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Federal Protective Service Union Applauds Bill Extending Law Enforcement Retirement to Officers

AFGE Logo 2

Legislation by Rep. Carson also increases number of FPS officers, improves security at federal facilities

WASHINGTON The American Federation of Government Employees today applauded legislation introduced by Rep. André Carson of Indiana that would extend law enforcement retirement coverage to Federal Protective Service officers and make other improvements to the security at federal facilities.

“Yesterday, Americans marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which claimed the lives of 168 people,” said David Wright, president of AFGE Local 918, which represents more than 800 FPS officers. “Today, by introducing vital legislation to reform and expand the one federal agency charged with protecting federal buildings and their occupants, Rep. Carson has taken an important step in preventing a recurrence of this tragedy at another federal building in the U.S.”

Federal Protective Service officers are sworn law enforcement officers who protect federal workers and visitors at 9,000 federal facilities nationwide, yet they do not receive the law enforcement retirement benefits provided to all other law enforcement agents within the Department of Homeland Security.

“FPS officers carry guns, make arrests, perform investigations, and apprehend criminals,” Wright said. “They are law enforcement officers in every sense of the word, and they should be entitled to law enforcement retirement benefits.”

Wright said FPS has suffered from recruitment, retention and morale problems because officers aren’t under the same retirement system as other federal law enforcement officers, including special agents within FPS. Under law enforcement retirement rules, officers are subject to mandatory retirement at age 57 with at least 20 years of service, compared to age 60 with 20 years of service for other federal employees.

Rep. Carson’s bill, HR 1851, would apply only to FPS officers hired after the legislation is enacted.

A separate bill by Rep. Carson, HR 1850, would make a number of other reforms to FPS to security at federal buildings, including:

  • Increase the number of FPS employees to at least 1,870, including at least 1,318 in-service field staff, up from the current floor of 1,400 total employees;
  • Allow FPS to deploy more law enforcement officers in the field by excluding desk-bound managers from the definition of in-service field staff;
  • Clarify that FPS is the law enforcement agency responsible for protecting and policing all civilian, non-atomic federal facilities, not just those owned or controlled by the General Services Administration;
  • Mandate a training compliance tracking system for contracted security guards;
  • Require a report on the feasibility of converting all or part of the protective security officer workforce to federal employees;
  • Clarify the right of FPS officers to carry their firearms while off-duty;
  • Require agencies to install security countermeasures recommended by FPS.

“Security in and around federal buildings has been given short-shrift for too long,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “This legislation is long overdue and would provide FPS with the resources it needs to carry out its mission.”


The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

4-21-15 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Common Core Standards And Pension Reform

Things moved slowly this week at the State House. The full House met on Wednesday and passed the following bill:

SB 101: prohibiting the State from requiring implementation of Common Core standards. This bill prohibits the Department of Education and the State Board of Education from implementing the Common Core standards in any school or school district in this state. This bill clarifies that districts don’t have to adopt the Common Core Standards but a district still needs to have high quality standards. AFT-NH believes that if any standards are to work we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing them:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice,
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class,
  • Provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
  • Ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • Communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students,
  • Develop best practices and strategies along with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply,
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments,
  • Make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers,
  • Assessments need to be aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • Professional development and training in the Standards need to be offered,
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards

This coming Thursday, April 23, 2015 the Special Committee On Employee Pensions will be meeting at 10 am in LOB 104. They have two bills that they will be discussing

  • HB 369: establishing a defined contribution retirement plan for public employees and
  • HB 556: establishing a cash balance plan for public employees in the retirement system.

We need to keep in mind the following about our pension system:

  • New Hampshire’s retirement system benefit for public workers should set a standard, and be something for larger employers to mirror in the state.
  • Public service should be viewed as a respectable vocation; a commitment by workers of service and dedication to their home state.  Public service is an investment in New Hampshire and retirement security creates a financial cornerstone of the NH economy.
  • The current annual pension benefit is just over $19,000.  Nearly 70% of the state’s 28,000 pensioners receive less than $25,000 per year.
  • Each dollar “invested” by New Hampshire taxpayers in the pension system supports $7.55 in total economic activity in the state
  • Studies have found that public sector workers’ compensation – including benefits – is slightly lower than that of their peers in the private sector with the same education and experience.
  • Police officers and fire fighters are not eligible for Social Security.
  • All of our public employees contribute their own money into pension funds.
  • Defined-benefit pensions held by public employees are much more cost effective than 401(k)-style retirement plans, costing roughly half as much to provide the same level of retirement benefit to workers such as police officers and firefighters, librarians and teachers, and other public-sector workers.
  • Pensions help reduce employee turnover and thus boost worker productivity.

AFT-NH will continue to advocate for:

Security in retirement is something every worker deserves after a long, successful career in public service.  Our workers, after dedicating their working life to educating children, enforcing the law, fighting fires and helping our communities function every day, have earned a benefit that must allow them to retire with dignity.

The benefit should ensure a predictable cost for the employers and employees, who pay into it throughout their careers. It should create, and sustain, a high-quality workforce. It should attract talented younger workers to invest a lifetime in public service, in turn adding value to the state’s economy.

In exchange for a lifetime of service, our workers need to rely on defined and predictable retirement security that is protected against inflationary pressures. Their benefit should ensure sound, long-term investment options and strategies that will result in post-retirement stability, despite the economic concerns of today.

Instead of encouraging the idea that working for the public sector is less valuable than working for the private sector, New Hampshire’s retirement system benefit for public workers should set a standard, and be something for larger employers to mirror in the state.

Public service should be viewed as a respectable vocation; a commitment by workers of service and dedication to their home state. It is service that adds value to the quality of life for NH citizens and visitors. Public service is an investment in New Hampshire and retirement security creates a financial cornerstone for the NH economy.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

Have you visited the AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”? Please do so today!
You can also follow us on Twitter at @8027aftnh.
Late breaking news appears on Facebook!

Upcoming Hearings

Monday, April 20

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
Department of Health and Human Services:
9:00 a.m. Budget Overview
10:00 a.m. Public Health
11:00 a.m. Medicaid Business & Policy (including Medicaid Managed Care)
12:00 p.m. Break
1:00 p.m. Continuation of Medicaid Business & Policy
2:00 p.m. Commissioner’s Office
3:00 p.m. Office of Human Services
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Tuesday, April 21

Senate EDUCATION, Room 103, LOB
Sen. Reagan (C), Sen. Stiles (VC), Sen. Avard, Sen. Kelly, Sen. Watters
9:00 a.m. HB 347, relative to payment of wages of certain hourly school district employees.
9:20 a.m. HB 604, relative to the use of mixed use school busses by special education pupils.
9:40 a.m. HB 610, relative to a school board vote on the reassignment of a pupil.
10:00 a.m. Hearing on proposed amendment #2015-1333s – establishing a children’s savings account program, and relative to the bonding authority of the city of Dover to HB
577-FN-A-L, establishing a children’s savings account program.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
2:00 p.m. EXECUTIVE SESSION ON PENDING LEGISLATION

House CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 204, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
SB 72, relative to confidentiality of police personnel files and establishing a commission to study the use of police personnel files as they relate to the Laurie List,

House LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
1:00 p.m. Executive session on SB 186, reestablishing the commission to study soft tissue injuries under workers’ compensation and to study the feasibility of developing a first responder’s critical injury fund.

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 242-L, relative to amending the budget in towns that have adopted official ballot voting. The public hearing will include consideration of a non-germane amendment which ratifies the result of a warrant article in the town of Franconia. Copies of the amendment are available in the Sergeant-at-Arms’ office and online.

House TRANSPORTATION, Room 203, LOB
11:00 a.m. SB 234, establishing a committee to study the use of law enforcement details and flaggers for traffic control on municipally maintained roads.

House WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:00 a.m. Full committee work session on SB 113-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.
2:00 p.m. Executive session on SB 113-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.

Wednesday, April 22

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
9:00 a.m. Department of Transportation
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

House FINANCE – (DIVISION II), Room 209, LOB
1:00 p.m. Work session on SB 151-FN, requiring inclusion of home educated pupils in the definition of average daily membership in attendance.

Thursday, April 23

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
SB 242-L, relative to amending the budget in towns that have adopted official ballot voting,

House SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYEE PENSION PLANS, Room 104, LOB
10:00 a.m. Full committee work session.

Tuesday, April 28

House WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:00 a.m. Continued public hearing on SB 213-FN-A-L, establishing a committee to study the formula for distribution of meals and rooms tax revenues.

Wednesday, April 29

10 am House in Session

Thursday, April 30

10 am Senate in Session

Tuesday, May 5

Senate FINANCE, Representatives’ Hall, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. HB 1-A making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2016 and June 30, 2017.
HB 2-FN-A-L relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. HB 1-A making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2016 and June 30, 2017.
HB 2-FN-A-L relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.
Please note: These hearings will be streamed live via the Internet at the following web address:
http://nhgencourt.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=1

House HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS, Rooms 205-207, LOB
10:00 a.m. Kids Count presentation.

Friday, May 15

Every Child Matters in NH and Child and Family Services of NH are pleased to extend an invitation to all members for “Walk a Month in My Shoes” Poverty Simulation on Friday, May 15th at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord. Breakfast and registration will open at 8:00 a.m. The simulation will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end by noon. Please stay for lunch and an afternoon discussion about poverty in our state with NH experts on this topic. Our goal is to simulate the challenges faced by low-income children and their families as they try to survive from month to month on limited resources. We guarantee that this event will have you talking and thinking about poverty in new ways. There is no cost to attend this event. Breakfast and lunch will be provided to our guests. Space is limited so please RSVP by April 24th by calling (603) 856-7517 or emailing mlbeaver@everychildmatters.org

Friday, May 22

In recognition of your support, the New Hampshire Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Association cordially invites you to the 23rd Annual New Hampshire Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony. The ceremony will be held on Friday, May 22, 2015, beginning promptly at 10:00 a.m., on the Memorial Site in front of the Legislative Office Building. The ceremony will proceed rain or shine. Refreshments will be served immediately following the ceremony. Please do not hesitate to contact Major Kevin Jordan of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department at 602-271-3128 if you have any questions.

4-15-15 AFT-NH Legislative Update: The Budget 

The State budget is now in the hands of the Senate Finance committee. They have set up several meeting with agency heads (see below for the schedule).

There have been many news articles stating that the Senate has several goals when putting together the budget:

  • uphold previous commitments, including using dedicated money for its intended purpose,
  • protecting the state’s most vulnerable citizens,
  • add money to the rainy day fund, and
  • improve the business climate, in part by reducing business taxes.


AFT-NH can agree with the first three goals, but as to the fourth we need to remember that by cutting business taxes there will be less revenue for the State. 

We know that in New Hampshire we have few revenue sources and we have a regressive tax system, meaning that citizens who have the least to spare pay the most. To read more on this click here. AFT-NH supports incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors.  All of this is vital to our shared economic success.

AFT-NH believes that the Senate should consider passing or including the following bills when putting their version of the budget together:

HOUSE BILL 634-FN-A;AN ACT
 relative to applying the interest and dividends tax to trusts, increasing exemptions, and extending the tax to capital gains; and relative to homeowners property tax relief.

Dramatic revenue shortfalls are having a devastating effect on funding for public services at the State and local levels. While our economy is now growing, the recent economic downturn, sometimes called the Great Recession, has limited our communities’ ability to provide the healthcare, schools, colleges, public safety and transportation that people take for granted in good years but that they increasingly rely on in bad times.

HB 634 will generate as much as $100 million in revenue each year once fully implemented, while providing approximately $25 million annually to cities and towns with the creation of a dedicated funding source for general revenue sharing. These are revenues which are much needed in New Hampshire. This revenue could also help to offset the increases in local property taxes that communities were forced to impose when the state no longer contributed its share to the NH retirement system for local government workers.

HB 551-FN, relative to preventing diversion of business income to tax havens.

Companies doing business in New Hampshire can still avoid paying tax by shifting income overseas to offshore tax havens–places such as the Cayman Islands that have very low or nonexistent taxes. Companies use a variety of strategies to accomplish this and our State loses millions every year in taxable corporate revenue.

To prevent overseas tax haven abuse, states can close the “water’s edge” loophole and require companies not only to report income in other states but also the income stored in tax havens as part of their combined reporting.

Tax reforms that close corporate tax loopholes are especially popular, commanding overwhelming support. Americans want to see corporations pay their fair share, rather than see cuts in education or major entitlement programs and this remains true across party lines.

Cracking down on tax haven abuse is a step toward fairness. Closing the corporate tax loopholes that simply help the rich get richer, while most Americans are paying more in state and local taxes, will tilt the playing field toward fairness.

The Senate Education Committee will be holding public hearings on:

HB 491:  relative to immunity for school personnel using reasonable force to protect a minor. This bill would permit a teacher or other person entrusted with the care or supervision of a minor or pupil to use reasonable force to end a disturbance, to maintain safety, or to remove the pupil or minor from the premises under certain circumstances.  AFT-NH will continue to support and advocate for this bill to pass.

HB 323: relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program.

AFT-NH believe in assessments that support teaching and learning, and align with curriculum rather than narrow it; that are developed through collaborative efforts, not picked off a shelf; that are focused on measuring growth and continuous development instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn; that rely on diverse, authentic and multiple indicators of student performance rather than filling in bubbles; and that provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools to improve, not just impose sanctions that undermine them.

Further, we believe that assessments designed to support teaching and learning must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing. Specifically, we call on the consortia currently developing assessments aligned to the standards to do their part in solving this by including the crucial voices of teachers in the development of these assessments. We know that collaboration with educators is necessary to ensure that high-quality instruction and content are given their proper emphasis.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

Have you visited the AFT-NH Facebook pageand clicked “Like Us”? Please do so today!

You can also follow us on Twitter at @8027aftnh.

Late breaking news appears on Facebook!

UPCOMING HEARINGS 

Wednesday, April 15

10 am House in Session

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
9:00 a.m. Public Employee Labor Relations Board
9:30 a.m. Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food
10:00 a.m. Liquor Commission
10:30 a.m. Department of Corrections
11:30 a.m. University System
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Thursday, April 16

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
9:30 a.m. Executive session on SB 5, relative to transfers into the revenue stabilization reserve account,

Friday, April 17

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
11:00 a.m. Department of Justice
12:00 p.m. BREAK
1:00 p.m. Judicial Branch
2:00 p.m. Judicial Council
2:30 p.m. Department of Information Technology
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Tuesday, April 21

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 242-L, relative to amending the budget in towns that have adopted official ballot voting.

Thursday, April 23

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
SB 242-L, relative to amendingthe budget in towns that have adopted official ballot voting.

Tuesday, May 5

House HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS, Rooms 205-207, LOB
10:00 a.m. Kids Count presentation.

Leo W Gerard — Hoosier Hostility: Not the American Way

 After Indiana Republicans passed a license to discriminate law, a restaurant called Memories Pizza in the Hoosier town of Walkerton stepped up last week to make sure potential customers knew its religious rules: “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Certification of Heterosexuality, No Service.”

Indiana GOP Gov. Mike Pence provided official sanction for such acts of oppression when he signed a gay-bashing version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It enabled individuals and businesses to legally claim their faith required hateful acts of intolerance. Pence got all huffy when human rights groups accused him of seeking to change the state’s slogan from Hoosier Hospitality to Hoosier Hostility.

Marriage-equality-hating Indiana Republicans were joined by counterparts in Arkansas, North Carolina and Georgia in advancing government-sanctioned discrimination. This is not the way Americans treat each other. Well, not in 2015 anyway. America traveled down the path of intolerance for too many centuries. Now, Americans look back at all-white lunch counters with shame. Despite anxiety about ISIS, they disapprove of blaming terrorism on all Muslims. Americans aren’t perfect inclusive egalitarians. But they’re trying. On a deeply spiritual level, they hate institutionalization of minority hate.

2015-04-04-1428172132-2970148-HoosierHostilityimage.jpg

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence by DonkeyHotey on Flickr

And that’s what was going on in Indiana, Arkansas, North Carolina and Georgia. Bans on marriage equality have failed. So these states tried to crash those ceremonies by denying the couples wedding flowers and cakes, then cloaking that vicious discrimination in a sheepskin of religiosity.

The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 1993, was intended to protect religious practices from unnecessary government intrusion. For example, itprevented a Louisiana school district from requiring that a Rastafari student cut his hair because a tenet of his religion is that men should grow long dreadlocks.

The new-fangled versions of this law pushed and passed by Republicans this year, however, added clauses to provide individuals and businesses that unlawfully discriminate with protection from lawsuits alleging unlawful discrimination. These laws would, for example, enable a pizza shop owner to assert that his religion requires him to deny service to long-haired Rastafarians or to same-sex couples holding hands while waiting in line.

Gay rights activists, human rights advocates and righteous Americans protested. They didn’t want to face government-sanctioned discrimination. They didn’t want their friends or family or even strangers to face government-sanctioned discrimination.

Gov. Pence and the Republicans in the Arkansas, North Carolina and Georgia legislatures ignored these protests. And virtually every Republican seeking the party’s presidential nomination – Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson and Rick Santorum – voiced support for the governors and their license to discriminate laws.

The Republican governors backpedaled only when they heard the giant sucking sound of business and convention dollars draining from their states. Similarly, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, also a Republican, rejected a license to discriminate law last year only after the National Football League and corporations threatened negative consequences she’d not anticipated.

Companies including Apple, Angie’s List, NASCAR, Gap Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., Eli Lilly, Marriott, Subaru and Salesforce condemned Indiana’s anti-gay law or threatened to cancel expansion planned for Indiana. The NCAA, headquartered in Indianapolis, expressed concern about government-sanctioned Hoosier Hostility to players, coaches and fans. In the countdown to the Final Four games in Indianapolis,basketball coaches, professional athletes and former Olympians censured Indiana, threatened to boycott the state and demanded repeal of the law. Cities and statesfrom Connecticut to Washington that protect the rights of LGBT Americans forbid taxpayer-funded to travel to Indiana. Celebrities, bands and comedians canceled visits and concerts.

In Arkansas, Walmart, based in Bentonville, told Gov. Asa Hutchinson the anti-gay bill “does not reflect the values we uphold.” After the state’s largest employers urged a veto, Hutchinson reversed his earlier promise to sign and sought removal of the discriminatory language. Pence, who’d arranged for three anti-gay activistsMicah Clark, Eric Miller, and Curt Smith –  to stand behind him as he signed Indiana’s bill, supported amendments to prevent the likes of Memories Pizza from demanding certification of heterosexuality before service.

This sudden change of heart – and the revisions to the Indiana and Arkansas legislation – created some awkward moments for the Republican presidential candidates who’d already supported the anti-gay laws. Bush flip-flopped just like the governors did. One day he was for discrimination, the next he wasn’t.

Apparently recognition of LGBT rights by the majority of Americans – and American businesses – occurred much too quickly for Republicans.

