the state property tax will drop to $4.92 and in FY 2005, the state property tax rate will drop to $3.24, which will leave only New Castle and Newington as "donors" -- but at significantly reduced amounts.

A six-member House-Senate committee will be meeting to fine-tune the education funding legislation, with a report due back by November 15. The Coalition Communities team is looking forward to assisting the committee in any way possible.

"This legislation represents significant progress and is the result of a great deal of effort by our Coalition Communities and committed members of the Legislature," said Ted Jankowski, the 34-member group's director. "Unfortunately, since the passage of House Bill 999 instituting the statewide property tax, just 10% of NH's population has been required to send $110 million of their local property tax dollars to Concord. We are going to have to pay over $140 million before this is over. The cold reality is that many of our lifelong residents have been forced out of their communities by this grave injustice.

"We will continue to try to persuade the Legislature to end the statewide property tax altogether and to more efficiently use existing resources to better target aid to those students most in need.," Jankowski said.

The Coalition Communities are Alton, Bridgewater, Carroll, Center Harbor, Dublin, Easton, Eaton, Franconia, Freedom, Grantham, Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Hanover, Hart's Location, Hebron, Jackson, Lincoln, Meredith, Moultonborough, New Castle, New London, Newington, North Hampton, Pittsburg, Portsmouth, Rye, Sandwich, Seabrook, Stoddard, Sugar Hill, Sunapee, Tuftonboro and Waterville Valley.

### For more info: Ted Jankowski, 431-2006, Ext. 222 or Pat Remick, 431-2006, Ext. 281


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