Congresswoman Kuster Meets With Nashua Area Business Leaders About Expanding Rail And Transportation Infrastructure

Kuster Nashua Rail Roundtable

Kuster Hosts Nashua Roundtable on How Passenger Rail, Expanded Transportation Infrastructure Could Support Economic Development in New Hampshire

Kuster convened business and transportation leaders to discuss the expansion of passenger rail into the Nashua area

Kuster Nashua Rail Roundtable

Nashua, N.H. – This morning, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) hosted a roundtable at Nashua Community College to discuss the possible expansion of passenger rail into New Hampshire and other ways to support transportation infrastructure and foster job creation around the Granite State.

During the discussion, Kuster heard directly from business and transportation leaders about current challenges and deficits in our state’s transportation network, and about how expanded rail and other increased transportation options would benefit their businesses and the local economy. Roundtable participants included Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, Nashua Chamber of Commerce President Chris Williams, State Senators Bette Lasky and Peggy Gilmour, as well as representatives from the NH Division of Economic Development, the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, the NH Rail Transit Authority, the NH Department of Transportation, and Nashua Municipal Airport.

“During today’s roundtable, I was grateful to hear from so many business and community leaders about the importance of maintaining a strong transportation infrastructure to spur economic development and job creation in the region and across the Granite State,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “New Hampshire can’t lead in the 21st century economy with 20th century infrastructure, and I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure our local businesses have the infrastructure support they need to expand and create more jobs in the state. I sincerely thank today’s participants for sharing their expertise, and I look forward to working together to strengthen our roads, bridges, and railways so we can meet the needs of residents, businesses, and tourists alike – and protect vital construction jobs for our workers.”

Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong advocate for federal funding for projects to repair and expand New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure.  She is a cosponsor of the Partnership to Build America Act, bipartisan legislation to leverage private investments to fund an Infrastructure Bank for financing public works projects like those discussed during today’s roundtable. Kuster also introduced the DRIVE Now Act, legislation to help the state fix our roads and bridges and support vital construction jobs. She supports expanded transportation options in southern New Hampshire, which would connect Granite Staters in New Hampshire’s largest population centers to Boston (and vice-versa), and help boost the New Hampshire economy and create jobs.

Last year, the New Hampshire Executive Council approved the acceptance of a $3.9 million federal grant for a feasibility study on the costs and benefits of expanded passenger rail in the Granite State. The report is due to state transportation officials by the end of 2014.

Senator D’Allesandro: “Enough with the Election Year Budget Stunts”

N.H. Senator Lou D'Allesandro 
Image from Canadian Consulate

Concord, NH — Senate Finance Committee Vice Chair Lou D’Allesandro today issued a statement calling for an end to recent election-year political stunts on the budget.

“Every year, we follow the same process for managing the budget, which includes closing the books on the fiscal year at the end of September.  This is what the law calls for, that is what we have done for many years, and this year is no different.   And taking the appropriate time is a good thing. It takes this time because agencies have to comb through hundreds of accounting units; a process that administrative services has to repeat to ensure accuracy. In addition, agencies and administrative services are still processing bills that are related to Fiscal Year 2014 expenses. Everyone who has worked within the budget process knows that closing the books is not an overnight process, and getting an incomplete picture would be misleading at best.

It’s no big surprise that in an election year, political parties would try to manufacture an issue, but the recent press releases making wild claims about the budget are coming out of thin air, and amount to nothing more than a stunt. There is no indication that agencies are exceeding their spending authority and HHS has not issued any report suggesting that they are exceeding their budget by $100 million, as some have stated as if it were a point of fact.

Actually, the state currently appears to be on track to end the year with a balanced budget — a balanced budget that was achieved through bipartisan cooperation between Republicans and Democrats under the leadership of our Governor.

The Governor has made it clear that her administration will follow the law and the traditional practice of delivering full, unaudited financial statements by the end of September, when we have a more complete picture of each agency’s situation. That is exactly what she should do. I hope that at that time, we can work together across party lines to assess the situation with full and accurate information and continue to maintain a responsible, balanced budget.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Walmart’s U.S. Manufacturing Summit

Image via WikiCommon

In response to Walmart’s U.S. Manufacturing Summit, which convenes today in Denver, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement:

“It’s about time Walmart figured out that America’s workers are the most qualified and the best skilled at getting the job done. For decades, Walmart has led the charge on outsourcing and a global race to the bottom.

