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NH Politicians Continue Assault On State Retirees’ Health Benefits

Senator Gerald Little and Representative Ken Weyler
Lead Crusade against State Retirees’ Health Benefits

Earlier today, the NH Fiscal Committee voted to increase the monthly cost share (premium) of retirees who are under age 65. The amount is a 5% increase, which, when announced, caused an audible collective gasp from a room packed with State retirees.  These are the people who have served the State for decades and had planned their lives and retirement according to promises that had been made at the time of employment and are being broken today by state politicians.

The increase moves the monthly cost from 12.5% to 17.5% of the premium, which currently means retirees under age 65 will be paying an additional $46 per individual covered each month.

“This vote is a continuation of breaking promises that were made to people who spent their careers serving this state,” said Rich Gulla, president of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “Today, a handful of politicians decided the fate of over 3,000 devoted, hard-working former employees and their dependents.  The committee kept talking about no other alternatives. There were plenty of alternative ways to fill the deficit in the retirees’ health benefit plan. They just took the easy way out today – on the backs of retirees.”

Committee members repeatedly attempted a blame game. They tried to blame the Governor, they tried to blame increasing medical costs; they tried to blame everything and everyone other than themselves. However, after all the grandstanding, they were the ones who voted for today’s state retiree’s health plan changes. They could have found another way to plug the budget hole including opening up the State budget and finding the dollars someplace else.

It was apparent to attendees that the outcome of the meeting was pre-determined prior to its convening. “They knew full well how they were going to vote, even before today’s meeting began. They had already made up their minds to put the screws to the retirees who are under age 65,” said Gulla.

Last month, the committee voted to increase the co-payment for prescriptions for all retirees. “In combination, these increases are going to present a significant hardship for our retirees. The average pension for a NH State retiree is about $13,000/year.  Our retirees will literally be deciding between paying their heating and grocery bills or paying for medical care. It just sickens me,” said Gulla.

“The only way to stop this assault on our retirees is to vote out those Representatives and Senators who voted for this atrocity today,” said Gulla.  Senator Little made the motion to accept today’s plan and Representative Weyler seconded the motion.

It is also important to know that Senators Lou D’Allesandro and Andy Sanborn and Representatives Daniel Eaton and Cindy Rosenwald voted against the increases and in favor and respect of our state retirees. “For that, we thank them,” said Gulla.  The remaining Fiscal Committee members voted against the retired workers.  “Our members will not forget this; you can be sure they will remember exactly who was with them and against them next fall as they cast their ballots.”

Granite State Rumblings: Protecting Children From Accidental Gun Violence And Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

This weekend my newsfeed was filled with the story of a 6 year old child who accidently shot his 3 year old brother during a game of “cops and robbers.” The loaded gun had been kept on the top of the refrigerator, wrapped in a pair of pajamas.

In July, two young boys were playing with a gun when it went off and fatally struck one of them in the head. The 11-year-old and 8-year-old found two guns inside an upstairs bedroom at a home in which they were visiting.

In February the father of a 4-year-old Toms River, NJ boy who shot and killed his 6-year-old friend was sentenced to three years in prison for leaving the weapon unsecured and accessible to the children in the house.

Children often have easy access to guns in their homes, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

  • 1 in 3 homes with children have guns, many unlocked or loaded.
  • 3 in 4 children ages 5 to 14 knows where firearms are kept in the home.
  • 80% of unintentional firearm deaths of kids under 15 occur in a home.
  • 82% of adolescent suicides involve a gun belonging to a family member.
  • Guns are the 2nd leading cause of death among children and teens.

If you’re like most parents, you probably have some questions the first time your child asks to play with a new friend or in a new place. How will they be supervised? Are the TV shows and games age-appropriate? What about Internet access and pets and allergies?

However, we’ve learned that there’s one important question that over half of parents never think to ask:

“Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?”

It may feel a little awkward, but it could save a child’s life.

In 2015, 570 Children (age 0-11) and 2,093 Teens (age 12-17) have been killed or injured due to gun violence. Source: Gun Violence Archive

As of October 1, 2015 there have been 294 Mass Shootings in the United States this year. There were a total of 336 in 2014. Source: Mass Shooting Tracker

On October 1st, we witnessed yet another horrific mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, this time at a community college. This was the 142nd school shooting since 2013 and the 294th mass shooting so far this year in America.

