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NH GOP Playing “Games” With Budget By Forcing Tax Cuts That “Do Not Pay For Themselves”

GOP-Appointed CBO Director Makes Clear “Tax Cuts Do Not Pay For Themselves”

Concord, N.H. – As Republicans in Concord continue to refuse to negotiate in good faith on a responsible budget compromise, Senate President Chuck Morse admitted “he could not guarantee” that the unpaid-for corporate tax cuts Republicans are pushing would promote economic growth.

Morse added, “We never came in and said, we’ll lower the business taxes, and we’ll have all this growth.”

House Speaker Shawn Jasper previously admitted that Republicans’ unpaid-for tax cuts would create a massive budget hole, writing “I do not believe that cutting [corporate taxes] will bring in more revenue, nor do I believe that by themselves they will make New Hampshire a more attractive state for businesses to locate to or to expand.”

“It’s completely irresponsible that Republicans like Chuck Morse and Shawn Jasper are continuing to push unpaid-for corporate tax cuts that they themselves admit would create a budget hole while not promoting economic growth,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “All you have to do is look around the country at places like Kansas that have already tried these failed Koch Brothers economic policies to see that all they bring is rivers of red ink and cuts to critical economic priorities.”

The Hill also reports, “The director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), who was appointed by GOP lawmakers earlier this year, said Tuesday that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves… ‘No, the evidence is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves,’ Hall said. ‘And our models that we’re doing, our macroeconomic effects, show that.’”

Yesterday, Neal Kurk said out loud what observers have long known to be true: New Hampshire Republicans are playing political games with the state’s budget and economy.

When asked why Republicans blocked funding to pay for road maintenance, Kurk told NHPR, “some of it has to do with the fact that some of us believe that there are consequences to the Governor’s veto of the budget and one of them is that things that normally would have gotten done, will not get done, or will get delayed.”     

The Concord Monitor also reported, “Partisan politics were on full display at the meeting Wednesday” as Republicans blocked transportation funding and tried to score political points against Governor Hassan.

“At least give Neal Kurk points for honesty for admitting that Republicans are deliberately seeking to hurt New Hampshire’s people, businesses and economy as they try to score political points against Governor Hassan,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “It’s no surprise that the Republican legislature’s approval is under water for the first time since 2012 considering that Republicans are now openly admitting that they are trying to harm the state’s economy for their own political gain.”

Governor Hassan Ceremoniously Signs Legislation Moving NH Closer to Expanding Passenger Rail to Manchester

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Governor Maggie Hassan ceremoniously signed two pieces of legislation today at Nashua City Hall aimed at getting the state closer to bringing passenger rail to Manchester. The legislation will make the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority more efficient and more appealing to state agencies seeking to provide funding for rail infrastructure projects. A second piece of legislation calls for a legislative committee to study public-private partnerships for infrastructure improvements, which will be integral in the effort to expand passenger rail along the New Hampshire Capitol Corridor. Governor Hassan was joined, from left to right, by: Adam Hlasny, Transportation Planner with the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission; State Senator Bette Lasky; David Preece, Executive Director of the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission and Vice-Chairman of NHRTA; Michael Skelton, President and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce; Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau; NHRTA Chairman Michael Izbicki; and Tracy Hatch, President and CEO of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

SB 88 allows NH Rail Transit Authority to operate more efficiently and SB 63 establishes a legislative committee to study public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects

Nashua, NH – Governor Maggie Hassan ceremoniously signed two bills this morning in Nashua pushing the state closer to extending passenger rail to Manchester along the New Hampshire Capitol Corridor. Senate Bill 63 will help make the Rail Transit Authority (NHRTA) both more efficient and more appealing to federal agencies seeking to invest in states with well-organized rail authorities, and Senate Bill 88 establishes a committee to study public-private partnerships for intermodal transportation projects. During the signing ceremony at Nashua City Hall, Governor Hassan was joined by NHRTA Chairman Michael Izbicki, State Senator Bette Lasky, Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, Michael Skelton, President and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and Tracy Hatch, President and CEO of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, along with business leaders and rail supporters.

“Senate Bill 88 and Senate Bill 63 mark important steps in the process of expanding rail along New Hampshire’s Capitol Corridor, which could have a transformative impact on our state’s economy,” said Michael Izbicki, Chairman of the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority. “Along with helping NHRTA operate more efficiently, this legislation could help open the door for New Hampshire to seek out alternative funding sources for critical infrastructure improvements, including rail. NHRTA, the state’s two largest Chambers of Commerce, 68% percent of New Hampshire residents and a growing list of businesses all agree that we need to invest in the state’s rail infrastructure, and this legislation gets us closer to that goal.”

Along with streamlining the membership of NHRTA’s board of directors, Senate Bill 63 also establishes an advisory board for NHRTA. Under Senate Bill 88, a legislative committee will identify potential revenue sources to fund passenger rail and other intermodal transportation options. These new sources of funding could help shift the burden from the state and enable New Hampshire to invest in its crumbling transportation infrastructure.  The legislative committee has already begun studying these types of partnerships.

“A modern, safe transportation infrastructure is critical to the success of our people and businesses, and bringing commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester will help ensure that our people and businesses have the full range of modern transportation options that they need, help bring more young people to New Hampshire and help spur economic growth. Commuter rail is one of my priorities for attracting more young people to the Granite State and encouraging innovative economic growth, and I am proud to have signed these two bills that represent an important part of the process to moving commuter rail forward into law.”

Across the country, public-private partnerships are becoming a more viable option for financing needed infrastructure improvements. With $1 billion in private financing, a public-private partnership in Denver called the Eagle P3 Project is helping to construct three new commuter rail lines. The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority is developing a major tunnel and bridge project as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project through a public-private partnership. The Virginia Department of Transportation is relying on a public-private partnership to redevelop a 14-mile stretch of its Capital Beltway, creating a managed-lane model.

“These types of partnerships carry a number of potential benefits, like engaging private sector innovation to help drive down costs which can help and sustain price certainty, even in long-term budgeting,” Izbicki added.

The bill signing ceremony today comes on the heels of an announcement last week that the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission (SNHPC) had been awarded a $30,000 challenge grant to continue public education and advocacy for advancing commuter rail to Manchester. In an effort to keep up the momentum, SNHPC is using the challenge grant to engage key stakeholders, business leaders and the public to continue to build on a still-growing base of rail supporters.

Earlier this year, the state released the NH Capitol Corridor Study, which analyzed the 73-mile corridor from Boston, MA to Concord, NH.  The study indicated that the Manchester Regional Rail alternative, which would serve two stations in Nashua, one in downtown Manchester and one at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, would offer the greatest economic benefit with a relatively moderate investment.

The next step in the rail expansion process is the critical project development phase, which costs $4 million and consists of establishing a detailed financial plan, preliminary engineering, environmental permitting and preparation of funding applications for submission to the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Rail Administration.

To learn more about efforts to expand passenger rail in New Hampshire, please visit www.nhrta.org.

About the NH Capitol Corridor Study 

In early 2015, a comprehensive analysis of the 73-mile corridor from Boston, MA to Concord, NH known as the NH Capitol Corridor Study was released which indicated that the Manchester Regional Rail alternative, which would serve two stations in Nashua, one in downtown Manchester and one at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, would offer the greatest economic benefit with a relatively moderate investment. After reviewing the results of the study, NHRTA voted to formally support extending passenger rail service to Manchester, with continued interest in extending passenger rail to Concord.

According to the study, the Manchester Regional Rail alternative would create approximately 230 jobs through construction of the rail line and an additional 3,390 construction jobs would be created to build real estate development generated by rail. Beginning in 2030, the expansion of rail would create 1,730 new jobs every year. Real estate development would add $750 million to the state’s output between 2021 and 2030, with reinvested earnings would add $220 million per year beyond 2030.

The total capital investment to bring passenger rail to Manchester is estimated at $245.6 million, but New Hampshire’s investment could shrink to $72 million with contributions from regional partners coupled with 50% federal support.  The investment required to cover debt service on a 20-year bond and annual operating and maintenance costs would be $11 million annually.  

About the NH Rail Transit Authority

The NH Rail Transit Authority (NHRTA) was established in 2007 and is tasked with encouraging and overseeing the redevelopment of passenger rail services throughout New Hampshire with an initial emphasis on the NH Capitol Corridor. The NHRTA is administratively attached to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and consists of a nine-member board of directors comprised of the NH Department of Transportation, the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development, a member of the NHRTA advisory board, two representatives from the House Transportation Committee and four appointees by the governor. NHRTA’s board of directors takes guidance from an advisory board comprised of broad based membership from 14 cities and towns, 9 regional planning commissions, the NH College and University Council, the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and three members appointed by the governor. Learn more at www.nhrta.org

On Women’s Equality Day Activists Highlight The Continued Need For Planned Parenthood

Patients, Community Health Providers, and Faith Leaders Hold Events on NH Seacoast to Highlight Harm of Defunding Planned Parenthood

On Women’s Equality Day, events reflect widespread support for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the health services PPNNE provides 

NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, on National Women’s Equality Day, New Hampshire patients, supporters, and allies of Planned Parenthood held events in Executive Councilor Chris Sununu’s backyard—the Seacoast—to illustrate the harmful impact that defunding Planned Parenthood health centers will have on thousands of New Hampshire women and families. 

The morning started with more than two dozen Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund supporters gathered outside an Executive Council breakfast meeting in Dover to ensure the Councilors understand that New Hampshire voters oppose their decision to end state funding for Planned Parenthood health centers. Later, PPNHAF hosted a press conference and rally that drew dozens of supporters at a Planned Parenthood health center in Exeter that is currently only able to see patients 3 days per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Pictures of each event are available HERE.

“For 50 years, thousands of Granite Staters have chosen Planned Parenthood of Northern New England as their health care provider. Planned Parenthood health centers deliver birth control, family planning counseling, cancer screenings, STI screenings and treatment to more than 12,000 New Hampshire residents each year,” said Jennifer Frizzell of Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “We are not giving up the fight to restore funding for the health care that was rejected by Councilors Chris Sununu, David Wheeler and Joe Kenney and we will always stand by Planned Parenthood patients, and the women of New Hampshire in their fight for access to reproductive health services and, ultimately, the ability to lead a successful, equal life.”

The Women’s Equality Day events on the Seacoast came after Councilor Sununu spearheaded the Executive Council vote to reject a long-standing state contract that had previously helped ensure Planned Parenthood provide basic preventive health services to low-income New Hampshire residents for the past four deacdes.

“The recent attacks on Planned Parenthood are really attacks on all of us who believe that women should have access to comprehensive reproductive care, including safe, legal abortion,” said Linda Griebsch, the Executive Director of the Joan G. Lovering Health Center in Greenland. “These actions are part of a broader agenda orchestrated by an extreme group to restrict women’s access to health care. Here on the Seacoast and across Rockingham County we proudly partner with Planned Parenthood, with Families First, and with other community health organizations to meet the diverse needs of women in our communities. It is essential that all of our organizations continue to receive public funding and public support to help keep our community healthy.” 

The unusually political vote by the Executive Council has been followed by an outpouring of support for Planned Parenthood by New Hampshire residents of all stripes, with people speaking out to highlight the critical role that Planned Parenthood of Northern New England plays in providing nearly 13,000 women, men, and young people in New Hampshire with basic health care every year. Polling released last week shows that 66 percent of New Hampshire residents continue to support Planned Parenthood and women’s access to reproductive health services. 

“As a young woman living with endometriosis, I personally know exactly why it is essential for women to have access to affordable birth control, which comprises over 50 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services and will take a hard hit because of the Executive Council’s vote to defund Planned Parenthood,” said Ilyssa Sherman of Exeter, a 25 year old volunteer for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “If I couldn’t afford birth control to control the debilitating pain caused by my endometriosis, I would not be standing here today.”

“As a long-term psychologist I have listened to many women and men talk about the stress of providing for their families, and especially getting affordable access to healthcare,” said Doctor Judith Rowan, a psychologist in Exeter. “The services of Planned Parenthood are essential to peace of mind to these families and I always know when I refer someone to the local Planned Parenthood that they will receive high-quality, non-judgmental health care at a cost they can afford.”

The Executive Council first attacked Planned Parenthood funding in 2011 in a deeply unpopular vote that became a cornerstone of the election, resulting in a shift in leadership of the Council.

“As a person of faith and a minister, I have been deeply disappointed in recent weeks to hear some of our elected officials in New Hampshire casting doubt on our trusted local health care provider, Planned Parenthood,” said Reverend Larry Brickner-Wood, the Chaplain and Executive Director of the Waysmeet Center in Durham. “In my time as a community official and spiritual leader, Planned Parenthood has been one of the most important health care providers for our most vulnerable and marginalized communities.” 

Sununu’s pretense for this latest vote was largely focused on ongoing investigations into Planned Parenthood in many states, but his excuse rings hollow as mounting evidence in state after state confirms that these politically motivated investigations are baseless. Just last night, Colorado officials announced they would not investigate Planned Parenthood’s practices.

“Voting to end our longstanding contract with New Hampshire, Councilor Sununu claimed that the state should not be funding  Planned Parenthood’s preventive care during ongoing investigations – but this flimsy excuse rings more hollow as state after state, including Indiana, Massachusetts, and South Dakota has cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. We’ve said all along that Planned Parenthood follows all laws and has high medical standards, and that’s what every one of these investigations has found,” concluded Frizzell.

Republicans In The NH Executive Council Put Politics Over People By Defunding Planned Parenthood

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Today the Republican led Executive Council in New Hampshire upped their attacks on women and working families. In a 3-2 vote the Executive Council voted to defund Planned Parenthood in the NH.

Jenifer Horn, the NH GOP Chair cited the false and misleading video as justification for defunding an organization that provides many low-income families with much needed healthcare services. Horn wants the Governor to investigate the potential illegal activities by Planned Parenthood.

“This isn’t a matter of being pro-choice or pro-life. It’s about ensuring that public dollars are not being given to a company that may be engaged in criminal activity”

What a bunch of hogwash! This is just another example of the evangelical right pushing their anti-abortion agenda on the rest of us!

First, Planned Parenthood does not use tax money for any abortions services, it is already against the law. Second, fetal tissue is donated, not sold, for life saving research that could lead to the end of Diabetes, Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s, Polio, and countless other chronic diseases. Third, and most importantly, fetal tissue donation does not occur in New Hampshire at all!

These baseless attacks on women’s reproductive rights are just another attempt by the GOP to roll back women’s right to choose.

Governor Maggie Hassan responded to the outrageous demands from the NH GOP in here statement saying, “It is clear that today’s vote is the result of an ideological and political attack against Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions, as there have been no allegations or evidence that Planned Parenthood of Northern New England has done anything but follow New Hampshire law and help thousands of women and families access health care.”

“Today the Executive Council put politics before people when they rejected Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s family planning contracts,” said Jennifer Frizzell, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “It’s shameful that three Republican Executive Councilors would perpetuate erroneous, politically-motivated national attacks at the expense of the healthcare needs of their constituents. The vote comes after a relentless, coordinated smear campaign by anti-abortion extremists to dismantle, by any means necessary, Planned Parenthood and the lifesaving services we provide.

“Today’s decision will have a direct impact on New Hampshire women and their families. Without these funds, PPNNE will be forced to cut direct program costs, which could mean shortening health center hours, eliminating staff positions, and reducing patient access to affordable care,” continued Frizzell.

