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Senator Shaheen Votes For Long-Term Transportation Bill And Is Disappointed In House Inaction

Washington, DC – Today, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) voted in favor of a bipartisan six-year transportation bill that would provide the funding certainty that’s needed to allow stalled construction projects in New Hampshire and across the country to go forward. Yesterday, the House of Representatives adjourned for a five-week recess without considering any long-term funding proposal for road and bridge construction and repair, and, instead, passed a three-month extension of federal highway funding.

 

“What I hear over and over again from local officials and drivers across New Hampshire is that road and bridge disrepair is hurting the local economy, increasing traffic, adding wear and tear to vehicles, and is a threat to public safety,” said Shaheen. “I’m very disappointed that the House has recessed for vacation without even considering a long-term funding source for desperately needed road and bridge repair. The Senate has approved a bipartisan long-term funding bill and the House should do likewise so that projects across New Hampshire can ramp-up planning, hiring and construction.”

 

In recent weeks, Senator Shaheen has been traveling around New Hampshire to stalled transportation projects to highlight how not having long-term federal funding is impacting local communities.

 

In order to avoid a lapse in federal highway funding, the Senate approved of the House’s short-term funding legislation this afternoon.

Even After 50 Years Of Success, Politicians Are Still Trying To Destroy Medicare

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President Johnson signs Medicare into law. Image by the LBJ Library

Today, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Medicare, a critical lifeline for America’s seniors that is working. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that program will be solvent through 2030.

“Fourteen percent of Americans are over the age of 65. Thanks to Medicare, they have a high quality of life in retirement without sacrificing their standard of living or burdening their loved ones with medical bills,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Medicare is a success story. It’s improved and strengthened families, the U.S. health care system and the lives of older Americans and the disabled. We’re encouraging our retiree members to speak out to make sure that it is preserved for future generations.”

“Current and future retirees must be wary of those politicians who are seeking radical changes that would make it harder for seniors and disabled Americans to see a doctor or fill a prescription,” said Fiesta. “Telling our stories about the difference Medicare has made in families’ lives is important.”

But, just last week, we had a new reminder that Medicare, despite it’s success, is under attack by Republicans. Here in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush admitted that he wanted to “phase out” Medicare for future seniors. He even doubled down on his position after being challenged by a frustrated senior in Gorham (video here).

Jane Lang, Vice President of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans confronted Jeb Bush at a town hall meeting in Gorham, NH shortly after he announced his plans to “phase out Medicare.”

After the event, Lang and the NH Alliance for Retired Americans posted a statement:

“Medicare was created 50 years ago this month to ensure that older Americans, who are most in need of health care services, would not have to choose between a hospital stay and keeping a roof over their head.”

“Since then, all Americans have contributed to Medicare with the assumption that it would be there for them when they reached retirement age.”

“We will fight against any attempt to take away our earned health care benefits and make sure that older Americans know who is on our side, and who is not.”

Jeb Bush isn’t the only Republican that wants to end Medicare as we know it. Several, including Kelly Ayotte, tried to pass the Ryan budget, which would end the program as we know it, while at the same time increasing out-of-pocket costs for seniors.

Ayotte has voted three times for the Ryan Budget that would turn Medicare into a voucher program, which could rob over 450,000 seniors and soon-to-be seniors across New Hampshire of the benefits they’ve rightfully earned. [Vote 46, 3/21/13; Vote 98, 5/16/12; Vote 77, 5/25/11]

Every GOP presidential candidate wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has helped to strengthen Medicare’s solvency for the future, while also saving seniors billions in prescription drug costs.

“As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Medicare as a successful program that hundreds of thousands of Granite Staters rely on for health care, it’s important to see what the Republican nominees for President have in store. Jeb Bush’s comments last week just adds another chapter to the long book of Republicans trying to destroy Medicare or turn it over to corporations. Nearly the entire Republican field supported Paul Ryan’s efforts to end Medicare as we know it. New Hampshire simply can’t afford Jeb Bush’s ideas to phase out Medicare,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

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Stand Up for Workers at Voters First Forum

Pro-Worker Visibility at NH Voters First Forum

This coming Monday, August 3rd, the New Hampshire Union Leader will be hosting the first Republican Primary (debate) Forum.  All the major players in the GOP Primary are scheduled to attend including Governor Scott Walker, Governor John Kasich, Governor Chris Christie, Senator Rand Paul, Governor Jeb Bush, and the list goes on.  Reportedly there could be as many as 16 candidates on the stage for this forum on Aug. 3rd, just days before the big official Fox News debate.

We want to show that in New Hampshire, workers matter! Many of these politicians are trying to make their career by attacking working families.  Slashing our rights, stealing our pensions, and gutting the programs we have paid into all of our lives.

Come join us for a pro-worker visibility and tell the world that attacking working families is not the road to the White House.

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New Hampshire AFL-CIO members and community allies will join the gathering of pro-labor & progressive voices outside the New Hampshire Union Leader Voters First Forum at St. Anselm College on Monday, August 3. The forum will feature comments by 14 GOP presidential primary candidates, including anti-worker Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Monday, August 3, 2015 | 5:30pm

St. Anselm College, Manchester NH

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(Leo W Gerard) Anti-Presidential: Money Grubbing, Community Disdaining Candidates

Donald Trump says exactly what the GOP believes. It’s a simple axiom: personal wealth accumulation is everything. Republican Party officials believe individuals like The Donald attain riches through their own guts, glory and gumption with not an iota of aid from community, country or, frankly, inherited wealth.

It’s just that when The Donald expresses their credo, he ignores the shinola and emphasizes the crass. Instead of going with the slick 2012 GOP convention theme, “I built that,” to aggrandize individual capitalist conquest, The Donald slammed a group of his primary competitors for serving their nation instead of themselves.

What The Donald failed to acknowledge is that some of them, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, serve themselves through their so-called public service. This year, for example, Walker took a quarter billion dollars from Wisconsin higher education, gave it instead to a project by billionaire sports team owners to construct a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, and now one of those rich guys, Jon Hammes, co-chairs Walker’s national campaign fund raising.

It’s a brilliant scam. The Donald, master of bankruptcies with four under his belt, really should be impressed. Walker is forcing the great majority of Wisconsin workers to pay taxes, not for projects they prize like schools or highways, but instead to further enrich millionaires who, in turn, fill Walker’s campaign pockets!

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Art on Flickr by DonkeyHotey

The Donald elevates capitalist endeavors, even those achieved through bankruptcy, over public service, suggesting non-millionaires are unqualified for office: “A number of my competitors for the Republican nomination have no business running for president. . . . Many are failed politicians or people who would be unable to succeed in the private sector.”

This echoes the derisive comments the previous Republican nominee for President, the quarter billionaire Mitt Romney, made about American people generally. He slammed nearly half of them, 47 percent, as slackers who receive government aid after they failed to be born to a famous rich man, as Romney was, and then leverage that silver spoon to make millions for themselves. Never mind that many of the 47 percent receive Social Security that they earned through a lifetime of hard work. Never mind that guys like Jon Hammes fatten their already bulging wallets with government handouts.

A specific “failed politician” that The Donald blasted was U.S. Sen. John McCain. The Arizona Republican, who suffers to this day from injuries he endured as a prisoner of war, didn’t defeat Barack Obama for the presidency. So The Donald called McCain a loser, a person who The Donald would fire, in fact, according to The Donald, not even a war hero.

The Donald explained that he preferred guys who didn’t get captured, guys like himself who evaded military service with a bone spur he claims he had on he forgets which foot, guys who pursued their self interest at the same time soldiers like McCain risked their lives for their country.

While The Donald cruised around Manhattan in his daddy’s limo, caroused at private clubs and collected his first million working for his daddy’s firm, McCain volunteered for military service, suffered three shattered limbs when his jet was shot down, endured torture in a Viet Cong prisoner of war camp for five years and refused to jump ahead of other prisoners for release, an offer the enemy made based on McCain’s familial connection to military brass. McCain joined up to make his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, proud, not to exploit them to benefit himself in the way that The Donald used his daddy.

My union, the United Steelworkers, supported Barack Obama for President and agrees with John McCain on virtually no policy issue. Ever. It is, however, without question that McCain responded honorably to the call of duty for his country and sacrificed incalculably for that.

Despite McCain’s achievements as a soldier and a senator, The Donald felt entitled to belittle him as “incapable of doing anything” because he didn’t make millions by demanding rent money from impoverished tenants, as The Donald launched his career doing.

Money is everything for politicians like Trump and Romney and GOP candidate Carly Fiorina, who laid off 30,000 workers when she ran Hewlett-Packard then stuffed a$40 million golden parachute in her purse before leaving the ailing firm. For them, individual schemes to accrue cash are paramount. And the amount of dough collected is the true measure of a man. Or woman.

It may come as a surprise, then, to these self-aggrandizing capitalists that most Americans don’t believe human greatness is the sum of private jets and mega yachts bought with profits made on the backs of furloughed workers. And particularly relevant to politicians who evangelize careless Randian capitalism in the Bible belt is a recent poll that found the values of the faithful to be the antithesis of money worship.

Lake Research Partners released a survey last week of likely 2016 voters who are religious or faith affiliated. It found that devout voters reject the Republican concept that individuals build businesses by themselves and that every citizen must struggle alone in society competing for survival against neighbors and work mates. They rebuffed a culture based on the Donald Trump reality show The Apprentice – where contestants stomp each other to get ahead.

Instead, these religious voters believe in community where members sustain and strengthen each other.  They expressed strong support for policies that inure to the collective good including paid sick leave, increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour and investment in children even if that means raising taxes.

This, frankly, is not a surprising finding in a religious country that is a closely bound collection of states. Citizens of the United States have found that they can achieve far more through affiliation and cooperation. No individual state, not even the big ones like Texas or California or New York, could have won World War II. But 50 states together, with young people volunteering for military service and women stepping up to work in factories and old people buying war bonds, generated the synergistic power of community essential for victory.

Republicans who denigrate those values do so at their own peril. Americans aren’t selfish. They don’t live by The Apprentice theme song, “For the Love of Money.” Americans are better than that. And they deserve better than mean-spirited, self-serving politicians.

As A Progressive I am Leaning Toward Senator Sanders And Here Is Why

As a devoted progressive I am still torn by who to support in the Democratic Primary.

I know that during the Clinton administration, Americans did very well. The middle class grew, we reduced poverty, and even the bankers were happy as Wall Street soared.

I am also deeply concerned that Congress is moving us in the wrong direction. They are opposing every idea we put forward that is a time tested solution to fixing our broken economy and lifting the wages of millions of hungry families.

I find myself being drawn to Senator Bernie Sanders more and more.  I openly admit that I am one of those outspoken, unabashed liberals from the “Liz Warren wing of the party” and I am proud to say so.  Senator Warren is one of the smartest people I have ever met, and listening to her speak is inspiring.

Senator Sanders has been fighting for the middle class his entire life and throughout his career as an elected leader in all levels of government.

Before you jump to the conclusion that I am endorsing Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, let me say this.  Both candidates have the potential to President, and both will make excellent Presidents.  They are very similar on many of the issues: raise the minimum wage however they seem to differ on the amount we should increase the federal minimum wage too, climate change, workers rights though I feel Bernie Sander’s work opposing the TPP and fighting for the Employee Free Choice Act lifts him above Hillary on this issue, and LGBTQ rights.

The main thing that seems to separate the two candidates in Money in Politics, guns, and Wall Street.