Here in New Hampshire, someone is killed with a gun every 4 days. From 2002 to 2011, 874 people were killed with guns in our state.

Despite this staggering amount of violence, Congress has done nothing to pass a single sensible gun law since the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012. It’s time that we said enough is enough. Americans should be able to feel safe in their schools, churches, and everyday lives, and we need to demand action from our elected officials to #stopgunviolence.

Last Thursday, a number of U.S. Senators announced a plan that will strengthen our nation’s gun laws and save lives. If you agree that this can’t wait any longer, please contact Senator Kelly Ayotte and urge her to take action now on sensible gun legislation.


TWEET / FACEBOOK / Sen. Ayotte


Our NH legislators are filing bill requests for the next session. These are called Legislative Service Requests (LSR’s). These are the beginning of the drafting process to create a bill. The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) processes all legislation that passes through the New Hampshire General Court. The Office has attorneys who draft the legislation as well as other support staff. Only a member of the House of Representatives or a member of the Senate can sponsor an LSR. While the titles of LSRs are published, the actual language is confidential because of an attorney-client relationship between the drafting attorneys and the sponsor. LSRs become public once they are introduced to the appropriate chamber and they become bills. However, you can always ask the sponsor about the content of an LSR, and the sponsor will often share the language.

As of Monday evening there were 688 LSRs for the 2016 session. Every Child Matters in NH tracks the LSRs to determine, as best we are able based on the language, which ones we will want to watch and follow.

There is one LSR in particular that has caught our attention. It is number 2016-2208 HB – requiring drug testing of public assistance recipients.

I have spoken with the sponsor of this LSR (who happens to represent the ward I live in) and, at his request, will be e-mailing to him information on drug testing results from the handful of states that have had or do have drug testing requirements. One piece of information that I will be passing along is the article below from Think Progress.

What 7 States Discovered After Spending More Than $1 Million Drug Testing Welfare Recipients


Proposals keep cropping up to drug test applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, or welfare. Bills have been introduced so far in Montana, Texas, and West Virginia, with a handful of others also considering such a move. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has gone further, proposing to drug test applicants for food stamps and unemployment benefits. They follow recent bills put into action in Maine, Michigan, and Mississippi.

Proponents of these bills claim they will save money by getting drug users off the dole and thus reduce spending on benefits. But states that are looking at bills of their own may want to consider the fact that the drug testing programs that are already up and running haven’t seen such results.

According to state data gathered by ThinkProgress, the seven states with existing programs — Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah — are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to ferret out very few drug users. The statistics show that applicants actually test positive at a lower rate than the drug use of the general population. The national drug use rate is 9.4 percent. In these states, however, the rate of positive drug tests to total welfare applicants ranges from 0.002 percent to 8.3 percent, but all except one have a rate below 1 percent. Meanwhile, they’ve collectively spent nearly $1 million on the effort, and millions more may have to be spent in coming years.

Does Drug Testing Welfare Applicants Work?

Lawmakers who push these bills claim that they will cut down on costs by rooting out drug abusers while also helping to refer those users to treatment. But in reality, they come with few, if any, benefits.

“The main impact of it is first…to spend TANF money that could go into other things,” said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, policy coordinator and director of income and work supports at CLASP, a non-profit focused on policy for low-income individuals. While many states told ThinkProgress that the funds don’t necessarily come out of the pot that would go to TANF benefits, it is still money that could go elsewhere. “The money could certainly be spent on other things if it wasn’t going to drug testing,” she said. “Even if it’s a state where it can’t go to into childcare or cash assistance, it probably comes out of their administration pot, so that’s caseworkers and things like that.”

The other impact is increasing stigma around both welfare and drug use. It can increase the shame people feel around applying for welfare benefits in the first place, which could drive them away from getting assistance they may need to get by. At the same time, it may make drug users less willing to disclose and therefore keep them from connecting with treatment, according to Lower-Basch. “If people are afraid they’ll lose their benefits if they admit to using drugs, it makes it hard for them to say, ‘Hey, actually I have this issue,’” she explained. A study of Florida’s program, which has since been struck down by the courts, found that it didn’t produce any reliable estimates of drug use among welfare recipients.

