• Advertisement

5-20-15 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Restoring Budget Cuts In The Senate

AFT NH Legislative Update

The Senate has had several hearings and meetings regarding their work on the state budget. When they held a public hearing several hundred citizens of New Hampshire showed up and spoke. Many expressed concern over the lack of funding in the House budget and its many cuts to programs needed by our most vulnerable citizens.

The Senate seems to have worked through much of what they want to do even before convening the Finance Committee meetings.  They have started with many noncontroversial items.

Again, I must repeat that 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.

Once I know more on what the Senate is recommending I will send out an update.

This past Thursday the full Senate passed HB 507: relative to teacher personally identifiable data. This bill adds provisions relating to the protection of teacher personally identifiable data and adds in language that no school shall record in any way a school classroom for any purpose without school board approval after a public hearing, and without written consent of the teacher and the parent or legal guardian of each affected student. AFT-NH is very pleased that both chambers have passed this bill and we ask that the governor signs this bill into law.

The full Senate will be voting on HB 323: relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program. AFT-NH believes that this will allow for some district flexibility with regards to state wide assessment. We have seen an over-emphasis on high stake testing across the country and think New Hampshire is moving in the right direction.

AFT-NH believes that assessments should support teaching and learning, and that they should be aligned with curriculum rather than narrow it.  Assessments should be focused on measuring growth and continuous development of students instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn. Assessments should be diverse, authentic, test for multiple indicators of student performance and provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools improve, not sanctions that undermine them.  Development and implementation of such tests must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.

Further, AFT-NH believes that assessments should support teaching and learning. They 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. We know that collaboration with educators is necessary to ensure that high-quality instruction and content are given their proper emphasis.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

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

Wednesday, May 20

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
9:00 a.m. EXECUTIVE SESSION ON PENDING LEGISLATION

Thursday, May 21

10 am Senate in Session

JUDICIARY, Room 208, LOB
10:00 a.m. Continued public hearing on CACR 5, relating to legal actions. Providing that taxpayers have standing to bring actions against the government.

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 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.

Thursday, May 23

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
3:00 p.m. EXECUTIVE SESSION ON PENDING LEGISLATION

Tuesday, May 26

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on retained bills
HB 527, establishing guidelines for school districts relative to the use of school resource officers,
HB 538-FN-L, relative to the implementation of new statewide education annual assessments,
HB 581-FN, requiring schools to continue the education of a child during the child’s suspension or expulsion, and
HB 243, changing the definitions of “focus school” and “priority school” in the school performance and accountability law.
1:00 p.m. Continued subcommittee work session on retained bills
HB 218-FN, relative to additional funding for third grade proficiency in mathematics,
HB 549-FN-A-L, allowing school building aid grants for certain authorized projects,
HB 242, relative to the statewide improvement and assessment program, and
HB 231, relative to applications for school building aid.

Monday, June 1

TASK FORCE ON WORK AND FAMILY (RSA 276-B:2, I), Room 207, LOB
1:15 p.m. Regular meeting.

Wednesday, June 3

10 am House in Session

Thursday, June 4

10 am House in Session

Republicans Are Not The Only One Who Want To Protect Their Freedoms

Screen shot CSPAN

Former NH Speaker Bill O’Brien is taking his extreme agenda on the road to South Carolina this week. Speaking at the South Carolina Freedom Summit, O’Brien openly mocked his own party and their choice for a Presidential nominee.

VIDEO

The fun began as O’Brien told the crowd that he is the “Republican Leader” in the NH House of Representatives. I am sure that the Republican leadership in the NH House would beg to differ. (For those who may not know, O’Brien and his fellow “TEA Party Patriots” formed their own Republican caucus and named O’Brien as their leader.)

O’Brien was there to push for a Conservative candidate (unnamed in this event, but locally reported that O’Brien is supporting Sen. Ted Cruz) who will hold true to their Conservative principles. As O’Brien laid it out: limited government, free markets, “stopping the governments war on religion,” unalienable right of self protection, “the rights of children born and unborn,” and personal sovereignty.

