Macho not the answer to funding dilemma, Foster's Editorial, 4/20/12

posted Apr 25, 2012, 1:31 PM by Bill Duncan
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Friday, April 20, 2012

House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt wants Gov. John Lynch's help in rallying Democrats to support a constitutional amendment. That amendment would substantively resolve the Claremont court cases in which the N.H. Supreme Court ruled the state was responsible for funding an adequate education from first to last dollar.

So what does Bettencourt do? Does he accentuate the positive? Does he take a Reaganesque approach to unite the sides? No, he decides to go macho, criticizing the governor for not doing enough to persuade House Democrats to support a House-driven version.

Bettencourt was reportedly upset by recent comments of the governor before the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce. There the governor is quoted as saying:

"There are members of the House who believe the state shouldn't have any responsibility for public education. That's absurd." — Portsmouth Herald, April 13.

In response, Bettencourt dashed off a missive to Gov. John Lynch which read, in part, "You assured us of your commitment to play a positive role in this process, but to this date it seems that your negative comments about members of my caucus have been your only contribution."

Bettencourt would like to gloss over the fact that the problem is not primarily one of Democratic opposition. It is with Republicans who won't join their Senate colleagues in resolving the problem.

The GOP-dominated Senate has passed a constitutional amendment which is being supported by Democratic Gov. Lynch.

On the House side, there are numerically enough Republicans to easily give the Senate's amendment the three-fifths needed to send the issue along to voters this fall.

The problem, it seems, does not lie with the governor. It rests squarely in the lap of Bettencourt in his role of House Majority Leader and in the implied dictate that he lead the majority which is his.

As for the governor's use of the word "absurd," Foster's Daily Democrat concurs.

Given the tax structure in the state of New Hampshire and the mandates heaped on local school districts by past legislatures, it is absolutely, without question, absurd that Bettencourt and the rest of the Legislature should be allowed to go their merry way unencumbered by the need to help fund local education budgets.

As always, if the House Majority Leader Bettencourt would like to take exception to this newspaper's use of the word "absurd" he can send his editorial response to letter@fosters.com — 750 words or less. We will gladly accept his public scolding.
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