Admittedly, the labor movement hasn’t always honored equal rights as quickly as it should have. But AFSCME was among those that pulled a convention out of Indiana in protest of the anti-gay law, and the labor movement has made a concerted effort in recent years to establish true solidarity among all its diverse members.

My own union has failed at times to meet standards to which it aspires. But last summer, at the USW convention, the membership voted to make it an offense under the union constitution to harass a member on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The USW will not tolerate any form of discrimination against anyone in its ranks for any reason. It has no place in our union.

Like the USW, the United States is a union. It is a collection of diverse states and diverse people. Standing together, they are stronger.

Republicans who supported codifying intolerance need to experience a conversion. Such hostility has no place in the land of Hoosiers. It should find no home in the land of the free.

Sylvia Gale: Republicans In The NH House Push An Immoral Budget

NH Voices of Faith Prayer Vigil (April 1 2015, Image Janice Kelble)

NH Voices of Faith Prayer Vigil (April 1 2015, Image Janice Kelble)

By Sylvia Gale, Nashua

March “came in like a lion” with yet another round of snowy storms, but as the old adage goes, “went out like a lamb” with calm and sunny skies and the promise of warmer temperatures to stay with us very soon. But as the State Budget develops in Concord, there is nothing calm about the ongoing discussion and dissent about how our State Government will serve all of our citizens over the next two years.

Every two years the process is the same. First the Governor develops her proposed biennial budget in February, when it is then offered to the House Finance Committee where sometimes a few and sometimes many changes are made to the proposed state spending plans for the next two years. By the end of March, the full House gets to vote on these proposals, and, when passed by the House the budget then transfers to the Senate Finance Committee for further review and adjustment. More often than not, the Senate-passed version is different from the House-passed version which leads to the Committee of Conference process filled with fraught and frenzy with the ultimate goal to get a balanced budget (which it must be by law) passed by both the House and Senate and signed by the Governor in place before the start of the new Fiscal Year on July 1.

For several weeks all eyes have been on the House Finance Committee as those 25 members have “toiled and troubled” for many, many hours (even meeting all day on one Sunday!) over their task of budget development. It would appear that many on the Committee chose to ignore much of what the Governor had proposed, and seem to have chosen a path of doing and then redoing even their own work when certain proposals met with huge disfavor among members of the majority party that controls this year’s budget process.

Starting with vastly and unnecessarily reduced revenue estimates, big and then bigger reductions were made in the Dept. of Transportation, which, if enacted, would lead to more than 300 highway, bridge, and roads workers being laid off. This would create vast shortages and limitations in that Department’s ability to build, maintain, and repair our state roads and bridges, as well as the capacity to keep our roads and highways treated and plowed when inclement weather makes travel unsafe otherwise. Some on the Committee hinted that this situation might be alleviated were the “gas tax” to be increased again (just raised last year by 4 ½ cents/gallon- first increase since 1991) but made it clear that they certainly would not be the ones to propose such a “solution”. This proposal was offered to the full House on March 24 as a “non-germane amendment to another bill, and went down in such a resounding defeat that the entire House Finance Committee was re-convened to come up with yet another proposal, No, not the entire Committee, just the majority party members of the Finance Committee who met behind closed doors privately until the next day.

On Wednesday, April 1, the entire House voted on what House Finance proposed, and the “Jasper-O’Brien Budget” was passed, strictly along party lines. At this point the Senate leadership has already declared that what they have seen of this budget proposal is quite unacceptable, so they have already started to craft another one “from scratch”.

NH Voices of Faith Prayer Vigil (April 1 2015, Image Janice Kelble)

NH Voices of Faith Prayer Vigil (April 1 2015, Image Janice Kelble)

Voices from across the state are being heard in strong opposition to much of what is contained in the House-passed budget document, officially titled HB 1. It would appear that no human need has gone without being adversely effected by needless and unnecessary program reductions and eliminations that would result from implementation of this proposed budget plan. Funding for community supports and services which currently keep hundreds of frail elderly and persons living with disabilities in their own homes would be gutted, likely requiring many of those individuals to be transferred into institutional care settings, a vastly more expensive option.

Many of the House-passed budget proposals would impact the delicately crafted court settlements and collective bargaining contracts and likely result in even more costly and protracted court battles in order to re-settle issues related to hospital reimbursements for uncompensated care, mental health services and treatment, employee salaries and benefits, programs and services for our incarcerated populations, and others.

On Wednesday, April 1, there was a large presence of multi-denominational faith leaders from throughout NH, as well as a vast gathering of consumers, advocates, activists, and concerned citizens at the NH State House all raising their voices and bringing their messages to members of the NH House declaring that this budget is harmful unnecessarily inhumane, and destructive, and demanding that House members “Fix It Now” by voting “No” on HB1 so that an alternative budget proposal could be brought forward.

NH Voices of Faith Prayer Vigil (April 1 2015, Image Janice Kelble)

NH Voices of Faith Prayer Vigil (April 1 2015, Image Janice Kelble)

This ill-fated budget proposal has now moved on to the Senate, and of course we are all optimistic that the Senate “will do better”. But shouldn’t the Greater Nashua Representatives who did not vote in the best interests of their constituents be held accountable for their “votes of allegiance” to the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity at the expense of the rest of us?

The Telegraph has been providing useful reference information of late to help readers find their respective Representatives and Senators, and voting records for all are readily available on-line at nh.gov.

4-5-15 AFT-NH Legislative Update: The NH House’s Devastating Budget Cuts

The full House voted on their version of the budget (HB 1 and HB 2) on this past Wednesday, passing it by a vote of 212 to 161 and 194 to 179 respectively.  The vote pretty much followed party lines, with Republicans providing the majority and passing the proposed State budget, which now moves on to the Senate.

Here are some of the “highlights” contained within this devastating budget supported by House Republicans:

  • Municipalities will see $11.5 million less from the meals and room tax, which likely means higher local property taxes (downshifting).
  • The House siphoned monies out of the Highway Fund that are intended to support the Department of Safety and moved the money into the General Fund, which means fewer state troopers on the road and less assistance to small municipalities.
  • They delay the opening of the new Women’s prison to September 2017.  Keep in mind, the State already lost a lawsuit over conditions and programming in the current women’s prison.
  • They removed $3.7 million in General funds for the Department of Resources and Economic Development each year, money slated to promote tourism in New Hampshire.
  • $28.7 million was cut from the Department of Transportation. $8 million of this is a cut to block grants that municipalities would have received and $11.4 to municipalities to help with construction and repaired of state highways. A total of $19.4 million less for municipalities (more downshifting).
  • $5.7 million downshift to counties for nursing homes.

The House allocated $119 million less than what the Governor recommended for Health and Social Services.  Among the list of items reduced or eliminated, we have

  • $30.4 million less for the Bureau of Developmental Services,
  • $10.5 million less for Social Services for the elderly,
  • Elimination of Servicelink
  • $2 million less for community Health Centers,
  • $4 million less for emergency homeless shelters,
  • They did not reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program ,
  • Mandates that DHHS consolidate its district offices,
  • The House budget assumes that Medicaid caseloads will decline by 2.5 percent over the course of the biennium

As for Education Funding the House at the last minute amended the budget to restore some Education funding, maintaining for 2016 the Adequate Education Funding formula and the stabilization grants.

However, for 2017 the cap of 108% of what is allocated would be removed and there would be no cap. This means that if enrollments in districts go up they will receive full funding to cover the costs, while other Districts will suffer as stabilization grants will be reduced.  For example,

  • Barnstead would receive $88,841 less in 2017
  • Campton would receive $66,921 less in 2017
  • Farmington would receive $291,459 less n 2017
  • Fremont would neither receive less or more in 2017
  • Henniker would receive $83,919 less in 2017
  • Hillsboro would receive $233,791 less in 2017
  • Hudson would neither receive less or more in 2017
  • Nashua would receive $479,394 less in 2017
  • Rochester would receive $871,681 less in 2017
  • Weare would receive $312,590 less in 2017
  • Atkinson would receive $16,839 less in 2017
  • Plaistow would neither receive less or more in 2017
  • Sandown would receive $139,772 less in 2017
  • Danville would receive $108,213 less in 2017
  • Durham would receive $24,678 more in 2017
  • Lee would receive $67,264 less in 2017
  • Marbury would receive $77,132 more in 2017


A footnote to the source of these numbers does remind us that these are only preliminary estimates and therefore, could be higher or lower.

This increase of $35 million in 2016 to the stabilization grants might seem like good news but it comes at a price in other areas of the budget.  To provide for the $35 million in 2016, the House budget does the following:

  • $2.5 million less over the biennium for the Community College System of NH.
  • Keeps Special Education Catastrophic aid at the current level of around 70%, $7.5 million was needed to make this whole.
  • $4 million is cut from the Department of Corrections.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services will need to eliminate seven nursing positions at the NH Hospital.
  • Took $1.3 million from the Renewable Energy Fund on top of the $50.8 that was already taken.
  • Found another $2 million in General Funds.
  • And lastly, emptied out the State’s ‘Rainy Day fund,’ taking all $9.9 million and leaving a balance of  $0.00.

From what I understand, the House Ways and Means and Finance Committees, when setting revenue projections, only looked at numbers from July-December 2014 and refused to consider updated (and more robust numbers) from 2015.  Therefore, the House projection for General Fund and Education funding were well below what the Governor projected, a $160 million difference.

AFT-NH has advocated for incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors, and vital to our shared economic success.

The budget still has several steps and AFT-NH hopes that the Senate will work to approve a budget that does not downshifts costs onto municipalities, school districts and counties and does no harm to our State’s most vulnerable citizens.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

Have you visited the AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”? Please do so today!
You can also follow us on Twitter at @8027aftnh.
Late breaking news appears on Facebook!

Upcoming hearings

Monday, April 6

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
10:00 a.m. House Finance Committee Chair and Division Chairs’ Presentation on Budget to Senate Finance Committee.

1:00 p.m. Office of Legislative Budget Assistant Presentation on Budget passed by the House to Senate Finance Committee.

TASK FORCE ON WORK AND FAMILY (RSA 276-B:1), Room 207, LOB
1:15 p.m. Regular meeting.

Tuesday, April 7

House WAYS AND MEANS, Rooms 202-204, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 113-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.
Executive session on pending legislation may follow.

Senate EDUCATION, Room 103, LOB
Sen. Reagan (C), Sen. Stiles (VC), Sen. Avard, Sen. Kelly, Sen. Watters
9:00 a.m. HB 124, relative to the implementation of new college and career readiness standards.

9:20 a.m. HB 519, establishing a committee to study Department of Education policies affecting dyslexic students.

9:40 a.m. HB 578-FN, relative to State Board of Education compliance with unfunded Federal education mandates.

10:00 a.m. HB 563-FN, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
9:30 a.m. SB 157-FN, relative to encouraging high school students to take and pass a United States citizenship test.

10:15 a.m. SB 190-FN, relative to payment of costs for career and technical education center programs and administration by the Department of Education.

11:00 a.m. SB 227, relative to calculating the cost of an adequate education.

1:00 p.m. Continued executive session on
SB 151-FN, requiring inclusion of home educated pupils in the definition of average daily membership in attendance, and
SB 265-FN, establishing the achieving a better life experience (ABLE) savings account program.

House ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 92, establishing a committee to study public access to political campaign information.

House JUDICIARY, Room 208, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
SB 44, relative to nonpublic sessions of public bodies under the right-to-know law,

SB 149, relative to nonpublic sessions under the right-to-know law.
1:00 p.m. SB 167, relative to filing of small claims.

2:00 p.m. SB 243, relative to nonpublic sessions under the right-to-know law.

House LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 255, establishing a low-wage service worker task force.

10:30 a.m. SB 186, reestablishing the commission to study soft tissue injuries under workers’ compensation and to study the feasibility of developing a first responder’s critical injury fund.

House LEGISLATIVE ADMINISTRATION, Room 104, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 136, establishing a committee to review constitutional amendments pending in Congress regarding the Citizens United decision and related cases that have been introduced in the United States Supreme Court.

Wednesday, April 8

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
9:00 a.m. Department of Safety
Highway Safety Agency
10:00 a.m. Police Standards & Training Council
10:30 a.m. Lottery Commission
Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
9:30 a.m. SB 5, relative to transfers into the revenue stabilization reserve account.

10:15 a.m. SB 8-FN-L, relative to appropriations for nursing homes.

House WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:00 a.m. Full committee work session on revenue projections.

Thursday, April 9

10 am Senate in Session

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on SB 157-FN, relative to encouraging high school students to take and pass a United States citizenship test,

SB 190-FN, relative to payment of costs for career and technical education center programs and administration by the department of education, and

SB 227, relative to calculating the cost of an adequate education.

