Internet Good Source Of Info on New Hampshire School Crisis
By Tiffany Danitz, Staff Writer
With the New Hampshire state government fast approaching a court-imposed April 1 deadline to find a new way to finance public schools, it's easy for the public to learn about the crisis and find out how proposed fixes will affect them. There's a wealth of information on the Internet. In this report, stateline.org identifies some Web sites focusing on the crisis and tells you what you will find on each of them.
Every proposal being considered would change New Hampshire's tax structure one way or another. As late as February 22, the Claremont, N.H. School Board said none of the proposals in the legislature would solve the problem.
That school board took the state to court because reliance on local property taxes to pay for education created disparities in spending between rich and poor school districts. Claremont argued that the system was unconstitutional, and in December 1997, the state Supreme Court agreed.
The court has refused to extend its deadline for enactment of a new school financing system. The New Hampshire House on March approved a plan that, among other things, would impose a statewide income tax for the first time in New Hampshire history, and the state senate seems likely to follow suit. But Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, has vowed to veto any statewide income tax, and there do not appear to be enough votes in the legislature to override the governor.
Here are some of the Web sites following the crisis:
- http://www.cmonitor.com/storiesfrontpage0299 axcalc.shtml
The Concord Monitor has a tax calculator that pinpoints a resident's tax debt under the Hager-Below tax bill. The House approved this bill, a combination income tax and statewide property tax, to pay for public education. The Senate will consider it Tuesday.
New Hampshire Public Radio's: Tax Challenge. At this site, taxpayers can plug in their zip code and find out how various school funding proposals would effect them.
The New Hampshire School Boards Association site has updates on what the different bills and court opinions mean, a bulletin that defines an adequate education cost, and links to other New Hampshire sites dealing with school funding.
The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies joins New Hampshire Public Radio in providing information on key legislation and reports on the school finance issue.
The Manchester Union Leader has been covering the school funding issue daily. The site also has the House roll call vote on the income tax plan.
The New Hampshire State Legislature's site provides names and contact details for members and lists house and senate bills, with descriptions and status.
This site has the1996 property tax rates for New Hampshire towns.
The state court site has the basic Claremont decision, which was handed down on December 17, 1997.
New Hampshire Department of Education.
A list of K-12 New Hampshire schools by community and cooperative district.