An5/18/12 Update: The language House leadership was developing while DJ Bettencourt was giving the quotes below started leaking at the end of April and was reported in the Union Leader on Saturday 4/28. There has been no reaction from the Governor. Senate President Bragdon has said that he would go along with anything the Governor and the House agreed upon.
Virtually all Democrats oppose any amendment, including one with this language. Republican house leadership is pressing its members hard to agree to it. Here is the language:
Rep. Phil Munk favors the amendment but frames the debate in a way useful to both sides in a Fosters opinion piece.
This has occasioned a new round of press opinionating. The Nashua Telegraph has reaffirmed it's position against the amendment, saying,
The word "wholesome" in the new language has become a focus of puzzlement and debate. Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas said,
And the Portsmouth Herald, while maintaining its pro-amendment position, predicts no agreement among the many factions, which it delineates pretty accurately here.
There are other recent statements too, including a fourth Union Leader editorial strongly in favor and a second Foster's, all based on the expectation that a constitutional amendment will put the issue to bed.
The editorial board meeting with Speaker O'Brien, Majority Leader Bettencourt and Assistant Majority Leader Tucker is part of the all out House leadership lobbying effort for this version of the amendment. Republican caucus members report the strongest arm twisting they have ever seen (though many of them are freshmen). However, the "liberty" vote isn't buying it and it is not clear what the result will be in this ideological group.
Background - the debate before the new language was circulated
Last week, in a speech to the Portsmouth Rotary Club, the Governor said, referring to members of the New Hampshire House, "This notion that the state has no responsibility for public education is quite absurd," The Patch has posted video, here, (editing out the "absurd" quote for some reason). Now the House Majority Leader, Rep. D.J. Bettencourt, has taken umbridge and lectured the Governor on civility, here. At the end where he says,
"...I do not see a viable path toward successfully achieving an amendment with components of your preferred language if you are unable to make an effort to deliver some level of House Democrat support. I would estimate that success requires two to three dozen House Democrat votes. Without this contribution, I do not believe we will be able to gather the 239 House votes needed to pass the amendment."
"Components of your preferred language?" Are the Speaker and the Majority Leader demanding that the Governor get out and lobby for an amendment that might eventually come out of the Committee of Conference with "components" of his preferred language?
And if two or three dozen Democrats is the required number, the question is already settled, as Kevin Landrigan predicted a month ago.
But the Majority Leader is still adding to the list of issues to be addressed in the amendment, as told the Union Leader here:
The language about charter schools, school choice and homeschooling is new. Is he now going to address the issue of state funding for religious schools in the amendment, so that the voucher bill the Governor will probably veto won't be challenged in court? Maybe he can eliminate all state accountability for charter and home schools while he's at it.
He may be saying here that he wants to include elements of CACR 8, which increases local control of schools, but failed twice in the House explicitly relieves the State of any education funding responsibility.
He's been talking about placement of the word "responsibility" for a month now, but here is the Senate version of the amendment:
Where would he move it - to the Fiscal Note?
The issues seem to be multiplying rather than resolving.
Education Bills in the New Hampshire Legislature > CACR 12 A Constitutional Amendment on Education Funding >