Letter: Education funding and the state constitution

Published: 10/21/2019 9:24:39 AM

In his “My Turn” opinion piece in the Monitor on Oct. 15, Greg Moore argues that towns and school districts must treat much of the additional aid in the new state budget as “one-time money” and urges that it be used for property tax relief or non-recurring expenditures.

He does not distinguish between the additional aid sent to municipalities and the aid sent to school districts. But there is a big difference. There is no constitutional requirement that the state pay for municipal services. There is, however, a constitutional requirement that the state pay for an adequate education for every child.

The state has shirked that responsibility since the early 1900s. The New Hampshire Supreme Court reminded us of it in their decisions in the Claremont cases. Greg Moore ignores that responsibility.

He does say that using the additional aid made available in this budget “without a long-term solution is simply delaying decisions that will need to be made eventually.”

He is correct about the need for a long-term solution. The state needs a long-term solution to meet its constitutional responsibilities to fund the public schools. As Judge Ruoff said in his June decision in the ConVal school lawsuit, “The Court construes the fundamental right at issue as a right to the opportunity to a fully State-funded adequate education.”

The new budget does not come close to ensuring that right.



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