Vote Republican to address education concerns

To the Editor:

Are you tired of high property taxes?

About 80 percent of property taxes are spent on education. Of these educational costs, approximately 80 percent go towards staff and administration salaries and benefits.

Unfortunately, a significant amount of these educational costs are driven at the state level. How do we control these costs? To make the needed changes, we need to elect Republicans to state offices so that they can reform the New Hampshire Retirement System, pass laws for school choice and make gubernatorial appointments so that state government respects local control.

These policies and laws directly affect your property tax bill. Educators in New Hampshire participate in the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS), which is an unsustainable pension system that provides a guaranteed minimum benefit. When the NHRS investments do well, the benefit goes up. When the NHRS investments do not do well, the taxpayers make up the difference.

NHRS beneficiaries get all of the investment upside, but none of the downside. As a result, taxpayers footed an NHRS increase of 25.3 percent in 2014 and will see another 10.7 percent increase in 2016. NHRS needs reform, to move to a defined contribution system (401(k) and 403(b)) like the private sector.

Additional cost savings would be seen from a school choice law with educational vouchers providing competition, which would ultimately drive down education costs. The $21.2 million Hollis-Brookline Cooperative School District Budget for 1,248 students costs taxpayers an alarming $16,987 per student. A $5,000 school voucher program would undoubtedly bring about savings.

Lastly, the New Hampshire Department of Education has started to take away local control from our communities by eroding school board authority. Moreover, they are unilaterally imposing an unfunded mandate on local school districts known as Common Core State Standards with its undesirable ramifications and significant educational costs.

In addition to the aforementioned legislation, New Hampshire needs a Republican Governor who will appoint new Department of Education leadership that will respect local control and will take a strong stand in support of New Hampshire students and tell Washington that we do not want their low “one-size-fits-all” Common Core standards.

On Nov. 4, I urge you to vote Republican in an effort to address these concerns. Once elected, I am confident that Chris Adams and Jack Flanagan (state representatives), Kevin Avard (state Senate), David Wheeler (Executive Council) and Walt Havenstein (governor) will work to make the necessary changes to bring about much needed property tax relief for hardworking New Hampshire residents.

Diane Pauer
Brookline