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Mr. Lynch also won creation of a new job-training fund, a ban on burning toxic construction and demolition debris, a new law fostering development of renewable energy, and funding for a land conservation program. He successfully blocked Republican attempts this year to end the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Though he didn’t lobby for its passage, Mr. Lynch also signed a civil union law in 2007 granting the same privileges and responsibilities of marriage to gays. New Hampshire was the first state to embrace same-sex unions without a court order or the threat of one.
In 2008, Lynch and lawmakers finally began resolving the most nettlesome issue facing governors since the mid-1990s: complying with a state Supreme Court mandate that the state define an adequate education, price it, pay for it and hold towns accountable for delivering it. The court dismissed the latest lawsuit over the issue in 2008, ruling the state was making progress. The ruling sent future claims back to the Superior Court.
Mr. Lynch initially opposed changing the state constitution to overhaul public school financing, but changed his mind after the court emphatically rejected aid systems that help only selected towns. Mr. Lynch had fought unsuccessfully to repeal a statewide property tax, enacted after the high court ordered sweeping school-funding reform in 1997. He also favors sending more aid to the neediest towns, something he says the state can’t afford to do as long as it must pay the cost of an adequate education in every town.
But Mr. Lynch could not persuade the Democratic-controlled House to join the Democratic Senate in approving a constitutional amendment to allow the changes he desired. Now he is working with Republicans, who control both legislative chambers, to put an amendment on the 2012 ballot.
Instead, the state defined an adequate education that includes a mandate that the last 12 towns without kindergarten programs start them. The state determined the definition’s cost outlined in a new aid system that guarantees every town per pupil aid. Mr. Lynch let the bill become law without his signature as necessary to comply with the high-court order. Democrats did not fund the new system immediately when they wrote the budget for 2010 and 2011. Instead, they held funding close to current levels to give lawmakers time to find a way to pay for it this year. But this year, Republican lawmakers, now in charge, rewrote the aid distribution law and kept aid close to current levels.
Mr. Lynch was born in Waltham, Mass., and now lives in Hopkinton. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire, a master’s degree from Harvard Business School and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
He was president of a consulting firm, the Lynch Group, in Manchester, N.H. Before that, he was admissions director of Harvard Business School and served as president and CEO of Knoll Inc., a Pennsylvania furniture company.
He resigned as chairman of the state university system trustees to run for governor in 2004.
Mr. Lynch and his wife, Susan, have three children.
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