As New Hampshire students head back to school this week, education is on many parents’ minds. And with the gubernatorial primary less than two weeks away, candidates’ positions on these issues could play a major role on voters’ decisions. 

In this year’s governor’s race, the candidates’ views fall largely along party lines, with differences over how much and where to spend money.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Coming on the heels of last year's prolonged budget fight, with negotiations stretching months longer than usual, the 2016 session of the New Hampshire Legislature can't help but seem a bit sleepier. But, in fact, it was a busy few months for lawmakers.

Things kicked off early, actually, with a special session in November to address the state's opioid crisis. Lawmakers eventually worked through more than 1,000 bills, wrapping things up late last month. 


Ronald Reagan clobbered Jimmy Carter in the 1980 New Hampshire presidential election. Four years later, he did the same to Walter Mondale. So resounding were those thumpings, Carter won just two towns in the state, Mondale five. 

Republican supremacy in the state did not start with Reagan, nor did it end with him. But Reagan’s two victories may represent the GOP high-water mark in New Hampshire presidential contests. The question now is: Has Republican support in the state bottomed out, or could it continue to fall in 2016? And what might Donald Trump, this year's unconventional GOP nominee, mean for this trend?

Spend any time around Sen. Kelly Ayotte or Gov. Maggie Hassan nowadays, and you'll hear repeated assurances that while it may be election season, they remain wholly dedicated to serving New Hampshire.

But take a look at either’s fundraising books in their race for the U.S. Senate, and you'll find plenty of proof that both are also focusing further afield.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

The classic gerrymandered map you learned about in high school civics class is full of oddly-shaped legislative districts, drawn with obvious intent to boost one party.

But in New Hampshire, that’s rarely the case: It’s very hard to see, just by looking at the election maps, which districts might help or hurt a certain party’s chances.

So has gerrymandering been a factor in the state’s politics? And if so, how much?

If you want to know whether Hillary Clinton will stay close to Bernie Sanders Tuesday, or are looking for an early hint of how the Republican race will end up, here's a tip: Keep an eye on Rochester.

It's a rare presidential candidate who tries to use tax policy to win voters' hearts.

But fiscal policy -- and tax reform in particular -- is an issue with the potential to have a real effect on voters’ finances, in their personal budgets or their businesses’ earnings. 

After Bernie Sanders announced his proposal to make college free, college affordability has been front and center in the Democratic primary. When it comes to broad goals, the candidates agree. But as for the best way to get there, that’s where they differ.

This primary season, NHPR is taking a closer look at some of the issues defining the presidential primary races in a series we’re calling Where They Stand. Today, we’re looking at gun control and the Democratic candidates' positions, both past and present.

A special task force on the state's opioid crisis has given the initial stamp of approval to a bill that would impose stricter criminal penalties for the distribution of fentanyl.

This primary season, NHPR is taking a closer look at some of the issues defining the presidential primary races through a series we’re calling Where They Stand. Today we’re looking at some of the top foreign policy questions in the Republican primary.

On this subject, while the candidates agree on most issues, there are still differences to be found.

  Labor Day Weekend is the unofficial end of summer (boo!) It also traditionally serves, every four years, as the informal start of the high season for the New Hampshire presidential primary (yay?)

Candidates from both parties are flocking to the state over the next few days, hitting parades, picnics, conventions, town halls and house parties stretching from Salem to Pittsburg.

To help you navigate the busy campaign weekend, we've put together our Labor Day candidate map below. Click on each dot for details where and when to catch a candidate near  you.

H.A. Kimball

The way New Hampshire cares for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities has changed dramatically over the past 200 years.

The shifts in approach have been urged on by advances in drugs and science, legislative mandate, budget cuts, and the force of media and popular culture.

Just 25 years ago, New Hampshire was a national leader in caring for people with mental and physical disabilities. Today, the state ranks closer to the bottom, and New Hampshire is in the middle of a period of dramatic change.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

In this year’s Democratic primary, several candidates have made action on climate change a major part of their campaign. This time around they think it could be a winning issue for them in the general election, and they’re also more comfortable using it to draw distinctions between each other.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has successfully attracted thousands of enthusiastic volunteers and other supporters. The challenge now is to translate that enthusiasm into success at the polls in early-voting states like New Hampshire.

