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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.”

“Decisions that Cause Voters to Question the Loyalty of our Elected Officials”

Statement of Paul Brochu, Stamp Stampede.org Lead Organizer – NH regarding today’s passage of the House Budget:

Greed KillsAs expected, the Budget passed by the House today includes cuts in programs for the most-needy, service delays, cost-shifting and a patchwork of other maneuvers to reduce the bottom line rather than investing in New Hampshire’s future.

These are the types of decisions that cause voters to question the loyalty of our elected officials. “Who, exactly, are our politicians serving?”  At the Stamp Stampede, we work with the growing number of people who have realized that government is being driven by Big Money political donors, and who are trying to fix that problem.

People are angry.  They’re taking to the streets in protest marches.  They’re testifying in legislative hearings.  They’re pushing resolutions through their Town Meetings.  Through the Stamp Stampede, tens of thousands of people are rubber-stamping anticorruption messages on US currency, which then circulates through the local economy and helps bring people together around the issue.

Even though corporate influence over politics is a global problem, most Americans think about it in terms of Big Money control of presidential and congressional elections. That’s what gets the headlines: a candidate asking donors to limit their donations to a million dollars; a couple of businessmen pledging to spend almost a billion dollars before the 2016 presidential elections.

But the same dynamics are at work on the state level, too – and this House budget is a microcosm of the struggle for the loyalty of our government officials.

House GalleryThis budget does not include tens of millions of dollars in revenue that could have come from a tobacco tax increase.  Why not? New Hampshire would still have the lowest cigarette tax rate among neighboring states.  We would still lead the nation in cigarette smuggling, with almost one-quarter of cigarette purchases headed out-of-state.  Revenue from a tobacco tax increase could be used to avoid cuts to community health centers.  It could fund continuation of the expanded Medicaid program that provides health insurance to 34,000 Granite Staters.  It could patch a lot of the holes in this Budget.  But it’s not even being considered.

Why not?

The National Institute on Money in State Politics shows that former House Speaker Bill O’Brien received a $5,000 political contribution from tobacco giant Altria Client Services last October.

And now, the House refuses to even consider raising the tobacco tax.

crowd (2)Political donations can be an extremely cost-effective way for corporations to do business.  A Sunlight Foundation study of the 200 most politically active corporations found that for every dollar invested in political donations and lobbying, the corporations received $760 back in tax breaks, contracts and other types of government support.

Which should give all of us pause, as this state Budget heads over to the Senate.

According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, “non-individual” political donors including business associations, corporations and PACs donated more than $700,000 to New Hampshire State Senate candidates in the 2014 elections.

more crowd (2)The Senate has already given preliminary approval to cuts in the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax.

Those tax cuts, if finalized, would undoubtedly trigger even more cuts to state services.

Do we really need those business tax cuts? New Hampshire already has the seventh-best business tax climate in the nation.

Budgets are, above all else, choices about priorities.  Spend tens of millions of dollars on tax cuts for corporations?  Or invest it in higher education for the next generation of workers?  Turn down tobacco tax revenues?  Or take the money and use it to improve the health of lower-income residents?

In a more-perfect world, our elected officials would make these sort of decisions based on the best interests of their constituents.  But we live in a world where political donations speak louder than votes.

Lobby (2)It doesn’t matter what party people belong to – Republicans and Democrats are outraged about this in almost-equal numbers.  Ask about federal campaign donations: 80% of New Hampshire Republicans and 77% of our Democrats say that Congress is more interested in special interests than its constituents.  Ask about the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens Unitedmore than two-thirds of New Hampshire voters think the US Constitution should be amended to limit money in politics.

People are feeling disenfranchised.  At StampStampede.org, we hear voters’ anger at having their government stolen by Big Money donors.  We work with small business owners who echo their customers’ disillusionment.  People are sick and tired of elected officials choosing to take care of political donors, rather than the people who elected them.

That anger is growing.  Every time that the New Hampshire Rebellion organizes a protest walk, they have hundreds more people participating than the year before.  More and more Town Meetings are voting to endorse a constitutional amendment to limit money in politics; so far, 67 Granite State municipalities have voted to defend democracy.