Hillary has come out and said she supports overturning Citizens United though she is collecting massive donations to her Super PAC while Bernie is collecting near record donation from small individual donors and refuses to have any Super PAC at all.   If campaign finance reform and destroying the “too big to fail” banks is your number one issue, then it is obvious that Bernie is your man.

Bernie has issues too.  Many people have criticized Bernie for his very lax position on guns.  Almost every day another tragedy related to gun violence leads the evening news.  I have been active in helping to push for stronger gun reforms in hopes to reduce the number of gun deaths in our country.  Hillary is a much stronger candidate on this issue and others have seized the opportunity to attack Senator Sanders for his vote against background checks.

After you watch this video below you can see why I am being drawn to Bernie’s campaign.  It is too early for me to truly decide but I am obviously leaning one way.

If his speeches are not inspiring and mesmerizing, why are tens of thousands running out to see him in deeply red states too? Watch and see for yourself.

 

Dear Candidate Clinton: Disclosure isn’t enough

SOLD flagKudos to Hillary Clinton for making stock buybacks into an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.  Most Americans don’t realize just how much money corporations spend buying back their own stock, rather than creating jobs.  It’s probably the biggest, ugliest secret of our troubled economy.

But Candidate Clinton doesn’t go far enough.

Her speech yesterday called for more-timely disclosure of buybacks. But just like with #MoneyInPolitics, public disclosure isn’t going to fix the problem.  We need to restore the laws that used to protect us, back when we had a Middle Class.

Disclosure hasn’t solved the problem of our politicians being bought by corporations and the ultra-wealthy.  Everybody knows that the Koch Brothers plan to spend almost a billion dollars buying themselves a president in 2016.  They announced it in the press.  They’re proud of it.  Disclosure isn’t stopping them.  Ever since they made the announcement, they’ve had a steady stream of sycophantic candidates “interviewing” with them, seeking their support.

Anyone who’s watching Big Oil knows that the industry has been busy buying politicians.  Starting with the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Environment, Jim Inhofe.  Disclosure hasn’t made a difference.  He’s proud of the money he gets from Big Oil: “Whenever the media asked me how much I have received in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry, my unapologetic answer was ‘not enough’.”

Disclosure hasn’t fixed the problem of #MoneyInPolitics.  And it’s not going to fix the problem of stock buybacks, either.

WWYD_707_billionBefore the Securities and Exchange Commission created its “Safe Harbor Rule” in 1982, stock buybacks were almost unheard-of.  Now, they’re one of the top priorities of corporate executives.  Last year, corporations spent more than $556 billion buying back their own stock.  This year, they’re expected to spend $707 billion.

The ugly secret of our “trickle-down” economy: corporations are spending enormous amounts of money consolidating their ownership.   Rather than, say, expanding their businesses, hiring new employees or even paying existing employees a living wage.

(Can’t help but notice the trend of corporations focused on stock buybacks, while their employees need public assistance programs to make ends meet.  WalmartMcDonaldsBig Banks.)

Disclosure isn’t going to solve this.  Corporations are proud of their buyback programs.  They announce buybacks in press releases.

Just like the Koch Brothers used the press to announce their intention to buy a president.

Somebody needs to tell Secretary Clinton: the SEC’s 1982 “Safe Harbor Rule” is the regulatory equivalent of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  It enables corporations to do things that are really, really bad for our country.

But unlike Citizens United, the “Safe Harbor Rule” is an administrative regulation. It can be changed or repealed by the administrative agency.

And SEC members are appointed by the President.

Clinton could be pledging to only appoint SEC Commissioners who will repeal the rule.  Instead, she’s just looking for more disclosure.

Clinton deserves a whole lot of credit for raising the issue, and for talking about the impact that stock buybacks are having on our economy.

But it would be even better if she would go one step further, and talk about a solution that would actually fix the problem.

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Read more NHLN coverage of stock buybacks here.

Read Marketwatch, “Wall Street’s new drug is the stock buyback” here.

Jeb Bush Enrages Granite Staters With Talk Of “Phasing Out” Medicare

Granite Staters Respond to Jeb Bush’s New Plan to “Phase Out” Medicare 

Speaking at an Americans for Prosperity event yesterday, Jeb Bush enraged people when he said “we need to figure out a way to phase out” Medicare for future enrollees.

If you did not see the video, here it is.

Jeb Bush has been outspoken trying to woo his party base with talks of “phasing out” Medicare and raising the retirement age on Social Security.  He also told the Union Leader that people should work more hours.  In Jeb’s world we are all going to work 70 hours a week until we die because seniors will not have access to Medicare and will be force to survive on the bread crumbs that Social Security will provide after Jeb forces through his cuts.

Granite Staters spoke out against Jeb Bush’s comments today saying he is “declaring war on seniors.”

Ray Buckley, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair had this to say about Jeb Bush’s plan to phase out Medicare: 

“In fact the numbers prove that the Affordable Care Act has strengthened medicare’s outlook for decades for come. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, out of pocket costs for preventative services have been eliminated for 183,000 granite state medicare beneficiaries and nearly 19,000 Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries have been phased out of the donut hole coverage gap.  

“This is just the latest chapter in a long book of Republicans trying to destroy Medicare or turn it over to corporations. Nearly the entire Republican field supported Paul Ryan’s efforts to end Medicare as we know it. And Jeb Bush just made it crystal clear. 

“For half a century, Medicare has remained a critical part of the safety net for our Senior citizens as a sacred promise that we must uphold for future generations. As of 2012, there were 231,000 granite staters that would rely on medicare for health coverage. New Hampshire can’t afford Jeb Bush’s ideas to phase out Medicare and neither can the rest of the country.

“Bush also said last night that he thinks phasing out Medicare will be a quote-unquote “winning argument.” I’m happy to take that bet. Not here in the Granite State.”

A true Granite Stater, Lenore Patton of Hampton, New Hampshire is clearly unhappy with Jeb Bush’s plan:

“I am frustrated that Jeb wants to phase out Medicare. I thought this fight was over when President Obama was elected and our country rejected the Romney-Ryan plan to privatize Medicare. 

Seniors like me have worked hard their whole lives, supported their families, given back to their communities. It’s clear Jeb Bush doesn’t get it. Calling for phasing out Medicare and repealing the Affordable Care Act, which has saved seniors money, is not what we need… 

“Throughout his career Jeb has only fought for the wealthiest – giving them tax breaks that shifted the burden to the middle class. This is no different. 

“Jeb Bush’s plan to phase out Medicare isn’t going to help the middle class, it’ll just put them farther and farther behind. Bush, once again, is looking out for himself and others like him – a way to put more in their pockets – instead of working to help people from falling into poverty. That is something we just can’t stand for.”

The New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans have been an outspoken advocate for protecting the social net for seniors and preserving Medicare and Social Security for future generations.

Jane Lange, Vice President of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans released the following statement:  

“Jeb Bush has declared war on seniors.”

“By going after their earned Medicare benefits, he is putting our health and economic well-being at risk.”

“Medicare was created 50 years ago this month to ensure that older Americans, who are most in need of health care services, would not have to choose between a hospital stay and keeping a roof over their head.”

“Since then, all Americans have contributed to Medicare with the assumption that it would be there for them when they reached retirement age.”

“We will fight against any attempt to take away our earned health care benefits and make sure that older Americans know who is on our side, and who is not.”

Considering that seniors are the highest demographic of active voters, I think it was unwise to tell them you would like to steal their Medicare.

Kuster Helps Introduce Equality Act to Prevent Discrimination Against LGBT Individuals

Kuster Helped Announce the Legislation at a Press Conference on Capitol Hill Today

Kuster Helped Announce the Legislation at a Press Conference on Capitol Hill Today

Washington, DC – This morning, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined with 155 of her colleagues to introduce the Equality Act, a bill to ban discrimination against LGBT individuals in arenas such as housing, employment, federal funding, education, credit, and jury service. Congresswoman Kuster has long pushed for equal rights legislation to protect LGBT Americans, and today’s legislation would help our country take an important step forward towards protecting their rights. 

“No one should be discriminated against simply because of whom they love,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “Our country was founded on principles of equality and justice for all, and these principles apply to every American. That’s why I was proud to help introduce the Equality Act today, which would ban discrimination against LGBT individuals and help protect their rights as American citizens. I urge my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to join together and support this legislation that is so crucial for preserving equal rights for all.”

The Equality Act will amend the Civil Rights Act to illegalize discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It was introduced today by 156 members, including lead sponsors Congressman David Cicilline (RI-01) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR). At a press conference today the cosponsors of the bill, including Congresswoman Kuster, highlighted the importance of eliminating discrimination against LGBT individuals across the board in every aspect of their lives. 

Congresswoman Kuster has long advocated in favor of equal rights for every American. Earlier this year, she joined with over 200 of her colleagues in Congress to submit an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage equality for LGBT individuals, and in 2012 she signed a similar amicus brief advocating for the Court to overturn the prejudicial Defense of Marriage Act in order to force the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages as legal. Kuster is a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, an organization dedicated to promoting equal protection under the law for LGBT Americans. She has also cosponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and she has long been committed to passing legislation to ensure that employees cannot be discriminated against in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Response to Governor’s Compromise Budget Proposal

On Thursday morning, Gov. Maggie Hassan presented a compromise budget proposal and urged lawmakers to get to work quickly to reach an agreement.

The compromise proposal includes more funding for numerous key priorities, including winter road maintenance, fighting the addiction epidemic, overtime at the Department of Corrections, and the Community College System of New Hampshire. The proposal also includes funding for the new state employee contract negotiated by SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members; the Legislature cut funding for that agreement during budget negotiations.

Following the press conference, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Richard Gulla issued the following statement:

“We applaud the governor for proactively putting forward a budget compromise that incorporates priorities from both Republicans and Democrats, and including the funding necessary to fulfill the fairly negotiated contract for the hard working state employees who deliver quality public services to our state every day,” Gulla said.

“Throughout this budget process, our members have continued to do their jobs to make sure our roads are safe, our veterans and most needy are cared for, and that Granite Staters have the tools they need to compete for good jobs in today’s economy,” Gulla said. “Now it’s time for the Legislature to do its job, by coming back to the table quickly and reaching a bipartisan compromise by the target date of Sept. 16 so that we have a state budget that meets the needs of our state.”

Democratic Legislators Offer Fiscally Responsible Compromise Budget Proposal

Governor’s Proposal Includes Business Tax Cuts on Faster Timeline While Protecting State’s Long-Term Fiscal Outlook and Ability to Support Critical Economic Priorities 

CONCORD – In an effort to reach a fiscally responsible, balanced and bipartisan budget agreement, Governor Maggie Hassan today offered a compromise proposal that includes and accelerates business tax cuts while also protecting the state’s long-term fiscal outlook and ability to support critical priorities such as combating the heroin crisis, holding down the cost of college tuition, continuing to strengthen and increase access to health coverage, and maintaining our roads and bridges.  

“Over the past several weeks, I have met with business leaders and citizens across New Hampshire, and while businesses would of course like to pay lower taxes, they also recognize – as the bipartisan business tax commission has said – that there are other critical priorities that we must support, including investing in higher education, substance abuse prevention, health care, and transportation infrastructure,” Governor Hassan said. “This plan would allow us to do both: lower business taxes and ensure that in the future we do not have to make significant cuts to those critical priorities.”

Governor Hassan’s proposal lowers the Business Profits Tax to 7.9 percent for the 2016 tax year, three years earlier than the Committee of Conference budget, while increasing the threshold on who has to file and pay the Business Enterprise Tax, eliminating the tax completely for 5,500 small businesses. The Governor also includes funds to address the concerns raised by House Bill 550 and calls for stronger public process with additional public hearings on the language in August. The compromise proposal would also eliminate the Committee of Conference’s attempt to double count 2015 dollars to balance Fiscal Year 2016. 

To offset the business tax cuts and the use of carryforward funds, the Governor’s compromise proposal would increase the cigarette tax by 21 cents – still lower than neighboring states– and include parity for e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. It would also increase the state portion of motor vehicle registration fee by five dollars and close a tax loophole restoring the Taxpayer Protection and Fair Documentation requirements to the state’s tax code, ensuring that all taxpayers are treated fairly. 

With these steps, the Governor’s compromise proposal would strengthen efforts to combat the heroin crisis, providing $5.7 million in additional funds over the Committee of Conference budget for substance abuse prevention and treatment. Following a recommendation by Senior Director for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Jack Wozmak, the compromise proposal also moves up extension of substance abuse benefits to the existing Medicaid population to January 2016, and provides additional funds to support other efforts, such as a drug court in the City of Manchester. 

The compromise proposal also adequately funds winter maintenance for highways, restores travel and tourism funds, and includes the modest cost-of-living pay increase for state employees that was previously negotiated in good faith. 

Governor Hassan’s compromise proposal also recognizes that Republican legislators want to take up reauthorization of the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program – which is providing coverage to more than 41,000 hard-working Granite Staters – outside of this budget. It does not remove the sunset for expansion, but it includes funds for the legislature to collect data on the program in the interim and ensures that funds are available to move forward if the program is reauthorized at a later date. 

“As providers, health care professionals and other stakeholders tell me, the single most important step we can take in battling the opioid crisis is reauthorizing the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which is already providing substance abuse services to thousands of Granite Staters,” Governor Hassan said. “I have heard from Republican legislative leaders that they are not willing to act on reauthorization in the budget, so this proposal does not move forward with reauthorization at this time.”

 “Although we will reluctantly agree to wait to take up legislation reauthorizing expansion, we must do everything that we can between now and then to provide certainty about the future of the program and ensure that we have the data that the legislature needs,” Governor Hassan added. “We must reauthorize this critical program as quickly as possible to continue bringing tens of millions of dollars in federal funds into New Hampshire to increase our substance abuse treatment capacity.”

The Governor is encouraging the legislature to work in August so the full legislature can take up a compromise budget when they return on September 16.

“This proposal is a compromise, and it is an effort to address the real concerns of Republicans and Democrats in the legislature,” Governor Hassan said. “It provides Republicans with what they have indicated is their highest priority – cutting corporate taxes – in a faster timeframe while addressing concerns about long-term fiscal responsibility and protecting our ability to support critical economic priorities.” 

“While people on both ends of either party may still want a different plan than the one I am proposing, this plan attempts to address the concerns of both parties in order to reach a common-ground that has enough votes from both sides of the aisle,” the Governor added. “I hope that this proposal can serve as a basis for bipartisan compromise and negotiation.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn and House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff issued the following statement on Governor Hassan’s fiscally responsible compromise budget proposal:

“Passing a responsible budget requires compromise and we thank Governor Hassan for her leadership in proposing a fiscally responsible plan that seeks to address the concerns of both parties while still meeting the needs of New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy.” 

“While the Governor’s proposal doesn’t contain everything we wish it did, it represents a true compromise by including Republicans’ top priority – business tax cuts – while offsetting the tax cuts to preserve our ability to invest in critical economic priorities like combating the heroin crisis, holding down the cost of college tuition, maintaining our roads and bridges, and protecting access to quality, affordable health care.”

“With the legislature scheduled to be in session in September, it’s imperative that our Republican colleagues come back to the table now so that we can pass a responsible, compromise budget on September 16.”

 

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