Senator D’Allesandro Announces Reelection; Endorsed by Manchester Fire Fighters and Patrolman’s Associations

Sen D'Allesandro with Manchester Fire Fighters and PFF-NH President Lang.  (Image from Facebook)
Sen D'Allesandro with Manchester Fire Fighters and PFF-NH President Lang.  (Image from Facebook)

Sen D’Allesandro with Manchester Fire Fighters and PFF-NH President Lang. (Image from Facebook)

State Senator Lou D’Allesandro was introduced by David Lang, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire. He was joined by other firefighters who came to show their support for the Senator. “Senator D’Allesandro has always stood for fire fighters and for working families. His passionate commitment to a safer New Hampshire has never wavered. His strong voice continues to be a champion for fire fighters in Manchester and Goffstown, and all over New Hampshire. We are honored to call Senator D’Allesandro a true friend, and we are committed to his re-election to the New Hampshire Senate,” stated Lang.

The Manchester Patrolman’s Association also came in force. President Ken Chamberlain said a few words as he was accompanied by other police officers of the Manchester Police Department. “Senator D’Allesandro is an advocate for law enforcement and public safety at the State House in Concord as well as here in Manchester.  He has always fought for legislation that would increase the safety of first responders and the general public.  He was there and continues to be there with the Dan Doherty Bill which extends workers compensation benefits to first responders who suffer permanent soft tissue injuries.  The list just goes on and on with examples of what Senator Lou D’Allesandro’s record shows he has done to support New Hampshire’s first responders as well as making New Hampshire a safe state to raise a family.  It is my honor to give Senator Lou D’Allesandro the endorsement of the Manchester Police Patrolman’s Association for his re-election to the New Hampshire Senate.”

Senator D’Allesandro stated, “It is with great pride that I stand here with the support of those who put their lives on the line every day for every one of us.  I have always had the utmost respect for the Firefighters and Police and look forward to supporting them.  I am happy to have them by my side as I officially kick start my reelection campaign today.”

6-16-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: The Session Comes To A Close, A Look Back At What We Have Done

AFT NH Legislative Update

AFT NH Legislative Update

We succeeded in defeating, once again, the so called “’right to work—for less” bill. Over the past two years hundreds of NH citizens voiced opposition to this bill with only a handful of people speaking in support. This attack on working people like you is led by out of state interests such as the National Right to Work Committee and ALEC.

We succeeded in defeating a bill that would have permitted audio and video recording of a public official while in the course of performing his or her official duties. All employees, both public and private, should have a reasonable understanding that when they are performing their jobs that they are not intimidated or harassed and should have a safe working environment.

We succeeded in passing a bill relative to the filing with a registry of deeds of a fraudulent document purporting to create a lien or claim against real property. As public employees just wanting to do our jobs we should not have to worry that someone unhappy with us could go the county’s Register of Deeds and file a million dollar false claim against your property.

We succeeded in defeating retirement legislation that would hurt public employees even more that the bad legislation passed by the Republicans in the 2010-2011 sessions. AFT-NH believes that:

  • Security in retirement is something every worker deserves after a long, successful career in public service. These workers, after dedicating their working life to educating children, enforcing the law, fighting fires and helping our communities run 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, and it should create, and sustain, a high-quality workforce that is attractive to 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, workers need to rely on defined and predictable retirement security that is protected against inflationary pressures. Their benefit should ensure sound investment options and strategies that will result in post-retirement stability, even against the economic concerns of today.
  • Public sector workers need to be able to look forward to long productive service. Retirement security should be defined through investments and contributions made over a long-term investment horizon.
  • 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 larger employers in New Hampshire should emulate.
  • Public service should be viewed as a respectful 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 of the NH economy.

We were not totally successful with the following but will be advocating for comparable bills to pass in the upcoming session.

AFT-NH supported bills that would have increased transparency within charter schools. We need laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voices in school policies and programs, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds by charter schools in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools.

AFT-NH supported a bill that would make sure we have the necessary resources, staff development and support in moving forward with Common Core and Smarter Balance. If these Standards are to succeed, we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing the Standards:

  • 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.
  • We need to provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards.
  • We must ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards.
  • We must communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students.
  • We need to develop best practices and strategies along with providing coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply.
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments.
  • We must make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers.
  • We must be work to align Assessments to Standards indicating mastery of concepts.
  • We must insist that professional development and training in the Standards be offered.
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

To read AFT-NH full statement click here.

AFT-NH supported the passage of SB 322: relative to the renomination of teachers. It is time we move back to supporting our teachers in New Hampshire. Three years is long enough to deny teachers their due process when non-renewed. When decisions with such high stakes are being made, all staff should be given reasons why, and should be given time to improve through an improvement plan.

