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Why Tomorrow’s Supreme Court Case is So Important

Here’s where we are, as a country: only 20% of us trust our government to do what is right.

Pew Research Center: Public Trust in Government 2017

Pew Research Center: Public Trust in Government 2017

And tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a case testing the limits of partisan gerrymandering.

Not sure what “gerrymandering” is?  It’s when lines for legislative districts are drawn in a way that influences election outcomes.  Depending on who’s drawing the lines, gerrymandering can help ensure that Republicans win, or that Democrats win.  It causes a whole lot of “wasted votes.”

Gerrymandering lets politicians pick their voters, rather than voters picking their choice of politicians.

In Wisconsin, the districting plan at issue in Gill v. Whitford allowed the political party that drew electoral boundaries to gain 60% of the seats in the state Legislature, despite only getting 49% of the statewide vote.

Last year, those electoral maps were struck down by a federal district court, which found that

“Act 43 was intended to burden the representational rights of …voters throughout the decennial period by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats. Moreover, as demonstrated by the results of the 2012 and 2014 elections, among other evidence, we conclude that Act 43 has had its intended effect.”

Here’s why tomorrow’s case is so important.  Right now, American citizens trust the courts more than any other branch of government. According to Gallup, that may be because the Judicial Branch is seen as “above the political fray” compared to the White House or Congress.

But if the Supreme Court overrules the District Court decision in Gill v. Whitford, that’s going to put our Court system squarely in the middle of that “political fray.”

And at a time when

  • 72 percent of voters agree “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful”
  • 68 percent agree that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me” and
  • 57 percent feel that “more and more, I don’t identify with what America has become”

the last thing our country needs is for the Supreme Court to give citizens a reason to lose faith in the judicial system.

 

Trump Proposes $5 Trillion In Unfunded Tax Cuts

President Donald Trump delivers the Address to Congress on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol. This is the President’s first Address to Congress of his presidency. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

As if our tax system was not already rigged to benefit the top 1%, here comes President Trump to take more money from working families and give it straight to the people at the top.

Trump unveiled his “new” tax reform bill that is nothing new. It is the same failed trickle down tax policy that has hurt working families for more than 30 years. This new tax plan is nothing more than a massive giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and big corporations.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO called the new tax plan a “con game against working people.”

“The tax plan Republicans put out today is nothing but a con game, and working people are the ones they’re trying to con. Here we go again. First comes the promise that tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations will trickle down to the rest of us. Then comes the promise that tax cuts will pay for themselves. Then comes the promise that they want to stop offshoring. And finally, we find out none of these things is true, and the people responsible for wasting trillions of dollars on tax giveaways to the rich tell us we have no choice but to cut Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, education and infrastructure. There always seems to be plenty of money for millionaires and big corporations, but never enough money to do anything for working people.”

The Americans for Tax Fairness estimates that Trump’s tax plan would rip a $5 trillion dollar hole in our federal budget and would drastically increase our national debt.

“The resulting jump in the deficit threatens funding of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education and other vital services,” Americans for Tax Fairness wrote.

“This tax plan will be a slow-motion disaster that hurts our country for years to come,” said Lee Saunders, President of AFSCME. “It is deeply irresponsible to let even a penny more in tax cuts go to the wealthy and corporations, while working people are barely keeping their heads above water, our roads and bridges are crumbling, our children face steep inequalities, and our seniors struggle to retire with dignity.”

“Our nation faces challenges that are not shared equally. The super-wealthy and corporations can and must shoulder their fair share of the burden. The plan announced today will further rig the system against working families and our communities by strip-mining the public services we all rely on. We cannot continue to put the interests of the rich and powerful before the interests of our country,” added Saunders.

“Everyone complains about taxes, but most of us want a tax code that is fair. Donald Trump’s tax proposal just makes it worse,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

The plan would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven down to three and slash the corporate tax rate in half. These cuts would only benefit large corporations, hedge fund managers, millionaires and billionaires like Donald Trump. 40% of the proposed tax cuts would go directly to the top 1% of Americans.

“The idea that this plan would help average Americans instead of the wealthy and big corporations has been a hoax all along,” said Frank Clemente, executive director, Americans for Tax Fairness. “This isn’t ‘tax reform,’ it’s just a big giveaway to millionaires and corporations, and it won’t ‘trickle down’ to the rest of us. It won’t help small businesses, but it will help Wall Street hedge fund managers and real estate moguls like Donald Trump. This plan will not lead to robust job creation or economic growth, but its eye-popping cost will lead to deep cuts in Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and public education that will leave working families in the cold.”

(The Americans for Tax Fairness have a full rundown of the proposed tax cuts and tax increases resulting in a nearly $5 trillion dollar deficit.)

Progressive groups are already pushing back against the Republican agenda to cut taxes on the wealthy at the expense of working people. Not One Penny, a coalition of progressive groups including MoveOn, Indivisible, and the Working Families Party created a petition opposing these tax cuts.

The petition states:

“I pledge to oppose any effort to cut taxes for the wealthy and well-connected. Not one penny in tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations.”

All across America, working people are still struggling to pay their bills and have given up on the idea of saving for the future. We do need real tax reform, not handouts to the wealthiest among us. We need to close the loopholes that allow corporations to pay nothing in taxes while small businesses are paying upwards of 30%. We need a tax plan that puts money back in the hands of working families who need it not millionaires and billionaires who are already failing to pay their fair share.

“The president’s plan seems tailor-made to benefit himself and his businesses, but we don’t know because he hasn’t released his taxes. Trumpcare was defeated because millions of Americans rose up to stop attacks on the most vulnerable. Unless the president is prepared to work with Democrats and sensible Republicans on real tax reform that improves working people’s lives and ends handouts for the wealthy and corporations, today’s Trumptax plan will either catastrophically hurt working families or, hopefully, suffer the same fate as Trumpcare,” added Weingarten.

Joyce Craig Says ‘Mayor Gatsas Is Failing Our Students’

Mayor Ted Gatsas (Image By Marc Nozell)

Today, the Union Leader reported through the anonymous whistleblowing of public school teachers that Manchester public schools don’t have enough math textbooks or workbooks for students. The story revealed that Manchester hasn’t had an elementary math curriculum in the city for three years, and teachers are defaulting to old, out-of-date textbooks. Teachers are being forced to reach into their own pockets to pay for school materials. As Chairman of the School Board, Mayor Gatsas has direct oversight of the school district and is not addressing critical issues in our schools that directly impact student success.

From the Mark Hayward at the Union Leader:

When Manchester schools started earlier this month, it marked the third year without a common, district-wide program for teaching mathematics in elementary schools, a situation that is drawing criticism from school officials, teachers and parents.
Critics, some who asked to speak anonymously for fear of reprisal from fellow teachers, say children in the city’s 14 elementary schools don’t get the same textbook or workbook — or even any book — that provides the tangible, step-by-step continuity that is helpful to mathematics instruction.

Without a district-wide curriculum, teachers cobble together lessons from various sources, meaning no conformity for lesson plans and teaching material in the district.

…Teachers use math workbooks left over from previous years, the teacher wrote.

They also download material from websites such as teacherspayteachers at their own expense (one 3rd-grade workbook bundle goes for $72). Lesson plans cost less for individual topics. For example, a lesson plan about sums costs $7. The district provides some materials.

…At another elementary school, a veteran teacher said teachers collaborate, but it comes down to whatever a teacher decides is best for her class. The teacher did not want her school or name published, fearing repercussions. Manchester students come from such diverse backgrounds, she said, that she’s not sure one curriculum would work for all.

“I wish we did have some kind of a book or program we all could use,” she said, “but on the other hand, I don’t know what it would be.”

She uses the teacherspayteachers website for some lessons. Her school, she said, has an active parent-teacher group that provides stipends that cover the lesson. Other schools don’t.

“There are a lot of teachers buying a lot of things,” she said. She said teachers also use their own printers at home to print out the lessons.

A teacher of more than 20 years, she relies on her experience.

“You’re pulling pieces of what you used to use, a game, a book,” she said. “For a new teacher, I don’t know what they’re doing.”

After the article published, Manchester Mayoral candidate, Joyce Craig issued this statement:

“As Chairman of the School Board, Mayor Gatsas is failing our students with his mismanagement of resources and lack of oversight of the school district. Textbooks and curriculums are a basic necessity for a quality education. Mayor Gatsas lets problems go unaddressed and shows he is not focused on leading discussions to improve student achievement.

My 13-year-old daughter is learning algebra, but she doesn’t even have an algebra textbook. There are hundreds of kids with the same problem. We can and must do better, and we can’t let Mayor Gatsas continue to shortchange our children’s education. We need fresh leadership that takes a proactive approach to solving our city’s problems and our families can’t afford more of Mayor Gatsas’ inaction.

My vision of Manchester is one where students and teachers have the resources they need to learn and succeed. As mayor, I will set goals and review results with the school board and community on a regular basis to ensure we are focused on improving student achievement.”

Joyce Craig will face off against Manchester’s current Mayor, Ted Gatsas, in the citywide elections on Nov. 7th.

Right-Wing Front Group Attacks Teachers With Biased Report On Absenteeism

Image by Woodleywonderworks FLIKR CC

Yesterday, the Concord Monitor, along with a number of other media outlets across the country, ran a story about a new report on “teacher absenteeism,” produced by the conservative think tank, The Fordham Institute.

The crux of their entire report is that based on their research that public school teachers – specifically the unionized public school teachers – take more sick days than charter school teachers.

According to the report, “Twenty-eight percent of traditional public school teachers are chronically absent, compared with 10 percent in charter schools.”

Fordham defines chronically absent as being absent for 10 or more days a year.

Educators were quick to disagree with Fordham’s research.

“Fordham is a biased organization that is driven by an anti-student agenda with anti-public education funders,” wrote the National Education Association. “The authors of this study themselves note that their own research ‘cannot establish a causal relationship between any specific policy or factor and absenteeism.’ Fordham is using corrupted assertions to draw misguided conclusions that denigrate the service of hardworking educators who put the best interest of students at the center of their daily lives.”

The report specifically targeted New Hampshire along with seven other states, claiming that, “public school teachers are at least four times as likely to be chronically absent.

“The report did not look at New Hampshire schools specifically, instead it conveniently lumped together data to make their conclusions. I think actual abuse of paid time off is quite rare,” said Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-NH. “If a teacher is not in their classroom as expected, it is most likely because of illness, issues with child-care, or increasingly now, with elder care. And because of the limitations placed on public schools that charter schools do not have to operate under, public school class sizes are larger, increasing a public school teacher’s exposure to more kinds of illness.”

“It’s no secret that teaching is a high stress profession, and that stress is only getting worse. In addition to their assigned duties, teachers now also address issues of student homelessness, hunger, addiction and abuse. In some cases, teachers have acted as protectors and first responders as the incidence of school violence increases. Teachers dedicate their lives to their students, often reaching into their own pockets to purchase supplies and food. To paint them, as this report tries to do, as somehow focused only on themselves is shameful,” added Tuttle.

“A poorly-designed report that, for example, counts maternity leave as chronic absenteeism,” said Doug Ley, President of AFT-NH. “Using the logic of the report, ill teachers should report to work regardless of the risk of spreading illness to students and colleagues.”

“In my experience working with teachers and para-educators, they tend to under-utilize their sick days. Why? Because they stay late, arrive early, and are 100% dedicated to the education and welfare of their students, and hesitate to miss a day and hinder their students’ learning,” added Ley.

The report attempts to pit workers against each other by suggesting that teachers get too many “sick and personal” days off per year.

“On average, teachers get more than twelve sick and personal days per year, though only one-third of US workers are entitled to ten or more sick days.”

Fordham conveniently omitted the fact that 68% of full-time private sector workers get between 6-10 paid sick days a year and this does not include additional paid vacations days or paid holidays. Most large companies give employees more than 10 sick days per year after 20 years of service.

“The question the Fordham Institute should ask is: How do we recruit, retain and support teachers for America’s schools—teachers who, the OECD has shown, are paid much less than their similarly educated peers, teach longer hours, and have less time to prepare their lessons than their international counterparts?” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.

This report is nothing more than paid propaganda attacking unions and the collective bargaining process that has helped generations of workers in the public and private sectors.

“The report also tries to link collective bargaining with increased sick time, but what it fails to point out is that contracts limit the amount of sick time a teacher has available to take,” continued Tuttle. “Rather than leaving it open ended, teachers, administrators and school boards balance the number of days any teacher has available to be out sick with the health needs of educators, and cap it to prevent abuse.”

Even if you believe Fordham’s research, which is clearly skewed against public school teachers, it does make the case that unionized teachers who bargain collectively, get better benefits than their non-union counterparts.

“Educators at charter schools, most without the benefit of a collectively bargained contract, are often forced to quit because they don’t have leave and vacation provisions to fall back on. The reality is that charter schools need better leave policies, not worse ones, a fact ignored by Fordham,” explained Weingarten.

Fordham’s feeble attempt to pit worker against worker only proves that when workers stand together and bargain collectively, they will all do better.

Senators Shaheen and Hassan Speak Out Against Latest ACA Repeal Bill

Republicans in the U.S. Senate are doing their best to rip healthcare away from millions of working families and put insurance companies back in control of your healthcare where they can deny care, charge more to women, and drop coverage when you get sick.

The Graham-Cassidy bill is just the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the Republicans are moving quickly to pass it.  The Republicans are using legislative tricks to force this bill through but those tricks have a time limit too. They must get their bill passed by September 30th or they will not have enough votes to pass it.

The bill has not had any hearings and has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office to see what the impact of this legislation would be to working families and our national debt.  Current estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that the Graham-Cassidy bill would kick 32 million Americans off their healthcare.

The bill hits working families the hardest by eliminated subsidies to purchase healthcare from the “Exchange” and completely eliminates the funding for Medicaid Expansion programs.  The $229 billion dollar cuts to the Medicaid Expansion program would strip healthcare from 11 million Americans alone.

New Hampshire’s senior Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, spoke with CNN yesterday about the devastating cuts facing New Hampshire families if this bill goes through. She highlighted the $410 million in federal funding that New Hampshire would lose forcing 30,000 hard-working Granite Staters off their healthcare.

Senator Maggie Hassan, the former Governor of New Hampshire, who worked with both parties to expand Medicaid and help 50,000 NH families get coverage, took to the Senate floor to speak out against the disastrous legislation.

Speaking on the Graham-Cassidy bill, Senator Hassan said the bill is “every bit as dangerous as the Trumpcare plans we saw this summer – if not worse.’

We must not let the Republicans take us back to when greedy insurance companies do whatever they want. Denying care when you get sick, charging more for women than men, and denying coverage because of a “pre-existing conditions.”

We all know the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but we need to build on it, not destroy it.  We need to keep what is right and fix what is wrong.

Please take a moment to call your Senator and tell them to oppose this disastrous piece of legislation. Pick up the phone and dial, (202) 224-3121 to be connected to the Senate switchboard.

If your Senator has already come out against the Graham-Cassidy bill, call them and thank them for standing up for working families and let them know you support their decision.

It is vitally important that people from Maine, Ohio, Alaska and Arizona make calls to their Senators.  Sen Collins from Maine, Senator McCain of Arizona, and Senator Murkowski of Alaska all voted against the previous attempts to repeal the ACA and are said to be “on the fence” about the Graham-Cassidy bill.  Call them. Thank them for voting against the repeal efforts before and tell them to vote “No” on the Graham-Cassidy bill. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities research shows how much each state will lose under this new plan.

Millions of hard-working Americans will lose access to care and people will die because insurance companies will be allowed to deny care to people with pre-existing conditions.

Call your Senator now, (202) 224-3121.

GOP Pushes A New Repeal Plan

Here we go again!

Once again the Republicans in the U.S. Senate are working to strip healthcare from millions of working families by pushing yet another “Obamacare” repeal.

The newest bill, put forth by Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, would repeal the Affordable Care Act, decimating the Medicaid expansion program, leaving and estimated 32 million people without healthcare.

Overall the right-wing plan would cut $229 billion dollars eliminating the healthcare exchange subsidies and the funding allotted for the expansion of Medicaid.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would offer states “block grants” to offset the cost of providing healthcare to low-income families. Funding for these grants would continue to decrease over the next decade until they completely dry up in 2027.

According to research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, by 2020 the Graham-Cassidy block grants would be sending $39 billion less to states than the current law would. CBPP estimates the Graham-Cassidy bill would slash $179 billion from healthcare funding by 2026.

Andy Slavitt, President Obama’s former director of Medicare, sent out this image, highlighting the massive cuts if the Graham-Cassidy bill goes through.

In a September 8th editorial board meeting with Seacoast Online, Governor Chris Sununu said he was “very excited” about the newest Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill that he claims to have helped create with Republican governors across the country. Sununu had high praise for the legislation saying it “really takes into account a lot of the things that governors are looking for.” (Sununu now says he opposed the bill. See update below) 

However, Republican Governor Charlie Baker of neighboring Massachusetts said the bill would “dramatically negatively affect the Commonwealth.”

“Sununu brags about creating this Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill when he should be apologizing for it. Granite Staters will see premiums skyrocket and Medicaid beneficiaries lose coverage because of Governor Sununu,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party. “This legislation would do enormous damage to Granite Staters’ health and economic well-being, and the Governor should immediately rescind his support.”

Senator Hassan tweeted her opposition to the bill by calling on everyone to contact their Senator’s office and tell them to oppose this bill.

“We must take #GrahamCassidy health care repeal bill seriously and speak out NOW. We cannot let this pass.”

The Graham-Cassidy bill would also remove the subsides that allows, low-to-moderate income families to purchase healthcare through the healthcare exchange. All in all more than 30,000 Granite Staters will be denied access to affordable healthcare.

The good news is that right now the Republicans do not have enough votes to pass “RepublicanCare 3.0”. The bad news is that Senator John McCain is indicating he may support this bill despite being the deciding vote against the Senate’s previous repeal effort.

CPPB estimates that Arizonans stands to lose $1.6 billion in federal funding by 2026 and 78,000 would lose the coverage they have gained through the Affordable Care act.

If McCain votes with his party, and Senators Collins and Murkowski vote against it as they did last time, we could end up in a 50-50 tie. For us, a tie is a loss as Vice President Pence would be the tie-breaker as he did with the DeVos’s confirmation.

We must take action now. We must inform our Senators that this bill will harm real working families like yours and mine. We must tell them to oppose this harmful legislation.

Pick up the phone and dial, (202) 224-3121 to be connected to the Senate switchboard. In case you need it, Indivisible posted a sample call script for citizens to use when calling your Senators office.

Republicans in the Senate have till the end of September to get this passed, so they are working hard and fast.  We must stop them now, before they steal healthcare from 30 million people.


UPDATE 7PM 9-18

Governor Chris Sununu comes out against the bill he claims to have help craft.

Governor Sununu’s statement:

“While I continue to strongly believe that Obamacare must be reformed, it must be replaced with something that works for New Hampshire. The Graham-Cassidy healthcare plan has some laudable aspects, including offering more flexibility to states in managing Medicaid. Unfortunately, under this plan, New Hampshire could possibly lose over a $1 billion in Medicaid funding between 2020-2026. While innovative, consumer-driven programs that eliminate waste and provide flexibility is the direction our nation’s health care must go, it is not practical for New Hampshire to craft a system with over $1 billion in cuts to federal funding. New Hampshire is proud of its tradition of not having an income tax or sales tax and remains vigilant against down-shifting of costs onto states that become general fund liabilities. As such, I cannot support this plan as it is currently drafted. It is my hope that Congress will continue to improve this plan to earn New Hampshire’s support. If given the opportunity, we stand ready to roll up our sleeves and craft a fiscally responsible system that works for all Granite Staters and does not ask us to subsidize the health care costs of other states.”

In reaction to Sununu’s flip-flop, NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“Just a week after bragging about his role in creating the Graham-Cassidy health care repeal bill, calling it ‘very exciting’ and saying he’s ‘hoping it actively gets proposed,’ Sununu has seen enough bad press on the bill to pull back his support. Graham-Cassidy would of course ravage the benefits so many Granite Staters depend on, including slashing Medicaid by half a billion dollars in the state and ending Medicaid expansion in the middle of the opioid crisis. Today, Sununu reaffirmed what we already knew: that he is spineless and has no qualms with completely reversing positions on a dime depending on what benefits him politically. He is fighting for himself, not for New Hampshire.”

Emily’s List Puts Gov. Sununu And NH Legislature ‘On Notice’ For Attacks On Women’s Rights

Since Governor Chris Sununu took office the New Hampshire State Legislature has been pushing their ideological right wing agenda.  With the help of Governor Sununu, some of their crazy bills have actually become law.

The legislature attempted to ram through a number of bills attacking women’s reproductive rights.  Most notably was SB66, the “fetal personhood” bill, that passed along party lines. Before Sununu signed the bill it was determined that the bill was fundamentally flawed giving pregnant women “impunity to commit murder.”

“SB 66 would include the term ‘fetus’ in the definition of ‘another’ for the purpose of first and second degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and causing or aiding suicide.  This would not apply to women seeking medical procedures or abortions.” (Rewire, 3/21/17)

Anti-women Republicans in the Legislature also pushed a repeal of the state’s “buffer zone law,” a bill to publicly report women who sought an abortion, and an outright ban on abortions after 21 weeks with no exceptions.

These actions have prompted EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, put Republicans in New Hampshire’s General Court “On Notice” for the upcoming 2018 election. “On Notice” is a list of incumbent Republicans and legislative chambers at all levels of government being called out by EMILY’s List for their anti-woman and anti-family records. EMILY’s List is targeting these seats and chambers in its 2018 electoral efforts.

“Republicans in the New Hampshire Legislature have amassed a shameful record of voting to turn back the clock on women’s rights,” said EMILY’s List Executive Director Emily Cain. “These legislators have recklessly passed legislation that limits the reproductive rights of women, have attempted to repeal the existing law that provides buffer zones to protect women, and have attempted to put in place an abortion ban after just over 21 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. That is why EMILY’s List is recruiting an historic number of strong, pro-choice Democratic women leaders  in 2018 to hold these Republican legislators accountable for their out-of-touch agenda.”

Aside from the “fetal personhood” legislation that Governor Sununu signed, he also campaigned on his support of anti-abortion legislation and a “pro-life” agenda.

Sununu also failed to condemn, then candidate Donald Trump, after the Access Hollywood tapes became public.

“Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu is not revoking his endorsement of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and says party members need to stand behind the nominee, despite the release of a videotape in which Trump is heard bragging about groping and otherwise sexually assaulting women.” [Union Leader, 10/10/16]

For these reasons Emily’s List has also put Governor Chis Sununu “On Notice.”

“Governor Chris Sununu has amassed a shameful record of turning his back on women’s rights and shortchanging New Hampshire  families,” said EMILY’s List Executive Director Emily Cain. “Sununu approved a reckless bill that could put New Hampshire on the path to recognizing ‘personhood,’ refused to disavow Donald Trump time after time, and stood up for anti-choice legislation. That is why EMILY’s List is putting Sununu ‘On Notice’ and targeting this seat, because New Hampshire women deserve far better than failed leadership from this governor.”

With nearly 18,000 women reaching out to EMILY’s List interested in running for office, the organization has tripled the size of its state and local campaign staff in order to provide candidates with the resources they need to run and win.

The 2018 launch of this state-level “On Notice” program includes three governors, legislative bodies in ten states, three secretaries of state and a state attorney general, and is the largest ever in the organization’s 32-year history. It follows the announcement of EMILY’s List’s top congressional and Senate targets in July. A full list of state-level Republican targets can be found here.

Senators Murray And Hassan Push For New Child Care Assistance Bill In Senate

Bill would provide much-needed help for families struggling with rising child care costs

Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA-3) introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act of 2017, which would more than double the number of families eligible for child care assistance. The bill comes on the heels of recent research from Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) showing child care has become unaffordable for working families in 49 states, plus the District of Columbia.

The Child Care for Working Families Act would create a federal-state partnership to ensure that families making less than 150 percent of their state’s median income do not pay more than seven percent of their income on child care. The bill also supports access to high-quality preschool programs for low- and moderate-income 3- and 4-year olds. Finally, the bill would support the child care workforce by significantly improving wages and training for teachers and caregivers.

“At a time when far too many working families are struggling, finding quality child care that doesn’t break the bank shouldn’t be another thing keeping parents up at night,” said Senator Murray. “As a former preschool teacher, I know what quality early learning and care can do for a child’s development, so I’m proud to introduce the Child Care for Working Families Act to address our child care crisis and support access to high-quality preschool so that all children are ready for kindergarten and beyond. This is not only the right to thing to for working families, but it’s a smart investment in our children, our future, and our economy.”

