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Senate Democrats Denounce Cuts to Substance Abuse Prevention

Senate Finance Republicans Cut Funding for Office of Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Health

 

CONCORD – Today, Senators Lou D’Allesandro andAndrew Hosmer, Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee, condemned the cuts to substance abuse prevention made by Senate Republicans in the budget: 

“We are in the middle of a substance abuse and heroin epidemic and it is completely irresponsible to eliminate this funding,” said Senator D’Allesandro.“All session long, we have seen the outcry from our communities for help dealing with this epidemic and funding in this area should be a priority for all Senators, not one that is open to cuts that go beyond the House’s draconian budget.”

 

Along a party-line vote of 4-2, the Senate Finance Committee voted to remove the Office of Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Health along with funding for a senior director position that would coordinate the state’s response to the substance abuse crisis. This position was proposed by Governor Hassan and included in the House version of the budget. Funding for this office and position was established by a grant from the NH Charitable Foundation last year and the Charitable Foundation will continue to ease the state’s burden by helping fund the position until the end of this calendar year, at which point state general funds would be required to continue this effort.

 

“This is an economic issue and a public safety issue. It requires a leader to cross-collaborate among all state agencies to find solutions to this crisis,” said Sen. Hosmer. “This office funds a key position that ensures that we are strengthening our treatment and prevention efforts is a common-sense way to ensure that the state is responding effectively to the substance misuse epidemic. The Senate Republicans move to strip this essential position shows they are out of touch with the needs of NH communities and I urge them to reconsider their actions that are putting the health and wellbeing of Granite Staters at risk.”

 

News Outlets Highlight Need for NHGOP Senate to Restore Budget Cuts to Critical Economic Priorities

Reckless Budget Cuts

Concord Monitor Editorial on Importance of Moving Forward with Commuter Rail 

Concord, N.H. – News outlets continue to highlight the need for the NHGOP Senate to address House budget cuts to critical economic priorities including substance misuse treatment, the 10-bed crisis unit at New Hampshire hospital, ServiceLink, and House Republicans’ failure to responsibly fund the Department of Transportation.

A Concord Monitor editorial also called for the legislature to move forward with commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester, highlighting the “potentially transformative nature of a rail link to the region’s largest city.”

See below for coverage roundup:

NHPR: Drug Epidemic Front And Center In N.H. Politics

Money is tight, and there are plenty of competing priorities. The House trimmed $6 million from what the governor proposed to boost treatment. The House also declined to extend Medicaid expansion, which includes substance abuse coverage for participants. These moves were criticized by plenty from the moment they were made, but the push is really on now. And the statistics are pretty rough. According to the head of the governor’s commission on prevention, treatment and recovery, right now New Hampshire has the country’s highest per-capita rate of addiction and the second-lowest treatment capacity. Only Texas is worse, apparently. [Full story]

Concord Monitor’s Capital Beat: Will there be money for beds, but not for staff?

In July, New Hampshire Hospital administrators expect to complete construction on a new 10-bed crisis unit, meant to help ease pressure at emergency rooms where oftentimes the mentally ill are forced to wait in line until a bed becomes available at the Concord facility.

But, whether the crisis unit will actually open its doors to patients this year is still up in the air.

The unit needs funding to launch, primarily to hire staff. And that comes from the state budget, which at this point doesn’t plan to offer up the cash until 2017, a full year after the unit construction is complete.

… Hundreds of New Hampshire residents took their frustrations with the budget process to the State House last week during a marathon public hearing lasting from 3 p.m. to midnight, where they asked for the state to fully fund services ranging from mental health services to tourism promotion.

… The House-approved budget plan suspends the ServiceLink program altogether, an information referral program that fielded 83,000 calls last year and helps residents find nursing home placements and enroll in Medicare and the Healthcare marketplace, among other things.

… Educators are also carefully watching the budget progress. School district budgets rely on state dollars distributed in the state budget.