AFT-NH supported bills that would have increased School Building Aid from the state for local districts. Keep in mind that 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment. We also supported a bill that would lift the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully fund it.

We were not successful in passing our real pension reform bill, SB 364: relative to group II service retirement allowances and relative to establishing a supplemental savings plan in the retirement system. If nothing is done, New Hampshire will be in a situation where 30 years down the road, we are going to have public employees – at the end of a career – eligible to apply for food stamps, and other social services. This puts a strain on working families by forcing our public employees into social services. This is financially irresponsible for New Hampshire and undignified for our public employees.

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

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit AFT-NH.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

To read the full listing of EDUCATION BILLS click here

To read the full listing of LABOR BILLS click here

To read the full listing of RETIREMENT BILLS click here

To read the full listing of MISCELLANY BILLS click here

Senator Sylvia Larsen Announces Her Retirement From The Senate

sylvia larsen

sylvia larsenCONCORD – Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen announced today that she will not seek re-election this fall to the State Senate. After 20 years in the State Senate, Senator Larsen issued the following statement:

“I have decided to finish my time in this beautiful chamber of the Senate and not run for re-election. I have served for 20 years and look forward to spending more time with a law graduate son in Portland, a newly-married daughter who just moved back to Concord with our new son-in-law, and a retired husband who loves to explore.”

“I still love what can be accomplished through political involvement and I plan to stay involved, just not as a candidate this election. I believe the Senate Democrats are in a strong place to return to the majority after this election and I look forward to seeing a Democratic Senate President when the 2015 session begins.”

“As I look back on my time in the Senate, I thank the people in my district for the trust they have given me through these ten elections that has allowed me to accomplish much of what I came here to do.”

Senator Larsen is particularly proud that:

  • Universal access to public kindergarten is now statewide
  • A constitutional education funding plan is now in place
  • Her proposal for a tax-free college savings plan is now a $10B account that has also funded thousands of low-income student scholarships statewide
  • State has funded renovations at vocational high schools are now reimbursed, where heretofore it was only for new construction
  • A woman’s right to the privacy of her medical decisions has been protected
  • Our state’s domestic violence laws are the strongest in the Nation
  • We have affirmed that equal work deserves equal pay
  • Community treatment for mental health and substance abuse will be enhanced
  • A new women’s prison will finally be built and offer life skills training to the women
  • Affordable health care will finally be available to the low and middle income hard working families of our state

Senator Sylvia Larsen was elected to the State Senate in 1994. She is the Dean of the Senate, the honorary title given to longest serving member. Senator Larsen is the longest serving legislative leader in New Hampshire history. She has served as the Democratic Leader since 2002 and was Senate President from 2006-2010.

“Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen has long been a champion for her district and our state, dedicated to supporting middle class families and keeping New Hampshire’s economy moving forward,” stated Governor Hassan. “Just this past year, her leadership was critical to the passage of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act and our historic, bipartisan health care expansion plan, as she worked across party lines to help strengthen the financial security and health of hard-working Granite State families.

Hassan continued, “I was proud to serve in the Senate with her when she became New Hampshire’s longest serving female Senate President and led the nation’s first legislative body to include a majority of women. During Senator Larsen’s distinguished ten-term career in the Senate, she advanced a variety of important causes that are critical to the well-being of our people and maintaining our status as one of the safest, healthiest and most livable states in the nation. I thank her for her friendship, her dedicated service and her unyielding commitment to the people of New Hampshire.”

“Over the course of her career, Senator Larsen proved to be a tireless advocate for not only her constituents but the entire state of New Hampshire,” said Senator Shaheen. “In fact, her unparalleled commitment to constituent service made her one of the best public servants I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with in Concord. I’ve been honored to call her a friend for many years and I wish her and her family the best as she begins the next chapter of her life.”

“Throughout her distinguished career, Senator Larsen has served the people of her district and the entire Granite State with enthusiasm, intelligence, and compassion,” stated Congresswoman Kuster. “Over the last 20 years, she has demonstrated a deep dedication to public service, and has proven to be an extremely effective lawmaker who fights for the best interests of her constituents. I know she will be greatly missed at the State House. Senator Larsen has also been a wonderful friend to me for many years, and I wish her and her family all the best for the future.”

The People Of NH Want The Senate To Do The Right Thing On SB 307 (Citizens United Amendment)

Jonah Head Shot
Jonah Head Shot

Jonah Minkoff-Zern Campaign Director, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign

The people of New Hampshire and across the nation are outraged at corporate and wealthy interests, including individuals from the left and the right, spending billions of dollars to control the politics of our state and our nation. They are understandably opposed to having no right as a state to prevent this money from flooding our elections.

That’s why when polled, they support a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics by a 3 to 1 margin across party lines. And that’s why 54 New Hampshire towns have called for you, the New Hampshire Legislature, to join 16 other states and call for a constitutional amendment.

These individuals did not call for a study committee. They called for action from the Legislature.

SB 307 was written with a clear directive: The New Hampshire Legislature calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and related cases. It then creates a study committee to review the 16 different amendments that have been introduced in Congress to decide which ones of those, if any, are the right ones to recommend to the New Hampshire delegation (they can be viewed at www.united4thepeople.org).

SB 307 was not written to do what the Senate amendment does: simply study the issue. There is no doubt among the people of New Hampshire and our nation that our democracy is severely corrupted by the influence of big money and that the only way to reduce that influence is for a constitutional amendment to allow government regulation. There is no other way to address this problem, as there is no other way to undo what the Supreme Court has done in releasing a flood of money into our elections with Citizens United  v. FEC and more recently McCutcheon v. FEC.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this amendment would attack or undermine the First Amendment. It would make clear that our founders intended to protect speech, not money that amplifies that speech. Further, even if campaign spending were a form of speech, our nation allows all sorts of regulation of speech. I cannot come into a legislator’s office with a megaphone and yell until she or he listen to me. I can’t get up and interrupt a Senate session. I cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater. I am not free to threaten any one. And the ultra-wealthy and mega-corporations should not and cannot spend literally billions of dollars to buy influence and power over our nation. That is not a democracy. In fact, a Princeton study just showed that we are now literally living in an oligarchy.

This week, when SB 307 comes to conference committee, New Hampshire senators should heed the will of the House who voted by a two to one margin, the 12 senators who voted for language calling for a constitutional amendment, the hundreds of New Hampshire residents who organized and passed 54 town resolutions, and so many others to be heard. This has not been such a partisan issue in other states, such as Maine, which passed a resolution with overwhelming bipartisan support and was sponsored by a Republican senator who is passionate enough about the issue to have written New Hampshire legislators testimony asking for their support. It is not a partisan issue when New Hampshire residents are polled or when they vote in town meetings. There is no reason this should be a partisan issue in the New Hampshire Senate.

This week’s conference committee should vote for language that calls for a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics and restore democracy to the people. There have been hearings, marches, town meeting discussion and overwhelming votes, op-eds and letters to the editor. There has been ample time to study. It is time to act.

Sincerely,

Representative Bob Perry, Strafford

Ellen Read, Newmarket

Jonah Minkoff-Zern, Campaign Director, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign

Opposing Ideas On How We Can Fix The NH Retirement System: The NH Labor News Vs Fosters Daily Democrat

Smashed Piggy Bank Retirement

Fosters Daily Democrat is basically a right-wing talking machine. Between Fosters and the Union Leader, they cover a majority of the state pushing half-truths and dis-information to drive the right wing, Tea Party agenda in NH.

Take for example this week’s Sunday editorial “Sharing the burden of reform,” talking about the NH Retirement System’s fiscal problems.

Fosters is arguing against a recent op-ed penned by John Broderick Jr., NH State Supreme Court Justice and the current Dean of the UNH Law School, entitled “State employee pensions are a promise, not a gift.” Both editorials agree that the NH Retirement System is not fully funded and that changes need to be made to protect the taxpayers, and the workers.

Broderick argues that the William (“Bully”) O’Brien legislature forced through pension reforms that were unjust, unfair, and unconstitutional. Since the NH Supreme Court has already ruled in Broderick’s favor, it is simple to see that he is correct.

Fosters, on the other hand, argues that fixing the “broken pension system” means gutting the defined pension system, and forcing all employees to pay more of their money to the pension fund. Forcing employees to pay more for retirement, Fosters argues, would relieve the overpaying, taxed enough already, taxpayers from having to pay more to fix the NH Retirement System. The part that Fosters ignores is that over 75% of retirees’ pension benefits are paid out from investment returns. Increasing employees’ contributions is NOT going to fix Wall Street.

Long gone are the days when companies, and municipalities cared about ensuring that their workers could live happily in retirement after years of dedication to their employer. As Pulitzer Prize winning author Hedrick Smith explains in his book, “Who stole the American Dream”: just three decades ago, 84% of large companies offered a full pension. In 2010, only 30% did. Companies and municipalities have been pushing workers away from pensions and into defined contribution (401K) plans – which makes employees responsible for funding their own retirement. Yet workers’ wages haven’t been raised to compensate for the benefit cuts.

