This morning, the Nashua Telegraph hosted a live interview with NH Governor Candidate Jackie Cilley. This interview was a mix of questions from the editorial board and questions taken from twitter and social media.
The interview started with questions about “Taxes”. Jackie Cilley refuses to take the ‘no-tax pledge’. She stated that “pledges shut down conversations and pledges are not governing”.
She lead the tax debate right into how we need to “invest in our infrastructure”. She talked about how the North Country is struggling because of a lack of good infrastructure. This means roads, power, and the ability to transport goods. Ciley went on to tell the story of a company that wanted to build a call center in Berlin. However the company found that the infrastructure could not sustain their needs. Not enough power, access to high speed internet, etc. Because of this the North Country cannot grow and expand and it ultimately hurts the people who still live there. Cilley also noted that “36% of children in the North Country are on food stamps”.
Cilley was also asked about the current NH Legislature. She talked about how their current plans to help NH grow are not working. She said “stop using simple solutions to complex problems”. This once again drove the conversation back to taxes. Cilley talked about education funding. Referring to the budgetary cuts made by the NH Legislature this year she said, “the state needs to make a commitment to higher education. Having the lowest level of state support for its university system and colleges and then cutting that in half is not a commitment”.
For many people in NH the budget cuts caused property taxes to rise in their local towns. This has moved NH towards the top of the list when it comes to property tax rates. Cilley believes that one of the reasons that young people are moving out from NH is “due to these high property taxes”. She said “any new taxes would have to reduce property taxes”.
There was much discussion around the Affordable Care Act and the Legislature’s actions to block the expansion of Medicare. Cilley stands firm in her belief that, “Healthcare is fundamental human right”. Cilley also stated that “healthcare is a fundamental economic issue as well” drawing on her experience as business professor for nearly twenty years.
I posed the question of Right To Work. I asked “Can you tell us why you are against Right to work and why it will not bring jobs to NH as other candidates say it will?” She responded by saying, “I call it Right To Work For Less, because thats what it is”. She then went on to explain the reasons she does not support Right To Work For Less: lower wages, lower number of people with healthcare, and lower retirements. When you look at Right To Work “every measure the standard of living is lower” said Cilley.
She also told the story of a Republican who was on the fence about supporting Jackie’s campaign. He said that he did not agree with her position on Right To Work. Jackie explained that “RTW has brought up every year for almost 30 years”. She noted that most of those years the Republicans were in the majority and yet the bill has never passed before.
Again I asked a question about the proposed prison privatization. “There has been a lot of talk about privatizing the NH Prison System. Do you have an opinion on this?” Cilley talked about how the idea of privatizing our prisons is flawed and has not worked in other states. Cilley said “why would you reabilitate anyone who is making money for you”. This is in reference to the fact that the private companies who run the prison guarantee to keep the prison at 90% occupancy or more. Cilley also stated that private prisons also have higher turnover of personell, workers are paid less, they have a lower level of training, the injury rate is higher, and problems with prisoners (riots) are higher. Cilley also made reference to the fact that when you privatize the prisons eventually the costs rise and they become more expensive than public systems. For all of these reasons Cilley is opposed to the privatization of prisons.
Lastly Cilley talked about the NH Retirement System. Cilley joked that “pension reform is a much bigger issue than we have time for here”. She went on to say that pension reform is a very complex issue, and she has spent enourmous amounts of time on it when she was in the Senate. Cilley also said “it also tends to inspire knee jerk reactions” when coming up with solutions. She talked about how in 2007, the Legislature brought forth a comprensive bill to fix the NHRS. She explained that prior to the 2007, the NHRS was using a formula that experts warned against using long term. In 2007, they corrected the formula. Cilley said “we were on track to be fixed, now they are tinkering with it again”. Now they legislature has “put the burden (of the unfunded liability) back on the employees”. She closed by saying “57,000 citizens rely on the NH Retirement System and promises made are promises that should be kept”.