Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Monday
Jun042012

Guest Commentary--Six Reasons To Oppose CACR 12

With the vote on the education funding amendment (CACR 12) two days away, emails are flying back and forth.  Apparently, the Republican Liberty Alliance has come out against the amendment, sending Majority Leader Peter Principle Silva into full panic mode.  I agree with the Liberty caucus, and an equally fine argument was made in this email from Bill Duncan, of New Castle, sent apparently all Manchester Representatives.  I suggest Mayor Ted Gatsas read it before he makes any further positive comments about this bill.  I'll send it along to him and herewith share it withe the world.  It has valuable links as well.  Steve V
 
 
Honorable Manchester Members of the House,
I would like to offer 6 reasons to vote against CACR 12.
Higher local property tax or lower instructional quality.
CACR 12 removes any floor under the state contribution to public education.  In 2012, $578 million, 20%, of the $2.9 billion annual budget for New Hampshire public education came from state aid.  This funding is targeted to the communities most in need.  But the Legislature cut that by another $140 million for future bienniums and without the constitutional protections, future legislatures are likely to cut more.  All of that would have to be replaced with increased local property taxes or reduced instructional program.The impact on Manchester would be large and immediate.  It is not possible to predict how much Manchester would lose over time, but the cut already in place means that Manchester will lose $13 million in state adequacy aid - down from $56.7 million to $43.8 million - as soon as CACR 12 is passed and the collar is lifted.

Our children would lose their right to an adequate education.
The New Hampshire Constitution declares that our children have a fundamental right to an adequate education, comparable to the right to vote. Legislative actions are held to a "strict scrutiny" standard by the New Hampshire courts.  That means that, if challenged, the onus is on the State to show that its actions meet the intention of the Constitution to provide an adequate education. If CACR 12 passed, education would no longer be a fundamental right in New Hampshire.  Legislative actions would need only meet a "rational basis" test.  The legislature would have "full power and authority" to exercise its responsibility to maintain a public education system.  The courts would be bound to presume that reasonable effort is constitutional and only overturn a law on inescapable grounds. If a law is rationally related to a legitimate legislative purpose, the courts would be bound to consider it constitutional. Under this standard, a New Hampshire community would virtually never prevail in a challenge to education policy or funding. (Here is Andy Volinsky on the issue)
No improvement in targeting.
The obstacles to targeting are political, not constitutional.  The State can effectively allocate state adequacy aid to communities most in need now.  CACR 12 would allow the Legislature to allocate any desired level of funding on a strictly political basis with no regard to need, balance or fairness.  If targeting were actually the concern, the Legislature could propose an amendment that would establish those requirements.  Here is Rep. Gary Richardson, who favors a targeting amendment but says this one does not measure up.

Never-ending political debate over education funding and unpredictable results.
With no constitutional guarantees or established formulas in place, the decision on how much to fund education and how to allocate it across the state would be made anew each biennium.  Communities that rely on the aid would need to mount a lobby effort each budget session to protect or expand their allocations and would need to remain vigilant at all times for rule changes that might put them at a disadvantage. 

No protection against "donor towns"
The amendment contains no prohibition against donor towns.  For instance, a Legislature desiring to lower business taxes could raise all state wide education funding from the State Wide Education Property Tax and redistribute it state wide according to a politically determined assessment of need.  The reason there are no donor towns now is the political power of the Coalition Communities.  The same would be the case after CACR 12.  Political power will continue to be the only protection New Hampshire's wealthier communities would have against contributing to the education of children in poorer communities - through the property tax, gas tax or any other mechanism.

Loss of both local control and judicial branch checks and balances
CACR 12 is one of several amendments seeking to eviscerate the role of the Judiciary in the conduct of the State's business.  The Courts are our only means of redress citizens and communities have.  In addition, local school districts have far greater control over their schools than in most any other state.  This amendment would eliminate that local control.
Respectfully,

Bill Duncan
New Castle, NH 03854
(h) 603-436-6306
(c) 603-682-4748
Friday
Jun012012

Expect Big Democratic Gains In Cities

Since my predictions for the 2012 New Hampshire House make-up depends so much on delegations from the state’s 13 cities, I’ve put this chart together of how the cities have flipped and flopped (and will likely flip again) recently.  As always for the sake of consistency, Republicans and always listed first; in other words 4-2 would mean 4 Republicans, 2 Democrats.  2012 numbers don’t add up to 134 due to loss of seats due to redistricting.  (The two Manchester/Litchfield seats are not counted here; the seats Portsmouth, Concord, Dover, and Franklin must share with towns ARE counted here).

