States

N.H. Governor Proposes Sales Tax To Pay for Schools

By Debra Viadero — February 14, 2001 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Breaking with tradition, Gov. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire has proposed the state’s first sales tax as a way to solve its long-running problems over how to pay for schools.

If approved by the legislature, the 2.5 percent sales tax could take effect in July 2002. It’s part of a broader plan that also calls for reducing a controversial statewide property tax, along with several other taxes, and for making schools more accountable for improving student achievement.

“The state must pay for an adequate education for every child,” Gov. Shaheen, a Democrat, said in a Feb. 7 speech announcing her plan at a Concord elementary school. “That is the law, and it is our duty to meet it.”

Noted for its stubborn anti-tax streak, the Granite State has struggled for more than a decade over how to pay for schools without instituting any new sales or income taxes.

The state’s most recent difficulties stem from a 1997 state supreme court ruling that declared its school funding system unfair and unconstitutional.

In the latest turn in that saga, a superior court judge ruled last month that the interim statewide property tax that replaced the old system was invalid, too, because some property owners were taxed at higher rates than others. (“Pressure Mounts for Overhauling Finance Systems,” Feb. 7, 2001.)

That ruling, which state officials appealed last week, called for the state to pay back $800 million in property taxes.

Urgency Mounts

The court’s action has heightened the growing sense of urgency among New Hampshire policymakers to find a permanent solution to the state’s funding crisis.

“We’re just very pleased there’s a comprehensive plan now on the table,” said Mark V. Joyce, the executive director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association. He noted, however, that school leaders still have questions about the plan’s details, which are due out this week.

Business Groups Object

With her successful re-election bid last November, Ms. Shaheen became the first New Hampshire governor in 30 years to win without taking a pledge against new, broad-based taxes. But opponents had criticized the governor throughout the campaign for failing to offer her own plan for funding schools.

The governor said she was waiting for a report from a blue- ribbon panel she appointed last year to gauge the economic impact of different funding strategies. That report, released last month, suggested that a sales tax would have minimal impact on the state’s economy.

The Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire disputes that view.

“If you enact a sales tax—no matter how small the percentage—businesses are going to close,” warned Nancy C. Kyle, the association’s president. She said 30 percent of the state’s retail sales are made to out-of-staters coming to New Hampshire to avoid taxes.

But the governor stressed that the proposed 2.5 percent sales tax would still be the lowest in New England, and that food, clothing, fuel, as well as prescription and over-the-counter drugs, would be exempt.

She also vowed to launch a one-year advertising campaign promoting New Hampshire as a retail destination.

With both houses of the state legislature under Republican control, observers said the going will be tough for the plan.

But Ms. Shaheen has assembled a bipartisan group of state representatives to sponsor her legislative package, and she emphasized the need to reach agreement this year.

“Putting off the hard choices until another year will not make this challenge go away or make it any easier to resolve,” the governor said.

A version of this article appeared in the February 14, 2001 edition of Education Week as N.H. Governor Proposes Sales Tax To Pay for Schools

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Drive Instruction With Mastery-Based Assessment
Deliver the right data at the right time—in the right format—and empower better decisions.
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Profession Webinar
How Does Educator Well-Being Impact Social-Emotional Awareness in Schools?
Explore how adult well-being is key to promoting healthy social-emotional behaviors for students. Get strategies to reduce teacher stress.
Content provided by International Baccalaureate
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States Alabama's New Transgender Care Felony Faces Federal Test
An Alabama law is the first to put criminal penalties on the doctors who provide gender-affirming treatments to transgender minors.
3 min read
Conceptual picture of transgender flag overlaying shadows and silhouettes of anonymous people on a road.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
States Texas Governor Sparks Backlash With Talk of Rolling Back Free School for Immigrant Kids
Critics assailed Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's idea as “hare-brained” and “cruel.”
Robert T. Garrett, The Dallas Morning News
5 min read
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Eric Gay/AP
States How Laws on Race, Sexuality Could Clash With Culturally Responsive Teaching
Critical race theory and culturally responsive teaching are not the same thing. But bans of one could impact the other.
7 min read
Illustration of diverse hands being raised.
iStock/Getty
States Beyond 'Don't Say Gay': Other States Seek to Limit LGBTQ Youth, Teaching
Legislators want to ban lessons on LGBTQ communities and require teachers to tell parents when students want their pronouns changed.
9 min read
Kara Klever holds a sign in protest in the hall outside of the Blue Room as Governor Kevin Stitt signs a bill into law that prevents transgender girls and women from competing on female sports teams at the Capitol Wednesday, March 30, 2022 in Oklahoma City, Oka. The bill, which easily passed the Republican-led House and Senate mostly along party lines, took effect immediately with the governor's signature. It applies to female sports teams in both high school and college.
Kara Klever holds a sign in protest as Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs a bill into law that prevents transgender girls and women from competing on female sports teams.
Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman via AP