Governor Chris Sununu said he supports an amendment to the New Hampshire Constitution that would limit the court’s power in determining how to fund the state’s education system during a forum in Rochester, saying that the Legislature should have full control.
“The only way to undo (the current system) is a constitutional amendment, which I would fight for any day of the week – as soon as we get a Legislature that will actually pass one,” said Sununu. “I’m all for it. And even just amending to just ‘the Legislature decides.’ Your representatives, the most representative body on the planet… decide amongst themselves what the formula is, how the funds get dispersed and ensure there is an adequate education…”
“The court shouldn’t be dictating anything,” he said. “The court should be simply allowing the Legislature to do their job and represent the people and the people’s money in the best and most responsible way possible.”
State Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut agreed, saying the court “made some determinations” that “probably” would have been better made in the House and Senate.
When asked if his preferred amendment would cut the state’s obligation to fund a free education, Sununu replied, “Not necessarily.”
“There’s a variety of ways to do it,” he said Thursday in Newmarket. “I would just leave it there. There are a variety of ways to do it, but we have to make sure the full funding power isn’t a formula just derived by the courts, (that) it isn’t something that the courts dictate what happens.”
Former State Senator Nancy Stiles told Foster’s Daily Democrat that she supports an amendment that would give the Legislature full power over the state’s education system:
The piece of the equation that’s important, Stiles argued, is that the Claremont rulings split the responsibility between the state and local communities. While she said there’s room to explore whether New Hampshire’s definition of an adequate education is still applicable, she said people should keep in mind the ruling specifically used the word “adequate” to describe the state’s responsibility. She said she believes strongly in providing an “excellent” education to every student and that local communities should “pick up the rest of the tab” to ensure that happens.
“Education is a partnership between local community and the state,” she said. “It’s not to be paid fully by the state.”
Note: Senator Nancy Stiles serves on the Reaching Higher NH Board of Directors. Senator Stiles spoke to Fosters in her personal capacity. The views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Reaching Higher NH.
The New Hampshire State Supreme Court ruled in Claremont v. New Hampshire that the Legislature and Governor must create a formula that defines the components of a constitutionally adequate education and raise the funds to pay for them. Learn more about how the state funds its schools with our webinar, New Hampshire Public Education Funding A-Z. And, check out more resources on education funding:
- NH ranks 46th in school funding equity, according to national study
- Reliance on property taxes for school funding creates an inequitable system, says Claremont attorney
- RHNH Exec Dir. Evelyn Aissa Speaks to Contrasting Ed Outcomes in NH
- More on Education Funding