The Concord School District would stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars under the House budget plan. To fill a hole in expected state dollars, the district would have to convene this summer and consider cuts in other areas of its budget or potentially raise taxes. [Full story]

Union Leader’s State House Dome: Fish & Game, highway a funding conundrum

Nearly 700 people attended the public hearing on the new $11.2 billion biennial budget last week, urging Senate budget writers to add money to social service programs for the disabled, stay-at-home seniors and substance abusers, for higher education, for tourism promotion, and to reduce retired public workers’ health care premiums.

However, Senate budget writers have two other major issues to address that received little attention at the public hearing: declining revenues in the highway, and Fish and Game Department funds.

The Highway Fund, which receives money from the gas tax and vehicle registrations, pays most of the operating costs of the Department of Transportation, for state police to patrol highways and for state and local road and bridge projects.

… Lawmakers over the years have used some one-time fixes to prop up the fund, but they are exhausted and now there is at least a $100 million shortfall over the next two years.

The House used money from the rainy day fund, the renewable energy fund, state adequacy money and millions earmarked for higher education to pay for the agency.

The Senate is expected to return money to the rainy day fund and at least some of the money to the renewable energy fund, but that means less money for the DOT.

… Like the Highway Fund, lawmakers have known for some time diminishing revenues in the Fish and Game fund would sooner or later have to be addressed. [Full story]

Concord Monitor Editorial: Commuter rail is a gamble worth taking

After nearly two years of study, the consultants have spoken. Train service between cities along the Interstate 93 spine of New Hampshire would lead to new jobs, higher property values and an increase in the percentage of young people who call the state home.

… The potentially transformative nature of a rail link to the region’s largest city led Gov. Hassan to make re-establishing passenger rail service from Concord to Boston the apple of her eye. But now, after brief study, comes the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy to explain how like an orange an apple really is.

… The center, which admitted that its comparisons were less than perfect matches with the capital rail corridor, failed to include any success stories – and they’re out there.

Ridership on commuter rail has increased in almost every major city. Extended systems in northern California, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Connecticut have spurred economic growth, led to higher property values and development in areas near stations, and an increase in jobs. The days of whole towns springing up around stops on the railroad may be long gone, but for many of the millennials who are becoming the heart of the nation’s workforce, so are the days of suburban ranch homes and three or four cars in the driveway. They want to take trains.

… Planners have long known that congestion can’t be widened away. The expansion of I-93 only as far as Manchester cost $800 million. Compared to that, the investment in rail is small money.

… Trains pollute far less, allow people to be as productive or relaxed en route as they choose, avoid parking costs and facilitate commerce. Establish regular rail service and, for a time, even more New Hampshire residents will commute south to work, but also in time, we’re betting that more and more of those Massachusetts employers will decide that a northern move makes economic and lifestyle sense.

Build it and they will come. [Full editorial]

Granite State Rumblings: Making The Case for Expanding Head Start Programs 

Image by U.S. Department of Education

Image by U.S. Department of Education


Over the past few months I have been in at least three different venues across the state where the topic of Head

Start has come up. In each of those conversations at least one person has said that Head Start does not work and Congress should do away with it.  They did not say we should fix what they perceive to be wrong with Head Start, just do away with it.

I have to admit I left those places shaking my head and wondering if the people who feel so strongly about doing away with Head Start have spent time in the classrooms with the children, teachers, and parents. If they had they would have seen that every day Head Start programs help children to catch up cognitively, socially, and emotionally with their peers who are higher up on the economic ladder, encourages and celebrates parents as their child’s first teachers, help pregnant women receive the services they need in order to give birth to healthy babies, and puts smiles on the faces and hope in the hearts of children and their families.

Young children living in poverty are more likely to face challenges that can negatively impact their development and create disparities in their cognitive and social abilities well before they enter Head Start or pre-school programs at age 4. In an effort to ensure that all young children have the same opportunities to succeed in school and life, the federal Early Head Start program was created to support the healthy development of low-income infants, toddlers, and pregnant women.

Research shows that Early Head Start makes a positive difference in areas associated with children’s success in school, family self-sufficiency, and parental support of child development, but federal funds are reaching fewer than 4% of eligible children and families. Children who participated in Early Head Start had significantly larger vocabularies and scored higher on standardized measures of cognitive development than children in a control group who did not participate in Early Head Start. Additionally, Early Head Start children and parents had more positive interactions, and these parents provided more support for learning than did those in a control group. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Making a Difference in the Lives of Infants and Toddlers and Their Families).