Even if the policies did unearth drug users in need of help, however, that doesn’t mean states are going to get it to them. Many “don’t guarantee your slot [in treatment facilities] or in some cases pay for it,” she noted. Centers often have long waiting lists, so someone who gets referred may not even be able to get in. Some states used to use TANF money to expand access to drug treatment, but as the money allocated to the program has dropped in real value, those efforts have dried up.

There is one way Lower-Basch thinks drug testing welfare recipients used to be helpful: not to determine eligibility for benefits, but to help them get work. “It was part of the work assessment,” she explained, “what are your barriers to work, what do you need in order to get a job.” If it was a barrier to employment, states could try to help them get what they needed to overcome it.

The High Costs And Few Rewards In Each State

The drug-testing regimes in the seven states all differ slightly, but the lack of effectiveness is widespread.

Missouri – In 2011, Missouri adopted a law to require screening and testing for all TANF applicants, and the testing began in March 2013. In 2014, 446 of the state’s 38,970 applicants were tested. Just 48 tested positive.

Oklahoma – Oklahoma passed its law in 2012, requiring a screening of all applicants and chemical tests for those for whom there is a “reasonable cause” to believe they are using illegal substances. From November 2012 through November 2014, 3,342 applicants were screened and 2,992 selected for further testing (though those numbers could include some who applied more than once). Two-hundred and ninety-seven tested positive for illegal substances.

Utah – Utah also enacted its law in 2012, requiring a written screening and a drug test for anyone with a “reasonable likelihood” of having a “substance use disorder.” Between its implementation in August 2012 and July of 2014, 9,552 applicants were screened and 838 were given drug tests. Just 29 tested positive at a cost of more than $64,000, according to a Utah Department of Workforce Services spokesman.

Kansas – Kansas enacted its drug screening law in 2013, requiring that from 2014 onward, all TANF applicants be tested if a “reasonable suspicion exists” that they might be illegally using “a controlled substance or controlled substance analog.” In the first six months in which the system was in place, Kansas received 2,783 TANF applications. A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Children and Families told ThinkProgress, “The first three months of implementation yielded very few drug tests, as staff became comfortable with the criteria. Referrals have increased since that time. So far, 65 individuals have been referred for suspicion-based drug testing. 11 tested positive [and] 12 failed to appear for their scheduled test appointment.” She estimated that the cost to the department over those six months was about $40,000.

Mississippi – Last year, Mississippi passed a law requiring all TANF applicants to complete a written questionnaire about drug use and mandating testing for anyone whose questionnaire suggests a “reasonable likelihood” of a “substance use disorder.” The new system went into effect in August 2014. Over the first five months, 3,656 TANF applicants were screened for use of illegal substances and 38 were referred for drug testing. Just two tested positive.

Tennessee – A 2012 Tennessee law was particularly descriptive about its reasoning for TANF drug testing. After observing that “persons who are not under the pernicious influence of illegal drugs [are] less disruptive of the social fabric, persons and neighborhoods around them are safer as well,” that ” tax dollars should go to persons who are trying to better themselves rather than to persons who violate our state and national laws and support a network of illicit purveyors of misery and disappointment,” and that “the public image of TANF recipients will be enhanced by removing the stigma that is too often attached to such recipients that they use government funds to purchase illegal drugs,” the legislature mandated “suspicion-based drug testing for each applicant” otherwise eligible for TANF.

The program went into effect in July 2014 and, between that time and the end of the year, 16,017 applied for Families First, Tennessee’s TANF program. Of those, 279 were given drug tests and 37 failed then.

Arizona – In 2009, Arizona’s legislature passed a new requirement to “screen and test each adult recipient who is otherwise eligible for temporary assistance for needy families cash benefits and who the department has reasonable cause to believe engages in the illegal use of controlled substances.” Anyone who tested positive would be ineligible to receive the benefits for a year. Supporters claimed this move would save the state $1.7 million annually.

While the legislature has kept the rule each year since its 2010 implementation, very few people have actually even been referred for drug testing after completing a written drug use statement. Since 2014, more than 140,000 Arizona TANF recipients have been screened by the Arizona Department of Economic Security. Just 42 have been referred for a drug test over that time — of the 19 who completed the test, only three have ever tested positive.

Our next door neighbor instituted drug testing requirements in April of this year. Maine Governor Paul LePage argued for legislators to pass this legislation in 2014 saying, “We must ensure that our tax dollars do not enable the continuation of a drug addiction.”

From April through June, the state attempted to screen 15 out of about 5,700 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients, according to an Associated Press investigation, and just one person tested positive.

As you can see drug testing welfare recipients has not created the millions of dollars in projected savings, instead it has cost taxpayers more money in the end. And the stubborn stickiness of the idea that drug testing low-income families is good policy reflects a broader misunderstanding about the lifestyles of the poor. In reality, people who rely on public assistance programs to make ends meet are thriftier than the average American. They have to be. There is not one county in New Hampshire where the amount of a monthly TANF check covers the cost of rent.

So, let’s get ready to work together to insure that Granite State families who need a temporary hand up to make ends meet are not subjected to this humiliating and insulting kind of treatment by our legislature.

State Workers Praise Bipartisan Cooperation That Ends Continuing Resolution

Concord, NH, September 17, 2015 – Yesterday, after months of political posturing, the Governor, Republican and Democratic legislators arrived at a compromise budget that ended the continuing resolution. The approved budget contains and funds the NH State Employees’ previously negotiated contract.
“On behalf of our Executive Branch members (state employees), I thank the Governor and the Legislators for acknowledging the hard work and commitment of those who serve the state,” said Rich Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “I also applaud our members and allies who called or emailed their legislators asking for their support,” said Gulla. “and, thank the members of the general public who requested and proudly displayed yard signs in support of the state employees. We know these conversations and signs had an impact, and we are grateful.”

This budget is a compromise that resulted from both sides of the aisle working together and SEA/SEIU Local 1984 is cautiously optimistic that the legislature can continue to work well together and take up additional concerns the organization has. Including:

· NH State Retirees have not had a Cost of Living Increase since 2009 – six years without an increase in income while living expenses rise. The average pension for a state worker is around $13,000 a year.

· NH DHHS is still underfunded to provide the important services to our citizens in need, including caring for and educating children at Sununu Youth Services Center and the additional funding in this budget for addiction treatment for the growing heroin crisis and mental health is a start, but more is needed.

· NH DOT is still underfunded for winter snow removal. This jeopardizes public safety and commerce. If produce trucks, emergency vehicles, and winter sports enthusiasts cannot travel in the state, the NH tourism economy will suffer.

· The high cost of medical care in New England is a concern. SEA/SEIU Local 1984 will work with the Governor and legislature on responsible and humane ways to address this issue.

· Medicaid expansion is not dealt with in this budget but is kicked down the road for another day, as is the revenue hole that will result from the compromise on the business tax.
“Today, we celebrate the funding of the state employees’ contract. Tomorrow, we roll up our sleeves and tackle the other issues,” said Gulla. “In the meantime, the employees who keep the state running smoothly and efficiently now have a contract.”

Governor Hassan Signs Fiscally Responsible, Bipartisan Budget Agreement But Not Everyone Is Happy About It

 CONCORD – After signing Senate Bill 9 – the fiscally responsible, bipartisan budget agreement – Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement:

“This fiscally responsible, bipartisan, compromise budget addresses the central concern that I had with the original budget – unpaid-for tax cuts – by including important safeguards that will help ensure long-term fiscal responsibility and protect our ability to support critical economic priorities in the future. It puts in place a trigger contingent upon state revenues meeting certain targets, ensuring that revenues are at levels that would at least sustain the current budget before additional tax cuts go into effect. It also allows the next legislature to determine what spending or revenue offsets should be made to pay for those additional tax cuts if they go into effect.