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined with Senators Schumer (D-NY), Franken (D-MN), and Casey (D-PA), along with Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in co-sponsoring the bill.

“The high cost of child care is preventing too many people across New Hampshire and America from being able to participate in our workforce and thrive economically,” Senator Hassan said. “We must do more to ensure that all children have access to affordable, high quality child care that will help families make ends meet and prepare our young ones for their futures. The Child Care for Working Families Act takes critical steps to support hard-working families and invest in our children, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to pass this important legislation.”

“One month of child care costs more than one month of rent or a mortgage payment for many working families,” said Lynette Fraga, executive director of Child Care Aware of America. “This bill would help families for whom quality child care is now an out-of-reach luxury. We urge Congress to pass this bill and provide a critical, long-term investment in the future of America. We must ensure better outcomes for children, a stronger workforce and families that are more resilient. Every child, in every family, deserves high-quality care.”

The Child Care for Working Families Bill would:

  • Establish a new federal-state partnership to provide high-quality, affordable child care from birth through age 13.
  • More than double the number of children eligible for child care assistance, and ensure all those who are eligible have the ability to enroll their child in a quality program.
  • Provide incentives and funding for states to create high-quality preschool programs for low- and moderate-income 3- and 4-year olds during the school day, while providing a higher matching rate for programs for infants and toddlers, who are often harder and more expensive to care for.
  • Increase workforce training and compensation, including by ensuring that all child care workers are paid a living wage and early childhood educators are provided parity with elementary school teachers with similar credentials and experience.
  • Improve care in a variety of settings, including addressing the needs of family, friend, and neighbor care and care during non-traditional hours to help meet the needs of working families.
  • Build more inclusive, high-quality child care providers for children with disabilities, and infants and toddlers with disabilities, including by increasing funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  • Help all Head Start programs meet the new expanded duration requirements and provide full-day, full-year programming

More than 11 million children under the age of five are in some form of child care in the United States. As the nation’s leading voice for child care, CCAoA is comprised of 125,000 online advocates from across the country and more than 32,000 members. Over 250 parents have shared their stories with lawmakers through our Family Advocacy Summit and Day on The Hill. For child care providers, we offer trainings on emergency preparedness as well as technical assistance that emphasize health, nutrition and obesity prevention and more.

For 30 years, CCAoA has been the leading voice for quality, affordable child care in the United States. While CCAoA continues to pursue our vision of the future in which every family in the United States has access to a high quality and affordable child care system, the sharing of accurate and updated information remains critical.

Currently the bill has the support of over 100 organizations including: AFSCME, the SEIU, Mom’s Rising, and the National Association of Elementary School Principles.


Text of the Child Care for Working Families Act can be found HERE.
A fact sheet on the Child Care for Working Families Act can be found HERE.

Latest Poverty Numbers Do Not Show The Real Struggles Of NH Working Families

New Hampshire Poverty Rate Continues to Decline, but Many
Granite Staters Still Struggle with Very Limited Income

Concord, NH – New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau finds that New Hampshire’s poverty rate declined to 7.3 percent in 2016, down from 8.2 percent in 2015. New Hampshire continues to boast the lowest state poverty rate in the country, a distinction it has held for the last decade.

“New Hampshire’s low poverty rate masks the experiences of far too many Granite Staters who live above the federal poverty threshold and struggle to afford basic necessities,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “In particular, the state’s high cost of housing leaves many working families with little income left to put food on the table and acquire other essentials.”

The Census Bureau data finds an estimated 94,289 people in New Hampshire lived below the federal poverty line in 2016. The poverty threshold used by the Census Bureau for income in the twelve months preceding July 2016 is $12,391 for an individual under 65 years of age and $19,171 for a family of three with one child.

NHFPI analysis of the 2016 Census poverty data for New Hampshire finds that females were more likely than males to live in poverty, with estimated poverty rates of 8.1 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. Those 65 years of age or older were less likely to live in poverty, with an estimated poverty rate of 4.6 percent, than those under 18 years old, who faced a poverty rate of 7.9 percent. Child poverty declined 2.8 percent from the 2015 level. NHFPI’s analysis is available here.