Billboard (2)In the past few months, several hundred New Hampshire residents have joined the Stamp Stampede. We’re seeing more and more currency with messages like “Not to Be Used for Buying Elections” and “Stamp Money Out of Politics.”  Each stamped dollar bill is seen by an estimated 875 people as it circulates through the local economy – literally making money into the message, and getting the message out to millions of people.

We’re recruiting 6,500 New Hampshire Stampers help us make this into an issue in the presidential primary.  We already have 60 small business partners who are hosting “Stamping Stations” where customers can stamp their money and learn more about how high-dollar donations have hijacked our elections.

It’s a grassroots movement to reclaim our government from the special interests, because we’re tired of being forgotten in the race to please special-interest political donors.

The decisions being made in this State Budget process – business tax cuts? or services for people? – show the problem in a nutshell.

Who does our government belong to?  Who do our elected officials take care of?

And what, exactly, is it going to take to get our government back?

NH Leaders Applaud Senate Vote for Constitutional Amendment to Stop Unlimited Campaign Spending, Urge House to Follow Suit

Open Democracy, the New Hampshire nonprofit committed to transparent and accountable government, congratulated the New Hampshire Senate for unanimously approving SB 136 on Thursday, a bill calling on Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to address the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
 
Open Democracy leaders and activists from both political parties, together with allied groups, simultaneously renewed their calls for the New Hampshire House to approve a similar measure. If adopted by the House, New Hampshire would become the 17th state to call for a Constitutional Amendment five years after the controversial Citizens United decision was handed down.
 
“New Hampshire citizens are frankly disgusted with the amount of special interest money flooding our elections,” said Daniel Weeks, Executive Director of Open Democracy, citing town resolutions adopted by 67 New Hampshire towns in 2014-15 calling for a Constitutional Amendment and the roughly 12,000 citizen petitioners across the state. “It is precisely because the First Amendment is so sacred that we need to protect the rights of ordinary Americans to speak and be heard in the public square, rather than be shouted down by big spenders with an agenda of their own,” Weeks said.
 
“We applaud the full Senate for responding to their constituents’ demands and passing this historic call for a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to rid our democracy of unlimited special interest spending in elections,” said Gordon Allen, co-chair of the Open Democracy Board. “We are especially thankful to Senators Martha Fuller-Clark (D-21) and Russell Prescott (R-23) for leading this important push.”
 
Members of the Open Democracy Advisory Board John Broderick and Brad Cook, the former NH Chief Justice and Republican Chairman of the Election Law Commission, respectively, called on elected representatives in the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the “bipartisan resolution opposing the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to unlimited spending in elections.”
 
“Although we may not agree on some issues, we both believe there is nothing more destructive of good politics and good policy than secret special interest money in elections,” Broderick and Cook wrote. “Left unchecked, it will consume our electoral process and silence the voice of the people.”
 
The issue of money in politics has attracted near-unanimous public sentiment from across the political spectrum, with 96 percent of New Hampshire residents polled believing that money has too much influence over politics. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of state residents across party lines support a Constitutional Amendment to limit campaign contributions and spending, according to a University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll.
 
As evidence of their frustration with the status quo, approximately 500 citizens took to the streets of New Hampshire this January, walking 300 miles across the state to protest money in politics as part of the NH Rebellion. The Rebellion activists and allied groups plan to continue marching and are also challenging the presidential candidates to support systemic campaign finance reform during the state’s first-in-the-national primary.
 
- – -
 
The Senate-approved legislation, as amended, asserts “the need for a United States Constitutional Amendment to address the Citizens United ruling and related cases, that protects New Hampshire’s ability to make its own laws regarding campaign finance while protecting the First Amendment.” To bill also establishes a study committee to examine the impact of the Citizens United ruling and related cases in New Hampshire elections; to evaluate the different Constitutional Amendment options being proposed in Congress; and to consider short-term solutions to issues raised by Citizens United.
 
One such measure, disclosure of independent spending in state elections, was approved by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Hassan in 2014. However, insufficient compliance with SB 120 in the 2014 election led Open Democracy to file complaints against both liberal and conservative political committees with the New Hampshire Attorney General. As of March 2015, the Attorney General’s investigations are still ongoing.
 
A forthcoming Open Democracy analysis of the 2014 mid-term election in New Hampshire reveals that approximately $100 million was spent by candidates, parties, and third-party groups – the highest level of election spending in state history. More than half of the total spending came from so-called “independent” groups, with the majority of their funding coming from out-of-state and/or undisclosed sources, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate contest also ranked as the most negative race in the country with over 90 percent of all television ads characterized as attacks. 
 
Although efforts to overturn Citizens United in Congress have stalled in recent years for lack of bipartisan support, liberal and conservative leaders alike have called for state and congressional action to mitigate what they describe as the ruling’s adverse effects on elections and representation. As early as 2010 when the decision was handed down, New Hampshire’s late Republican Senator Warren Rudman wrote in The Washington Post, “Supreme Court opinion notwithstanding, corporations are not defined as people under the Constitution, and free speech can hardly be called free when only the rich are heard.”
 
To mitigate the corrupting influence of money in politics, Senator Rudman went on to urge “Republicans and Democrats in Congress [to] work together to expand political speech for all citizens by replacing special-interest money in politics with small donations and public matching funds.”
 
Open Democracy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Concord, advocates for a range of campaign finance and election reforms including citizen-funded elections, overturning Citizens United, election modernization, and full rapid disclosure of campaign contributions and spending. 

NH Senate Unanimously Calls for Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136 3The New Hampshire Senate just passed a bill supporting the amendment of the US Constitution to overturn Citizens United. The voice vote was apparently unanimous. The bill, SB 136, establishes a study committee to review the various proposed constitutional amendments, and issue a report by November 1st regarding which approach should be supported by the New Hampshire congressional delegation.

“Fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and the consequences of the Citizens United ruling on our elections must be addressed,” said Senator Martha Fuller Clark.​ “The issue of such large amounts of money influencing our elections is not a partisan one; it affects all of us. That’s why 67 of our municipalities have passed warrant articles calling for action on this very serious issue which threatens our democracy.”

“In 2014 alone, over $49 million was spent on NH Congressional races from outside groups, drowning out the voices of ordinary citizens,” she said. “I’m pleased that my Senate colleagues have finally agreed that it is time to do something about the corrupting influence of such large amounts of out-of-state money on our elections. I urge the House to agree as well.”

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136“The Senate’s action today is a huge step forward in the grassroots effort to make New Hampshire the 17th state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United,” said Paul Brochu, the Stamp Stampede’s Lead Organizer in New Hampshire.

“We’re very hopeful that the House will also pass this bill.  The House called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United in 2013 and 2014; and earlier this year the House passed a resolution seeking an Article V Constitutional Convention to overturn Citizens United,” he said. “I think we’re all tired of out-of-state special interests trying to buy our elections.  It’s time for some common-sense limits – and that common sense starts by telling the Supreme Court that no, corporations are not ‘people.’ ”

“Today, thanks to the bipartisan leadership of Senators Russell Prescott (R-23) and Martha Fuller Clark (D-21), the Senate at last voted to pass a version of SB 136 that includes language specifically calling for a constitutional amendment,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, Co-Director of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign.  “This reflects what the people of New Hampshire have been urging their elected officials to do in response to the surge of outside money being spent on state and federal elections.”

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136 2 (2)“The pressing question before the nation today is whether it is ‘we the people’ or ‘we the corporations and big money interests.’ This not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is a deeply American issue. Whatever our political differences may be, we all share the common vision of government of, by, and for the people,” said John Bonifaz, President of Free Speech for People.

“This victory also demonstrates that a sustained people-powered movement can win,” he added. “New Hampshire citizens from throughout the state have repeatedly called on their legislators to take this action. They have rallied. They have marched. They have traveled to their state capitol to stand up and be heard. And, today, the people were heard. When the history of the 28th Amendment is written, it will include the story of New Hampshire citizens demanding their democracy back.”

“All across New Hampshire, people from both parties are saying they’ve had enough of Big Money in politics,” Brochu said.  “In town after town, Town Meeting after Town Meeting, Granite State voters have said ‘no more!’  It’s been amazing to watch all these people – many of whom have never been politically active before in their lives – suddenly step forward and lead their hometowns to take a stand and say the Constitution should be amended.”

“Many of the people who have stepped forward on this issue had never before called or written to or met with their elected officials.  They’re acting as ‘citizen lobbyists’ for the very first time, trying to take back their government from the special interests and Big Money donors,” Brochu added.  “This is what democracy is supposed to be about – and it is beautiful to see.”

————————

Stamp_StampedeThe Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

Senate Democrats’ Comments on Senate GOP Making it Harder to Vote

CONCORD – Senator Bette Lasky, Senator David Pierce and Senator Molly Kelly condemned the passage of Senate Bill 179, which imposes an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.

 

“This bill will only serve to further complicate the voting process for New Hampshire citizens. SB 179 proposes a new standard for what constitutes a domicile that is more confusing and less concise than the current law,” said Sen. Bette Lasky. “Voters need consistency and clarity when it comes to eligibility standards and this bill fails that test.”

 

In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled in Dunn v. Blumstein that durational residency requirements for voting in state and local elections were unconstitutional.  

 

“I am disappointed to see my Republican colleagues support such legislation even though the Supreme Court has been clear on this issue,” said Sen. David Pierce. “These unconstitutional assaults on our constituents’ right to vote in free and fair elections have got to stop. Unfortunately, the Republican majority won’t stop.”  

 

“Unlike other states, our constitution explicitly guarantees the equal right of every citizen to vote,” said Sen. Molly Kelly. “As we mark the 50thanniversary of the Selma march where some of our fellow Americans lost their very lives to secure the right to vote and as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we should be encouraging all eligible citizens to vote instead of making the process more confusing.”

NHDP THIS WEEK: NH House GOP Advances Draconian Cuts to Critical Economic Priorities, Senate GOP Pushes “Plan” to Exacerbate Damage

Elected Officials, Residents and Advocates from Nashua to Manchester and North Conway Decry House GOP’s Devastating Cuts 

Senate GOP “Plan” to Give More Tax Giveaways to Big Businesses Would Lead to Even Further Cuts

 
Concord, N.H. – This week, House Republicans moved forward with draconian cuts to critical economic priorities including higher education, combatting substance misuse, maintaining roads and bridges, and services for seniors and the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
 
Making matters worse, Senate Republicans voted to give more tax giveaways to big businesses, leading to further cuts that would hurt New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy. New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch explained, “the proposed business tax cuts will not create jobs or foster economic growth, but will instead drain millions of dollars out of the budget each year.”   
 
“New Hampshire Republicans’ irresponsible actions have put their majorities in both chambers at risk as they voted to give more tax giveaways to big businesses while making middle class families and small businesses pay the price with devastating cuts to critical services,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Granite Staters from Nashua to Manchester and North Conway have already made it clear that we won’t stand for these draconian cuts.”
 
In an op-ed in today’s Nashua Telegraph, Sandra B. Pelletier, president and CEO of Gateways Community Services in Nashua, outlined the devastating effects of House Republicans’ cuts: “The House Finance Committee’s proposed budget will essentially shut the door to our region’s most vulnerable children transitioning from school supports to community supports. It will dismantle family-support programs for people with developmental disabilities and cause hardship for those who do a lifetime of heavy lifting by caring for their loved ones.”
 
The outcry from Nashua follows reports from Manchester and North Conway of residents and officials decrying House Republicans’ irresponsible budget cuts.
 
Yesterday’s Union Leader reported that Manchester “officials are raising concerns about proposed cuts in the state budget that could impact efforts to combat drug abuse in the city,” and the Conway Daily Sun added, “Members of the New Hampshire House Finance Committee heard last week from a range of Carroll County constituents” who “[decried] cuts to disabled, senior program
s.”

Maureen Mann: Cuts To The Department Of Transportation

potholesBy Maureen Mann,
Former NH State Rep

Originally posted at http://bit.ly/1xmjt1S

In the past week, the Republican majority of the Finance Committee of the NH House voted to approve two major changes to the DOT. First, they have taken an innocuous bill about changing a name or address on a drivers license, and replaced the original content with removal of the DOT from the state budget. Second, members of the committee have approved a cut of $88 million from that budget. This is a projected 42 percent cut in funding which includes a $4.8 million cut in winter maintenance.

Cuts to the DOT budget mean a massive lose in federal funds coming to NH.  Most major DOT projects–Route 93, the Sarah Long Bridge in Portsmouth which carries nuclear waste from the Navy Yard, etc–are based on 80/20 funds [80% federal and 20% state]. This is money NH residents have paid in federal taxes which we get back in federal grants. Currently NH sees a return of about 77 cents on each dollar paid by NH residents. Without our part of the match we will see less return and there is a serious threat that projects in progress will stop.

Route 93 is a prime example. The federal and environmental permits for Route 93 expire in 2020. If the work is not completed by that date the project stops dead.  It will take years to acquire new permits and meanwhile our neighbors in VT, ME and MA have all budgeted for increased infrastructure spending.  When heavy duty contractors such as Pike and Continental leave NH we will not get them back until projects elsewhere are done. Meanwhile, residents, tourists and business drives will sit in construction for hours.

This is a state which claims to support business. Yet poor roads and construction on Route 93 are already creating a problem in attracting new business to NH. One of the first questions asked of those recruiting businesses to NH is when Route 93 will be completed. Studies show that what really attracts business is an educated workforce, dependable and adequate transportation infrastructure, and universal high speed internet access.

According to an article in the March 19 Union Leader, $68 million of the cuts is mostly in personnel; half of DOT regular employees will be laid off. What the article does not explain is that over 60 percent of DOT employees are private contractors.  The people who build and reconstruct our highways, plow our roads, clear our ditches and cut brush along highways will be unemployed.  Some are small independents and some are huge contractor. Is this how we treat those who have worked long hours to ensure public safety during the enormous and frequent storms of this winter?”

Downshifting to our towns is another affect of the cuts.  The 4.2 cent increase in the road toll last July, combined with the current DOT budget, insured not only the completion of Route 93 but included increased funding for the six state highway betterment districts and additional funding to cities and towns. Those local costs will be downshifted to our communities which will result in more pot holes and less repair and reconstruction. We will also see closure of welcome centers and rest areas, limits and reductions in paving, closing of red-lined bridges or offers to communities to take some over. Good thing the repeal of the road toll, sponsored by our local reps, failed by such an overwhelming vote.

This is just one example of the “cut spending” mantra not being the solution, but the problem.

(Consider supporting Maureen Mann for NH State Rep via Act Blue)

Fox Business News: http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2015/03/16/new-hampshire-transportation-officials-protest-41m-cut-proposed-by-house-budget/

Concord Monitor: http://mobile.concordmonitor.com/home/16134371-108/dot-warns-lawmakers-budget-cut-would-mean-loss-of-321-employees

WMUR: http://www.wmur.com/politics/dot-41-million-cut-would-make-roads-dangerous-result-in-layoffs/31836146?absolute=true&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=wmur9_politics

Concord Monitor: http://mobile.concordmonitor.com/home/16134371-108/dot-warns-lawmakers-budget-cut-would-mean-loss-of-321-employees

NH Labor News: http://nhlabornews.com/2015/03/nhdp-bill-obrien-budget-part-2-who-will-plow-our-roads/

Union Leader: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150318/NEWS0621/150318983/1010/news06

Senator Soucy Condemns Senate GOP for Failing to Raise the NH Minimum Wage

Republicans Kill Minimum Wage Increase that Affects More Than 76,000 people    


CONCORD – Senator Donna Soucy of Manchester issued the following statement today after Senate Republicans defeated her prime sponsored, Senate Bill 261 on a party-line vote of 14-10.

“Today, the Republican-led Senate failed to strengthen the financial security of hard working Granite Staters and expand opportunity for more than 76,000 people who would have been affected by raising the minimum wage,” said Senator Soucy. “Senate Democrats support restoring and increasing the minimum wage, so everyone will have an opportunity to succeed and support themselves and their families.”

A NH Fiscal Policy Institute report shows that 72% of the New Hampshire minimum wage workers, who would directly or indirectly benefit from this bill are age 20 and older with nearly 40% being 30 and older. Fifty-nine percent are women and 14% are parents.

“Paying decent wages is a good investment for our businesses,” said Senator Soucy. “Well-paid workers are better employees and better customers; their spending helps sustain our businesses and our economy.”

This vote puts Senate Republicans on the wrong side of the vast majority of NH residents. 76%  Granite Staters support an increase in the state’s minimum wage, which includes 70% of Independents and even 64% of Republicans.


Update:

Governor Hassan’s Statement on Senate Minimum Wage Vote

 

CONCORD – Following the New Hampshire Senate’s vote today to reject SB 261, a bill that would restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage, Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement:

 

“It is disappointing that Senate Republicans voted down a common-sense measure to restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage, which would have a ripple effect on wages higher up the pay scale while supporting businesses and encouraging job creation by putting more money in the pockets of consumers so that they can buy goods and services.

 

“Individuals working full-time in New Hampshire should be able to earn enough to pull themselves above the federal-poverty threshold and support their families, but for too long, wages have failed to grow with the cost of our families’ needs. In order to boost our economy and strengthen the economic security of thousands of Granite Staters, I will continue fighting to restore and increase our minimum wage.”

 

We Need A New Hampshire Senate That Puts People Above Big Business

Cutting Taxes 3-dThis week the Republican controlled State Senate chose to put business profits ahead of working families, by voting to cut taxes for big business.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute reported, “SB 1, which would lower the business profits tax (BPT) rate, and SB 2, which would lower the business enterprise tax (BET) rate, together likely would reduce state revenue by nearly $80 million on a biennial basis once fully phased in.”

That’s right boys and girls, the GOP wants to slash $80 million dollars from our budget and give that all to big business. $80 million dollars is a lot of money. That would build a lot of bridges, pave a lot of roads, repair a lot of schools, and employee a lot of people.

“These business tax cuts will not create jobs or boost the economy, but instead will drain millions of dollars out of the state budget each year,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute.

The Union Leader reported, “(Democrats) noted only 1 percent of the businesses in the state pay 76 percent of the business profits tax, meaning large out-of-state corporations produce the bulk of the revenue. ‘This is a giveaway to large, out-of-state corporations,’ said Sen. David Pierce, D-Hanover. ‘It puts the interests of large, out-of-state corporations ahead of the needs of the people of New Hampshire and ahead of the needs of the state’s small businesses.’”

“Senate Republicans are so obsessed with implementing the Koch Brothers agenda of more tax giveaways for big businesses that they’re willing to blow a $78 million hole in the budget and make middle class families and small businesses pay the price,” said Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party.

Cutting taxes is the mantra of the Republican Party. Cut taxes for businesses and voila` economic prosperity and budgets overflowing with tax revenues. It is the cure all for everything! Cut taxes and more businesses will move here then with the additional revenue we can build whatever we need. We need new bridges, cut taxes. We cannot pay our bills this year, then cut taxes!

This trickle down theory of economics has failed so many times I have lost count. President Reagan, hero to the current Republican Party, drove our nation into debt with tax giveaways like this. The President George W. Bush doubled down on Reagan’s policies and cut taxes during wartime, leading to the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression.

 (Image Gage Skidmore Flikr CC)

(Image Gage Skidmore Flikr CC)

More recently, Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas put this theory into action when he signed “one of the largest tax cut bills in Kansas history.”

“Since the tax cuts took effect at the beginning of 2013, Kansas has added jobs at a pace modestly slower than the country as a whole. The earnings and incomes of Kansans have performed slightly worse than the U.S. as a whole as well.” (Read more here.)

It worked so well that Kansas has had their credit rating downgraded. Standard and Poor’s lowered the state’s credit ratingbecause of theses tax cuts.

“The downgrades reflect our view of a structurally unbalanced budget, following state income tax cuts that have not been matched with offsetting ongoing expenditure cuts in the fiscal 2015 budget,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst David Hitchcock in a release.

Yet even after the downgrade, Gov. Brownback believes that cutting taxes is the way to grow your economy. “We need jobs and we have proven the way to that is through lower taxes,” Brownback told the press.

However others have outright rejected the idea that lowering business taxes and keeping the minimum wage low will attract new business to the state.

Minnesota took a very different approach. They raised taxes on the wealthy and raised their minimum wage.

“Every Minnesotan will pay more under this tax bill, and unfortunately it’s going to harm Minnesota’s economy and hurt job growth in the state,” said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown.

The thing is that Minority Leader Kurt was absolutely wrong! This week it was reported that due to the progressive agenda of the Governor and the Legislature, Minnesota is expecting to have a $2 billion dollar surplus!

Minnesota’s State Economist Laura Kalambokidis said rising wages and lower gas prices mean more money for consumers and thus more taxes for the state. Meanwhile, the state will save more than $100 million over the next two years because there will be fewer than expected students in poverty and with special needs, as well as fewer students overall.”

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton plans to use the additional money by investing in schools, implementing a fully funded Pre-K program, and to conduct some much needed infrastructure repairs.