In addition to early learning opportunities, Head Start and Early Head Start’s comprehensive early childhood development programs provide children and families with access to a range of services such as health screenings, referrals and follow-up support, parenting resources, and social services. Programs emphasize the importance of parental involvement and staff work to cultivate parents’ abilities as their children’s first teachers.

So you may ask, if Head Start and Early Head Start provides all of this for children and their families, why do some people want to get rid of it? 

The answer to that may come down to this word: fadeout.

Our friends at The First Five Years Fund have this to say about the Head Start Fadeout Myth.

Head Start Fadeout, a common argument against investing in early childhood education, is based on a highly selective read of research findings found in Head Start evaluations and, to a lesser extent, the Perry Preschool project.

Critics argue that gains made through early childhood education disappear by the third grade. They acknowledge that disadvantaged children who received early education arrive at kindergarten ahead of peers who did not, but use third grade evaluations to claim there is no lasting effect to justify the investment.

A measurement of progress in the third grade is not a measurement of life outcomes. It’s simply a snapshot in time—and an incomplete one at that.

Research from many studies—including those cited by fadeout critics—overwhelmingly show that the benefits of early childhood education become more evident throughout schooling and adult life. There is no fadeout; there is constant, steady movement into upward mobility.

Disadvantaged children who receive quality early childhood education are more likely to persist in school, enjoy better career outcomes, higher wages and healthier lifestyles. These findings can be found in analysis of the Perry Preschool Project and Abecedarian in the United States, as well as the British Cohort Study in Great Britain, all of which are randomized control studies with longitudinal data that spans upwards of 35 years.

We’ll take 35 years of evidence over three any time.

The fadeout myth comes from an incomplete read of data and a narrow view of what constitutes success.

For example, the Perry Preschool Project has been criticized for not permanently increasing IQ among the treatment group. IQ gains that are evident at kindergarten among the treatment group tend to equalize with the control group during schooling years.

However, IQ is not the only measure of success in an individual. Nobel Laureate Economist James Heckman found that the social and emotional skills learned through early childhood education were the major drivers of success in school, career and life among the Perry treatment group, who far outperform the control group in adult outcomes.

Similarly, the 2012 National Head Start Impact Study shows achievement among the treatment group equalizing with the control group by third grade. In this case, the Impact Study was flawed because many in the control group were allowed to attend other preschool programs, including Head Start programs in other locations. We may be seeing parity here because we’re comparing children with similar experiences.

Heckman says that using the Head Start Impact Study to claim that early childhood education is ineffective is “a generalized conclusion that is neither thoughtful nor accurate.” (Read more of his analysis here.) Heckman also finds that “Head Start graduates tend to be more persistent in their education, more inclined to healthy behaviors, and less inclined to be involved in criminal activity.”

“Head Start is by no means perfect, but that should not rule out efforts to improve the program’s quality and surround it with other high-quality birth-to-five programs that will deliver better outcomes for children, families and society.” – James Heckman


In May of 1965, President Lyndon Johnson announced Project Head Start. Head Start was part of Johnson’s War on Poverty, which embodied a basic belief that education was the solution to poverty.

It began as an 8 week demonstration project.

In 1977, under the Carter administration, Head Start began bilingual and bicultural programs in about 21 states. Eighteen years later, in1995 under the Clinton administration, the first Early Head Start grants were given to provide high quality child development and family services to income eligible pregnant women and families of very young children.

Head Start was most recently reauthorized again in 2007, under the George W. Bush administration, with several provisions to strengthen Head Start quality.  The statute also included a provision that regulations be promulgated to move programs from an indefinite project period to a five-year grant cycle. In 2009, under the Obama administration, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act added more than 64,000 slots for Early Head Start and Head Start programs.

Sequestration had a major impact on Head Start in 2013. The Office of Head Start reported that approximately 57,000 children were cut from Head Start programs nationwide because of sequestration. In addition to turning away those 57,000 children, Head Start programs were forced to

  • Cut 1.3 million days of service
  • Provide 18,000 fewer hours of service through shortened school days
  • Terminate or reduce salaries of 18,000 employees

In January of 2014 President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. This Act included $8,598,095,000 for programs under the Head Start Act, representing an increase of approximately $1.025 billion over the fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding level.

The approximately $1.025 billion increase restored the 5.27 percent reduction from sequestration and provided all grantees with a 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The FY 2014 funding level also included $500 million for expansion through the Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership to support communities in expanding high-quality early learning and development opportunities for infants and toddlers.

State funding for Head Start was eliminated by the NH Legislature in the 2010.

In recent years, Head Start has served as a successful, comprehensive model for states in developing high quality pre-kindergarten systems. Additionally, Head Start’s unique shared governance structure provides a model to promote meaningful partnerships with families. Each program has a Policy Council that includes parents of children in the program and makes policy decisions together with staff.

Most children in New Hampshire Head Start programs attend 5 days a week for part of the day. Children and families receive an array of comprehensive supports and services. The top two services families receive are parenting and health education.

Pregnant women also receive a variety of supports and services. Included are coordination of prenatal and postpartum health care, dental and mental health services and follow up (substance abuse prevention and treatment), prenatal education on fetal development, information on the benefits of breastfeeding, emergency/crisis intervention, and others.

In New Hampshire, Head Start grew from 1,267 enrolled children in 1997 to more than 2,000 children (cumulative) enrolled today. New Hampshire is funded to serve 1,618 children and their families at any given time, but actual enrollment can be higher. However, far too many eligible children are not served due to lack of funding:

  • Nationally, it is estimated that Head Start serves less than 43% of eligible children and their families, and Early Head Start serves less than 4% of eligible infants and toddlers. 
  • New Hampshire Head Start serves only about 18% of eligible children aged birth to five years and their families.

Here is some more NH specific information from the 2013-2014 Program Information Report (PIR):

  • Cumulative Enrollment of Children by Age – Total 2,027    
    • Less than 1 Year Old – 139
    • 1 Year Old – 161
    • 2 Years Old – 185
    • 3 Years Old – 693
    • 4 Years Old – 849
  • Total Classes Operated – 87
  • Homeless Children Served – 175
  • Foster Care Children Served – 38
  • Child Welfare Agency Referral Children Served – 52
  • Number of Programs Providing Transportation – 2
  • Children with Health Insurance (at end of enrollment year) – 1,995
  • Children without Health Insurance (at end of enrollment year) – 32
  • Total Number of Families – 1,868
    • Two Parent Families – 795
    • Single Parent Families – 1,073

Recent research has shown what the Head Start community has long observed: Head Start works! Not only does it promote gains in children’s learning and development, Head Start also is associated with improved children’s health, promotes family self-sufficiency, and is cost effective.

Has Head Start had an impact on your life?  We would love to hear your story to share with others.

Rep Kurk’s Double Speak On The Gas Tax And Fixing Our Roads And Bridges

The State Legislature is quickly trying to wrap up the State’s Budget for the next two years.  Rep Neal Kurk is leading the House Finance Committee and has proposed massive cuts to a variety of state agencies and programs, down shifting costs to local cities and towns.

I just wanted to show people how hypocritical Rep Kurk is with his double speak, specifically on the budget and the gas tax.

Rep. Neal Kurk (R-Weare), Ranking Republican on House Finance (4-4-13)

“This budget is balanced on unrealistic revenue estimates that simply put off the eventual day of reckoning. It includes millions in increased taxes on working families and businesses that will hurt the economy and job creation. It spends 10.2% more money than the previous state budget. This budget also increases the state’s exposure to massive future liabilities as a result of expanding Medicaid. It suspends new school building aid imposes a moratorium on charter schools. It shifts costs of nursing home services to county property tax payers. It purposefully underfunds line items that can be paid for later, outside of the more transparent budget process. We have a real concern about where this budget will lead our State. It’s unaffordable and sets us up for failure both in the short and long terms.”

In the 2013-14 Legislature Rep David Campbell proposed a $.12 cent increase in the gas tax.  That was ultimately shaved down to $.04 cents by the Republican controlled Senate. The Republicans in New Hampshire campaigned on the gas tax increase screaming “Democrats only want to raise your taxes.”

This is what Rep Neal Kurk said about the Gas Tax Increase in 2014:

There’s little question more revenue is needed to meet today’s higher costs in maintaining and improving our highway infrastructure.  But the legislature must meet its responsibilities before it can ask citizens to pay higher taxes.

Kurk admits that we need to do something about fixing our failing roads and bridges but is just not willing to pay for any such work.

Now that Kurk is back in charge of the Finance Committee in the NH House, what is his answer to fix the state’s infrastructure problem?  Cut their funding of course.

Rep Kurk just pushed through a budget that would slash the NH Department of Transportation by $88 million dollars!  That is a 42% cut in the departments funding. The NH DOT are the people who fix the roads, build the bridges, and plow are streets.  The head of the NH DOT said these cuts would mean hundreds of jobs lost, and the possibility on losing millions in federal funds to repair our roads and bridges.

After a massive outcry from the public on cutting the DOT budget by $88 million dollars, Rep Kurk is now saying he will be adding an $.08 cent increase to the gas tax to offset the DOT cuts.

Kurk, R-Weare, said the state’s infrastructure will become severely weakened and have a rippling effect on business and everyday commuters in New Hampshire if lawmakers do not pass a 7- or 8-cent hike in the gas tax. His advocacy for the tax bump was sparked by what he described as a decade of reliance on one-time revenue sources and a decline in federal funding that has led to the state’s undesirable scenario.

An $.08 cent increase would bring in about $50-$60 million over the next two years.  That would still leave a $28 million dollar hole in the DOT budget, resulting in job losses, federal funds lost, and projects canceled.

New Hampshire has one of the worst infrastructures in the country. We have hundreds of red lists roads and bridges and Rep Kurk wants to cut $88 million or almost half of the entire DOT budget.

I am tired of the hypocrisy from politicians who say we need to fix our roads by cutting the funding needed to fix them.

(Check out this short video to see what our roads and bridges really look like)

Maureen Mann: Cuts To The Department Of Transportation

potholesBy Maureen Mann,
Former NH State Rep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NH Senate Republicans Vote For Tax Giveaways And Force Massive Cuts To The State Budget

Today the Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 1, reducing the rate of the business profits tax, and Senate Bill 2, reducing the rate of the business enterprise tax. The Republican-led Senate voted to pass SB 1 & SB 2 on a party line vote of 14-10.

“Because they are unwilling to consider reasonable revenue changes – including a modest increase in the tobacco tax – the New Hampshire House of Representatives is currently decimating critical economic priorities for our state, including cutting the Department of Transportation in half, taking away health coverage from tens of thousands of people, cutting services like meals on wheels for seniors, cutting funding for higher education, and even cutting travel and tourism promotion in half,” stated Governor Maggie Hassan. “These two bills would create even deeper holes in this and future budgets, negatively impacting our ability to invest in the shared priorities that are critical to the success of our people, businesses and economy. Further eroding the revenue sources that do exist is irresponsible and will lead to further reductions.”

“While we must maintain our low-tax environment, which the Tax Foundation ranked as the seventh-best in its business tax climate index, we must also continue investing in priorities such as a strong and healthy workforce pipeline, a modern transportation infrastructure, and safe communities that businesses tell me are critical to their ability to grow, thrive and create jobs. As we face ever-tightening budgets, we must examine the fiscal impact of these tax breaks with the same scrutiny as any new spending, and supporters of these bills must address how the lost revenue would be offset,” concluded Hassan.

These tax giveaways are not going to do anything to help fix any of the dozens of problems currently facing our state.  The Republican’s in the legislature are refusing to do anything but force more cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels and substance abuse treatment.  These tax breaks will not help fix the hundreds of failing roads and bridges that are literally crumbling beneath us.

“With the House making draconian cuts to budget, we are seeing massive cuts to the department of transportation, mental health services, development disabilities waitlist, substance abuse treatment, university system, social services for the elderly, travel and tourism, and the Veterans Home,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn. “The cost of these tax giveaways is clear and the price is dear. The House Republican majority seems to have answered the question of who’s going to pay. Senate Republicans who support these fiscally irresponsible tax cuts should tell the public what additional cuts they plan to make.”

“Businesses need a modern and safe infrastructure, high-quality schools, and healthy, safe, and livable communities,” said Senator Woodburn. “These tax giveaways will hurt New Hampshire’s ability to provide these critical economic priorities. We should be investing in these priorities not add more devastating cuts on top of what the House cuts.”

An in-depth look at the GOP Budget will show that they care less about the people of New Hampshire and more about giving away tax breaks to large corporations.

“Just this week we’ve seen how far the House has gone in its one-sided efforts to balance the budget, making drastic cuts to transportation, health care, and services for the elderly, the homeless, and Granite Staters with developmental disabilities. Layering in another $15 million in cuts will endanger state government’s ability to serve the people of New Hampshire and its ability to compete with other states to attract our future workforce,” said New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch.

“The proposed business tax cuts will not create jobs or foster economic growth, but will instead drain millions of dollars out of the budget each year,” added McLynch. “New Hampshire can do better.  Rather than add to the long list of tax cuts it has made in recent years, New Hampshire should invest in the future by providing needed resources to public colleges and universities, and protect the most vulnerable among us today.”

The Republicans in the House and the Senate have their priorities all wrong.  Their immoral budget will hurt tens of thousands of hard working Granite Staters and line the pockets of the wealthy.

Granite State Rumblings: The Federal Budget Process And A Few Of The Proposed Cuts

BudgetI spent last week in Washington, DC. Two of those days I attended the National Association for the Education Young Children’s (NAEYC) public policy conference. We met with Congressional staff and advocated for programs that support young children and their families. It was a very full couple of days, but time well spent. And I was honored to be with a great team of advocates!

One of the topics we discussed was the Federal Budget. NAEYC put together an informational sheet about the budget which I would like to share with you.

The Federal Budget Process
While there is a traditional budget process, less traditional funding mechanisms have been relied upon by legislators in recent years. The following outlines the traditional budget process, frequently relied upon funding strategies, and additional resources.

The Traditional Federal Budget Process
Traditionally the federal appropriation process has included the following sequence.

Step One: The President’s Budget Request

  • Traditionally the President’s request is submitted to the Congress on the first Monday in February, though the date often changes, especially when a new administration takes office.
  • The President’s budget request details the administration’s position on the full range of federal revenue and spending.
  • The administration uses the budget request to introduce new policies, programs or changes they would like to see enacted.
  • The budget request is a proposal and has no binding authority on Congress.

Step Two: Congress’ Response

  • Creation of a concurrent congressional budget resolution setting the total level of discretionary funding (spending determined by the Appropriations Committee and Congress) for the next fiscal year. While this resolution looks at total federal spending over a 10-year window, it is not binding beyond the approaching fiscal year.
  • Budget resolutions are reviewed by relevant committees and must be approved by the whole chamber.
  • Unlike traditional bills, budget resolutions do not require presidential action and pass with a simple majority.

***(Budget Resolution – a non-binding resolution passed by both chambers of Congress that serves as a framework for budget decisions and sets overall spending limits but does not include funding levels for specific programs.)

Step Three: Congressional Appropriations

  • Once discretionary funding limits have been determined, the funding process moves to the Appropriations Committees in each chamber.
  • The Appropriations Committees determine program-by-program funding levels by addressing 12 separate appropriations bills that are generated by subcommittees covering federal agencies.
  • Appropriations bills are supposed to be passed in “regular order”, meaning the full passage through both chambers by the start of the federal fiscal year on October 1st.
  • As the fiscal year ends, leadership in both chambers often negotiate an omnibus bill, which combines all appropriations bills into one piece of legislation.
  • The final step in enacting program funding consists of the president signing the bills or the omnibus. The president has the authority to veto appropriations bills and Congress can then attempt to override the veto.
  • All appropriation bills are supposed to be fully passed through both chambers by the start of the federal fiscal year (October 1st). Failure to provide appropriations results in a near complete shutdown of federal operations.