But workers will not benefit from a Walmart-ification of our manufacturing sector. Jobs in the Walmart model won’t restore America’s middle class or build shared prosperity given the company’s obsession with low labor costs and undermining American labor standards. And the company’s ‘commitment’ to American manufacturing is meaningless unless it actually increases the proportion of its products that are American-made.

This initiative seems like an attempt to change the conversation from the need for Walmart to improve jobs for its 1.4 million retail workers in the United States. If Walmart is truly committed to rebuilding the American middle class, it can start with its own workers, most of whom make less than $25,000/year and struggle to make ends meet.

Walmart should use its two-day summit to prove the company is committed to real and substantive change and an end to corporate whitewashing.”

The Professional Firefighters Of NH Endorse Dan Innis In The CD1 GOP Primary

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PFF - INNISBEDFORD – Today, members of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire gathered to make the recommendation of Dan Innis in the first Congressional District Republican primary. The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire believe that Mr. Innis is the best choice in the first Congressional District Republican primary, and recommend that Republican members vote for him in the State Primary on September 9th. No endorsement has been made in this district’s General Election race in November.

“Dan Innis has made it clear that he values working families in New Hampshire. The professional fire fighters in Bedford, and throughout this district, are hopeful to have this candidate be the nominee in September, because we believe he cares strongly for public safety,” said Jeff Humphrey, President of the Bedford IAFF Local #3639.

“The PFFNH believes that Mr. Innis is the candidate in this primary who understands that fire fighters need support and resources to do our jobs of insuring we keep the public safe. He is the candidate who values public safety. We are proud to endorse Dan Innis in the first Congressional District Republican Primary,” stated David Lang, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire.

“Fire fighters risk their lives with every call and we need to make sure that we keep our promises to them” said Dan Innis. “I am proud to have earned the support of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire. In Congress I will work closely with them to make sure that fire fighters have the resources and the support that they need to continue to protect our communities.”

The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, headquartered in Concord, NH represents more than 2,000 active and retired fire fighters and paramedics from 43 locals across the state.  More information is available at www.pffnh.org. Follow us on twitter @pffnh

Kuster Hosts Seniors Forum on Protecting Medicare and Social Security

Image from the NH Citizens Alliance

 Local seniors joined Kuster to celebrate Social Security’s 79th birthday, and to share their thoughts on how Congress can support Granite State seniors

Image from the NH Citizens Alliance

Image from the NH Citizens Alliance

Peterborough, NH – This morning, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) invited local seniors to join her at the Peterborough Library to celebrate Social Security’s 79th birthday, and to discuss how Congress can best protect Social Security and Medicare. Advocates and experts on senior issues also joined the seniors forum, and took questions from event participants about resources available to them through these federal programs.

“Since first taking office, I have pledged to always protect Social Security and Medicare for our Granite State seniors. I hosted this open forum to hear directly from local seniors about what more Congress can do to support these crucial programs that so many of them rely on,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I was also proud to bring together local experts on senior services who were able to take questions from participants about other ways Medicare and Social Security programs could help benefit Granite State seniors.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster is a strong supporter of Social Security and Medicare, and she has stood up to members of both parties to fight to protect these programs. Today’s forum gave Monadnock seniors a chance to catch up with Congresswoman Kuster, share their concerns about the programs, and hear about federal services available to seniors in the area. During the roundtable, Kuster also discussed a new bill she helped introduce to provide more support for caregivers who are helping take care of their elderly relatives or other individuals who need care.

“I was also pleased to share information with event participants about a new bill I helped introduce, the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act, which will help increase Social Security benefits for individuals who serve in a full-time caretaking role for their elderly relatives or other Granite Staters who need care,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I served as a caregiver for my mother when she suffered from Alzheimer’s. I was lucky to have the support of my family, but I know firsthand the emotional, physical, and financial toll caretaking duties can have on those providing the care. I was proud to help introduce this bill, which will help ease the burden on the dedicated individuals who provide caretaking services to their loved ones.”

Alliance for Retired Americans Endorses Jeanne Shaheen on 79th Anniversary of Social Security Act

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Senator Shaheen, New Hampshire Seniors Also Call For Passage of Bipartisan Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act To Lower Prescription Costs

MANCHESTER – Today, on the 79th anniversary of the Social Security Act, the Alliance for Retired Americans endorsed New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen for reelection citing her work protecting Social Security and Medicare. At the event, Senator Shaheen was joined by New Hampshire seniors who together called for the passage of the bipartisan Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, which will lower the cost of prescription drugs by providing access to safe, less expensive medication in Canada.

“We need to protect and strengthen vital programs like Social Security and Medicare so Granite Staters who have worked hard their whole lives can retire with dignity,” said Senator Shaheen.  “I’m proud to have stood against radical attempts to force cuts to Social Security and end Medicare as we know it, and I am working to cut prescription drug prices by allowing people to safely buy cheaper medication from Canada.  I’ll never stop fighting to make a difference for New Hampshire’s seniors.”

The Alliance for Retired Americans, which has more than 13,000 members in New Hampshire, mobilizes seniors and community activists to stand up for the issues that matter to seniors most, like protecting Medicare and Social Security, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

“Folks, there is a clear choice in this election,” said Rich Fiesta, National Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Jeanne Shaheen has always voted to protect Social Security and Medicare.  That is why, on behalf of the Alliance for Retired Americans and our 13,000 members here in New Hampshire, I am proud to endorse Jeanne Shaheen for re-election to the United States Senate. Jeanne Shaheen knows seniors, she cares about seniors, and most importantly, she will vote for seniors!”

In the Senate, Jeanne Shaheen is working to cut prescription drug prices and is an original cosponsor of the Medicare Protection Act, which would stop Republicans in Washington from turning Medicare into a voucher system or raising the eligibility age for benefits. As Governor, Jeanne Shaheen created a prescription drug program that saved New Hampshire seniors more than $3 million.

Jeanne Shaheen is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, along with Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar. The bill aims to cut prescription drug prices by allowing people to safely buy cheaper medication from Canada. In 2012, average prescription drug prices were twice as expensive in the United States as they were in Canada, with high costs leading some Americans to skip doses or pass on filling important prescriptions altogether. Drugs imported under this bill would be the same dosage, form, and potency as drugs in the U.S., but at a significant discount to U.S. consumers.

“I cannot think of a better champion for our senior safety net than Senator Jeanne Shaheen,” said Lucy Edwards, President of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans. “We know we can count on her to support Social Security and Medicare. We also know that her deep understanding of our state’s economy and culture, and her ability to bring people together will be an enormous asset to us as we move into a challenging future.”

Shea-Porter Announces TIGER 2013 Grant Agreement Reached for Northcoast Railroad

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ROCHESTER, NH – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) announced that a Transportation Investment Generating Economy Recovery (TIGER) 2013 grant agreement has been formally reached for the New Hampshire Northcoast Rail Improvement Project.  The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) has awarded $1.4 million to be used to make repairs and improve sections of the rail line between Ossipee and Rochester.

In 2013, Congresswoman Shea-Porter and the entire New Hampshire delegation urged then-DOT Secretary Ray LaHood to support NHDOT’s competitive grant application for the New Hampshire Northcoast Railroad Project, which will enable the railroad to expand its freight service on the line and operate it more efficiently.

“The Northcoast line connects to the national freight rail network via Boston and is a vital transportation link for the Granite State. These repairs will complete a multi-year effort to modernize the rail line in partnership with local communities and the private sector,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter.  “We must invest in the transportation infrastructure necessary to move the New Hampshire economy forward, and I will continue to fight to bring more TIGER grant dollars to our state.”

The full text of the letter follows:

May 29, 2013

The Honorable Ray H. LaHood, Secretary
United States Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC  20590

Dear Secretary LaHood:

We write in support of the Transportation Investment Generating Economy Recovery (TIGER) V grant application submitted by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) for the upgrade and repair of 42 miles of main line rail between Rochester and Ossipee, NH in Strafford and Carroll Counties.

The New Hampshire Northcoast Railroad is a short-line freight railroad that provides service through Rochester, Ossipee and the southeastern and central regions of New Hampshire.  The Northcoast line connects to the national freight rail network via Boston and is a vital link for an economically-distressed area of our state.  Industrial sector companies depend on services from this railroad, but are impacted by low weight limits that necessitate additional shipments and deter some suppliers from using the line.  

