By GARRY RAYNO, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD — After 22 years, The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies — an independent, nonpartisan think tank — will close its doors in two months due to a lack of funding.
The center’s board of directors made the decision last week.
“Reliable, unbiased information and analysis is essential for shaping good public policy,” said Donna Sytek, longtime board member and former Speaker of the House. “The closing of the Center is a loss of a trusted, neutral resource — not only for policymakers, but for all of us who care about making good decisions for New Hampshire.”
The Center was created as an independent, nonprofit organization in 1996 by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Business & Industry Association of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Municipal Association, Chubb Life Insurance Company of America and the University of New Hampshire.
Public school funding, the state budget, the flow of federal funds to the state, and the effects of “Senate Bill 2” on municipalities and school districts were the center’s initial focus.
The center also reviewed the state corrections system, school drop-outs, casino gaming, the state retirement system, Medicaid expansion and the state’s aging population.
“The Center has earned a reputation for producing high quality, unbiased public policy research,” said board chair Eric Herr. “Though the need for that perspective continues, we have found it increasingly difficult to attract the financial resources necessary to serve our mission.”
He said the center’s long time supporters have been extremely generous, but noted the board has found it difficult to expand its pool of donors.
The center will wind down its operations over the next two months, finding a home for its research archive and reports, and transferring its remaining financial assets to another nonprofit organization.
“Factual information is essential to maintaining a free society,” said attorney Kate Hanna, Center board member, former state representative, and counsel to former Gov. John Lynch. “Unfortunately, it isn’t free. It takes a great deal of work by people with integrity to produce the type of information that democracy needs.”