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

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NH Senate Candidates Asked Their Education Funding Stand

July 8, 2002

PORTSMOUTH, NH – All 60 candidates for the New Hampshire Senate are being asked to respond to two specific education funding questions to show where they stand on the complicated and controversial issue in advance of the September primary, the Coalition Communities announced Monday.

The Coalition, a group of 34 towns committed to overturning the statewide property tax, began mailing the letters to the N.H. Senate candidates soon after the opening of the filing period, which closed at 5 p.m. Friday, July 5.

The Senate candidates were asked to check off a "Yes" or "No" box by Aug. 1 in response to these questions:
  1. If elected to the State Senate: will you support legislation that would sunset the state property tax as of April 1, 2004?
  2. If elected to the State Senate: will you vote against 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?
"It is extremely important to find out where the candidates for the N.H. Senate stand before the voters cast their ballots, particularly since the N.H. Senate this Spring refused to go along with the House in approving a resurrection of the sunset provision of the statewide property tax," said Mayor Evelyn Sirrell, the leader of the Coalition. "Instead, the Senators sent the legislation to ‘legislative limbo’ and it will be crucial that the next Senate vote differently if we are to see an end to this horrible unfair tax that is impacting every community in our state."

The Coalition last week announced it also had sent similar letters to the candidates for Governor, and that it is developing a questionnaire to send to N.H. House candidates once the filing period opens for those seats.

The surveys are part of a concerted effort by the Coalition Communities to inform the state’s electorate about where the candidates stand on education funding. The Coalition last month held a two-hour Education Funding Forum where the gubernatorial 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 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 Senate could vote against the next biennium budget if it includes the state property tax as a revenue source.

"Right now, there are 112 towns that are really hurting because of this tax – 55 Donor towns that have to raise extra property taxes to support other communities and an additional 57 towns that are receiving less in education funding for this fiscal year. That doesn’t include the repercussions if any of those towns are in cooperative school districts. And it’s only going to get worse unless our next Governor and Legislature do something to end New Hampshire’s overreliance on property taxes to fund state and local services.

"We want a long-term sustainable solution for funding education, not more empty promises," she continued. "Even the government figures show this system is grossly unfair when a whopping 84 percent of the state’s communities with above-average median household income are ‘Receivers’ and the town that is last in median household income – Lincoln – is considered a ‘Donor’ community."


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