Letter: Going nowhere on education funding

Published: 02-27-2024 11:36 AM

Funding state education almost entirely on the back of property taxes is moronically myopic, yet for decades Republican-dominated New Hampshire legislatures have continued to adhere to it.

In the 1990s, the state Supreme Court concluded that funding education via property tax was not raising the needed revenue to fulfill the educational mission set out in the state constitution. The court demanded that the Legislature find a better way, and Republicans went bonkers. They piled on the court, made the chief justice's life a nightmare and now, 25-plus years later, they haven't advanced the ball one inch. 

There was some activity in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. At the turn of the century, the Legislature hired a consulting firm to determine the best way to raise education revenue. Three items examined were a sales tax, property tax or income tax.

After many months, the consultants delivered a report overwhelmingly favoring an income tax. Note that it was not a tax in addition to property tax. And what happened to that report? The Republican Legislature trashed it. They never even discussed it. 

So we're back to square one, with the ConVal school district leading the charge, admonishing the state to live up to its constitutional duty. Once again, the same old arguments are in play. The one most bellowed by Republicans is that an income tax would be devastating, but that argument was thoroughly shot down in the consultant's report. However, the chance of that approach being rationally discussed in today's Legislature is an aberration.

Again, the Republican legislature has nailed its foot to the floor and is running at warp speed.

Ted Leach


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