“The three Councilors who voted against PPNNE’s contracts—David Wheeler, Joseph Kenney, and Chris Sununu—are on the wrong side of public opinion, the wrong side of public health, and the wrong side of history,” stated Frizzell.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Lizzy Price blasted Executive Councilor Chris Sununu for risking the health of the women in his own district for political gains.

“By voting to attack women’s health, Chris Sununu proved that he is more concerned with his own political interests and trying to win a primary for higher office than he is with the health and economic wellbeing of New Hampshire women and families,” said Price.

Though Councilors Pappas and Van Ostern were on the losing side of the vote today both men will continue to fight and ensure that women have access to the healthcare services that Planned Parenthood provides.

“Today’s vote is a giant step backward for thousands of women and men who access critical health services through Planned Parenthood clinics,” said Executive Councilor Chris Pappas. “It’s a travesty that deceptive political attacks got in the way of life-saving health care. I am disappointed with the Council’s vote, but I remain committed to ensuring better access to family planning services across New Hampshire. Whether it takes months or years, we need to work to restore these funds because they improve the health and economic security of Granite Staters.”

“Today three men restricted nearly 13,000 women and families’ access to basic preventive health care in New Hampshire,” said Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern. “ No excuse can mask the extreme ideology and partisan politics that is now standing between women and their medical professionals in New Hampshire, and I will not rest until funding for this basic, noncontroversial care like birth control and cancer screenings is restored.”

“We are grateful to Councilors Colin Van Ostern and Chris Pappas for standing up for women’s access to reproductive healthcare,” Frizzell added.

Women deserve better representatives in the Executive Council than David Wheeler, Joseph Kenney, and Chris Sununu, who are pushing their partisan ideological views over the health and well being of thousands of Granite Staters.

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Attacks On Planned Parenthood Are Attacks On Working Families — #StandWithPP

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Written by Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President for Public Policy, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

Recently a story has unfolded alleging that Planned Parenthood is engaged with selling “fetal body parts.” The more we learn about this, the clearer it is that it’s part of a much bigger pattern of harassment by extremists whose real goal is to ban abortion, defund Planned Parenthood, and cut women off of birth control and lifesaving cancer screenings.

Votes are already on the docket this week in Congress and in New Hampshire that could defund Planned Parenthood—nationally and in our state. Republicans are already using these video attacks to push for federal legislation banning some abortions. And officials in Texas, Louisiana, and Ohio have launched investigations of Planned Parenthood, even though affiliates in those states don’t facilitate fetal tissue donations.

Nearly a hundred organizations across the country, including the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), are standing with Planned Parenthood because they see this campaign for what it really is.

The videos released are part of a decade-long pattern of illegal harassment by fanatics whose focus is banning abortion and preventing women from accessing preventive health care at Planned Parenthood health centers.

As the Washington Post editorial board wrote, “truths were distorted to paint an inaccurate and unfair picture of a health organization that provides valuable services to women – as well as to demonize research that leads to important medical advances.”

And this editorial in The Concord Monitor is a good resource for those who want to separate fact from fiction.

This is just another orchestrated attack on women’s health. The people behind it have never been concerned with protecting the health and safety of women. And the only people who have broken laws are the extremists who have been hounding women and doctors for years.

Make no mistake—the attacks on Planned Parenthood are attacks on working families.

In New Hampshire, these attacks are threatening 12,000 low-income women’s access to basic health services like birth control, cancer screenings, and STI tests and treatment. Extremists are calling on the Executive Council to defund Planned Parenthood—again—and it could happen. Councilor Chris Sununu, District 3, is the swing vote, and while he’s supported Planned Parenthood’s contracts in the past, he’s under tremendous pressure by extremists to change his vote.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England has been providing high-quality care to hundreds of people in New Hampshire over the past fifty years. The fact that PPNNE doesn’t participate in tissue donation programs in New Hampshire underscores that the calls for a state investigation and defunding PPNNE health centers are all about political grandstanding, not facts.

The politicians who have raced to join the fanatical group behind these videos by calling for defunding Planned Parenthood of Northern New England will find that they are on the wrong side of public opinion, the wrong side of public health, and the wrong side of history.

You can #StandWithPP and the thousands of New Hampshire women who rely on Planned Parenthood for their healthcare. Email your Executive Councilor today and urge them to protect women’s health by voting “yes” on Planned Parenthood’s contract. Then join supporters for a rally outside the State House on Wednesday, August 5 at 9:30 a.m. before the Executive Council casts their vote.

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.

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.”

 

Granite State Rumblings: Hunger And Poverty Don’t Take A Vacation

I love summer! I especially love that I don’t ever have to turn on my oven during the summer. If it can’t be cooked on the barbecue, it isn’t in my recipe file during the summer months. And it seems that there are plenty of great recipes to choose from all summer long. Each meal is always accompanied by locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables and usually a dessert that has been created with farm fresh ingredients. Life is good!

But summertime can be a very difficult time for children who need to eat nutritious meals. Kids may be on vacation, but as a report from FRAC points out, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation.

Nearly 1 in 6 Low-Income Children Receive Summer Meals, Report Finds

Momentum Signals Progress and Outlines Path for Continued Growth

More low-income children are eating summer meals, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) which showed more than 3.2 million children participated in the Summer Nutrition Programs in July 2014. This represents a seven percent increase over the previous year, and demonstrates what can be done when the federal government, states, and communities make summer food a priority.

There was significant progress in 2014 in reaching a higher proportion of children in need. In its annual report, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, FRAC measures the success of Summer Nutrition Programs at the national and state levels by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of low-income children receiving school lunch during the regular school year. By that measure, one in six children (16:100) who needed summer nutrition received it. In July 2013, the ratio was 15:100.

“Higher participation rates in summer food mean more low-income children get the fuel they need to thrive over the summer months,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Congress can further this progress in this year’s Child Nutrition Reauthorization law by making strategic and thoughtful investments in the Summer Nutrition Programs that bolster their capacity to serve even more children.”

The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program over the summer period, provide free meals at participating summer sites at schools, parks, other public agencies, and nonprofits for children under 18. Not only do children benefit from the free meals, but they also benefit from the enrichment activities that keep them learning and engaged.

Leadership by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) contributed to this progress. The agency has prioritized summer meal growth by partnering with national organizations to increase the number of sponsors and sites and by providing hands-on assistance to states. As a result, the Summer Nutrition Programs served lunch to 3.2 million children on an average day in July 2014, an increase of more than 215,000, or 7.3 percent, from July 2013.

These gains pave the way for even more progress to be made. If every state had reached the goal of 40 children participating in Summer Nutrition in July 2014 for every 100 receiving free or reduced-price lunch during the 2013-2014 school year, an additional 4.6 million children would have been fed each day, and states would have collected an additional $360 million in child nutrition funding in July alone.

“Participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs has continued to increase over the last three years and thousands more children are being reached as a result,” said Weill. “Working together, we can continue to build on this progress and move closer to a hunger-free summer for all children.”

About the report: The Food Research and Action Center’s annual summer report, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, gives data for all states and looks at national trends. The report measures participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of children receiving school lunch during the regular school year. The regular school year is used as a measure because such a high proportion of low-income children eat school lunch on regular school days. FRAC measures national summer participation during the month of July, when typically all children are out of school throughout the month and lose access to regular year school meals.

To find a summer meals site near you click on this link and follow the directions:
http://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks

GROWING UP GRANITE

Those who know me well will tell you that I am passionate when it comes to the subject of poverty, especially child poverty. I am privileged to work for an organization that allows me to invest my time and energy in advocating for children who live in poverty, working on solutions to poverty and the programs that serve our most vulnerable population, and educating our elected officials and the public about the hazards of growing up in poverty.

Sometimes I go to bed wondering why this work has chosen me as there are many days that I feel burned out, frustrated and powerless. But then I see the smiling face of a child in a Head Start program when he proudly shows me how he has learned to write his name, or I listen to a mom who is struggling to find a job that will pay her enough to keep food on the table and a roof over the head of her children, and the fire ignites once again.

There are a lot of great people who work on this issue and so many other important issues. They proudly wear their orange badges in the Legislative Office Building and State House of New Hampshire. They sit in committee hearings, testify on bills, call and meet with legislators and the Governor’s office, meet and strategize with others who are working on the issues, and rally the troops.

Others do their work outside of the legislative process, working in the departments, agencies, and programs that serve children and families. Their dedication to those families and their willingness to share their knowledge with advocates and others is essential to the process.

While there is still work to do on a state budget before the end of the year, I want to take this opportunity to thank all those who advocate each and every day. I also want to thank all of you who have answered our requests to write letters, call your representatives, talk to your friends, co-workers, and neighbors and have gotten involved. We could not do our work without your assistance.

We also could not have done our jobs without the voices of those who have been willing to tell their personal stories. They are the true heroes. Their voices are important and necessary, as they speak with the knowledge and urgency that an advocate who has not walked a mile in their shoes can even hope to approximate.

It is our hope that the Governor and Legislators will work diligently and swiftly to carve out a budget agreement that is fair to all Granite State citizens and one that will move individuals and families forward. We also hope that the voices of those who rely upon all government supported programs will be heard in these meetings.

Last week Governor Hassan vetoed SB 169 and indicated that she will sign HB 219 when it reaches her desk. We thank the Governor for taking this reasonable and fair approach to legislation that will affect those who rely upon public assistance and use electronic benefit transfer cards in our state.

Governor Hassan’s Veto Message Regarding SB 169

Governor Maggie Hassan released the following message after vetoing SB 169:

“By the authority vested in me, pursuant to part II, Article 44 of the New Hampshire Constitution, on July 10, 2015, I have vetoed Senate Bill 169, relative to the permissible uses of electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards.

“Senate Bill 169 prohibits the use of cash received from electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards for the purpose of gambling and the purchase of tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, lottery tickets, firearms, and adult entertainment. While the sponsors and I agree that public assistance should not be used for these purposes, the approach taken by this legislation would be unenforceable, as retail clerks and sales associates would have no way of determining where an individual’s cash came from at the time of sale.  That is why I will sign the alternative – and workable – version of this legislation, House Bill 219.

“Senate Bill 169 could lead to retail clerks being in the uncomfortable position of policing potential abuse by trying to decide whether ‘someone looks like’ they receive assistance. That could lead to discrimination, as many of those who opposed the bill warned. The seniors, people with disabilities, and struggling families who receive cash public assistance sometimes have alternative sources of income, making it nearly impossible to determine the source of the cash that is being utilized for the purchase.

“House Bill 219 allows for a more enforceable approach to address the issue of potential public assistance fraud or abuse. House Bill 219 prevents use of EBT cards within body piercing or tattoo parlors, cigar stores and smoke shops, and marijuana dispensaries. These locations are exclusive to the product or service they provide, and thus preventing use of EBT cards in these establishments does not prevent someone from purchasing basic household items that these locations do not sell. House Bill 219 also requires an educational component for cash assistance recipients and retail establishments, something Senate Bill 169 fails to do. For these reasons, I will be signing into law House Bill 219 when it reaches my desk.

“Senate Bill 169 establishes an unenforceable precedent that could put our cashiers and retail clerks in the untenable position of determining the source of a customer’s cash in an attempt to police potential abuse, along with denying access to families who need and qualify for this financial support. I will be signing House Bill 219, which accomplishes this bill’s goals of protecting taxpayer dollars used in this critical program without creating an unenforceable regulation or the potential for discrimination. Therefore, I have vetoed Senate Bill 169.”

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