This pro-business mentality of reducing benefit expenses while refusing to raise wages has made corporations billions in additional profits. Workers are getting screwed out of their retirements, while the corporate giants and Wall Street hedge fund managers add more zeros to their already inflated paychecks.

Fosters is arguing the same for the NH public workers: “make the workers pay more, to save the taxpayers money.” There are a few problems with this idea. The NH Retirement System is underfunded due to the Legislature over-estimating the investment returns (not putting enough in to cover their share of the cost) and the 2008 recession.

“As recently as 1999, the New Hampshire Retirement System was more than 100% funded.  But then the Trust Fund lost 10% of its value in the recession of 2001.  It lost another 25% of its value in the 2008 recession,” wrote Liz Iacobucci in her blog post entitled, “Going Behind the Rhetoric on Public Employee Pensions.”

During the O’Brien reign of terror, they created legislation to absolve the state from have to uphold their end of the retirement bargain. O’Brien and his Tea Party buddies re-wrote the pension laws to make employees pay more to cover the money. Thankfully, the NH Supreme Court has ruled those changes unconstitutional.

No matter what Fosters tries to tell you, the taxpayer already has an obligation to their public employees. They made an agreement when they hired the employee and that includes paying the costs associated with hiring these workers. Taxpayers and the Legislature have been avoiding paying their portion of the bill.

Avoiding a problem does not make it go away, it only makes the problem worse. I believe it was the GOP who really coined the phrase “kicking the can down the road.” Well, now that can is kicking back.

Our State Senators Are Not Listening To Us On Campaign Finance Reform

We the corporations

Written by Ellen Read

Ellen Read

Ellen Read, Newmarket, NH

For the jaded among us this isn’t a surprise.  We’re cynical because we know our government is bought and paid for by the highest bidders.  Our legislators no longer have constituents, they have investors—groups not even from legislators’ districts with whom legislators spend 70% of their time fundraising, and who donate in order to obtain favorable policy.  A recent Princeton study showed definitively we no longer have a democracy, but an oligarchy—rule by the wealthy few.  It showed that public policy is dictated by the 0.000042% of Americans who give substantial contributions, not by the People, as we all believe.  But we don’t have to resign to apathy.

New Hampshirites, true to our independent spirit, are trying to restore government to the People.  Building on work of years past, this March resolutions were on 61 Town Warrants calling for a constitutional amendment that would:  1) guarantee the right of the people to regulate political spending, and 2) clarify that artificial entities such as labor unions, SuperPACs, and corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as actual human beings.  Out of the 61 towns, 48 passed the resolution —and most by an overwhelming majority. The people of New Hampshire have spoken.

Yet when this same resolution, SB307, came before our State Senate, twelve Senators rejected the original language, gutting it—although 32 of the 48 towns that passed warrant articles were in these Senators’ districts.  For example, Senator Forrester voted against the purpose of the bill, but seven of the nine towns in her district passed similar resolutions.  And although all five towns in Senator Bragdon’s district and all four in Senator Bradley’s district also passed these resolutions, both of them also voted no.  Why aren’t they listening to us?

A UNH Poll revealed 75% of New Hampshirites, across all political lines, want a constitutional amendment to return control of government to the People.  New Hampshire cares about this.  A lot.  There is a movement building in response to government corruption, and it stems from our collective innate sense of what democracy is–from the wisdom of leaders from James Madison and Teddy Roosevelt to Warren Rudman and John McCain.

It’s tempting to be apathetic, thinking the system is rigged.  It is rigged; that is why we have to fix it.  SB307 is now passing the State House, so it will go back to conference with the Senate, where our senators may try to weaken it again.  We have to make our State Senators hear us, on this more than anything else, because this is the one issue that decides whether we have a say in any other.  No matter your politics or cause, if you want to have a say in it then we have to get big money out of politics.  No one should have to have money to have a voice–not in a democracy.

 

Ellen Read, Newmarket

Bob Martens, Bridgewater

George Blaisdell, Bridgewater

Max Stamp, Bristol

Nancy Dowey, Bristol

Maria Weick, Dorchester

Herb Moyer, Groton and Exeter

Pam Martin, Plymouth

Kenneth McKenzie, Eaton

Richard Devens, Sandwich

Penny Voyles, Wakefield

Michelle Russell, Hancock

Gerald Debonis, Sharon

Lucy Edwards, Northwood

Peter White, Nottingham

Scott Abercrombie, Salem

George Manos, Danville

Carol Croteau, Kingston

Evert Lamm, Stratham

Joseph Bagshaw, Conway (passed previously)

State Senator Martha Fuller Clark, District 21, Sponsor of SB307

In Voting Against The Minimum Wage Increase, The Only Person NH Sen Andy Sanborn Is Voting For Is Andy Sanborn

Screen Shot GSP Video  Andy Sanborn

As an elected representative of the people, State Senator Andy Sanborn, should be working for the people, however his vote appear to tell a different story.