“In addition to the safeguards on the business tax cuts that will help us maintain fiscal responsibility, our compromise agreement also includes the previously negotiated modest cost-of-living increase for our hard-working state employees. While this agreement is not perfect and fails to include even higher levels of funding for substance misuse and the immediate reauthorization of the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program as I proposed, it reflects many of the priorities I laid out in February – funding for mental health, to combat substance misuse, for economic development and for public safety.

“I want to thank Senate President Morse, Speaker Jasper and legislators from both parties who worked over the past few months to reach this fiscally responsible, bipartisan compromise. We still have much work to do to combat the heroin crisis, encourage innovation, support job-creating businesses and attract and retain more young people in New Hampshire, and I look forward to continuing to do that work together. But today, I am proud to sign this fiscally responsible, bipartisan budget compromise into law to help keep our state moving forward.”

The legislation is contingent on an override of the Governor’s budget veto, which the Governor asked Democrats to support if Senate Bill 9 passed.

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn also praised the passage of the fiscally responsible budget compromise:

“The passage of the budget compromise is exactly why our constituents sent us to Concord: to work together across party lines to find bipartisan solutions facing our state. While this agreement isn’t perfect and does not contain everything that Senate Democrats would have liked, it is a fiscally responsible, bipartisan path forward that invests in and safeguards critical economic priorities, such as combating the heroin crisis, higher education, roads and bridges, and health care.” 

“The budget contains most of the priorities that Governor Hassan laid out in her budget proposal in February. I’m grateful that under the Governor’s leadership both sides were able to come together like we did two years ago to develop a responsible budget that meets the needs of our people, businesses, and economy.” 

“We can all be proud of this compromise, there is still much to be done as we move forward. And while I had hoped that reauthorization of the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program would be included in a final compromise, I appreciate and thank my Senate Republican colleagues for committing to take up reauthorization legislation as soon as we return in session in January. This is a vitally important program, not only because it is working to reduce health care cost-shifting onto our hard working families and businesses, but it is the single most important step we can take to combat the heroin and substance abuse crisis facing our state.”

However not everyone was jumping up and down over this new compromise. Jeff McLynch Executive Director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute remains “concerned” about these cuts and their long term effects on “New Hampshire’s ability to invest in public services” and the fact that the budget compromise does not include the reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program that provides healthcare to 41,000 Granite Staters. 

“Governor Hassan and members of the New Hampshire legislature should be commended for working together to craft a budget that seeks to meet the needs of all New Hampshire’s citizens and, in particular, for ensuring funds are available to support the previously agreed upon contract with state employees. 

“While the agreement ratified today conditions future reductions in the rates of the business profits and business enterprise taxes on attaining a particular revenue threshold, NHFPI remains concerned about the long-term impact of such reductions and the effect they will have on New Hampshire’s ability to invest in public services like education and infrastructure that are critical to the state’s economic future. 

“It should be clear from the past nine months of budget deliberations that New Hampshire already lacks sufficient resources to meet its needs. Reducing revenue still further will only make it harder to maintain our roads, educate our children, and provide health, safety, and other public services essential to a strong economy and shared prosperity for all in the Granite State.

“Hopefully, the bipartisan collaboration that produced today’s agreement lays the foundation for the expeditious reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program in early 2016. More than 41,000 Granite Staters now participate in that program. Swift action will be needed to ensure they maintain access to affordable health coverage and that hundreds of millions of federal funds continue to flow into the state’s economy.”

We will see if the Republicans hold true to their word that they will pass a bill to reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program or are they making more false promises to get tax cuts that we do not need to give.

Legislature Upholds Two Of Governor Hassan’s Vetos

Today the NH House met to vote on a number of items including two bills that were vetoed by Governor Hassan.

The first bill to be considered was SB 179 which would change residency requirements for voting in NH.  The House upheld the veto.  After the vote Governor Hassan said:

“The constitutional right of all citizens to vote is the most fundamental right of our democracy, critical to the robust citizen-led democracy we are so proud of in the Granite State, and while we must be vigilant in our efforts to prevent and aggressively prosecute voter fraud, Senate Bill 179 did not do anything to accomplish those goals. We should not adopt arbitrary restrictions that will prevent lawful residents from taking part in the democratic process, restrictions that have been found unconstitutional in other states. Instead, we must always work to ensure that people who are legally domiciled in New Hampshire are allowed and encouraged to participate in our democracy. Moving forward, I will continue fighting to protect the fundamental right of all citizens to vote.”

