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Coalition Education Funding Survey Results Posted on Web Site
Some Candidates Decline to Directly Answer Coalition Survey

August 22, 2002

PORTSMOUTH, NH - The results of a simple, two-question education funding survey of candidates for Governor, N.H. Senate and the N.H. House have been posted on the Coalition Communities' Web site and will be updated regularly in advance of the September primary as part of the group's effort to educate voters on where the candidates stand, the Coalition announced Thursday.

The survey results can be found at www.cityofportsmouth.com/Coalition, along with the voting records of incumbent candidates on crucial property tax-related bills last spring.

The Coalition Communities survey asked all the candidates just two questions: whether they would support legislation that would sunset the state property tax as of April 1, 2004, and whether they would oppose the biennium budget for Fiscal Years 2004 and 2005 if it utilizes the state property tax as a revenue source in Fiscal Year 2005.

All three major Republican candidates for governor and one Democrat, all of whom have been campaigning as having the solution to the education funding problem, so far have refused to directly answer the Coalition Communities' two-question survey mailed out July 1.

Only Democrat Beverly Hollingworth and Libertarian John Babiarz checked off the boxes on the "Where do you stand on the State Property Tax?" questionnaire mailed to the gubernatorial candidates, with both strongly supporting the Coalition's goal of overturning the statewide property tax.

Republican candidate Gordon Humphrey did not respond at all, despite reminders faxed, e-mailed and telephoned to his campaign office. Democrat Mark Fernald and GOP candidates Craig Benson and Bruce Keough responded in writing with details of their education funding philosophies, but would not check off the Yes or No boxes on the survey. All the candidates appeared at the Coalition's Education Funding Forum in June, and the primary winners will be invited to participate in a similar Forum on Oct. 23.

"We were extremely surprised and disappointed that these gubernatorial candidates who have made education funding a top campaign issue won't even directly answer 'yes' or 'no' to two simple questions. The next governor is going to be faced with these yes or no choices and the candidates shouldn't be afraid to let the voters know where they stand on these two questions before the election," said Mayor Evelyn Sirrell, leader of the Coalition.

The statewide property tax originally was implemented as a temporary measure, but the Legislature made it permanent in June 2001. The Coalition wants to see the sunset resurrected, but is supporting a delayed implementation until Fiscal Year 2005 in order not to cause a funding gap in the current State budget and to give the new Legislature time to make up the shortfall. If this legislative effort fails, however, the Governor could lead the effort to eliminate the tax by vetoing the next biennium budget.

Only one-third of the candidates for N.H. Senate responded to the survey by the deadline, which also came as a surprise.

"We have no hidden agendas in our questions, and we are not trying to trick these candidates. We are astonished that these candidates will not say where they stand on what the voters say is the No. 1 issue on their minds. We realize that this is not a simple issue, but these candidates are going to have to vote 'yes' or 'no' on proposed education funding legislation," said Mayor Sirrell.

"We are simply asking how they would vote on these pieces of legislation. I hope the voters will take note of our survey results and take that information with them into the voting booth on September 10. We need to elect candidates who are not afraid to take a stand. And our Coalition respects any candidate who does so, even if that stand is in opposition to our goals."

The N.H. House candidate surveys were just mailed out last week, but the Coalition so far has received over 100 responses, most overwhelmingly in favor of the Coalition's positions.

The Coalition Communities are Alton, Bridgewater, Carroll, Center Harbor, Dublin, Easton, Eaton, Franconia, Freedom, Grantham, Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Hanover, Hart's Location, Hebron, Jackson, Lincoln, Meredith, Moultonborough, New Castle, New London, Newington, North Hampton, Pittsburg, Portsmouth, Rye, Sandwich, Seabrook, Stoddard, Sugar Hill, Sunapee, Tuftonboro and Waterville Valley.


 1 Junkins Ave., Portsmouth, NH, 03801, Tel: (603) 610-7281Fax: (603) 427-1575 Email: Coalition@ch.cityofportsmouth.com