I guess we need to ask ourselves, what type of New Hampshire do we want? Do we want a state that gets downgraded, has sluggish job growth, and stagnant wages? If so, then we should definitely cut taxes for these large corporations.

Or, do we want a state that is rebuilding our failing roads and bridges, investing and expanding public education, and building a strong and thriving economy? That’s the New Hampshire I want, and cutting taxes is the wrong approach.

Cutting taxes is not the magic solution to every problem. Someone once said, you can tell me what you value, however, me your budget and I will tell you what you truly value.

If we enact these tax cut for large corporations, who are we really helping? Big Business or real Granite Staters.

How Much Did Senator Avard Really Know About The National Right To Work Committee’s PAC Donation Scheme?

Kevin Avard (via Girard FLIKR CC)

Kevin Avard (via Girard FLIKR CC)

Last week we reported on the big expose` that Kevin Landrigan did on the National Right To Work Committee’s shady campaign financing scam.

In short, Kevin found that the NRTWC created multiple Political Action Campaigns to funnel more money to State Senate candidates like Kevin Avard than is legally allowed under New Hampshire Law. Each of these sub-PACs gave Avard the New Hampshire maximum of $1,000 to his campaign.

Then the Nashua Telegraph posted Senator Avard’s response in an article titled: Avard calls campaign contribution story ‘hogwash’.

Avard, a Nashua Republican who defeated incumbent Democrat Peggy Gilmour last November, said he did not have any knowledge about an NH1 investigative piece reporting an organization funneled money into his senate run through up to five groups to avoid campaign finance statutes.

“That’s hogwash – it’s hogwash,” he said. “That’s absolutely absurd. I guarantee nothing illegal happened. … I’m just kind of outraged by this; this is just absolutely just stupid stuff, and you can quote me on that.”

New Hampshire’s Democratic Party said the National Right to Work Committee tried to hide money to anti-union candidates by creating front groups and providing five legitimate donations of $1,000 instead of one illegal $5,000 campaign contribution.

Avard’s general election campaign totaled $18,493, considerably less than the $105,049 in receipts reported by Gilmour, according to the secretary of state’s office.

My friend Keith Thompson who lives in Brookline and is represented by Sen. Avard, brought up some very good points about this article from the Telegraph. He was first to point out these three ideas I will expand on now.

First, the article says that the “New Hampshire’s Democratic Party said the National Right to Work Committee tried to hide money to anti-union candidates…” Actually the report was not from the NH Democratic Party it was from NH1 reporter Kevin Landrigan. The Telegraph even say that in the opening of the article. I hope that Sen. Avard is not claiming the Kevin Landrigan is a puppet for the NH Democrats.

If you have followed New Hampshire politics for longer than a week then you will know one thing that is certain, Kevin Landrigan is anything but partisan. He may lean a little right, but his reporting goes right at the heart of both parties and challenges the political ideologies of both sides. This comes with the decades of experience in New Hampshire Politics.

Second, this highlights the Telegraph’s need for a veteran political reporter. Ever since they laid-off Kevin Landrigan, they have lacked any real political coverage. They do a decent job of merging press releases but they lack the real knowledge and experience a reporter like Kevin brings to the story. Maybe if they had kept Kevin around at the Telegraph everyone would be talking about the Telegraph’s huge story about the NRTWC instead of NH1.

Lastly, I do not know anyone who would believe that Sen. Avard was not aware of these shady financial dealings. Keith hit the nail on the head when he stated, “Answer the question directly, Senator (Avard), ‘Did you have any knowledge of this scheme to circumvent campaign finance rules?’”

Avard reported only raising $18,000 dollars and $5,000 can from some type of  “right to work” group. I bet they even came in the same envelope.

“Kevin Avard has a lot of explaining to do to his constituents and to all Granite Staters about what he knew and when about the shady fundraising scheme that he benefited from,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “These questionable contributions represented more than one-sixth of all total contributions Avard took in during the election, and his claim to NH1 News that he has no idea where they came from simply doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

This type of funding is legal, and Sen. Avard is right when he states, “I guarantee nothing illegal happened.” That is exactly the problem, it should be illegal and this type of shady, underhanded donation scheme is just one more reason we need to get the money out of politics. We need publicly funded elections, and bar elected officials from taking any type of gifts or campaign donations from corporations!

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