Up the Creek without a Paddle

Yesterdays crazy opinion from New Hampshires supreme court has let the high cost of $825 million for education stand, while removing the means of funding a substantial part of it. Now the legislature will have to cook up a recipe for funding schools all over again.

The decision began with “We address only whether the phase-in of the statewide property tax is constitutional and hold that it is not,” but it concluded that “Because the phase-in is not severable from the education property tax but, rather, is integral and essential to it, we hold that the statewide property tax provision cannot stand.”

It looks like a case of selective severability, with the high court refusing to separate the phase-in provision from the statewide property tax itself because it would be setting a rate of $6.60 for everyone and that would be a legislative prerogative.

However, they let the rest of it stand.

So the $825 million liability remains, but not the engine to raise the major funding for it. The Legislature is now left to do in a few days what it took them months to fight over last spring.

Merits or demerits of a state property tax aside, and leaving out whos delighted by the decision and whos not, this arrogant court has left the other two branches high and dry. Commitments have been made. The towns were set to send out tax bills, budgets are set based upon the legislative decision last April.

The high court says it isnt legislating, but what else would you call it? Someone should call Judge Brock and ask him if he wants a sales tax, an income tax, a statewide property tax or a combination. It would save the legislature a lot of time.

Surely this imbalance of power wont be tolerated, and a constitutional amendment will now appeal to all parties as the ultimate solution to being dragged around by an activist court elected by no one.

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