AN OPEN LETTER TO FERGUS CULLEN

By Ed Mosca

You’re not “taking a position for or against the Lynch proposal at this time”? You have got to be kidding! If the New Hampshire GOP would actually consider supporting a constitutional amendment that writes the misbegotten Claremont decisions into the state constitution, that destroys local control of schools, and that greases the skids for an income tax, then there’s no point in having a State GOP. Let’s just fold it into the New Hampshire Democrat Party and save the time and money we put into elections.

Apparently your biggest concern is the amendment’s requirement that state taxes pay 50 percent of the cost of an adequate education. You’ve offered as a talking-point the question: “50 percent of what?” The question is ultimately irrelevant. Even if Lynch gives you a number that doesn’t require a broad-based tax, there is nothing stopping a future Legislature from doubling or tripling or quadrupling the cost. The amendment is grotesque and the State GOP should be trying to kill it, not trying to forge meaningless compromises.

You also frame the choices as either the Lynch amendment or “risk taking our chances with a potential court-ordered plan.” This type of narrow, defeatist thinking is why the State GOP has become the minority party. For a decade, the State GOP has been an enabler of judicial activism. Its refrain of “only an amendment” can save us, which you appear to have adopted, reflects a profound misunderstanding of how our system of government works. Unelected judges don’t have the constitutional authority to write education policy.

Now is not the time for fence-straddling and more same-but-less Republicanism. It’s time for an unequivocal statement of principle. I suggest the following: The New Hampshire Republican Party opposes any constitutional amendment that writes any aspect of the Claremont decisions into the Constitution.

But what if the Court then says that we have to raise $2.5 billion, or whatever the Democrats in the Legislature say adequacy costs, with state taxes, you ask. Bring it on, I say. Let’s make the 2008 elections about whether unelected judges, or the voters, should decide how much, and how, we tax ourselves.