Forum, Feb. 15: Is coalition a real solution to NH’s unjust system?

Published: 2/14/2021 10:00:04 PM
Modified: 2/14/2021 10:00:04 PM
Is coalition a real solution to NH’s unjust system?

I am disappointed to learn that Lebanon’s City Council voted to join the Coalition Communities 2.0 lobbying effort against the donor town school funding model (“Lebanon opposes funding scheme,” Feb. 5).

I believe that residents of “donor” and “receiver” towns alike largely support public education. Our state places outsized weight on one tax, the property tax, to provide the resources required to support public education. Some towns can work within this system — they generally have high property wealth. Other towns have income wealth but relatively less property wealth. They, with effort, manage their budgets. More towns have neither income nor property wealth. They suffer. I don’t know many people, including, I believe, the organizers of the coalition, who think that the current system functions well.

“I am for a real solution to the structural inequity that’s in our system right now of using property taxes to pay for education,” Lebanon City Councilor Karen Liot Hill told NHPR. “It’s the most regressive tax system; it is fundamentally unjust.”

I agree. Rather than lobby against bills like HB 504 that propose change to the statewide education property tax, will the coalition advocate for fundamental change to an unjust system?

Reports suggest that coalition organizers have only reached out to property-wealthy towns that would become “donors” if the School Funding Commission’s recommended policy changes are enacted, and have yet to extend their coalition to towns whose residents are struggling under the current system and who are also eager for reform. If the coalition planned to advocate for fundamental change, I think it could broaden its network.

The policy changes recommended by the School Funding Commission rightly shift the funding paradigm. While the commission did not provide an adequate recommendation for funding the initiative, perpetuating the status quo is nonsensical. Moreover, that status quo presents a problem that Lebanon deals with every year as town and school budgets are assembled. Joining this coalition seems an odd bargain. Time and money would be better spent working together to create real solutions for the state. The insular way New Hampshire funds schools, town by town, is not good policy. And who loses? Children. It is frustrating.



The writer is a member of the board of directors of the New Hampshire School Funding Fairness Project and a member of the Lyme Budget Committee.

Where are the conservatives?

The modern Republican Party has put the “con” in conservative.

The party of small government? Nonsense. The modern Republican Party would supplant a 234-year-old democratic republic with an all-powerful, white, Christian theocracy that would eviscerate inconvenient constitutional rights and impose its self-righteous viewpoints on every aspect of American life. Don’t believe me? Then read the letters to editor that mention sin.

The party of fiscal responsibility? Nonsense. The modern Republican Party added $7 trillion to the national debt during the Trump presidency, all to juice the stock market and fund Republican reelection campaigns.

The party of law and order? Nonsense. The modern Republican Party cowers before the thugs (excuse me, core voters) who plotted to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, hang Vice President Mike Pence and assassinate leading Democrats, committed acts of insurrection and killed a Capitol policeman in the name of Trump.

The party of American patriotism? Nonsense. The rioters on Jan. 6, bearing allegiance to the modern Republican Party and it to them, stormed the Capitol and replaced the American flag with a Trump flag. Worse, these rioters used an American flag, my flag, to beat a helpless Capitol policeman.

The party of conservative philosophy and policy? Nonsense. The modern Republican Party is about the perpetuation of its minoritarian rule and power. We need only look to Concord, where the speaker of the New Hampshire House has vowed to gerrymander the two congressional districts to achieve the desired outcome of Republican representatives, thus vitiating the votes of tens of thousands of citizens.

The party of individual rights? Nonsense. The modern Republican Party is little more than a radicalized cult, and cult members have no individual rights. Drink the Kool-Aid or else. Just ask Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Cindy McCain, wife of the late Sen. John McCain, former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and other Republicans who have dared to put country over party.

Talk about cancel culture. Do conservatives actually exist anymore? If so, where?



Accountability in our democracy

For far too long, inequity has corrupted our democracy. It is time for all Americans to demand an expansion of voting rights, limits to big money in politics, and more accountability by ending gerrymandering. This is why I support the For the People Act, known as H.R. 1.

The For the People Act was recently reintroduced in the House of Representatives as a sweeping bill that provides for reform in our electoral process. At its core, the bill provides much-needed action on redistricting, ethics reform, campaign finance, and voting rights.

For the last two years, as Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell blocked a vote on H.R. 1.

We need a government that’s fair, where representatives listen to their constituents. The For the People Act would help make that a reality. I believe it’s crucial to restore accountability in our democracy. I support this bill because it would provide much-needed democracy reform.

Now is the time to reshape our democracy into one that is truly of, for and by the people. That is why I’m asking my fellow citizens to contact their representatives and demand they vote “yes” on the For the People Act.



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