New Hampshire education amendment headed to a vote next week

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November 21, 2011

New Hampshire

By Bailey Ludlam

CONCORD, New Hampshire: Two legislative proposals about education aid are on hold but lawmakers may be voting on yet another similar proposal as early as next week on November 30th.

All proposals, including one by Governor John Lynch, would allow the legislature to set standards for public education such as, targeting education aid to certain communities. However, all vary slightly.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for November 22 prior to the House's November 30 vote. Some, including House Leader Terie Norelli and Gov. John Lynch argue that the vote is premature.

House Speaker William O'Brien scheduled the session to vote on what has been called "Lynch's education proposal" after Gov. Lynch emailed his proposed language to the media in October 2011 without notifying O'Brien or Senate President Peter Bragdon.[1]

Norelli has called the vote a media stunt, while O'Brien called the governor's proposal a media stunt. Bragdon has said that he will not bring the Senate back into session until January. Lynch is expected to address the issue in his State of the State address in January 2012.[2]

In order for the state legislature to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot, both chambers of the state legislature must approve doing so by a vote in each house of at least 60%. Once any such constitutional amendment is on the ballot, the state's voters must approve it by a 2/3 vote for it to pass.

In 2007 and 2008 the New Hampshire House of Representatives rejected similar constitutional amendments. Some of the main issues that derailed the proposed amendments included: how much oversight the courts should have, whether every district would be entitled to some money and whether the Legislature could use an amendment to shortchange education funding.[3]

According to state law as of 2011, the state is "responsible for funding the full cost of an adequate education for all students." According to reports, the state's formula that goes into effect July 2011 would require the state pay a base amount of $3,450 per student with additional funds to schools with large numbers of low-income students, students learning English and special education students.[3]

The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the state is required to provide all public school children with an adequate education. Following the 1997 ruling the state began providing a base amount to all communities.[1]

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