 Many people agree that these proposed changes to voting laws is an attempt by the Republicans to block people from under the guise of voter fraud.  Accusations of massive voter fraud have yet to be proven, Republicans continue to push laws making it increasingly hard for people to vote. 

Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party stated:

“When New Hampshire Republicans can’t win on the issues, they seek to disenfranchise voters – it’s as simple as that. Granite Staters have made clear time and again that we will not stand for blatantly partisan attempts to make it harder for citizens to cast a ballot, and New Hampshire Democrats are grateful for Governor Hassan’s leadership on preserving voting rights for all New Hampshire citizens.”

The House also considered overriding the veto of SB 116, removing the requirement to have a license to carry a concealed weapon. Again the House voted to sustain the Governor’s veto of SB 116. After the vote Gov. Hassan said:

“New Hampshire’s current concealed carry permitting law – which Republican Mel Thomson called a ‘sensible handgun law’ – has worked well for nearly a century, safeguarding the Second Amendment rights of our citizens while helping to keep the Granite State one of the safest states in the nation. Senate Bill 116 would have been a step away from that appropriate and responsible policy, which is why law enforcement and public safety officials, as well as citizens across New Hampshire, repeatedly expressed public safety concerns about the bill. I support the Second Amendment and I believe that Americans have a right to responsibly own guns for personal safety, hunting, and recreation, but we must also balance the rights of gun owners with the rights of all New Hampshire citizens to be safe in their communities, a balance that existing law appropriately strikes.” 

The radical bill was opposed by many law enforcement leaders and by a majority of Granite Staters.

After the vote, Chairman Buckley added:

“Republicans in the New Hampshire House and Senate have shown once again that their priorities are backward as they continue to try to enact a radical gun bill that is strongly opposed by law enforcement officers and 71% of Granite Staters. We thank Governor Hassan and Democrats in the legislature for again taking a strong stand to support law enforcement and public safety.”

New Petition To Uphold The Governor’s Veto Of This Reckless Budget

Sign the Petition (1)

Governor Hassan vetoed the Republican budget saying;

“I have vetoed the budget passed by the legislature because it is unbalanced, makes false promises about what it funds, and gives unpaid-for tax giveaways to big corporations, many based out-of-state, at the expense of critical economic priorities, including higher education, health care, public safety and transportation. The long-term impact of these unpaid-for corporate tax cuts will create a more than $90 million hole in future budgets, further eroding our ability to encourage economic growth.”

We must uphold Governor Hassan’s veto and end the unfunded tax giveaways written into this unbalanced budget.

We are calling on all of our elected representatives to vote and uphold Governor Hassan’s veto and force the leadership to work together and find a compromise that will keep New Hampshire moving in the right direction.

The Petition reads:

We believe that New Hampshire is moving in the right direction and this reckless budget will only take us backwards. We must end these unfunded tax giveaways to big business that will blow a $90 million dollar hole in our state budget.

We call on you, our elected representatives, to uphold Governor Hassan’s veto and work together to properly fund the needs and priorities of our great state. Priorities like rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, investing in our public schools, and providing the needed funds to combat the growing heroin epidemic.

Please sign the petition below or click here to sign.


  When you are done signing the petition, please send a letter to you state reps asking them not to fall victim to the “Kansas Tax Cut Trap” that will blow a $90 million dollar hole in our state budget. Click here to send your letter or fill out the form below.



NH Worker To Legislature: Current Revenue And Spending Levels Fail The People Of NH

An open letter to the NH Legislature 

Hello my name is Paula.  I want to thank you for the work you all do for New Hampshire but it is not enough.  State employees and the citizens of New Hampshire need you to develop new revenue!  

