Once again, The Supreme Court is the focus of never ending education funding lawsuits. Bartlett Director Eugene Van Loan’s brief to the Court offers the best explanation of the issue and how the court can resolve it.

WHEN 25 PERCENT of New Hampshire’s high school students drop out something needs to change. Far too many of the students who need the benefit of a good education fall through the cracks and drop out. A targeted school choice program can provide students whose only current option isn’t working with an opportunity to find another choice to help them succeed.

With one little tax change, New Hampshire can add hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of new jobs to the economy with no net cost to the state budget.

A one percentage point cut to the little-known insurance tax will jumpstart the economy and make New Hampshire a regional center for well-paying financial services jobs. Rarely can a state achieve such dramatic benefits with one small change.

In New Hampshire and all of New England, the biggest threat to economic development that no one knows about is a looming energy crisis but not the one you think of. Everyone talks about the rising cost of gasoline but we are quietly and rapidly running out of electricity and face the threat of rolling blackouts as soon as 2008. New England is producing enough electricity today but the electricity needs of consumers are growing and a thriving economy will make those needs grow even faster. In a few short years, the capacity of existing power plants will no longer be enough to meet demand. Because new plants (and many existing plants) are not economically viable under current structures, the building of new plants has dried up.

In their thirst for more of our money, administrative officials have confused the difference between closing an inadvertent loophole in the tax code and making a decision to impose new taxes. In their confusion they have blurred the line between policymaking elected officials and the employees hired to perform administrative duties.

Since the founding of the Josiah Bartlett Center ten years ago, we’ve taken a special interest in the relationship between federal and local governments. The recent sweeping overhaul of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act known as “No Child Left Behind (NCLB)” promises major changes at both the state and local levels. Unfortunately, the nature of those changes and the likely costs associated with them are often obscured by the political back and forth that tends to dominate the issue.

Four hundred forty million dollars will consume, for a decade or more, practically every bit of highway money in the state of New Hampshire. Dozens of other projects, equally needed to accommodate growth and enhance safety, will be pushed aside. Most disturbing, a widened I-93 will bring rapid growth to 50 or 60 communities in southern and central New Hampshire, but the $440 million price tag will preclude or delay dozens of local highway improvements needed to accommodate the growth. The result, once you leave the interstate, will be more congestion, more delays, and less safety. If widening I-93 is necessary but dumb as proposed, is there a better alternative?

Since 1934, the federal government has had a policy that encourages the use of prison laborers but prohibits the prison from entering into competition with private enterprise. Adopting a sensible policy like the federal one can help New Hampshire reduce the tension created when our own government uses prison labor to gain an enormous competitive advantage over the private businesses paying taxes to subsidize that labor.

Until 1999, state education funding was an integral part of the general state budget. In 1999, in response to the Claremont lawsuit, aid was separated into an education trust fund and a series of tax increases were dedicated to that fund along with a transfer from the general fund. It made sense at the time to create an accounting tool to show that the tax increases were being used for their stated purpose. However, today that accounting tool is no longer necessary, is misleading, and ought to be eliminated.

In this study, economist Brian Gottlob determines that a means tested school choice certificate program could save the state budget $32 million over eight years. For this study, Mr. Gottlob examined a program like the ones introduced in the legislature the last two years that would cap the total number of vouchers, direct a full voucher to children at the lowest income levels and award partial vouchers on a sliding scale to more moderate income families.