Some Dems want a school-funding solution

John Lynch will be New Hampshire’s governor for at least one more term. No one, Democrat or Republican, has the slightest doubt.

Sure, there is a Republican nominee. But his party seems to want nothing to do with Joe Kenney. Republicans are exceptionally comfortable with the current governor. Democrats less so.

Lynch has continued in the tradition of Jeanne Shaheen. One well-seasoned Concord observer calls Lynch “the best Republican governor since Jeanne Shaheen.”

One big difference is Lynch has never been in the position Shaheen was when, as governor, she single-handedly crushed that unique moment in New Hampshire history when the votes were there for real tax reform, and a fair and just conclusion to the education-funding crisis. He hasn’t had to and many Democrats in Concord are grumbling.

But outside the State House, Lynch is clearly very popular. I wonder if there are any 4th-graders who have not met, and been impressed by the governor. And when it comes to floods and tornadoes, citizens know he is right there, actively, genuinely helping. John Lynch is in his prime in such situations, and that is not a bad thing at all. The ship of state seems steady indeed under Captain John Lynch.

But a lot of Democrats feel there’s a more important matter than John Lynch: a little something called the education-funding crisis. New Hampshire has remained without a solution since the Supreme Court’s ruling in 1997. I wonder if anyone can keep count of the number of times the problem has been swept under the rug. The bump is getting mighty big.

The tax system remains unfair. Moderate-income families pay too much of their income while the wealthiest pay less than their fair share.

Lynch’s approach, a constitutional amendment, was the same old theme: the state still ducking its responsibility. Meanwhile many House and Senate Democrats chafe on their leash. Every now and then a rebellion surfaces. It seems some really, really want a solution.

Though many Democrats are (understandably) reluctant to speak on the record, Michael Blastos, Keene’s mayor from 2000 through 2008, says, “The state shouldn’t turn its back on the Constitution.” He didn’t say (and I didn’t ask) who he’s voting for, but he did say, “I admire Katy Forry. She’s got courage.”

Who? Seeing that no one else would do it, this retired teacher from Jaffrey put her name on the Sept. 9 primary ballot for governor. Her reason is simple: property taxes are unfair and are hurting too many. Forry recognizes The Pledge is a hindrance.

Governing requires leadership. Our system is broken and needs fixing. Surely someone like John Lynch, with political capital consistently hovering around 80 percent, can, every now and then, afford a risk.

But how big can that bump get? One of these days, New Hampshire needs to lift up that carpet and face the mess square on. Forry’s candidacy is the voice of insistence for a fair and equitable solution, providing all our kids with decent education no matter where they live, at last fixing our broken, unfair tax system. Many Democrats want that voice to be heard.

State senator from 1990 to 2004, Burt Cohen now hosts a radio talk show. His Web site is

Categories: Opinion