“Over the years I have heard the establishment party and the liberal media tell us who we should be voting for,” said O’Brien. “The establishment and the liberal media telling us to nominate a moderate so he can win and ends up with that moderate loosing because he cannot draw any significant distinction between himself and the liberal parties candidate.”
Obviously O’Brien was not happy with Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee for President.

O’Brien went on to say, “We win when we directly and unapologetically present our philosophy of liberty unimpeded by big government and founded on individual sovereignty, and we loose when we nominate RINOs (Republicans in name only).”

First of all I think it should be known that Republicans are not the only ones who want “personal sovereignty.”

Democrats are also pushing for more “personal sovereignty“ and less government involvement in their personal lives.

We want the government, and the Republican Party, to keep their laws out of a women’s uterus. A woman should be able to choose if she wants to terminate her pregnancy for the reasons her and her doctor have discussed.  Republicans across the country have been hard at work to strip women of their reproductive rights and force them to have unnecessary medical procedures and in some extreme cases be forced to listen to lies about abortions and the effects of having an abortion.

The freedom to choose has been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States since Roe v Wade over forty years ago. Yet every year, Republican led legislatures, like New Hampshire push some type of fetal personhood law to take away a women’s freedom to choose. They pass laws that force health clinics to close, and force women to drive for hundreds of miles to have a safe and legal medical procedure.

What about the freedom to marry? Shouldn’t people have the personal freedom to marry whoever they choose? The Supreme Court will soon issue a ruling as to whether it is constitutional or not that a state can pass laws discriminating gay and lesbian couples from getting married.

What about “Freedom of Religion.” O’Brien says there is a “war on religion,” and to some extent he is right. There is a war by the religious evangelical right to force their religious beliefs on the rest of the country.

What about those who do not believe in any religion, should they be forced to abide by the religious beliefs of the evangelical right wingers?

What about those who already have a strong foundation in their own faith, like Muslim, Jewish, and Wiccan? Do they not have the same person freedoms guaranteed to them by the Constitution to practice whatever religion they choose?

There is a separation between Church and State for a reason, yet these same O’Brien led Republicans are trying to force their religion on us through the government. Way to uphold our Constitution.

They hypocrisy is astounding. Screaming personal freedom yet actively stripping away the freedoms and rights of millions of Americans. The Republican Party is tearing itself apart — which is fine by me – because the radical right wing of the party is attacking the more reasonable and moderate Republicans.

It is fun to watch the O’Brien bad-mouth his own party for nominating moderates. If the “moderate” Republican candidate like Romney was still too extreme for main-stream Americans, then what real chance does a fringe candidate like Sen. Ted Cruz, or Dr. Ben Carson really have in general election?

Get the popcorn, because this show is only beginning!

Election Bill Creating Poll Tax, Residency Requirements Passes House Election Law Committee

SB179 would penalize New Hampshire voters
rather than improve elections

Concord, NH – Today the House Election Law Committee passed an elections bill along party lines (11-8) that creates unnecessary hurdles for New Hampshire voters by instituting an arbitrary vehicle registration “poll tax” and a 30-day residency requirement. The key features of SB 179, which also passed along party lines in the state Senate earlier this month (14-10), are likely unconstitutional at both the state and federal level.

The House Election Law Committee amended SB 179 to require voters to obtain a driver’s license and register their car in New Hampshire – a change that has no clear connection to maintaining the integrity of elections. New Hampshire’s constitution clearly states that “all elections are to be free,” and this amendment acts as a poll tax by charging engaged Granite Staters vehicle registration fees in order to vote.

Furthermore, SB 179 falls short of meeting the standards set in the United States Supreme Court case Dunn vs. Blumstein, which permitted up to a 30-day registration requirement in states that need it for administrative purposes. Given that New Hampshire is a same-day registration state, there is no compelling argument that the state’s election administration officials need the additional time.

“The sponsors of this legislation claim these restrictions will somehow stop voter fraud, but the proposed changes would penalize New Hampshire voters rather than help our elections,” explained League of Women Voters New Hampshire Election Law Specialist Joan Flood Ashwell. “There are many ways for voters to confirm their identity without forcing them to pay vehicle registration fees, and there are many ways to ensure they live in our state without a 30-day residency requirement. We can’t deny eligible voters the right to vote here in New Hampshire.”

Despite all evidence to the contrary, politicians continue to push restrictive election laws based on a false narrative of ‘phantom’ voters. New Hampshire attorney general investigations and a national Washington Post investigation** found that in-person voter impersonation and registration fraud is virtually non-existent.

America Votes-New Hampshire State Director Paula Hodges said, “SB 179 is one of more than a dozen dangerous bills proposed by radical lawmakers that would deter voters and undermine New Hampshire’s long-held tradition of streamlining voting. The various proposed bills range from eliminating same-day registration, to creating new inter-state cross-check programs that could purge thousands of eligible voters from the rolls. It’s clear these politicians are trying to influence elections by discouraging voters, and that’s wrong.”

“We urge the governor to veto SB 179 should it pass both chambers this year,” Hodges added.

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.

ICYMI: More Editorials Call on N.H. Senate to Pass a Bipartisan, Responsible Budget

 
Concord, N.H. – Editorials in the Concord Monitor and Valley News continued to put pressure on the New Hampshire Senate to work across party lines and pass a responsible budget that undoes drastic cuts to seniors, people with disabilities, efforts to combat substance misuse, and local property taxpayers.
 
Concord Monitor: Editorial: “State can’t afford price of budget cuts”
 
Over the next few months the Senate, a committee of conference and Gov. Hassan will pluck the spines off the cold-hearted toad of a budget passed by the House and shape into something that doesn’t boil the conscience and stab property owners in the wallet. At least we hope they will, otherwise the state’s seniors, people with a disability, their caregivers and county taxpayers will suffer.
 
… Taken together, the social service cuts would make it even harder for the vast majority of senior citizens in this graying state to do what they want to do – remain in their own homes for as long as possible and, ideally, to the end. More people will end up in a nursing home, exhaust their own resources sooner and wind up on Medicaid. That’s tragic for them, hard on their families and costly to taxpayers. Seniors who stay in their own homes spend down their resources, whether savings or the equity in their homes, much more slowly and require less help from taxpayers. Providing the services that help them do so makes economic and humanitarian sense.
 
… The cuts to social services in the House budget would downshift even more of the expense of caring for the elderly and disabled from the state and federal government to county taxpayers. Every voter should ask their state representative, if they voted for the budget, why they think that’s a good idea. [Full editorial]
 
Valley News: Editorial: “Don’t Just Rescue Opioid Addicts, Treat Them”
 
With New England in the grip of an opioid addiction crisis, much attention is being focused on naloxone, a relatively easy-to-administer drug that saves lives by reversing the deadly effects of breathing failure in people who have overdosed on heroin or prescription opioids. Remarkably, advocates say, all this is accomplished without producing major side effects other than withdrawal symptoms and without creating a high.
 
… Encouraging as all this is, though, we urge policy makers to ask themselves this question: After naloxone, then what? Preventing an addict from dying by overdose is wonderful, but it is not exactly the same thing as saving — or more precisely — salvaging his or her life. There’s no wonder drug for doing that, unless it’s money — money that needs to be invested in the hard work of supplying high quality, affordable and easily accessible drug treatment options at the local level and encouraging addicts to take advantage of those services.