A recent story by NHPR reporter Sam Evans-Brown examined how Sanders' camp is trying to build an organization -- both in New Hampshire and nationally -- to harness that support once the voting starts. This chart provides a bird's-eye view of what that organization looks like to date.

Nearly two thirds of the contributions from New Hampshire residents to presidential candidates since January went to Democrats, with Hillary Clinton collecting more from Granite Staters than all the Republicans combined.

Independence Day means fireworks, BBQs, flags – and, in New Hampshire, presidential politics.

The three-day weekend has lured at least eight candidates for president to the Granite State. The candidates, Republican and Democratic, will appear up and down the state, Friday through Sunday. So, if you've always wanted to discuss foreign policy with the future leader of the Free World while holding a sparkler, now might be your chance.

The financial partnership between local governments and the state of New Hampshire has splintered since the recession. 

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Negotiators in the House and Senate agreed to a compromise version of the next two-year budget earlier this week. Here's a summary of how the deal was reached.

Two proposed changes to the the state's education funding formula have been passed by the two chambers of the New Hampshire Legislature. Both seek to increase or lift altogether the state's cap on growth in per-pupil spending. And both would pay for such it by reducing so-called "stabilization grants," created in 2011 to keep certain school districts from losing huge amounts of funding after the last round of changes to the base aid formula.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR; Data: SAUs 28, 30 & 62; Legislative Budget Assistant
Sara Plourde / NHPR

The debate over New Hampshire’s business taxes has largely played out along partisan lines this year, with Republicans supporting staggered cuts to the state's corporate tax rates, and Democrats opposed. But political rhetoric aside, let's look at the underlying numbers to better grasp the core policy issues.

Sara Plourde | Data: NH Dept. of Education, NH School Administrators Association

The number of New Hampshire public school districts offering full day kindergarten has been on the rise since 1999, when there were fewer than a dozen.

Sara Plourde for NHPR

There are many factors that affect the way a family with children lives. We've selected ten of these - factors which affect income, access to resources, and stability - and combined them to illustrate how families are doing at either end of the income spectrum.
This graphic illustrates how the top 25% and bottom 25% compare, and how the bottom 25% compares with the average of all New Hampshire families. 

Notes on the data:

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Every two years New Hampshire lawmakers are given the task of producing a budget for the state.  The aim is to craft one that best serves Granite State residents, spends within the state’s means as well as adheres to the party lines of those in the majority.

This session with a Democratic Governor and Republican controlled House and Senate – the budget process will fluctuate quite a bit before it is signed into law by June 30th.

2nd Annual State Of The Union Bingo!

Jan 20, 2015
Sara Plourde / NHPR

Back by popular demand, it's the 2nd Annual Word of Mouth SOTU Bingo Card!

Planning on watching the State of the Union address this evening? Why not have a little fun and play State of the Union bingo with us! Simply print one--or the whole set if you're hosting a party--of our fancy bingo cards, and keep your eyes and ears open. We'll also be live-tweeting the speech, if you'd like to join the conversation online. It all kicks off at 9 p.m. sharp!  

VLACS By The Numbers

Dec 18, 2014
Sara Plourde / NHPR
Sara Plourde / NHPR

As sustainable as Star Island's systems are, the folks at Star Island Corporation are working to make them even more efficient, making improvements that mean bringing less onto the island, sending less off, and making more use of what's there.

The graphic below outlines what comes onto the island - either naturally or shipped by boat - what gets sent off, and where everything goes in between.


Map: Does Your Town Allow Fireworks?

Jul 3, 2014
Martin Abbott, Flickr CC

Fireworks are legal in New Hampshire but not permitted in every town.

Related Story: Fireworks Lobby Succeeds In Keeping Controversial Devices On Store Shelves

According to the New Hampshire Fire Marshal’s Office, 18 communities ban fireworks, including cities like Nashua and Berlin and small towns like Madison. Most of the time these restrictions are obeyed without controversy. July fourth though, can be a different story.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

With warming weather comes stormy weather - but why is that? If it's been a while since elementary school science class, catch up on the phenomena of summer thunderstorms and hail with this primer.