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Gubernatorial Candidates Asked Where They Stand on Education
July 2, 2002
PORTSMOUTH, NH - The Coalition Communities, a group of 34 towns committed to overturning the statewide property tax,
are asking candidates for governor two specific questions that will clearly show where they stand on the education funding issue,
Coalition leader Mayor Evelyn Sirrell announced Tuesday.
"It is very appropriate that we are sending the candidates these letters in the very same week that the United States celebrates its
independence from taxation without representation," said Sirrell. "We want a long-term solution that actually supports education.
It's time for our Governor and our Legislature to wake up and end New Hampshire's overreliance on property taxes to fund state
and local services - the highest in the nation.
"Not only is this very, very wrong when people are losing their homes and their jobs because of this outrageous and unfair system,
it's bad government. And it doesn't just impact the Donor towns. For the new Fiscal Year that began Monday (July 1), an
additional 57 towns are going to receive less in education funding," she continued. "And it's only going to get worse.
"New Hampshire's overreliance on property taxes is affecting every town in the state. And the surveys show that education funding
is the top issue on the voters' minds. We believe that when the candidates for governor answer our two questions, the people will
know where these candidates really stand," she said.
The candidates are being asked to check off a "Yes" or "No" box in response to these questions:
"It's time to throw away the politics of the past and look to the future by asking the candidates for governor to take a stand," she
said. "As I've said before, whoever sits in the corner office of the Statehouse is critical to solving this issue, and his or her
leadership is necessary to bring an end to the grossly unfair and outrageous system we have now. We want to see a governor
elected who will support education, and also support a long-term sustainable solution for funding education."
- If elected Governor: will you support and sign legislation that would sunset the state property tax as of April 1, 2004?
- If elected Governor: will you veto the next biennium budget for Fiscal Years 2004 and 2005 if it utilizes the state property
tax as a revenue source in Fiscal Year 2005?
The statewide property tax originally was implemented as a temporary measure, but the Legislature made it permanent in June
2001. The Coalition wants to see the sunset resurrected, but is supporting a delayed implementation until Fiscal Year 2005 in
order not to cause a funding gap in the current State budget and to give the new Legislature time to make up the shortfall. If this
legislative effort fails, however, the Governor could lead the effort to eliminate the tax by vetoing the next biennium budget.
The candidates were asked to reply by July 17. Similar surveys will be sent to the candidates for the N.H. House and Senate.
The survey is part of a concerted effort by the Coalition Communities to inform the state's electorate about where the candidates
for governor stand on education funding. The Coalition last month held a two-hour Education Funding Forum where the candidates
were questioned by a panel of independent experts and the public. The Coalition has distributed videotapes of the Forum to 11
public access television stations across the state and each of the 34 Coalition Communities. The webcasted version of the
two-hour Forum also can be accessed round-the-clock from any computer worldwide via the City of Portsmouth web site,
www.cityofportsmouth.com, by clicking on the "Webcast Archives" section at the top of the Web page.
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.