I work for you and the citizens of New Hampshire.  I earn approximately $20.00 an hour.  I perform the regular duties of two positions, one of which was taken away when someone retired.  I process applications, which means I certify applicants to our program based on a child’s chronic health care needs and I also pay bills on behalf of many families for the program.  Presently, besides my regular duties, I am also covering for another program within the department – helping with invoicing and everything that goes along with it.  I also help coordinate other things in my office and covering a portion of another job due to someone’s vacation.  

I worked in the private sector while my children were growing up and when they became older I decided to apply for state service so that I could give something back to a state I loved so much.  I have loved to work for this state and our citizens for the past 12 years (prior to that I worked as a temporary employee for the state).  I know how important my job is to get things “done” for the people we serve.  Because, if I can’t or don’t perform my duties then the children and their families will not receive the services they need. 

I am writing to not just ask for a 2% raise but to “beg” for it and I have never “begged” for anything in my life.  My husband can no longer work.  He worked for 45 years as a surveyor and the job has taken a toll on his body due to debilitating arthritis.  He can no longer work.  We also help family members through their hard times.  I worked a part time job for about eight months last year and I was too exhausted to continue.  I also earn extra money at some of the fairs around the state in the fall.

We, state employees, worked without raises for many years, gave up benefits, paid more for our insurance, etc.  We haven’t caught up to what we have given back to our beloved state and the people we serve.  I need the money for food, to help pay my monthly bills, which includes a mortgage, to pay taxes, and to pay for gas.  I would really appreciate my 2% raise and invite any of you to walk a day in my shoes beside me and tell me I don’t deserve it because you can’t find the revenue!

ICYMI: NH1 Reports on Former Kansas Budget Director Warning of Perils of Unpaid-For Corporate Tax Cuts

Concord, N.H. – As Chris Sununu and Republicans in the legislature continue to push their plan to blow a $90 million hole in the budget for unpaid-for tax cuts for big corporations, NH1 News reported on comments from former Kansas State Budget Director Duane Goossen warning of the negative impact of unpaid-for tax cuts.

Goossen warned that after Kansas implemented massive, unpaid-for tax cuts, the state is now “falling behind its neighbors in economic growth” and “has moved into a cycle of perpetual budget crisis.”


Click here for video of Goosen’s comments or see transcript below:

GOOSSEN: “Kansas is falling behind its neighbors in economic growth. The economic benefits that were touted at the beginning have not proved to be true and Kansas has moved into a cycle of perpetual budget crisis.”

NH Fiscal Policy Institute Highlights Failures Of Kansas’s Tax Cuts

Kansas Tax Cuts: Lessons for New Hampshire
Offers Legislators Context for Considering Impact of Proposed Business Tax Cuts 

Concord NH – In advance of next week’s vote on the state budget, more than 50 legislators gathered in Concord today to hear a first-hand account of the wide-reaching impacts of Kansas tax cuts and to consider the consequences of similar efforts to reduce taxes here in New Hampshire. Hosted by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, “Kansas Tax Cuts: Lessons for New Hampshire” sought to help policymakers develop a deeper understanding of the effect tax cuts are having on families and communities in Kansas and to demonstrate the failure of tax cuts to produce promised economic growth, the main argument offered in favor of lower business tax rates in New Hampshire. 

“Throughout the debate over business taxes, we’ve been told tax cuts are necessary to make New Hampshire more competitive and to boost its economy. Yet, as Kansas’ experience makes clear, tax cuts are no guarantee of job growth. Choosing tax cuts over investments in education and infrastructure will lead the state into a downward spiral,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. 

The event featured a panel discussion and presentation by Kansas Center for Economic Growth Executive Director Annie McKay and Senior Fellow Duane Goossen. Mr. Goossen was the Kansas state budget director from 1998 to 2010 and served seven terms in the Kansas House of Representatives.

“A misguided plan to cut taxes for Kansas businesses in the name of job growth resulted in a tax shift, which increased taxes on hardworking Kansas families. Lawmakers promised Kansans ‘pro-growth’ tax policy, but all this plan delivered was an increase in the number of families struggling to make ends meet,” said Annie McKay. 