Last week the NH Senate voted against raising the minimum wage to $9.00 over the next two years.  Senator Sanborn spoke out against the minimum wage increase as a “job killer.” Sanborn stated, “How many jobs are going to exist in the State of NH, if there are no more employers?” Sanborn even went as far to say that raising the minimum wage ignites a “war on employers.

You can see his entire statement in this video:

Senator Sanborn knows a lot about how business works, so that means we should listen to him on this right?

Sanborn currently owns “The Draft” a sports bar where servers make the NH tipped minimum wage ($3.13 per hour), and other workers make a little more than minimum wage.

Personally I do not understand how Senator Sanborn did not at least declare a conflict of interest on the minimum wage vote, seeing that one could interpret his vote as protecting his own profits rather than representing his constituents (keep in mind 76% of Granite Staters support the legislation).  That is because Senator Sanborn is really doing what he does best, looking out for himself.

In late 2004 and early 2005 Andy and his wife (Rep) Laurie Sanborn were the owners of Banagan’s, a chain of bike and ski shops throughout New Hampshire.  The ultimate small business owner’s dream, a growing business and expanding to multiple stores.  Except that in 2005, Sanborn was forced into court after Banagan’s filed bankruptcy.   Sanborn and his company left his supplier holding the bag for over $600,000 dollars in claims.  The settlement allowed Sanborn to use the money from his “going out of business sale” to pay off part of his business debts.

The Concord Monitor reported on the story in 2008 and spoke with Jack White, the Nashua lawyer who took Banagan’s to bankruptcy court on behalf of four equipment dealers.

“White isn’t convinced that even Sanborn believed he could pay all his debts with a closing sale. He said he thinks Sanborn’s main goal was, instead, to make enough money in the closing sale to pay off his bank loan, for which he was personally liable. Once the case landed in bankruptcy court, White said, the bank had to stand in line for payment along with the other companies owed money. And Sanborn became responsible for any part of the bank loan left unpaid.” (emphasis added)

The Concord Monitor also reported that Banagan’s would only end up paying $31,000 of the over $600,000 they owed to equipment suppliers.

Thankfully Banagan’s had enough money in the bank to pay back the personal loans Andy took out for the business, otherwise he would not have been able to open The Draft restaurant.

Prior to the opening of The Draft, Sanborn said he spent over $100,000 on televisions alone.

Somehow Sanborn had $100,000 to buy televisions for his new business, but only had $31,000 to pay his previous business suppliers.

Now the Sanborns, a State Senator, and a State Rep (wife Laurie), are vehemently opposed to raising the minimum wage knowing full well an increase would effect their businesses bottom line.

The Sanborns are doing what is best for them, and ignoring what the people of New Hampshire want and agree is best for the state.

NH Senate Republicans Block Minimum Wage Increase (Statement by Granite State Progress)

Image from @OFA_NH pic.twitter.com/ZG7B0GfERQ

Politician making $185,000 a year first to object to raising the wage for state’s lowest income earners

CONCORD, NH – The NH Senate voted 13-11 on party lines today to kill HB 1403, raising the state minimum wage. Statement from Granite State Progress:

“A Senate Republican making $185,000 a year called the minimum wage bill ‘feel good legislation’ but refused to spend even one day living in the shoes of his constituents who makes less than ten percent of his salary, even when they are working full-time,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, in reference to Senator Peter Bragdon’s opening remarks. “Senator Bradley chose to use industry talking points instead of rely on economic data, and Senator Sanborn voted against the bill without disclosing the conflict of interest that he pays some of his workers minimum wage.”

“In contrast, several Senate Democrats took the Minimum Wage Challenge to live on minimum wage before voting on this bill. That experience illustrated for them the lack of affordable housing options, the slim budgets, and the constant anxiety that a minimum wage earner lives with every day. Questions about how to put gas in your tank and food on the table become very real when you don’t have a $185,000 golden salary to live on. Minimum wage earners work hard and play by the rules, but Senate Republicans sent a message loud and clear that they don’t care,” Rice Hawkins said.

In an online poll yesterday Granite State Progress asked whether Senate Republicans would table the bill, vote it down immediately, or vote it down after making misleading arguments. Option C won online and in reality. Below is a round-up of key political statements from today’s floor debate:

Sen. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford called the bill “feel good legislation”. Bragdon signed a contract this week for an $185,000 per year job.

Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro said that raising the wage would harm teenagers and entry level workers. In New Hampshire, 72 percent of minimum wage workers are over the age of 20 years old and have real breadwinner responsibilities. Bradley has previously refused to answer whether he believes in a minimum wage at all.

Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford claimed that raising the minimum wage would harm small businesses, particularly restaurants. Sanborn did not mention that he pays minimum wage to some of his workers at The Draft – nor did he declare a conflict of interest before voting against the bill.

Previously … Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield told the Laconia Citizen he “thinks it’s ‘silly’ to say that someone couldn’t be supported on minimum wage as they can take on multiple jobs.”

In contrast, Senate Democrats spent an hour urging their colleagues to support the bill: 

Sen. Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord called the legislation “one of the most important issues this session.”

Sen. David Pierce, D-Hanover took the Minimum Wage Challenge this week to try to live on a minimum wage budget.  He told fellow legislators you must “walk a mile in another man’s shoes before you make you decision.” Of the experience he said: “The minimum wage challenge produced such anxiety for me … I was shaken by the experience.”

Sen. David Watters, D-Dover also took the Minimum Wage Challenge this week to try to live on a minimum wage budget.  He told fellow legislators:

“Taking the Minimum Wage Challenge this week, it quickly became obvious to me that I couldn’t live and work in Dover without public support for food and housing.  The usual amount provided for food is $37.75 a week, so I went to Janetos, a local downtown market where people without transportation can shop at good prices, and, given the kind of community Dover is, everyone feels welcome and accepted.  $5.45 a day meant careful meal planning. A loaf of bread, peanut butter, eggs, lots of potatoes and pasta, a can of tomatoes, some cheese, two pieces of chicken, a head of broccoli, carrots, milk, and toiletries.  As the funds dwindled, I felt that anxiety of not having enough, putting things back on the shelf, buying by lowest price for a smaller quantity, and seeing that any staple, such as flour, oil, coffee, would mean not enough food for meals.  In planning for one peanut butter sandwich a day for lunch, I recalled when I was working in a factory or in construction filling my lunch box with four to six sandwiches, fruit, cookies, milk, and eating every crumb to keep up strength for hard work.  There’s just not enough to keep body and soul together …

Everyday experiences become a crisis on minimum wage.  I had some surgery this week—would Medicaid have covered the procedure and the $25.00 copay, or would I have had to put it off, try to ignore the problem, and hope for the best?  Or when to fill the tank, looking for a gas station with prices a few pennies less, and seeing the $40.13 it cost just to get to work for a week meant 5-1/2 hours of pay. My old car’s due for an oil change, too. Every day becomes an emergency when the tank runs low.

Video of Sen. Watters participating in the Minimum Wage Challenge grocery shopping trip is below.

Utterly Disgusting! The NH GOP In The NH Senate Kill A Minimum Wage Increase

NHLN Logo .jpg

Utterly disgusting, despicable, shameful, disgraceful, and appalling are all words I would use to describe the actions taken by the Republican Senators in the NH Senate today as they voted to kill the minimum wage increase.

Straight down party lines the Senate voted 13-11 to kill the minimum wage bill that would have helped lift 76,000 Granite Staters out of poverty.

“Later this evening, a sales clerk in Derry or a waitress in Hampton will return home from a hard day’s work and will have to decide whether to pay the bills on her kitchen table or to go to the grocery store – because she doesn’t have enough to do both,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “The Senate had an opportunity today to ease their struggles and the difficulties faced by thousands of New Hampshire residents like them. Yet, rather than pass a modest, gradual, and sustained increase in New Hampshire’s minimum wage, the Senate simply walked away.”

“Senate Republicans have again voted against the best interests of Granite State families,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley.

“I am disappointed that Senate Republicans voted today against a bill to restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage, a measure that an overwhelming majority of Granite Staters support because it would strengthen our economy and help improve the economic security of working families,” stated Governor Hassan.

“Increasing New Hampshire’s minimum wage will lead to more economic growth by rewarding hard work and improving workers’ productivity,” stated Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen. “Senate Democrats believe we must raise the minimum wage, because increasing the minimum wage leads to greater income opportunity, so everyone will have a chance to succeed and get ahead.”

“Senate Republicans had the chance to put partisan politics aside and do the right thing for the 76,000 residents of New Hampshire who would benefit from this bill, but they failed them with this vote today,” concluded Larsen.

The minimum wage increase would have helped 76,000 low-income workers including.  The facts do not lie, 72% of the New Hampshire’s minimum wage workers, who would directly or indirectly benefit from this bill are age 20 and older with nearly 40% being 30 and older. 59% are women and 14% are parents.  Increasing the minimum wage would have benefited over 21,000 children are living NH.

Due to inflation and legislative inaction, New Hampshire’s minimum wage has lost 23 percent of its purchasing power since 1979. Failure to adopt a new increase means that the real value of the minimum wage could fall to just $6.50 per hour within the next several years.

“New England can be an expensive place to live,” McLynch added. “Policymakers in every other state in the region have acknowledged this reality and set their minimum wages above the federal level. Only New Hampshire expects people to continue to stretch $7.25 per hour to meet that high cost of living.”

“A Senate Republican making $185,000 a year called the minimum wage bill ‘feel good legislation’ but refused to spend even one day living in the shoes of his constituents who makes less than ten percent of his salary, even when they are working full-time,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, in reference to Senator Peter Bragdon’s opening remarks. “Senator Bradley chose to use industry talking points instead of rely on economic data, and Senator Sanborn voted against the bill without disclosing the conflict of interest that he pays some of his workers minimum wage.”

“In contrast, several Senate Democrats took the Minimum Wage Challenge to live on minimum wage before voting on this bill. That experience illustrated for them the lack of affordable housing options, the slim budgets, and the constant anxiety that a minimum wage earner lives with every day. Questions about how to put gas in your tank and food on the table become very real when you don’t have a $185,000 golden salary to live on. Minimum wage earners work hard and play by the rules, but Senate Republicans sent a message loud and clear that they don’t care,” Rice Hawkins said. (Read full statement from GSP here)

“Senate Republicans have again voted against the best interests of Granite State families,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley. “No one who works full time in New Hampshire should have to live in abject poverty, but that’s the world we live in because of GOP obstructionism. Raising the minimum wage would not only help lift thousands of families out of poverty, but it would also stimulate our local economy and alleviate pressure on our public assistance programs. The Republican Senate caucus, not to mention gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein and Senate candidate Scott Brown, should be ashamed of themselves. By opposing this commonsense measure, they are effectively damning the families that most need our help.”

“People working full-time in New Hampshire should be paid enough to support their families and I will continue fighting to restore and improve our state minimum wage in order to boost our economy and strengthen the economic security of thousands of Granite Staters,” concluded Hassan.

Granite State Rumblings: We Must Increase The Minimum Wage And Details Of Sen. Watters Min Wage Challenge

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The state minimum wage bill (HB1403) comes before the full Senate this Thursday, May 8th. HB 1403 would increase the state’s minimum wage in two steps, $8.25 per hour in 2015 and then to $9.00 per hour in 2016, and then ensure that it keeps pace with the cost of living moving forward.

minimum wageThis is an important piece of legislation for Granite State workers as they struggle to make ends meet each and every day. Raising the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour by 2016 would increase the wages, either directly or indirectly, of nearly 76,000 New Hampshire workers, resulting in an additional $64 million in wages, in the aggregate, being put into the state’s economy over the next two years. (source; NHFPI)

NH District 04 Senator, David Watters, saw how difficult it is to live on a minimum wage job when he took part in the Minimum Wage Challenge this past weekend in Dover with ECM-NH’s Field Director, MacKenzie Flessas. (See photos and read about it in Growing Up Granite below).

Over the past several months, five states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, and West Virginia – have enacted legislation to increase their minimum wages, according to an article posted by the NH Fiscal Policy Institute.

The report continues by informing us that Delaware’s wage standard will soon begin climbing towards $8.25 an hour, West Virginia’s will grow to $8.75 per hour, and, for some Minnesota employers, the wage floor will be set at $9.50 per hour. In Connecticut and Maryland, the minimum wage will eventually reach $10.10 per hour. As a result, by 2016, half of the states and the District of Columbia will have minimum wages above the current federal standard of $7.25 per hour.

It is important to note that those states that have – or will have – a minimum wage in excess of the federal level tend to have something in common: a relatively high cost of living, as does New Hampshire.

The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s (MERIC) research indicates that the cost of living in New Hampshire was close to 21 percent above the national average in 2013, driven principally by housing, utility, and health costs. The NHFPI article quotes The National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s recent Out of Reach report confirming how difficult it can be to meet some of these costs in the Granite State. It finds that New Hampshire was the 11th most expensive state in the country for renters in 2014.

As NHFPI Executive Director, Jeff McLynch pointed out in is testimony before the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee in February, “ in considering an increase in New Hampshire’s minimum wage, two claims are commonly made in opposition.  Neither have merit.”

“First, some maintain that the primary beneficiaries of any minimum wage increase would be teenagers.  ….an analysis of Current Population Survey data by the Economic Policy Institute reveals that 72 percent of the workers who would see a wage increase from a $9.00 per hour minimum wage are adults.  For many low-wage workers, their job is not a “starter” position or a “foot in the door.”  For many of them, their personal economic circumstances demand that they take whatever job they can find, simply to put a roof over their head, a jacket on their back, and food on the table – either just for themselves or for their family.”

“Second, others have argued, in keeping with traditional criticisms, that raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage will reduce employment.  Needless to say, this question has been explored for decades, but the most recent, high quality studies on the relationship between state minimum wages and employment levels find little evidence to suggest that raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage will produce large-scale job losses.  For instance, a 2010 study conducted by researchers from the University of Massachusetts, the University of North Carolina, and the University of California examined state minimum wage increases during the period from 1990 to 2006 using data from nearly 300 bordering counties that had differentials in their minimum wages.  It concludes that: ‘[Our] estimates suggest no detectable employment losses from the kind of minimum wage increases we have seen in the United States…’”
See more at: http://www.nhfpi.org/research/nhfpi-testifies-support-increase-nh-minimum-wage.html#sthash.e2pklkci.dpuf

Every Child Matters in New Hampshire agrees with the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, our partner organizations in the Raise the Wage coalition and 76% of Granite State residents that it is time to raise the minimum wage in New Hampshire. Doing so will help families make ends meet, boost sales at businesses across the State, and put New Hampshire on a path towards an economy that works for everyone.

If you agree, please call your Senator today and let him/her know to support HB1403 on Thursday.

The Minimum Wage Challenge

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ECM – NH Field Director MacKenzie Flessas and State Senator David Watters

This past weekend, Senator David Watters (District 4-Dover) and I sat down to talk about the challenges that families who are living on minimum wage face everyday in our state. The weekly wage for a minimum wage worker who works full-time is $290 before taxes.

Senator Watters was given a worksheet to divide his weekly expenses given his new minimum wage income. For the purpose of this exercise, it was assumed that Sen. Watters was currently receiving Food Stamps as a single person. The maximum amount of this assistance is $5.45 per day.

So we went into the grocery store with a budget of $38.10 (a week’s worth of Food Stamps benefits)

We began in the Produce section. While looking at the fresh vegetables, Sen. Watters said “I know I need vegetables, but I’m not sure if I can afford it yet.” I followed him around the store as he tried to make a meal plan for the week, settling for meals like eggs, bread and peanut butter, and pasta and sauce. At one point he was given the choice of feeding his cat or buying fresh vegetables. A compromise had to be made. One day a week of no food for his beloved cat would enable him to purchase broccoli. “Fresh food is too expensive for me.”

We checked out and came up with a total of $36.91. (84 cents under budget)  Senator Watters commented, “At times I just felt desperate. I no longer cared about brands, I only needed to look at prices.” He also recognized that he did not buy some essential items that he would need to purchase eventually, such as sugar, cooking oil, flour and dish soap.

And by the way, several of his purchases today are not allowable under the food stamps benefit: cat food, toothpaste, and shampoo, so they had to be paid for from his minimum wage earnings.

“I don’t know what I would do week after week, it would grind me down. It makes me understand what this is all about.”

As I reflect upon this challenge with Senator Watters, I think, what would families in our state do without these essential assistance programs? Even with the small amount of help that Sen. Watters was receiving during his Minimum Wage Challenge (housing assistance, heating assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid,) he was still not able to have a positive balance of money at the end of the month.

With more than 42,000 children in our state living in poverty, and for whom many of their families are making minimum wage or just above, I know that investing in an increase in minimum wage will give families the basic necessities that they need to grow healthy, productive children, which is an investment in New Hampshire’s future.

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The full Senate will vote on the increase in Minimum Wage on Thursday May 8th. I urge our Senators to stand up for the most vulnerable people in our state, the 15.6% of children living in poverty, and vote Ought to Pass on the Minimum Wage increase, HB1403.

Thank you Senator Watters for having the courage to take the challenge.

MacKenzie

To see what Senator Watters thought about the Minimum Wage Challenge view this YouTube Video.

Here is what Senator Watters bought with his weekly food allowance of $38.10:

Item Price  Balance
$37.75
10lb bag potatoes $4.99 $32.76
3lb onions $2.89 $29.87
Carrots $1.50 $28.37
1/2 Gallon milk $2.59 $25.78
Eggs $1.89 $23.89
Bread $1.79 $22.10
2lbs Chicken $1.26 $20.84
1/2 lb Cheese $2.78 $18.06
Linguine $1.39 $16.67
Rotini $1.39 $15.28
Canned tomatoes $1.99 $13.29
Cat food $4.50 $8.79
Shampoo $1.49 $7.30
Toothpaste $1.49 $5.81
Peanut butter $2.89 $2.92
Broccoli $2.89 $0.03
$36.91 ended up being the total, so something might have been on sale. $.84 left over from Food Budget