When Will Senator Ayotte Start Listening To The People On Protecting Our Earned Benefits?

Editor’s Note: Below is a cross-post from the NH Alliance for Retired Americans who have been working over the last year to meet with and talk to Senator Ayotte.  I believe Sen. Ayotte’s office has met with them once, they are obviously not listening to what the people are saying.  When I wrote to Sen. Ayotte about protecting Social Security and Medicare, I got the exact same form letter that Lucy attached below. 

Image and rights from the  NHARA

Image from the NH ARA

Senator Ayotte, You Are Not Listening

Written by Lucy Edwards
President of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans
Posted on the NH ARA Blog

I received an e-mail letter from Senator Ayotte on the subject of Social Security and Medicare (or as she calls them, “entitlements.”) I would like to suggest to her that if she REALLY is interested in making sure that these earned benefit programs are available into the future, she consider some really simple solutions.

First, to fund the Social Security Trust Fund so that it can pay benefits indefinitely, we could do some combination of the following:

  • Raise the minimum wage.  If incomes are higher, payments into the trust fund are higher.
  • Raise the income cap.  If higher earners have to pay on more of their earnings, the payments into the trust fund will be higher.
  • Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. If women earn more, their payments into the trust fund will be higher.
  • Vote for infrastructure funding and other stimulus programs to raise the number of jobs and the pay for workers.  If more people are working, and making decent incomes, the payments into the trust fund will be higher.  AND life both today and in retirement will be much better for ALL Americans.

I would also remind her that the Affordable Care Act is already lowering the rate of growth of healthcare costs, including Medicare.  More preventative care, less spending on high cost procedures, correcting the overpayments for Medicare Advantage policies, and reining in fraud will help keep costs under control.  Don’t repeal the ACA!

We could also discuss the use of the national debt (for which Republican presidents are mostly responsible) as a straw man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man) but we will leave that for another discussion.

Here is her letter:

Thank you for contacting me regarding entitlement reform, particularly as it relates to Medicare and Social Security.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Our $17 trillion national debt threatens not only our economic prosperity but also our security and sovereignty.  I believe that it is my responsibility to analyze the underlying problems perpetuating the unsustainable growth in our federal debt and to make a real effort to solve them.  This includes evaluating all areas of the federal budget to determine where appropriate reductions can be made and making the necessary reforms to entitlement programs to ensure they are solvent for current and future generations.

Spending for major health and retirement programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, will increase in coming decades, putting greater pressure on the rest of the federal budget.  According to the Office of Management and Budget, in fiscal year (FY) 2013, 66 percent of all federal spending was on entitlement programs, net interest, and other social safety net programs.  Unless significant actions are taken to address these programs’ structural problems, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will grow to consume every dollar of revenue raised by the government.

I also understand the importance of these programs and am aware of how many Americans rely on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  As baby boomers continue to retire, health care costs and Social Security outlays will rise.

According to the most recent Medicare Trustees report, the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund has been running cash flow deficits since 2008.  The only thing keeping the program afloat financially is the sale of Treasury bonds in the Medicare Trust Fund – deficit spending.  According to the report, the Medicare HI Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2030.

In addition, the Social Security Trustees report that the Social Security program is now in a permanent cash flow deficit, meaning that as baby boomers retire, the Trust Funds are obligated to pay out more benefits than there are incoming payroll taxes.  This means that to pay benefits, the government must cut spending, raise taxes, or borrow more money from overseas to finance payments.  The Trustees estimate that the Social Security Trust Funds will have a shortfall of $9.6 trillion over the next 75 years and will be exhausted in 2033.  This means that in just 20 years beneficiaries would have to see a 23 percent benefit cut.

I believe we need to ensure the long-term viability of entitlement programs.  In strengthening entitlements, we should ensure that those in or near retirement will not be negatively impacted by any reforms.  However, the longer we put off reforming entitlements, the more difficult changes will be on those nearing retirement.  In order to strengthen entitlements, members of both parties will need to muster the political courage to stop putting off the tough decisions that need to be made in order to preserve these programs and protect the economic strength of our country.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.  As your Senator, it is important for me to hear from you regarding the current issues affecting New Hampshire and our nation.  Please do not hesitate to be in touch again if I may be of further assistance.

Sincerely,
Kelly A. Ayotte
U. S. Senator

The NH AFL-CIO Make Endorsement Announcement for U.S. Senate, NH Governor, Congress

New Hampshire AFL-CIO endorses Shaheen, Hassan, Shea-Porter and Kuster in November elections

The New Hampshire AFL-CIO announced its top slate of candidates for the 2014 elections today, pledging to support the reelection bids of Senator Shaheen, Governor Hassan, and Congresswomen Shea-Porter and Kuster. The state’s largest labor federation is prepared to roll out an aggressive field campaign to turn out voters in support of these working family champions.

“As our economy recovers, we need leaders who will commit to creating economic opportunity for New Hampshire families,” said New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie. “Governor Hassan has worked across party lines to support job creation for middle class families. Our representatives in Congress successfully protected thousands of jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard from furloughs under sequestration. This is the kind of bold leadership that will ensure that New Hampshire’s economic recovery will translate into more opportunities for working families.”

“Working people know how critical this election is. In the last year, we’ve seen what can happen in New Hampshire when we work together to solve big problems. Yet too many people are still struggling and living paycheck to paycheck. We need to protect the leaders who care about the struggles of working people, deliver on their promises to us, and are willing to work together to expand opportunity for all.”

Alliance for Retired Americans Endorses Jeanne Shaheen on 79th Anniversary of Social Security Act

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Senator Shaheen, New Hampshire Seniors Also Call For Passage of Bipartisan Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act To Lower Prescription Costs

MANCHESTER – Today, on the 79th anniversary of the Social Security Act, the Alliance for Retired Americans endorsed New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen for reelection citing her work protecting Social Security and Medicare. At the event, Senator Shaheen was joined by New Hampshire seniors who together called for the passage of the bipartisan Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, which will lower the cost of prescription drugs by providing access to safe, less expensive medication in Canada.

“We need to protect and strengthen vital programs like Social Security and Medicare so Granite Staters who have worked hard their whole lives can retire with dignity,” said Senator Shaheen.  “I’m proud to have stood against radical attempts to force cuts to Social Security and end Medicare as we know it, and I am working to cut prescription drug prices by allowing people to safely buy cheaper medication from Canada.  I’ll never stop fighting to make a difference for New Hampshire’s seniors.”

The Alliance for Retired Americans, which has more than 13,000 members in New Hampshire, mobilizes seniors and community activists to stand up for the issues that matter to seniors most, like protecting Medicare and Social Security, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

“Folks, there is a clear choice in this election,” said Rich Fiesta, National Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Jeanne Shaheen has always voted to protect Social Security and Medicare.  That is why, on behalf of the Alliance for Retired Americans and our 13,000 members here in New Hampshire, I am proud to endorse Jeanne Shaheen for re-election to the United States Senate. Jeanne Shaheen knows seniors, she cares about seniors, and most importantly, she will vote for seniors!”

In the Senate, Jeanne Shaheen is working to cut prescription drug prices and is an original cosponsor of the Medicare Protection Act, which would stop Republicans in Washington from turning Medicare into a voucher system or raising the eligibility age for benefits. As Governor, Jeanne Shaheen created a prescription drug program that saved New Hampshire seniors more than $3 million.

Jeanne Shaheen is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, along with Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar. The bill aims to cut prescription drug prices by allowing people to safely buy cheaper medication from Canada. In 2012, average prescription drug prices were twice as expensive in the United States as they were in Canada, with high costs leading some Americans to skip doses or pass on filling important prescriptions altogether. Drugs imported under this bill would be the same dosage, form, and potency as drugs in the U.S., but at a significant discount to U.S. consumers.

“I cannot think of a better champion for our senior safety net than Senator Jeanne Shaheen,” said Lucy Edwards, President of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans. “We know we can count on her to support Social Security and Medicare. We also know that her deep understanding of our state’s economy and culture, and her ability to bring people together will be an enormous asset to us as we move into a challenging future.”

Tell Governor Christie No Social Security or Medicare Cuts

Hands off my social security Rally to Oppose Cuts to Social Security and Medicare earned benefits

As budget hawks once again turn up the pressure to balance the federal budget on the backs of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens, activists demanding income security for New Hampshire’s seniors will take their case to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and GOP Leaders. Gov. Christie wants to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. Our rally is to tell Christie and GOP Leaders how important Social Security is to our communities and our lives.  Medicare and Social Security are earned benefits—not welfare—and seniors are counting on our leaders to protect these benefits, not cut them. New Hampshire Seniors deserve better New Hampshire’s economy is threatened by cuts to Social Security benefits which bring $4 billion to our local communities serving 270,000 residents each year.

In New Jersey, Social Security accounts for over $24 billion of spending into the economy for 1.5 million of its residents.Social Security provides a lifeline to beneficiaries, families, and the local businesses which serve them. While some in Washington claim America can’t afford programs like Social Security and Medicare, the truth is states like New Hampshire can’t afford to lose the economic benefits they provide to every community in the state.

WHO:          Volunteers with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Alliance for Retired Americans, the Granite State Organizing Project, and the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance

WHAT:        Rally to Oppose Cuts to Social Security and Medicare

WHEN:        Thursday, July 31 at 5:30pm

WHERE:     Fisher Cats Stadium, 1 Line Dr, Manchester, New Hampshire 03101

With millions of members and supporters across America, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare is the nation’s #1 advocacy group fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare for all citizens from younger workers and baby-boomers to the nation’s 40 million seniors. The National Committee informs its members and other citizens about legislative and regulatory proposals, which will affect their working and retirement life. In turn, we take their concerns directly to the White House and the Congress with our staff of professional lobbyists and grassroots advocates.

For more information about the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare call 1-800-966-1935

The National Committee, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization acts in the interests of its membership through advocacy, education, services, grassroots efforts and the leadership of the Board of Directors and professional staff. The work of the National Committee is directed toward developing better-informed citizens and voters.

Alliance For Retired Americans says “Harris v. Quinn Decision Harms Millions of Low-Wage Workers”

Alliance For Retired AmericansThe following statement was issued today by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans in response to the Harris v. Quinn Supreme Court decision:

“Today’s decision hurts millions of low-wage workers and the people they serve, often the most frail and vulnerable in America.

“All workers deserve a voice. Home health care workers’ right to a voice on the job took a wrong-headed hit today, and that harms the home health care that seniors and people with disabilities receive.

“Corporations, the Koch brothers and their extremist allies continue to pursue anti-retiree, anti-worker legislation in the states and in the courts. Instead of using the courts to take away the rights of working Americans like caregivers, we need to reduce income and wealth inequality and to enhance Americans’ economic security in both working years and in retirement.

“Fortunately, the Court upheld the right of other public employees to have a voice at work. That means they can continue to serve their communities and retire with dignity.”

[Most of these workers are women, it is not a good day for women in America!]

NH Labor Leaders Speak Out On Harris vs Quinn Ruling

Home Care Workers Vow to Stand Up for Good Jobs and Quality Services in Wake of Harris v. Quinn Ruling

Work with States and Consumers to Ensure a Strong Voice Will Continue

Concord, NH, June 30, 2014 – Today, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Harris v. Quinn. In a 5-4 decision drafted by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, the conservative majority of the Court dealt a blow to the partnership forged between the State of Illinois and homecare workers through their union, SEIU Health Care Illinois-Indiana (SEIU HCII). In a closely divided ruling, the conservative wing of the Court overruled the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and held that the First Amendment bars Illinois homecare workers from adopting a fair share requirement (also known as ‘agency fee’) to ensure that everyone shares in the costs of the bargaining. The particular workers affected by this decision have a non-traditional relationship with their employer in Illinois and the court used the term “partial public employees” when referring to them. The workers are jointly employed by the state of Illinois and individual patients for whom they provide care.

This means that traditional public employees can continue to join together in a union and retain the right to negotiate a fair share contract provision.

While there are no such “partial employee” organized workers in New Hampshire, NH labor leaders agree that this is a about attacking workers’ rights.

This case was brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an extreme anti-worker group. It is the latest in a decades-long attack on the rights of working people to join together to improve their jobs and the quality of services they provide.

SEIU 1984 Logo“Any decision that infringes on the rights of homecare workers to join together and make decisions regarding their workplace is bad for the economy, bad for workers and the people they serve, and bad for America,” said Diana Lacey, president of SEIU Local 1984. “As our population ages, providing a stable, qualified workforce that meets the growing need for healthcare is critical to ensuring that New Hampshire seniors receive adequate care. Home care jobs are one of America’s fastest growing industries, yet the average wage for workers is around $21,000 a year.”

AFSCME_Logo-2Color“This ruling to allow state-based challenges to the legality of agency fees skirts the question of whether these workers deserve dignity and basic rights on the job and exposes taxpayers to footing the bill for future challenges and litigation,” said Harriett Spencer, Coordinator for AFSCME Council 93.

aft sqaure“AFT-NH members want great neighborhood public schools that are safe welcoming and are fully funded. We want all public schools to have teachers who are well-prepared, well-supported, and who have manageable class sizes and time to collaborate,” said Laura Hainey President of AFT-New Hampshire. “We want our schools to be centers of our communities and to ensure that children and families have access to wraparound services to meet their social, emotional and health needs. We want curriculum that focuses on teaching and learning, not just testing, and that includes art, music and the sciences.”

“When workers can come together and negotiate for better pay, more benefits, and necessary training, turnover goes down, and our elderly receive better care,” said Mark NH AFL-CIO LogoMacKenNH AFL-CIO Logozie, president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. “Ensuring that this workforce has a voice on the job and is not mired in poverty is the single best way to guarantee that seniors and people with disabilities can get safe, quality care in their homes.”

“New Hampshire’s workers will not be discouraged,” President MacKenzie continued. “We will continue to fight for improvements in our workplaces. The fate of workers cannot be decided by one Supreme Court decision. It will be decided at workplaces and industries across the country by those who get up every morning and make our country run.”

The NH Alliance For Retired Americans Score NH Senators On Issues Effecting Seniors

Please take a look at how your Representatives and Senators in the United States Congress voted on issues of concern to senior citizens and their families.

The New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans has sent this letter to the editor to papers around the state:

When it comes to support for the senior safety net, New Hampshire’s two Senators could not be more different.  The Alliance for Retired Americans produces a voting record to show how committed our elected representatives are to retirees and older Americans. Votes chosen for 2013 were*:

Seniors Program Cuts
Health Care Repeal
Estate Tax Repeal
Anti-Retiree Budget
Mandatory Benefit Cuts
Limit Victims’ Rights
Limit Voters’ Rights
Cut Emergency Phone Service
Pro-Retiree Budget
Cut Nutrition Programs

Senator Shaheen received a score of 100%, which did not surprise the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans, since we have had opportunities to speak with her in person both in her office and at events around the state, and to hear her pledge her support for the programs that not only benefit us, but our children and grandchildren now and in the future.

Senator Ayotte received a score of 10%, which, sorry to say, did not surprise us. She has, her staff tells us, been much too busy to meet with us at her office, despite repeated requests. Individual members have attended events she held, despite the short notices, but have not gotten any questions answered.

We at the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans believe that all New Hampshire retirees and all New Hampshire citizens who care about our retirees or hope to be retired some day should have this information.  Please visit our website for more information and how to contact us.

*http://retiredamericans.org/issues/congressional-voting-record

Lucy Edwards, President, for the Board of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans.

The AFL-CIO And The NH AFL-CIO Endorse APWU’s Boycott Of Staples Inc

Momentum behind by the American Postal Workers Union “Stop Staples” campaign is growing by leaps and bounds. 

Over the last few weeks, the American Federation of Teachers in California and Michigan adopted resolutions to boycott Staples stores for their back to school shopping.

Last week AFT-NH President Laura Hainey announced that AFT-NH would also join in the boycott of Staples

“The decision to outsource neighborhood post offices across the country to a big-box retailer means potentially fewer good jobs and poorer service for our communities,” said Hainey. “Staples workers will staff these new postal counters, rather than trained, uniformed postal employees who are background-checked and take an oath to protect our mail.”

Then, just yesterday the AFL-CIO nationally has added Staples to their national boycott list, and the NH AFL-CIO adopted the resolution (view in PDF) to join the boycott of Staples stores.

The conclusion of the resolution states:

Therefore be it resolved that:

  • The NH AFL-CIO support the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) in its efforts to protect good-paying jobs and its insistence on the highest possible standards of customer service; 
  • Be it further resolved that the NH AFL-CIO opposes efforts by the U.S. Postal Service to privatize operations and to sell off valuable public assets; 
  • Be it further resolved that the NH AFL-CIO will urge friends, colleagues and family members, to no longer shop at Staples stores until further notice;
  • Be it finally resolved that this call to boycott Staples will be communicated immediately to affiliates of the NH AFL-CIO, our community allies, to our sister unions and to the news media.

“The New Hampshire AFL-CIO fully and enthusiastically supports our sisters and brothers working in real post offices across our state and nation, and we will be boycotting staples until this unfair program is ended,” said New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie.

The Postal Service and Staples are refusing to staff the postal counters with unionized, uniformed U.S. Postal Service employees who have the training and experience to properly handle U.S. mail, and who have passed back ground checks and sworn an oath to uphold the highest standards of public service.

“These Staples postal counters are staffed by low-wage, low benefit employees with little training and no credentials to handle U.S. mail. We can do better,” MacKenzie said.

“We are thrilled to have the support of the AFL-CIO in our ongoing struggle to keep the Postal Service Public. Acting together we can save this great public service from being privatized,” said Janice Kelble, Legislative Director, NH Postal Workers Union.

“Our local post offices belong to our towns and to the people of New Hampshire,” said Hainey. “Our members can decide where to buy school supplies, and we won’t shop at Staples until they reconsider this misguided program.”

Who will be the next to join the APWU’s call to Stop Staples.

The national AFL-CIO is a labor federation comprised of 56 unions representing 12.5 million members.

(If your local would like to adopt a resolution in support of the APWU’s Stop Staples campaign and need assistance, contact Janice Kelble at jkelble (at) apwu.org, or just send me the press release and details after it is adopted to NHlabor (at) Gmail.com  ATTN: Stop Staples)

Paycheck Fairness Advocates Applaud House Vote to Approve the NH Paycheck Fairness Act

 

Equal Pay for Equal Work (lilly ledbetter act)Paycheck Fairness Act has one last stop at House Criminal Justice Committee before being sent to Governor’s desk 

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 187 to 134 today to pass SB 207, the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. The entire Democratic caucus present* and eleven House Republicans joined the unanimous and bi-partisan vote from the Senate in support of the legislation that will eliminate loopholes, increase transparency in wages, and ensure that all workers have the appropriate tools and resources to help them earn a fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation. The legislation has one last stop at the House Criminal Justice Committee and another floor vote before being sent to the Governor’s desk; Governor Maggie Hassan has previously indicated her support for the bill.

The NH AFL–CIO, NH Citizens Alliance for Action, Granite State Progress, NH Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the New Hampshire Women’s Initiative, Women’s Fund of New Hampshire, and the National Women’s Law Center applaud the New Hampshire House’s bi-partisan adoption of SB 207, the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. The organizations released the following statements on today’s House vote:

Mark MacKenzie, President, New Hampshire AFL-CIO: “We applaud the 187 members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives who today stood with working families by voting to pass the New Hampshire Paycheck Equity Act. Senate Bill 207 will help close the gender wage gap in the Granite State by giving women access to the tools and information they need to make sure they are being paid fairly. New Hampshire AFL-CIO is proud to be a leader in the diverse coalition of women’s organizations, labor unions, and grassroots action groups that led the fight to win this important and timely progress for New Hampshire’s working women.”

Kary Jencks, Executive Director, NH Citizens Alliance for Action: “Today the NH House voted for a New Hampshire and an America that works for all of us, with liberty and justice for all.  Ensuring equal pay for equal work regardless of gender, heritage, or marital status is a critical component in protecting and expanding our state’s middle class and driving a successful economy.”

Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress: “We commend the House bipartisan adoption of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. This law will give employees the tools they need to challenge wage gaps and help create a climate where wage discrimination is no longer tolerated. We are eager to see the legislation move through the final steps in the House and then to the desk of paycheck fairness supporter Governor Maggie Hassan.”

Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union: “Today the House took New Hampshire one step closer toward eliminating unfair gender paycheck inequities in our state. The New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act will help provide women with the tools they need to get fair pay in the workplace, and the NHCLU welcomes its passage by both chambers of the New Hampshire legislature.”

Dawn Andonellis, Public Policy Chair for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) of New Hampshire: “Closing the wage gap in New Hampshire is an economic return on investment that will help to keep our college graduates, particularly women, in the state. We applaud the New Hampshire House for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and for taking this important step toward ending gender discrimination in the workplace.”

Mary Jo Brown, Chair of the New Hampshire Women’s Initiative: “Today we have moved one giant step closer to eliminating the gender wage gap in New Hampshire. We would like to thank our stakeholder partners, the Senate and the legislative champions of SB 207 in the House for all of their hard work to make New Hampshire an even better place to retain employees and for all families across the state. We look forward to Governor Hassan signing this important piece of legislation.”

Marianne Jones, Executive Director, Women’s Fund of NH: “The paycheck transparency that is addressed in SB 207 is one more tool that can help minimize the persistent wage gap in New Hampshire. We know that this will ensure that women and girls prosper in the future, and that entire communities will have the potential to thrive.”

Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment at the National Women’s Law Center: “Pay discrimination is alive and well across America.  Millions of working women suspect they’re being paid less than their male counterparts but have no way of confirming it. And some don’t realize they’re being shortchanged because company policies prevent them from discussing their wages. We applaud the New Hampshire House for moving swiftly to improve their pay discrimination laws and call on Congress to follow its lead.”

SB 207 sponsors include all Senate Democrats along with House Speaker Terie Norelli, Rep. Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst), Rep. MaryAnn Knowles (D-Hudson), and Rep. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsboro).

 

* The sole House Democrat in opposition was Free State Project member Tim O’Flaherty.

Expanded Gambling Is About Creating Jobs (Testimony by NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie)

NH AFL-CIO LogoAs president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to workers and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Now is the time for our elected leaders to step up to the plate and take real, immediate and concrete steps to create good new jobs for thousands of workers in our state.

This Committee and the entire New Hampshire House now have the opportunity to do just that. In fact, legislators have been presented with a bill, SB 366, that will guarantee the creation of a half-billion-dollar construction project, every penny of which would come from private investment.

SB 366 would create more than 2,000 jobs for New Hampshire construction workers and more than 1,000 good, permanent jobs. Furthermore, this bill will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in non-tax revenue for the state and our municipalities, allowing us to keep critical programs like education, public safety and infrastructure off the budgetary chopping block. Plus, polls show that a big majority – nearly 60 percent – of Granite Staters favor the approach SB 366 takes.

SB 366 would bring expanded casino gaming to New Hampshire. Now, I know some members of this committee personally don’t approve of gambling, and that’s certainly your prerogative. But we must come to terms with the fact that we are stuck in a situation where job growth continues to be sluggish and the state budget continually presents our elected officials with extremely difficult choices between cutting programs and finding needed revenue.

The fact is, New Hampshire will be experiencing the downside of casino gaming whether or not we build a new casino within our borders. Our state already has a $75 million-per-year casino industry under the guise of “charitable gaming,” and there will soon be several casinos just over the border in Massachusetts. Without SB 366, we’ll leave thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.

SB 366 was amended in the Senate to include provisions drafted by the bipartisan, multi-agency Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority as part of last year’s state budget process. In consultation with independent experts, the authority reviewed best practices in the gaming industry across the country to develop a true New Hampshire solution for expanded gaming.

This bill was crafted specifically to address concerns lawmakers had with previous gaming proposals, concerns we shared in many cases. We believe that SB 366 includes a comprehensive regulatory structure and robust provisions to ensure that the jobs will go to New Hampshire workers.

Although we have always supported creating good jobs for Granite State workers, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO has never officially endorsed a casino proposal before. Our executive committee recently voted unanimously to fully endorse gaming legislation this year because we are convinced the current proposal represents what’s best for New Hampshire’s working families and for our state

Creating jobs shouldn’t just be a talking point or a political slogan. Growing our economy and putting people to work should be real, tangible goals for our elected leaders. SB 366 is legislation that would accomplish these goals, and I urge the committee to support it. Together we can help rebuild New Hampshire’s middle class by focusing on creating good jobs for workers in our state. Passing this bill will contribute to that cause.

Thank you for your consideration.

Mark MacKenzie
President of the NH AFL-CIO