Proponents of business tax cuts suggest that business taxes in New Hampshire are out of line with other states and that tax cuts are needed to make the Granite State more competitive. The budget plan approved by the legislature in June included multiple changes to New Hampshire’s business tax structure, changes that would drain more than $20 million out of the FY 2016-2017 budget and more than $100 million out of each future budget, once fully implemented. Governor Hassan vetoed the budget in part due to the impact this revenue loss would have on future budgets.

“Kansas went from annual budget surpluses to massive deficits as a result of these tax cuts, which were promoted as necessary to support businesses and to increase economic growth,” said Duane Goossen. “These tax cuts left the state unable to balance its budget, led to a credit downgrade for the state, and forced increases in other taxes and fees for average citizens. What’s more, Kansas’ job growth rate continues to lag the region, and businesses and families have left the state due to its lack of investment in important public services.” 

The first full year of tax cuts in Kansas resulted in greater revenue loss than the three years of the Great Recession combined, a revenue shortfall that is jeopardizing funding for education, roads and bridges, and other components essential to a strong economy. Efforts to close the Kansas budget gap also put added pressure on local governments and forced many areas to raise property taxes in order to maintain basic levels of service. In fact, 67 counties enacted property tax increases to offset the added cost of downshifted responsibilities. Property taxes increased by as much as 20 percent in some counties, and 17 of the 20 counties with the highest increases were rural. 

“As the Kansas experiment demonstrates, tax cuts that drain state resources have far reaching impacts for families, communities, and state economies. New Hampshire cannot afford to follow Kansas’ perilous path,” said NHFPI Executive Director Jeff McLynch.

“New Hampshire already lacks sufficient resources to meet its needs,” added McLynch. “Reducing revenue still further will only make it harder to maintain our roads, educate our children, and provide health, safety, and other public services essential to ensuring a strong economy and shared prosperity for all in the Granite State.”

Governor Hassan And Senator Shaheen Call For Full Funding Of Meals On Wheels

Meals on Wheels dinner (image by Roger W, Flickr)

Meals on Wheels dinner (image by Roger W, Flickr)

(SALEM, NH) –  New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today called for bipartisan support for full funding of the state’s Meals on Wheels Program, which faces inadequate funding at the federal level and is threatened by unpaid-for corporate tax cuts at the state level. The two participated in a roundtable discussion about the effects of inadequate funding with staff, volunteers and clients of the Rockingham County Meals on Wheels Program at the Ingram Senior Center in Salem this afternoon.           

“Our older citizens have made significant contributions to our communities, our economy, and our high quality of life, and we must maintain our commitment to providing the support that they deserve in order to maximize their ability to continue engagement in our society and economy,” Governor Hassan said. “I have presented a fiscally responsible, compromise budget proposal that protects our ability to support critical priorities like Meals on Wheels now and into the future, and I continue to urge Republicans in the legislature to negotiate in good faith and offer a true counter-proposal that addresses the central issue of our disagreement – unpaid-for corporate tax cuts that create a $90 million hole in future budgets – so that we can reach a fiscally responsible, bipartisan budget agreement as soon as possible.” 

“In New Hampshire, Meals on Wheels delivers food to more than 30,000 seniors, and the demand is only growing, with our state’s over-65 population expected to nearly double by the end of the decade,” said Shaheen. “Meals on Wheels can deliver nutritious meals to a senior for an entire year for less than it would cost for that senior to spend one day in the hospital, potentially saving us billions in Medicare and Medicaid costs. We need bipartisan cooperation in Washington and Concord to keep this program funded and benefiting our seniors. I’m asking my Republican colleagues in the Senate to work with Democrats to adequately fund Meals on Wheels moving forward.”   

In June, Governor Hassan vetoed the Republican budget because it was unbalanced and fiscally irresponsible, including unpaid-for business tax cuts that would create a $90 million hole in future budgets at the expense of critical priorities like Meals on Wheels. The Governor has since presented a fiscally responsible compromise budget proposal that provides Republican legislators 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.

In the United States Senate, nearly every Republican Senator voted for a budget that is going to result in drastic cuts to funding for Meals on Wheels over the next decade. In the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Labor-Health-Education Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2016 fails to provide enough funding to Meals on Wheels’ growing needs in New Hampshire and across the country. Shaheen strongly opposed the Republican budget as well as the Appropriations bill.

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