The National Education Association (NEA) of New Hampshire President Scott McGilvray held a press conference today in Concord to show NEA’s support for the Hassan Budget. NEA-NH represents over 16,000 education professionals who are deeply committed to the success of every child and believe that funding public education is an investment in New Hampshire’s future.
President McGilvray also spoke out against ‘Single-Source’ funding for education.
“We are against single-source funding plans for education. If gaming were presented as a single- source funding plan, we would oppose it on that basis.”
The key is that gambling cannot be the only source of income. While some may be against gambling for moral reasons, the fact is that the lottery system already give money to the education system.
“Given how public education has come to rely on gaming in New Hampshire, and how gaming has changed and expanded in the state, it is difficult for an education association to claim that one form of gaming is morally superior to another.”
The main reason for the press conference was for NEA-NH to show their full support behind Gov. Hassan’s budget.
“The NEA-NH Executive Board enthusiastically supports the Governor’s budget and urges members of the Legislature to adopt the plan.”
“There is a moral imperative to pass this budget to fund the programs needed by our children and our most vulnerable citizens.”
Full Text of Comments:
Good morning. I am Scott McGilvray, President of NEA-New Hampshire. This morning I would like to speak to you about Governor Hassan’s budget proposal and our support of that plan.
The 16,000 education professionals of NEA-NH are deeply committed to the success of every child and believe that funding public education is an investment in New Hampshire’s future. The students we educate today will become tomorrow’s leaders, and to succeed they must be prepared to meet the challenges they will face. Because of this, New Hampshire’s educators have always fought for school funding methods which are stable, reliable and multi-sourced. We have always opposed risking the future of our students with single-source funding because of the instability and unpredictability such funding possesses.
Education funding was fundamentally changed in 1964 when New Hampshire became the first state to legalize the lottery. Since that time, over $1.5 billion has gone to education through lottery sales. The New Hampshire lottery itself has moved from weekly drawings to instant scratch tickets that can be played more quickly than any table game proposed by Governor Hassan. Instant tickets initially sold for $1. They now sell for $2, $5, $10, $20 and even $30 per ticket at stores and in vending machines throughout the state. Citizens of the state enjoyed dog racing and two types of horse racing before those businesses left the state. Bingo is supplemented by pull-tab tickets that are played by the tens of thousands each week.
Many of the legislators opposed to the Governor’s budget voted to approve charity gamming. Since then, such gamming has grown dramatically from volunteer Bingo callers in church halls to Las Vegas style games and events run by outside organizations.
Given how education has come to rely on gaming in New Hampshire, and how the methods by which gaming have changed in the state, it is difficult for an education association to claim that one form of gaming is morally superior to another.
It should be noted that in the past, well-intentioned legislators have attempted to single-source fund public education through expanded gambling and we spoke out against it because we oppose risking the future of our students with such an unstable and unpredictable arrangement.
Prior to the Claremont decisions, the school funding issue had centered on the state’s broken promise to fund education through the Augenblick Formula. The experience of New Hampshire’s students and educators has been a string of broken promises and inadequate aid from the state for public Pre K-12 education. The state’s primary source of education aid remained the Sweepstakes which saw funding rise and fall depending on the number of lottery tickets sold during any given year. For students and educators, that remained an imprecise and unreliable source of revenue.
While educators hoped the Claremont decision would put the Auggenblick problem to rest, we were still concerned that the funding of adequacy would be vested in one source. Our concern was that school funding would rise and fall with the fortunes of that one source and that nothing would have been solved by the Claremont decision. To that end, NEA-NH took the position that adequacy needed to be funded in a manner to avoid this risk. The best way to do that was to have adequacy funded from multiple sources. The state’s general fund is a source that relies on multiple sources of revenue.
Governor Hassan has proposed a budget that fully funds the adequacy formula for New Hampshire schools. It gives more help to our citizens with special needs, and adds money for catastrophic aid and school transportation costs. It increases aid to local communities at a time when they are dealing with costs that were downshifted to taxpayers by the last Legislature. It provides money to hire additional law enforcement officers at a time when school safety is still debated in New Hampshire and across the country.
Taking into account the arguments on both sides of the gaming issue, the NEA-NH Executive Board believes that the moral imperative created by the need to fund Governor Hassan’s budget requires that it be passed and that it be funded with the revenue sources she proposes.
The choice is not between the Governor’s budget and a better plan. The choice is between Governor Hassan’s budget and one that slashes funding to our university system and shifts costs to already overburdened property taxpayers by not funding aid for catastrophic special education costs and school transportation. We cannot continue to balance our budget on the backs of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.
After careful examination and consideration the NEA-NH Executive Board enthusiastically supports the Governor’s budget and funding plan and urges its adoption by the New Hampshire Legislature.