The official poverty threshold understates the degree of economic insecurity in New Hampshire and elsewhere. Due to a relatively high cost of living, New Hampshire families require a significantly higher level of income in order to afford housing, child care, health care, transportation, and food, among other basic necessities. NHFPI’s 2016 report, Taking the Measure of Need in the Granite State, outlines the shortcomings of the official poverty measures and examines alternate methods of assessing what it takes to afford a modest standard of living in various regions of the state.

New Hampshire’s low poverty rate does not provide an accurate measure of the numbers of workers struggling to get by. NHFPI analysis of the 2016 Census poverty data finds that approximately 117,000 households, or more than one in five households, collected less than $35,000 in income and benefits in 2016. In contrast, the state’s estimated median household income for 2016 was $70,936.

Despite a strong economy and low unemployment rate, much of the recent job growth in New Hampshire has occurred in sectors that typically offer low wages, such as the health care, social assistance, accommodation and food services industries, and wages for many low-income workers have not kept pace with inflation. NHFPI’s Snapshot of the State’s Labor Market outlines average weekly wages in these fields and additional information.

“As New Hampshire endeavors to sustain a strong workforce, policymakers should strive to ensure that all residents have access to the necessary education and training that will prepare them for new employment opportunities and help them achieve economic stability,” added NHFPI Executive Director John Shea. “In addition, policymakers should find ways to increase the availability of housing and child care services, which are affordable to all residents.”


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

NH Voting Rights Coalition And Activists Demand Trump’s ‘Sham’ Election Commission Be Dismantled

Advocates call for ‘Hands Off Our Ballots’

MANCHESTER, NH – The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights – a broad range of progressive organizations and leaders fighting to advance voting rights – call for President Donald Trump’s ‘sham’ Election Integrity Commission to be dismantled following a day-long hearing focused on creating barriers to exercising American’s right to democracy – voting.

The commission’s meeting heard testimony from “election experts” and academics urging for the implementation of a background check system similar to the one used for handgun ownership falsely comparing physical safety and the ability to exercise one’s right to democracy. A background check system is just another ploy to create barriers to voting for the citizens of the United States.

“The jig is up. The commission meeting showed us clearly that it is not – and has never been – focused on expanding access to the ballot and ensuring every American has a right to vote,” said America Votes New Hampshire Political Director Michael O’Brien. “This is an orchestrated attempt to block access to the ballot and we demand New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner step down from the Election Integrity Commission. If Gardner continues on the commission after today, then he is agreeing that he does not support every eligible voter in New Hampshire and across the nation.”

Ahead of the hearing meeting, more than 200 grassroots local New Hampshire activists and advocates showed up to say, “Hey hey, ho ho Trump’s sham commission has got to go.

“The election commission meeting was designed to undermine America’s confidence in our elections and justify voter suppression,” said Executive Director of the ACLU New Hampshire Devon Chaffee. “The commission is co-led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who the ACLU has successfully sued numerous times over his voter suppression policies. Through American history, propaganda about illegal voting has been used to push unnecessary restrictions, like background checks, on the right to vote. But attempts to shrink the voting power of everyday people is the true threat to our elections. We should be doing everything we can to encourage, rather than hinder, participation in our democracy.”

Across the country, advocates and activist fear Trump’s Election Integrity Commission is taking us backward as a country, not forward.

“It saddens me that in today’s age, we – as an entire community – are still facing many of the challenge of 1965,” said President of the Greater Manchester NAACP Rev. Eric Jackson. “We continue to be deeply saddened that our secretary of state, who is suppose to represent the interest of all Granite Staters, continues to create barriers to vote through his participation in Trump’s Election Integrity Commission.”

“President Trump’s commission is not about election integrity – it’s about disenfranchising voters so that he can win this next election,” said President of Let America Vote Jason Kander. “Trump’s commission is undermining faith in our democracy by spreading misinformation and injecting partisan politics into election administration. The commission shouldn’t exist, plan and simple. We should be doing everything possible to make election free, fair and accessible because when more people vote, our democracy is stronger. Let America Votes is glad to join our New Hampshire partners in protecting elections from bad policies of the Trump administration.”

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