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:00 a.m. Full committee work session on SB 5, relative to transfers into the revenue stabilization reserve account.

11:00 a.m. Full committee work session on SB 13, relative to the disposition of dedicated funds.

Friday, April 10

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
11:00 a.m. Executive Office
Governor’s Office
Office of Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Health
Governor’s Commission on Disability
Office of Energy and Planning
11:45 a.m. Developmental Disabilities Council
12:00 p.m. BREAK
1:00 p.m. Executive Council
1:15 p.m. Secretary of State
1:45 p.m. Boxing & Wrestling Commission
2:00 p.m. Board of Tax and Land Appeals
2:30 p.m. Cultural Resources
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

NH House Republicans Push Through Their Immoral Reckless Budget

 

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Today hundreds of Granite Staters filled the State Capitol building holding signs and asking legislators to oppose these reckless cuts to the New Hampshire budget.  Labor leaders, community activists and concerned citizens delivered over 800 signed petitions opposing these reckless budget cuts.

“A budget is a statement of our priorities as a community and in that sense it is an expression of our values,” explained the Rev. Jonathan Hopkins, President of the NH Council of Churches and pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church. “Our faith leads us to pay attention to the common good, not just to the interests of individuals. Our faith calls for a budget that is fair and just.”

One area of the proposed budget cuts that drew outrage today were the cuts to social programs to help people overcome their additions to drugs and alcohol. Hundred gathered and participated in a “die in” on the State House steps. (Images above of the ‘die in’ courtesy of Steve Kloppenburg)

Their voices and concerns were ignored as the House Republicans pushed through their budget with devastating cuts to a variety of state programs.

“In amending the House Finance Committee-recommended budget that already hurt families, undermined business growth and took our economy backward, Republicans in the House of Representatives managed today to make a reckless budget even worse,” stated Governor Maggie Hassan. (Full Statement Here)

“To gain the support of Bill O’Brien and the Koch Brothers, House Republicans passed a budget today that is so extreme that even the Republican House Finance Chair admitted that our state would suffer if it were actually enacted,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

“The House did a fantastic job of making New Hampshire more free market and more competitive, and forth and for most it takes out all the tax increases,” said AFP State Director Greg Moore in an press conference last week.

During the debate on the House floor Representative William O’Brien, who pushed a similar budget cuts through the House in 2011 when he was Speaker, offered an amendment to raid the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” to find extra money to make their budget work.

“From raiding dedicated funds to downshifting costs onto local communities, the O’Brien-Jasper budget proves once again that New Hampshire Republicans can’t be taken seriously on fiscal responsibility,” said Buckley. “Possibly the most fiscally irresponsible action in the O’Brien-Jasper budget deal — and that’s saying something — is O’Brien’s floor amendment to empty the state’s rainy day fund.”

“As lawmakers entered the State House, today they were greeted by hundreds of protesters decrying the O’Brien-Jasper budget’s drastic cuts. But instead of listening to the outcry from every corner of the state, O’Brien and Jasper decided to wipe out the state’s rainy day fund and threaten a credit downgrade to make even deeper cuts, including cutting funding for community colleges, further cutting our already strained corrections system, and laying off nurses at New Hampshire hospital,” continued Buckley.

“Voters will not stand for the fiscally irresponsible Jasper-O’Brien budget that empties the state’s rainy day fund, raids dedicated funds, slashes critical economic priorities for small businesses and middle class families, and downshifts costs onto local property taxpayers,” concluded Buckley.

One of the budget tactics used by Republicans to fund their disastrous budget would reverse the pay increased negotiated by the State Employees Association. These are the same workers who are now facing the potential of massive layoffs.

“When I was a child growing up in NH, the state leaders were fiscally conservative and responsible,” said Richard Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “The legislature was primarily Republican and when need be, they would find ways to raise revenue for items our state’s citizens needed and there was a good balance between revenue and spending. That is no longer the case.”

The Tea Party extremists have taken over the House and refuse to raise revenues even though the state desperately needs it.

“The members of SEA/SEIU 1984 want our state to be a safe place for everyone to live, work, and prosper. The NH House budget does not promote these priorities – it disrupts them,” wrote the State Employees Association. “Even though they did not prevail, we salute the legislators who voted in favor of funding the state employees’ contract.”

“While today’s vote was gravely disappointing, we now look to the NH Senate to prepare a budget that is frugal yet reasonable and responsible,” concluded the SEA.

Community groups and fiscal watchdogs were quick to blast Republicans in the House for passing this budget that is guaranteed to harm our state and our economy.

“The House version of the budget is foolhardy and shortsighted. It unnecessarily pits important state priorities against one another rather than making real investments in our community, our infrastructure, and our people,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “It kicks the can down the road on identifying reasonable revenue sources that ensure the wealthy and corporations are paying their fair share, and it turns its back on programs that, if funded today, will save our state money in the long run.”

“The House budget pits vital public services against one another in an attempt to achieve a misguided sense of balance. This budget puts many of our state’s most vulnerable residents at risk, forcing cities and towns — and local taxpayers – to take on greater responsibilities and to face higher costs in the long run,” said New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch. (Full Statement Here)

Now we look to the New Hampshire Senate to see how they blend their two proposals together and craft the budget for the next two years. We already know that the Senate passed a business tax reduction that gives away millions to businesses while force deeper cuts to state agencies.

Will the Senate find a way to fix the cuts proposed by the House, or will they bend to the Tea Party extremists and force New Hampshire backwards?

 

Related article and recommended reading:

Republican Budget Cuts In New Hampshire Provoke Backlash From Clergy

 

Senate Democrats Blast House Budget

Democrats Stand Ready to Work Across Party Lines to Pass a Fiscally Responsible Budget that Expands Opportunity for All

Concord, NH – Following the passage of the House Budget, Senate Democrats released the following comments:

“The budget passed the House passed today is not a budget at all—its just a naked appeal to the Koch Brothers and the extremist Bill O’Brien wing of the Republican Party,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn. “The way forward is for the Senate to reject the House’s irresponsible approach and work across party lines, with the Governor’s fiscally responsible plan as a guide, to build on our bipartisan progress over the past two years and seize our state’s full economic potential. Senate Democrats stand ready to work across party lines in order to pass an honest budget, without back-of-the-budget cuts or other budgetary gimmicks, that expands opportunity for all, supports businesses throughout our state, and lays the foundation for a new generation of economic growth.”

