CACR 12 Would Create New Constitutional Right to Government-run Education
and All But Guarantee a New Tax
CONCORD, N.H.—The Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire is urging Republican lawmakers to honor their commitment to local control of education and parental rights by defeating CACR 12, a misconceived educational funding reform amendment that will create an unprecedented constitutional right to a government-run education controlled by a centralized bureaucracy and will all but guarantee a new broad-based tax.
“Unfortunately, the current compromise language for CACR 12 would permanently enshrine the Claremont decisions in the Constitution, giving the Legislature ‘the responsibility to maintain a system of public elementary and secondary education’,” said Carolyn McKinney, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire. “If the Supreme Court can bend the meaning of the word ‘cherish’ to mean ‘pay for,’ what will it do with the phrase ‘responsibility to maintain’? This language will certainly lead to higher taxation to make sure none of the state’s public schools ever fall below their current level of funding.
“But that’s not the worst of it,” McKinney added. “The compromise language also gives the Legislature ‘full power and authority to make reasonable standards for elementary and secondary public education.’ This change to the Constitution could remove parents and local communities from the educational decision-making process, and the state Legislature could take total control over what children are taught at school. To anyone who cherishes the traditional role of parents to raise and educate their own children, sometimes in partnership with local communities, this would be a troublesome development.”
Proponents of the amendment have been using a high-pressured-sales approach on representatives and senators, telling them that now is the time for an educational funding amendment—and if not now, never. They’ve used scare tactics, saying that the Supreme Court is just waiting for this Legislature not to act, and then they will force the Legislature to enact an income tax. They’ve contrived amendment language they say will end the court’s strict scrutiny, which is based in the court’s finding that Part 2, Article 83 includes a fundamental right to a public education. Lawmakers should walk away from this high-pressured sale because the supportive arguments have no substance.
All of these claims can be refuted with one simple truth, McKinney said. The court overreached when it declared that the New Hampshire Constitution guarantees public education as a fundamental right, and the Legislature has no obligation to cater to the whims of a court decision that went too far. Not only will the proposed language to CACR 12 not end the court’s strict scrutiny posture, it will give the court everything it ever asked for; namely, a Constitution that says public education is a guaranteed right that the Legislature must ‘maintain’,” she said.
“It matters not if the amendment gives the Legislature ‘the full power and authority’ to determine the amount of and methods for raising tax money to pay for education,” McKinney said. “What will matter is that the Legislature will never fund education adequately enough to cover the costs of ever-growing educational mandates and the whims of unelected bureaucrats who control the broken government-run education system that is failing our children. The courts will always perpetuate the myth that money is the solution and will therefore always argue that the Legislature is not doing enough.
“The solution is not to centralize control of educational standards and funding decisions with a misguided constitutional amendment,” McKinney added. “The solution is for a strong Legislature with courageous leaders to stand up to the courts. We need a Legislature that will exert its existing constitutional authority, delegating control over education to parents and local communities and allowing parents to use their education tax dollars at the school of their choice. Competition will always drive down the cost and improve the quality of any product or service in a free market, and education is not the exception to this rule.”
About The Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire
The Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, a state chapter of the national Republican Liberty Caucus, was launched in December 2004 to promote the ideals of limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, free enterprise and adherence to the N.H. and U.S. Constitutions among Republican Party officials and throughout the state by identifying and supporting candidates sympathetic with the organization’s ideals, and by supporting, through public education and outreach, initiatives in the N.H. Legislature that further these ideals. For more information about the RLCNH, please visit www.rlcnh.org.