… Given that the opioid crisis coincides with a budget crunch in both states, lawmakers will face some tough choices about how to provide adequate and sustainable funding for addiction treatment. Without that, though, naloxone is just a small Band-Aid being asked to staunch a hemorrhage. [Full editorial]
 
Concord Monitor: My Turn: Senate must restore sensibility, responsibility to state budget
(Richard Gulla is the president of SEA/SEIU 1984)
 
… At this point in the process, the Senate must formulate its version of a budget for consideration. We implore them to restore some of the services slashed by the House and provide the means for much needed revenue and reflect the type of state we envision: one where all New Hampshire residents may succeed, a place where the young can stay and thrive, where those in the middle of their lives can earn a good living to support and grow their families, and where the old can live in dignity.
 
I urge every New Hampshire resident to contact their state senator and demand that they develop a more compassionate and reasonable budget. Tell them that anything less is not right for our state. New Hampshire deserves better. [Full op-ed]

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

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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.”

Governor Hassan’s Statement on House Budget Vote

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan today issued the following statement on the budget vote by the New Hampshire House of Representatives:

“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. Their wildly irresponsible budget includes drastic reductions to services that are critical to our people and businesses, further downshifting on local property taxpayers, the raiding of the dedicated Renewable Energy Fund, continued budget gimmicks that mislead people about what we actually are funding, and the depletion of our Rainy Day Fund, which threatens our state’s financial outlook and bond rating.

“We know that our people and businesses support strategic investments in critical priorities that help ensure a strong and healthy workforce pipeline, a modern transportation infrastructure, and safe communities, but this harmful plan makes significant reductions to higher education, aid to local communities, road and bridge projects across the state, and critical services for seniors, substance misuse, mental health, and people who experience developmental disabilities. And by ending our bipartisan health care expansion program, the House Republican budget would eliminate health coverage for more than 37,000 hard-working Granite Staters.

“Not only would these reductions downshift responsibility to local property taxpayers, but they have a significant impact on our people, businesses and economic future, affecting areas that are critical to the health and well-being of our people and our economic competitiveness. They would make higher education more expensive, threaten to shut down local road and bridge projects, place an additional strain on our corrections officers, and harm the health and well-being of our families and workforce.

“It is still early in the process of finalizing a fiscally responsible, balanced budget, and I urge the Senate to take a different approach and recognize that we must work across party lines to pass a responsible budget that supports the priorities that matter to our people, businesses and economy. Senate Republicans cannot follow the path of their House counterparts and simply cater to the most extreme members of their party at the expense of common-sense and fiscal responsibility. The families, businesses and hard-working people of the Granite State deserve better than that.

“Two years ago, we worked together to pass the most bipartisan budget in more than a decade, and we must build on that progress by doing the responsible thing and making a bipartisan investment in the success of our people, our businesses and our economy.”

House Approved Budget Puts Vulnerable Citizens, State’s Future at Risk

 CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House of Representatives today approved its version of the FY 2016-2017 budget, which would provide nearly $150 million less in General and Education Funds than the Governor’s proposed budget for funding state needs over the biennium.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute issued the following statement:

“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.

“The fact remains that New Hampshire’s revenue system has not fully recovered since the start of the recession. Rather than exploring modest, sensible options to increase available revenue, the House has once again resorted to short-term fixes that threaten the state’s long-term success. Raiding the Renewable Energy Fund and draining the Rainy Day Fund is neither sound fiscal policy nor an effective way to win the trust of citizens and businesses.”

“Leaving hundreds of millions in federal dollars on the table, including more than $200 million for the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, will put citizens at risk and push the state further behind,” added McLynch. “Failure to reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program will deny 37,000 citizens access to affordable health coverage, coverage that improves health outcomes, reduces costs in other areas of the budget, and lowers uncompensated care costs.”

“This budget forces false choices. We do not have to choose among a safe transportation system, affordable higher education, and vital human services. If the state is to attract new residents and new businesses and do right by those that are already here, then we need to invest in a strong, healthy New Hampshire that offers a high quality of life for everyone.”

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement