Lawmakers send budget to Governor with a $138 million boost in school funding

ConVal Regional High School. From the ConVal HS website.

Lawmakers have passed a state budget proposal this afternoon, which is set to be sent to the Governor for his signature. The proposal, which was a compromise between House and Senate leaders and Governor Sununu, will boost education funding by $138 million over two years. 

The increase in school funding will come through restoring stabilization grants to their original levels, providing funding for full-day kindergarten, and creating two new targeted aid programs to help the state’s most vulnerable communities. 

The budget also includes $40 million in state revenue sharing, which will be distributed to communities and aimed at reducing property taxes. 

The compromise budget includes “the largest investment in public education… in the history of our state that will advance educational opportunities for all,” House Speaker Steve Shurtleff said in a joint press statement. 

The compromise budget comes as the state operates under a continuing resolution, or temporary budget, until lawmakers and the Governor can come to an agreement on a budget for the biennium that began in July. The continuing resolution is set to expire on October 1, 2019. 

Districts also face a 4% cut in their stabilization grants–approximately $6.2 million less than last year’s grant, and about $26 million less than their original, 2012 grant–because of the continuing resolution. Those cuts began September 1, when districts received money for the 2019-2020 school year. 

If this budget is passed and signed by the Governor, districts will receive back pay for the September 1 cuts. 

Reaching Higher NH has released a comparison of this version of the budget, compared to the previous proposals put forth by the Governor, the House, and the Senate. Download it now:

About the proposal

The budget that lawmakers passed on September 25 is similar to the budget proposal passed by the Committee of Conference in June. That budget would have added $138 million in school funding, but the Governor vetoed the proposal. 

This version of the budget would:

  • Create an “Enhanced Free and Reduced Lunch Aid” program in 2021 that would provide additional funding for cities and towns with high populations of students in poverty, measured by eligibility for the Free and Reduced Lunch program
  • Create a Fiscal Capacity Disparity Aid program in 2021 that would provide additional funding for cities and towns that have the lowest ability to raise funds for schools through property taxes
  • Restore stabilization to 100% in 2020 and beyond, fully restoring the grants to 2012 levels before the 4% annual reduction. In 2019, towns received 88% of their 2012 stabilization grant. 
  • Funds kindergarten at the same rates as other grades in 2020 and beyond. Read more about how New Hampshire funds kindergarten here
  • Increase the base adequacy amount to $3,708 (currently at $3,636) in the 2019-2020 school year to adjust for inflation (note that this is current law, but the CoC proposal does not change the increase).

Because the additional aid is targeted at the state’s most vulnerable communities, towns and cities like Berlin, Manchester, and Derry would benefit the most from these aid packages. 

Learn more about how New Hampshire funds its public schools with our five part series on education funding: