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November 08. 2012 1:32PM

Fiscal committee OK's money for charter schools, 4 new judges

CONCORD - In its last meeting, the 2011-2012 Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee cleared some longstanding issues related to both budget issues and partisan politics.

The committee decided to fund the conversion of four marital master vacancies into district court judges.The conversion had been held up as the largely Republican committee wanted to wait until a new governor was sworn in to make the nominations for the new judgeships.

But with the election of Democrat Maggie Hassan Tuesday to replace Democratic Gov. John Lynch in January, the committee quickly approved the money to fund the four new judgeships.

The committee also approved $4.45 million for charter schools to fully fund the state's tuition aid through the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year.The state is short about $5.3 million of what is needed for state aid to charter schools.

Committee Chair Ken Weyler, R-Kingston, said with the committee's action, the State Board of Education should lift its unauthorized moratorium on approving new charter school applications.The board has said it will not approve new applications until the new legislature either includes additional money for more charter schools in the next budget or changes state law.

The committee also approved $6 million in counseling and legal assistance for mortgage foreclosure victims, but not a financial fraud unit for the Attorney General's Office. The next legislative fiscal committee will have to decide if it wants to add four new positions to create the new financial fraud unit.

The money for the unit and the help for foreclosure victims comes from a national settlement with five large national banks over illegal or unethical foreclosures practices.


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