“The House budget is unacceptable and now the Senate has to work together to fix it,” said Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, ranking Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee. “It slashes decades-old programs, long supported by practical leaders of both parties. Not to mention that it would threaten our bond rating by emptying the state’s rainy day fund. Between cutting funding for substance misuse during an opioid crisis, reducing services that allow seniors to stay in their communities, and downshifting costs onto local property taxpayers, its no wonder we’ve heard from people all over the state that the House budget is wrong for New Hampshire.”

“The fact that the Koch Brothers endorsed the O’Brien-Jasper budget proves just how bad the House budget is for New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy,” said Sen. Andrew Hosmer, member of the Senate Finance Committee. “We know that it’s possible to make strategic investments in the critical priorities that must be met for our people, businesses and economy to thrive while living within our means. I hope that the Senate Republican majority will join with us to again invest in our shared priorities as we did in the last bipartisan budget.”

Granite State Rumblings: Reauthorizing CHIP and MIECHV

Over the course of the last month I have written about the need to reauthorize two very important programs that support children: The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV).

Today I have Good News to Share!! 

Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). In addition to extending CHIP for an additional two years, MACRA extends funding for the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program which is slated to expire March 31, 2015—at current funding levels of $400 million per year – and community health centers, along with other key programs for low-income families and seniors. 

We applaud the House and House leadership for taking a bipartisan approach to the important issues of the future of CHIP and MIECHV.  We are especially pleased that the approach to CHIP maintains this successful program in its current state, rather than making harmful cuts. While no bill is perfect, overall this bill protects and extends programs vital to the health of children and families.

Please take the time to thank your members of Congress who voted to support CHIP in the House. In New Hampshire both Congresswoman Kuster and Congressman Guinta supported the bill. In Maine both Congresswoman Pingree and Congressman Poliquin supported passage of the legislation.

Continued funding depends on the Senate taking similar action. However, Senate leadership has decided to wait until after recess to vote on a package. President Obama has already signaled that he will sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

The Senate will be out on recess until April 13. We strongly encourage you to call or meet with your senators and their staff during this two-week period when they are home. Please urge them to extend CHIP with all its current provisions intact as quickly as possible.

~
While we are thanking our members for the above, we must also be talking to them about the steps they are taking that are harmful to children and families. Such is the case with SNAP. 

~
House and Senate Pass Budgets that Disproportionally Attack Federal Nutrition Programs
Statement by James Weill, President, Food Research and Action Center

As the country grapples with the hardships and damage created by declining and stagnant wages, declining opportunity, worsening inequality, and growing struggles of both low-income and moderate-income families, the House and Senate this week passed budgets that would make all those problems worse. One centerpiece of these ill-conceived budgets is subjecting the federal nutrition programs to staggering cuts that would directly impact the health and well-being of tens of millions of people living below or just above the poverty line. 

Congress is ignoring the realities of the struggles of millions of individuals and families who must rely on programs such as SNAP to make ends meet. They are seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, children, and working and unemployed adults; and they live in every community in our country.

As the process continues, we urge Members of Congress to spend more time in their states and districts to talk with families receiving programs like SNAP and learn about their needs and the programs’ strengths. FRAC and our state and local allies will continue to press Congress to listen to the voices from back home and to respond to the needs of their constituents who rely on these programs to meet their most basic needs and help lift them out of poverty.


There has been much rhetoric tossed about regarding the NH House budget the past few weeks. One thing that was said by several representatives has really bothered me. Comments have been made that  when the House budget under then Speaker O’Brien was passed there were claims made that the sky would fall and it didn’t and it won’t fall with this budget either.

Well, I beg to differ. 

If you were one of the intact families who saw their household income wiped out when the TANF 2-parent assistance program was eliminated by the legislature, the sky fell.

If you were one of the children who saw their household income plummet when the eligibility for SSI/TANF changed, the sky fell.

If you were the parent of a child with a mental health crisis who waited with him/her in a hospital emergency room for days because there were no beds available at the New Hampshire State Hospital, the sky fell.

This year, members of the New Hampshire House Finance Committee have proposed slashing many of the health and safety programs that serve and protect New Hampshire’s children and families, as well as the communities in which they live and work. The proposed cuts far exceed the moderate cost reductions needed to balance the state’s biennial budget.

And once again, for many children and their families the sky will fall

We are asking you to ACT NOW to STOP these unnecessary budget cuts that are harmful to New Hampshire’s children and families by adding your name to our petition.

Petition Text:
We call on members of the state House & Senate to pass a responsible, balanced budget that protects taxpayers without sacrificing the essential programs and services that New Hampshire families and communities depend on for our health, safety, and quality of life.

Please take a minute now to Sign the Petition.
Thank You!!

~
On Wednesday, April 1st, (I’m not fooling you!), the NH House will vote on the budget that was passed by the House Finance Committee (14-9).
Prior to that vote, please join advocates, faith leaders, and other concerned citizens at the State House to tell our representatives to VOTE NO on the House Finance Committee budget and instead pass a responsible, balanced budget that protects taxpayers without sacrificing the essential programs and services New Hampshire families and communities depend on for our health, safety, and quality of life.

State House Visibility
Wednesday, April 1st at 9:00 AM / 9:30 AM
State House, 107 N. Main Street, Concord

If you are unable to join to us in Concord please call your state representative with the same message.

Let’s work together to ensure that New Hampshire has a strong safety net in place for ALL Granite Staters.

Our friends at the NH Fiscal Policy Institute have issued an analysis of the House budget. You can find that Budget Brief here.

3-31-15 AFT – NH legislative Update: The New Hampshire House Budget

The full House will be voting on their version of the State budget HB 1 and HB 2 this Wednesday. To review all the amendments and spread sheets click here.