City                 2008                2010                2012 Projection

Berlin               0-4                   1-3                   0-3

Claremont        1-4                   3-1                   2-2

Concord           0-13                 1-12                 0-13

Dover               0-9                   2-7                   1-8

Franklin            2-1                   0-3                   2-1

Keene              0-7                   0-7                   0-7

Laconia            2-3                   5-0                   3-2

Lebanon           0-4                   0-4                   0-4

Manchester      7-28                 21-14               6-25

Nashua             5-23                 22-6                 7-20

Portsmouth       0-7                   0-7                   0-7

Rochester         3-6                   7-2                   3-6

Somersworth    0-5                   2-3                   0-5

 

Total               20-114             67-67               24-103

                                               +47R/-47D       -43R/+36D                 

Friday
Jun012012

NH Jounral Had DJ Pregnancy Scoop...A Liz Warren Parallel?

This time especially I don't at all mind being scooped.  Apparenlty, the NH Journal (whatever that is) had the story on Mrs. (To Be) DJ's pregnancy before I did.  Maybe this is where former Governor Steve Merrill read it before he began spreading the rumor.  Thanks to a reader who sent me this source.  If you can't trust me, you certainly an trust the NH Journal (I repeat...whatever that is).  Of course, the Journal should have added the most important clause, one I used at least twice, "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"  It's reassuring to know that even while his mind and sense of morality had failed him, DJ's body was functioning just fine, thank you.  We all trust that some "pedophile pimp" will take his confession...do Catholics still have confession?

As I noted earlier, I'm far more troubled by the series of lies D.J. told on the House floor than the lies in his personal life.  Is there a parallel here to Elizabeth Warren, part Chrokee Indian (?) and Democratic candidate for Senate in Massachusetts?  The word "pathological" would seem to apply to both.  Don't be surprised if the Indian wannabe suffers the same fate as D.J.  In fact, I'll predict it here...Liz won't survive till November.

SEQUENCE OF EVENTS – If we have it right, here’s how it went down.  Betterncourt attended the UNH School of Law graduation ceremony, but he was still a few credits shy of graduating – which was okay because he had enough credits under his belt to walk in the graduation procession.  The problem was that he claimed– via his Facebook account – that he had in fact graduated. That triggered Rep. Bob Guida to inquire about how he managed to graduate despite essentially blowing off the internship Guida had offered him.  Guida subsequently learned that Bettencourt falsified his internship documents and received credit for his no-show internship. After Guida confronted him Bettencourt said he would resign.  But that’s not what happened.  Bettencourt instead announced he would step down in two weeks and not run for re-election because he wanted to focus on his new career (presumably a career in the law, which is now not an option) and his family (his fiancée, who works at the State House, is pregnant). This disingenuousness evidently infuriated Guida, who turned to the press to get the truth out.  In the wake of media coverage of the internship issue, Bettencourt made a subsequent announcement that he would step down immediately.  Read a more detailed rundown at UnionLeader.com.

Friday
Jun012012

David Campbell Annouces For Speaker

Nashua Represenative David Campbell has become the first Democrat to enter the race for Speaker for the next session of the New Hampshire House.

He joins lame duck incumbent Republican Bill O'Brien, and Exeter Republican Lee Quandt has suggested he might run as well.

Republicans Gene Chandler (former Speaker) and Lynn Uber Ober had sent out feelers about running, but both went on record--rather stupidly in my humble opinion--as saying they would not run if O'Brien survives his November race in the Mt. Vernon/New Boston area.

Most certainly, former Democrat Speaker Terie Norelli will run again.

If Democrats take control of the House, the Democratic caucus will most likely decide whether Campbell or Norelli (or some other Democrat) will be the next Speaker.

If Republicans maintain control by a slim margin, the Republican caucus could be meaningless as it was in 2004 when Republican Doug Scamman most assuredly received minimal GOP support (the vote is by secret ballot) but nearly unanimous Democratic support to defeat the late Mike Whalley.

In a close situation, enough Republicans would certainly join Democrats to deny the Speakership to O'Brien, but if Republicans have a slight edge, it would be difficult (although not impossible) to elect a Democrat.  In that case, Quandt would most assuredly have a leg up on the wavering Chandler and Ober.

Of course, other candidates could well enter the field.  Might it not, perhaps, be refreshing to have a Speaker dedicated to what is in the best interest of the House and the people of New Hampshire rather than to either party?  Might it not be a good thing to elect a Speaker who would appoint the best and the brightest, whether Democrats or Republicans, as committee chairs?  To elect a Speaker who would scrupulously apply the rules equally to all people?