NHDOT is applying for support to repair this section of rail to allow car shipments of up to 286,000 pounds, the North American standard, to travel the full length of this corridor.  These repairs will complete a multi-year effort to modernize the rail line undertaken in partnership with the local community and the private sector.  The upgrades to the track will improve safety and reliability while enabling increased speeds for trains traveling through the corridor.  The higher weight limit will enable existing customers to more efficiently access markets and help spur economic growth in the region.

We support NHDOT’s competitive grant application for the New Hampshire Northcoast Railroad Project and urge your serious consideration of this proposal.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.

                                                                  Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen                                                              Kelly A. Ayotte
United States Senator                                                    United States Senator

Carol Shea-Porter                                                           Ann McLane Kuster
Member of Congress                                                       Member of Congress

Shea-Porter Challenges Guinta, Innis to Reverse Their Support For Social Security Cuts

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter 
(image by MARCN Creative Commons On Flickr)

On 79th Anniversary, She Commits to Strengthen and Protect Benefits

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter  (image by MARCN Creative Commons On Flickr)

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter
(image by MARCN Creative Commons On Flickr)

ROCHESTER, NH—Today, on Social Security’s 79th anniversary, Carol Shea-Porter’s campaign reaffirmed her commitment to protect and strengthen Social Security, and challenged Republican candidates Frank Guinta and Dan Innis to reverse their support for cuts to senior benefits.

“Carol understands that generations of New Hampshire seniors have earned Social Security through a lifetime of work—that’s why she’s fighting to protect benefits for current and future recipients,” Shea-Porter spokeswoman Marjorie Connolly said. “Her dedication to seniors stands in stark contrast to what Frank Guinta and Dan Innis have said.”

Former Congressman Frank Guinta helped write the infamous Republican budget, and supports privatizing Social Security and gambling away seniors’ benefits in the stock market. In fact, Guinta is so committed to dismantling Social Security that in May 2010 he said he hoped his kids would never know what Social Security is.

At one of Shea-Porter’s open town halls last year, Republican candidate Dan Innis showed his intention to reduce benefits when he stood up and asked Shea-Porter how she would reform “entitlements,” which are actually benefits earned by a lifetime of hard work.

“Frank Guinta and Dan Innis should take Social Security’s anniversary as an opportunity to reverse their support for policies that gamble away seniors’ retirement security,” Connolly said. “Granite State seniors deserve to know whether Guinta and Innis still support extreme cuts that would threaten our seniors’ earned benefits.”

Kuster Continues North Country Tour, Discusses Job Creation and Energy Efficiency

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Kuster tours Model Neighborhood Project in Berlin, convenes Tourism Roundtable in Bretton Woods, and visits Cog Railway  

By BeckyMetcalf75 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

By BeckyMetcalf75 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

As part of her August North Country tour, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) yesterday visited a number of projects and destinations in the North Country to hear from local residents about the importance of job creation, and supporting the local tourism and energy economies. The tour gave North Country residents a chance to hear directly from Congresswoman Kuster about her work in Washington, and to share with the Congresswoman their thoughts on how Congress can best help bolster the local economy.

“It was wonderful to be back in the North Country, visiting with business, outdoor recreation, and tourism leaders from around the region,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “From the energy efficient Model Neighborhood Project in Berlin to the Tourism Roundtable and Cog Railway in Bretton Woods, I had the opportunity to discuss ways to support job creation and economic development in the North Country. The natural beauty, commitment to innovative solutions, and spirit of community throughout the area are an inspiration and I look forward to coming back soon.”

During her tour, Kuster held a roundtable discussion on the importance of tourism to the region’s economy. At the roundtable, held at the AMC Highland Center in Bretton Woods, she heard directly from North Country outdoor recreation and tourism experts about the economic and environmental impacts of tourism in the North Country as a whole. Tourism is New Hampshire’s second largest industry, and is especially critical to the North Country economy. The roundtable participants also discussed how Congress can help boost economic development and job creation in the tourism industry. Participants included community and outdoor recreation leaders including State Senator Jeff Woodburn and representatives from the Appalachian Mountain Club, the White Mountain National Forest, the Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods Ski Resort, the NH Department of Revenue and Economic Development, the Mount Washington Observatory, and the Northern Community Investment Corporation.

Kuster also toured the wood pellet boiler installations at the Northern Forest Center’s Notre Dame Senior Housing Project, which uses federal funds to help Berlin and other communities transition from home oil heating systems to advanced, high-efficiency wood pellet boilers that save thousands of dollars for residents. To cap off her two-day North Country Tour, Kuster visited the Mount Washington Cog Railway, which has been an historic tourist destination for generations. The Cog Railway was built in 1869, and climbs all the way to the top of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern United States.

Jeanne Shaheen Makes A Difference For NH Seniors

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“We need to protect and strengthen vital programs like Social Security and Medicare so Granite Staters who have worked hard their whole lives can retire with dignity. I’m proud to have stood against radical attempts to force cuts to Social Security and end Medicare as we know it, and I am working to cut prescription drug prices by allowing people to safely buy cheaper medication from Canada.  I’ll never stop fighting to make a difference for New Hampshire’s seniors.” – Senator Jeanne Shaheen

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When it comes to protecting Social Security and Medicare, Jeanne Shaheen gets the job done. As Governor, Jeanne Shaheen created a program to help seniors save on prescription drugs. In the Senate, Shaheen fought radical Republican proposals to force cuts in Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher program. In communities across the state, she has hosted free consumer protection information sessions to give seniors tools to protect themselves from identity theft, credit fraud and other scams.

STRENGTHENING MEDICARE AND CLOSING THE DONUT HOLE

Senator Shaheen is helping close the Medicare Part D donut hole, reducing prescription costs for New Hampshire seniors.  Last year alone, more than 15,000 New Hampshire seniors each saved more than $840 on average.  Since 2010, Medicare beneficiaries in New Hampshire have saved $40,381,080 on prescription drug costs.

More than 180,000 Granite State seniors on Medicare have benefited from no cost preventive health services provided by the Affordable Care Act, and since the law was passed, Medicare’s solvency has been extended by 13 years, so that Medicare can continue to provide seniors with the benefits they depend on.

REDUCING PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS

As New Hampshire’s Governor and U.S. Senator, Jeanne Shaheen has consistently worked to reduce prescription costs for New Hampshire’s seniors.  Nationally, Americans spend an average of almost $1,000 per person every year on pharmaceuticals.  That is about 40 percent more than the next highest country.

As Governor, Shaheen implemented a prescription drug program that provided relief for seniors struggling with the high cost of prescription drugs and saved New Hampshire senior citizens millions. Now, she is co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation with Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar to further lower prescription drug costs for our seniors. With this legislation, individuals would be able to import prescription drugs, similar to those available on the U.S. market, but from an approved Canadian pharmacy and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. Drugs imported under this bill would be the same dosage, form, and potency as drugs in the U.S., but at a significant discount to consumers.

FIGHTING FOR CONSUMER PROTECTIONS FOR SENIOR CITIZENS

Jeanne Shaheen is fighting for consumer protections to help seniors live independently and stay in their homes.  In the Senate, Jeanne Shaheen introduced legislation to help educate seniors on fraud prevention to protect them from predatory scams. She hosted a series of consumer protection forums in communities across the state to give seniors the tools they need to recognize fraud before it happens and protect themselves.

She also joined bipartisan efforts to maintain funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), providing critical support to New Hampshire families and seniors struggling to pay their home heating bills.

PROTECTING SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE

Jeanne Shaheen knows that seniors deserve to retire with dignity and with confidence that Social Security and Medicare will be there for them.   When Republicans put forth spending plans that would turn Medicare into a voucher program, and tried to force deep cuts in Social Security with a bill that was opposed by the AARP, Jeanne Shaheen led the fight against their dangerous schemes.  In New Hampshire, more than 230,000 senior citizens benefit from Medicare, and more than 170,000 are on Social Security.

In 2012 during the fiscal cliff negotiations, Shaheen drew a line in the sand and made sure cuts to Social Security were off the table. She even took on her own party to oppose the President’s chained CPI proposal for Social Security, which would have resulted in a loss of benefits for seniors.

Jeanne Shaheen has been a tireless advocate for seniors, strengthening Medicare, protecting Social Security, and working to lower the cost prescription drugs both as Governor and with commonsense bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate.