New Hampshire adopted an amendment to its constitution years ago prohibiting the Legislature from forcing local taxpayers to pay for unfunded state mandates. One of this state’s strengths is that local government has to defend its own taxing and spending to the local citizenry, often up close and personal.
So what would be an example of such an unfunded state mandate? How about feel-good legislators deciding that local school districts must pay for students’ menstrual hygiene products?
The Legislature did just that earlier this year and now the effects are being felt. In Manchester, that’s a bill that could total $150,000 per year.
At-large School Board member Rich Girard, whose loss to the board come January will be a big one, had it right when he told the board recently that this is a flagrant violation of the constitutional ban.
“If we’re going to sit there and take it, then we can’t complain about downshifting, we can’t complain about the state in their unfunded mandates…” The board, he argued, needs to sue.
Ward 1 board member Sarah Ambrogi was having none of that.
‘While I don’t necessarily disagree with the point of opposing unfunded mandates,” she said in her best political voice, “this is the wrong topic on which to take a stand and I will not support it.”
We see. Ambrogi might allow herself to be guided by the constitution in areas that happen to mesh with her personal views, but not on ones that she finds politically incorrect. We wonder if she ever explained that to voters when she was running for office?
Or perhaps, having decided not to run this year, she now feels it’s okay to speak up.
Rather than sue the state over its clear violation, the Manchester School Board voted to send a mealy-mouthed letter to the state board association.
Incidentally, lest anyone think Manchester schools are insensitive to what is certainly a sensitive topic for female students, those unable to obtain their menstrual supplies at home have been provided with them through school nurses and the city Health Department.
Neither Manchester, nor other local governments, need legislators passing feel-good laws, and then passing the buck, to them. They can and do make their own decisions.