Someone wake me up.

I was dreaming there for a while.

Campbell apparently sent an email only to Democrats; I did not receive it (or I would post it in its entirety here), but as always, I do have my sources.

Welcome aboard, Rep. Campbell...to quote the late great talk master Jerry Williams...he's not a bad guy.  Plus he knows his baseball, and this after all, at least in this blog and on The Liberty Express, is "the summer of baseball".  I'm reading the story of the 1912 pennant and the building of Fenway Park now.  My guess is that Speaker Campbell has already read it.

Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway's Remarkable First Year
 

It's actually one of my least favorite baseball books...so far...but hopefully it'll get better.  It's very long.

Friday
Jun012012

Say It Ain't So--They Took "Wholesome" Away

            Shucks!

            CACR 12 drafters have taken away justification for my favorite new greeting.

            Is nothing sacred?

            “You’re looking mighty wholesome today,” I had been greeting people for the past several weeks, risking the reaction that some would deem it sexual harassment when in fact it was merely a way of denigrating the “wholesome” in the education funding amendment which the House and Senate will be voting on next week.

            “Wholesome” is gone, but the problems remain.

            From reading the headlines in the papers today, one might think this is a done deal.  Governor Lynch is on board; Republican leaders in both Houses are on board; well, let’s just say we’ve done the job and go home; send this sucker on to the voters.

            But not so fast.

            While getting 15 votes in the Senate (60 percent of 24) may be a mere formality, 237 votes are still needed in the House (60 percent of the current membership of 395).

            Even with Lynch’s support, I haven’t noticed a groundswell of supports from Democrats, but don’t take my word for it; check comments on the blues web sit.  Kathy Sullivan, whom I seem to be agreeing with more and more these days—say it ain’t so, Joe—says that this current legislature is a good reason to vote against the amendment.

            Pause.

            I agree.

            Not a single Manchester Represenative, having witnessed this current legislature take $15 million of money promised for Manchester schools just last year, should vote for this amendment.  However, as we learned with the redistricting betrayal, Manchester Republicans too often put the dictates of their tyrannical leadership ahead of what is best for their community, so we can probably expect the Manchester lemmings to guarantee their extinction by voting for this disaster.  More Manchester teachers will be laid off, maybe not this year but in coming years, if this passes, and voters should hold anyone who votes for it to blame.

            Will Mayor Ted Gatsas take a stand?  Does it really matter?

            Since Manchester Republicans stabbed him in the back on redistricting and followed their leader (Hail, Victory), we can only assume they will do so again.  Ironically, the redistricting court cases are scheduled to be heard at about the same time as the CACR vote.

            Little has really changed since I wrote a couple weeks that it will all come down to the number of Representatives who are absent.  Remember that each absence is tantamount to a no vote, and since Republicans can afford to lose only 55 or so votes (assuming most Democrats vote no), they need get fannies in the seats when the vote is taken.

            There’s no guarantee that will happen.  Peter Principle Silva, the new Republican leader, spent much of the day trying to explain silly comments he made yesterday.  Peter is no DJ, and about the only thing that can save him and O’Brien now is a sympathy backlash.  Expect them to appeal to the memory of DJ, demagoging about the need to hang together now that DJ is gone…kind of like the Gipper…”Win one for the Deej!”

            If that inane appeal succeeds and this sucker gets to 237 (despite opposition from Libertarian-minded Reps), then Republicans deserve the fate they’ll suffer in November.

            DJ has resigned; he would have voted yes.  Norman Tregenza has resigned; he would have voted no.  Score one loss for each side.

            Kevin Landrigan had the odds at 50-50 in last week’s Sunday Telegraph.  Gary Rayno in the Union Leader seemed less sanguine about passage.  I’ll stick with my odds of 40-60 against getting to 237, but it all depends on turnout.  If more than 20 Republicans are absent when it comes time to vote, it’s in big trouble.

Of course, it doesn’t matter if Democrats are absent or not because remember…an absence is the same as a no vote.

Expect the Union Leader and Republican gray beards to weight in in full force.  Must we hear from Chuck Douglas again?  And Ovide—god forbid?  Probably even Papa John?  Maybe even Steve Merrill if he’s not too busy talking about rumored pregnancies?

Take your phone off the hooks, my fellow Reps; don’t answer your mail; shut off the computers.  Wednesday can’t come and go soon enough, but like all bad things, this to