I think Rep. Mary Jane Wallner (Democrat) has written a great summary for the minority report as to what this budget does:

  • The proposed budget fails the citizens of New Hampshire in several important ways. It ignores the warnings of major economists that we must invest in our future to attract a well-educated workforce that will help move our economy forward.
  • The budget reduces K-12 education aid by $27 million, risking the readiness of our students to be college- and career-ready. To read more on this click here.
  • Both community colleges and the University system receive less than the recommended funding in the governor’s budget, by a combined total of more than $32 million.
  • The University system will receive less money in 2016 than it did in 2015, despite our students facing some of the highest college costs and one of the highest debt burdens in the nation.
  • The budget cuts investment in our livesinfrastructure and, at the same time, downshifts the costs of maintaining crumbling roads and bridges to our communities.
  • By sweeping $50 million from the Renewable Energy Fund, the budget breaks the promise made by Republicans in January not to raid dedicated funds; at the same time it eliminates virtually all funding to develop new energy infrastructure projects that offer good jobs and lower municipal energy costs.
  • By diverting $14 million from last session’s gas tax increase to the General fund, this budget breaks the legislature’s promise to spend all of the added revenue fixing our eroding transportation infrastructure.
  • The proposed budget also downshifts nearly $6 million to our counties for long term care by raiding the “bed tax” funds.
  • Broken promises and downshifting are magnified as revenue sharing to cities and towns is frozen, restricting state funding at the same time some communities will see the loss of up to $750,000 in education stabilization grants and all communities will see the fiscal impact of cuts to vital safety net programs that help vulnerable seniors and individuals with mental illness or disabilities.
  • Programs that enable the elderly to remain in the community with dignity and stay off the more expensive Medicaid program are reduced.
  • Funding for developmental disabilities programs is reduced below the current biennium’s level, decreasing the availability of community services that prevent institutionalization, and increasing the risk both of personal harm to individuals and litigation for the State.
  • Cuts to mental health services will add to the number of people experiencing a mental health crisis, held in emergency rooms across the state while they wait for a psychiatric hospital bed.
  • This budget cuts access to emergency shelter for homeless veterans, families, and victims of domestic violence.
  • This budget refuses to address the epidemic of drug abuse that affects employers along with families, increases the strain on law enforcement and corrections budgets, and puts public safety at risk.
  • The Sununu Center, which provides services to our most troubled youth, is cut by nearly a third with no feasible plan to maintain operations.
  • In addition, the budget eliminates funding at the end of 2016 for the New Hampshire Health Protection Program. Ending this program, currently helping almost 40,000 Granite Staters, may lead to destabilization of both the health care provider system and our insurance markets along with greater burden on local welfare offices.
  • All of these cuts to safety net programs can be expected to be downshifted to local communities as the needs will certainly not disappear.
  • In addition to all other broken promises, the budget effectively increases the tax burden on business as energy costs continue to rise without investment in new energy projects and private nursing home payments are cut by $26 million in bed tax payments.
  • The State Employees collective bargaining agreements are not funded in this budget, undermining our state employees and breaking our promise to them.
  • The minority believes these short-sighted cuts will make it harder for vulnerable individuals to live decently and with human dignity, and the lack of investment in our economy will hurt New Hampshire long into the future.


There is a petition “Protect NH Communities: Stop the Reckless Budget Cuts” that has been circulating. If you have not signed it please take the few seconds. Copies will be given to Speaker Jasper and Senate President Morse.  

There is also a “Protect NH Communities from Reckless Budget Cuts, State House Visibility to STOP reckless budget Cuts” on April 1st starting at 9:30amFor more information click here.

Keep in mind that this is just one step in the budget process. The next step is that it moves to the Senate Finance committee next week. There are many moving parts and things change quickly. For the quickest updates please go to AFT New Hampshire Facebook page and like us.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

Have you visited the AFT-NH Facebook pageand clicked “Like Us”? Please do so today!

You can also follow us on Twitter at @8027aftnh.

Late breaking news appears on Facebook!



Upcoming Hearings

Monday, March 30

10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Reps Hall., budget briefings on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2016 and June 30, 2017and HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures in Representatives

Tuesday, March 31

Senate EDUCATION, Room 103, LOB
9:00 a.m. HB 662-FN-L, relative to property taxes paid by chartered public schools leasing property.

9:20 a.m. HB 520, establishing privacy protections for student online personal information.

9:40 a.m. HB 276, providing that school districts shall not be required to adopt the common core standards.

10:20 a.m. HB 322, relative to protection of personally identifiable data by the department of education.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
2:00 p.m. HB 658-FN, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
9:30 a.m. SB 195-FN, encouraging instruction in cursive handwriting and memorization of multiplication tables.

10:00 a.m. SB 151-FN, requiring inclusion of home educated pupils in the definition of average daily membership in attendance.

10:30 a.m. SB 265-FN, establishing the achieving a better life experience (ABLE) savings account program.

11:15 a.m. Executive session on
SB 71, relative to the administration of glucagon injections for children in schools,

SB 166, relative to facilitated individualized education program meetings and

SB 194-FN, relative to epinephrine administration policies in postsecondary educational institutions.

1:00 p.m. Executive session on
SB 69, establishing a commission to study social impact bond funding for early childhood education for at-risk students,

SB 101, prohibiting the state from requiring implementation of common core standards,

SB 151-FN, requiring inclusion of home educated pupils in the definition of average daily membership in attendance,

SB 195-FN, encouraging instruction in cursive handwriting and memorization of multiplication tables, and

SB 265-FN, establishing the achieving a better life experience (ABLE) savings account program.

Wednesday, April 1

10 am House in Session

Senate EDUCATION, Room 103, LOB
Sen. Reagan (C), Sen. Stiles (VC), Sen. Avard, Sen. Kelly, Sen. Watters
2:00 p.m. HB 332, relative to school district policy regarding objectionable course material.

2:20 p.m. HB 346, relative to criminal history records checks for school employees and
volunteers.

2:40 p.m. HB 424, relative to the accessibility of assessment materials.

3:00 p.m. HB 507, relative to teacher personally identifiable data.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Senate PUBLIC AND MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS, Room 102, LOB
Sen. Birdsell (C), Sen. Boutin (VC), Sen. Stiles, Sen. Lasky, Sen. Kelly
9:15 a.m. HB 155, relative to municipal contracts for police chief.

Thursday, April 2

10 am House in Session if needed

Monday, April 6

TASK FORCE ON WORK AND FAMILY (RSA 276-B:1), Room 207, LOB
1:15 p.m. Regular meeting.

Tuesday, April 7

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 255, establishing a low-wage service worker task force.

10:30 a.m. SB 186, reestablishing the commission to study soft tissue injuries under workers’ compensation and to study the feasibility of developing a first responder’s critical injury fund.

11:00 a.m. SB 45, relative to opioid treatment agreements under workers’ compensation law.

WAYS AND MEANS, Rooms 202-204, LOB
9:00 a.m. SB 113-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.
Executive session in pending legislation may follow.

 

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