Right path for NH House: Pass the funding amendment
The Republican-led New Hampshire House has been the target of much mud-throwing and leftwing hyperventilating since its 2010 election surprise. Political foes have exploited every individual legislator's ideas, no matter how farfetched, as representative of the whole body. In a body of 400 souls, that is misleading and unfair in the extreme.
But it is what it is, as the saying goes. The responsible majority in the House must keep its head down and its eye on the prize, which is to continue to deliver on the promises its members made when they got elected: cut spending, lay off the taxes, and keep government small.
They have a solid record so far and they can add to it, immeasurably, by offering for public ratification the biggest single measure to keep spending under control and as local as possible.
To do so, the House needs to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It needs to ratify the constitutional amendment proposal passed by the Senate last week and endorsed in bipartisan fashion by Democrat Gov. John Lynch and Democrat state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro.
Now is the time and this is the amendment approach that has, finally, a chance to get before the people and resolve the education funding issue that threatens the New Hampshire Advantage like no other single problem.
CACR 12 states:
'In fulfillment of the provisions with respect to education set forth in Part II, Article 83, the legislature shall have full power and authority and the responsibility to define reasonable standards for elementary and secondary public education, to establish reasonable standards of accountability, and to mitigate local disparities in educational opportunity and fiscal capacity.
Further, the legislature shall have full power and authority to determine the amount of, and the method of raising and distributing, state funding for public education.''
That is language worked on and agreed to by conservative lawyers Ovide Lamontagne, Chuck Douglas, and Eugene Van Loan. They believe it goes a very long way in keeping the courts from again meddling in what are really decisions to be made by taxpayers and their elected officials.
Since one of these men is himself a former state Supreme Court justice, one an expert on the education-funding litigation, and one a former state education commission chairman, we think they know of what they speak.
That ought to be a good enough stamp of approval for responsible House members. And if they want to help blunt the claim that the House is the home of the farfetched fringies, passing this amendment on to the people is an excellent way to do it.