Published Online: January 19, 2005
Published in Print: January 19, 2005, as New Hampshire

State of the States

New Hampshire

First-Year Governor Wants to End Impasse

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In his inaugural address this month, Gov. John Lynch of New Hampshire promised to end the state’s perennial debates over school funding.

Mr. Lynch, a Democrat, said he would reveal the details of his “fresh approach to school funding” in his Feb. 15 budget address. But he said the new plan would target aid to low-income communities and eliminate the controversial statewide property tax that New Hampshire uses now to help pay for schools.

Gov. John Lynch

That tax, which borrows from property-rich communities to pay for poorer ones, is the legacy of a succession of New Hampshire Supreme Court decisions in the 1990s that struck down the state’s school funding system. Although the 7-year-old tax is highly unpopular, lawmakers in the Republican-dominated legislature have worried that any attempts to overturn it might be found unconstitutional, too.

Making matters more complicated, Gov. Lynch also said he would veto any income or sales taxes that might be used to pay for schools. He does, however, support the idea of a tobacco tax.

With his upset victory over Republican Gov. Craig Benson in November, Mr. Lynch became the first challenger to defeat a sitting governor in the state in 78 years.

Vol. 24, Issue 19, Page 19

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