Four Governors call for amendment

NEWS from The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy

7 South State Street Concord, NH 03301 603/224-4450 Fax 603/224-4329 jbartlett@jbartlett.org

September 22, 2006

 For Immediate Release

Contact: John H. Sununu -- Jackie Kennedy 890-1630

Judd Gregg – Joel Maiola 496-3457

Stephen Merrill – Kieran Preston 617-951-8828

Craig Benson – 766-6250

Sununu, Gregg, Merrill, Benson unite to support amendment to protect New Hampshire’s competitive advantage

Four Governors who led the state for a combined 16 years have come together to support a constitutional amendment to make sure the people’s representatives decide education policy and to fight the threat of an income tax. According to Center President Charlie Arlinghaus, having the four come together is a sign of how important the education funding issue is and the dramatic impact it will have on the future of the state we love. Statements from each of the four governors follow.

John Sununu (Governor 1983-1989): “We need a constitutional amendment to preserve the character of the state of New H ampshire. The irrationality of the meddling in this issue by the court has forced legislators to base their vote on the dollars allocated to their town not the best interests of the state. New Hampshire was the last vestige of participatory democracy and local control in the nation but the court changed that. T he only way to return the power to the officials elected by and therefore accountable to the citizens of New Hampshire is to pass a constitutional amendment that makes sure the court can not take that right away from the voters . I can't believe the Governor and the legislature will let this meddling continue. But let us be clear about what we are suggesting : an appropriate constitutional amendment should not say what education policy is but should allow G overnors and legislators to make those decisions.”

Judd Gregg (Governor 1989-1993) “New Hampshire is a special place to live and raise a family for many reasons but clearly one of them is our lack of a sales or income tax. The “New Hampshire Advantage” gives our entrepreneurs, businesses and families throughout our state a chance to prosper without being smothered by excessive taxes. By limiting taxes we have been able to keep government small and encourage local control.”

“ Our other advantage is our reliance on representative government with the largest state legislature in the country. It is that legislature and the people of the New Hampshire who should set tax policy, not a small group of unelected and unrepresentative judges. It is essential that we remove the power of the court to write basic tax policy and laws. This right must be the prerogative of the people through their elected representatives”

Stephen Merrill (Governor, 1993-1997): “A Constitutional amendment permits the people to speak on this critical subject. The Governor and Legislature, and not the Courts, will best represent the will of the people regarding our educational system.“

Craig Benson (Governor 2003-2005): “The New Hampshire Advantage includes education decisions made as close to the people as possible and a tax system that encourages jobs and economic development. After the most recent court decision, we must act immediately to preserve local control of education. A state takeover of education means input from parents, PTAs and school boards will be a thing of the past. Any candidate that doesn’t support an amendment condemns us to job-destroying taxes and the end of New Hampshire’s economic advantage. We need an amendment today to let the voters have a chance to speak.”