***Note: Entitlement programs and other programs that Congress designates as mandatory programs do not rely on the appropriations process.

Alternative Funding Strategies
In recent years Congress has rarely passed appropriations bills as outlined above. Instead, legislators enact a series of continuing resolutions (stopgap measures), which are short-term spending bills that typically maintain funding levels at the previous year’s level in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Should Congress not complete the appropriations process or pass a continuing resolution (CR) by the start of the fiscal year the federal government, with a few exceptions, shuts down. The funding gap created during the time of a government shutdown results in hundreds of thousands of government employees out of work. Unfortunately, the threat of government shutdown is an often-used strategy for elected officials seeking particular priorities be included in or removed from continuing resolutions.

Continuing resolutions usually last for a number of weeks, and are typically renewed when negotiations extend beyond the new deadline. Continuing resolutions can contain policy provisions as well as revisions to funding levels.

Congress also utilizes emergency spending and deficit legislation in order to impact funding changes outside of the typical budget and appropriations process. Emergency funding is commonly associated with ongoing military operations. Unlike most states (all but Vermont), there is no balanced budget requirement included in the U.S. Constitution, permitting the federal government to carry debt year-to-year. As a result, legislation has also been used in an effort to address the federal deficit through the implementation of spending limits.

~Sources: A Brief Guide to the Traditional Budget Process, CBPP: Introduction to the Federal Budget Process, Impacts and Costs of the 2013 Federal Government Shutdown, The President’s Budget Proposal.

GROWING UP GRANITE

Here are the other federal programs benefitting children, in order, among the ten largest are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance, Social Security benefits for dependents and survivors under 18, child nutrition programs, Title I funding for educating disadvantaged children, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant.

We learned in the section above that Congress must pass a series of Appropriations bills that fund the work of the Federal Government.  But did you know that both Congress and the President use this process to identify their priorities for the upcoming year?  In recent years, spending has been limited by the use of “sequestration,” a process that automatically makes cuts to all agencies across the federal government without regard to the impact on services.

Most of the impact of sequester is felt in the “discretionary” programs, which includes the majority of programs serving low-income children and their families. Currently, the automatic cuts triggered by the sequester affect both defense related programs and non-defense programs (the latter are known as “non-defense discretionary spending” or NDD). While the sequester was limited in 2014 and 2015, the cuts are scheduled to be in effect as Congress debates the budget for the next fiscal year (FY 2016).

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “under current policies, including the sequestration cuts, NDD spending is projected to fall to its lowest level as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) on record in 2016, with data going back to 1962, and will continue to fall thereafter. (Even without the sequestration cuts, NDD spending is projected to reach its lowest level as a share of GDP in 2017). By 2021, if sequestration stays in place, funding for NDD programs will be 18 percent below the 2010 level (adjusted for inflation); 2010 was the last ear before Congress began cutting discretionary funding to reduce the deficit.”

Under current funding levels, the unmet needs of children and families are significant:

  • Only one in six eligible children receives child care assistance that help families work and children be safe and supported in learning and development.
  • Less than half of eligible preschoolers can enroll in Head Start, which provides school-readiness and comprehensive services.
  • Less than four percent of eligible babies and toddlers can enroll in Early Head Start, which ensures a positive developmental foundation for young children.
  • Many children with developmental delays and disabilities are unable to receive early intervention services because of inadequate funding of Part C of IDEA.

If the sequester cuts are allowed to move forward, the impact on early childhood programs will be significant. Programs that have already had to cut hours of service, serve fewer children, limit the services available, cut staff, lower compensation and make do with much less will see even fewer resources available in their states and communities.

The President, in his Budget proposal for FY 2016, recognized both the need for thoughtful investment and the importance of early childhood programs. The President’s budget document invests heavily in early childhood programs to improve outcomes for young children and to support working families. It proposes, first, to end the sequester.

Here’s what you can do.

Make a call or send an e-mail to the offices of our Members of Congress.

Tell them that children need high-quality programs and supports to help them learn, develop, and build the skills necessary to grow strong and healthy in order to succeed in school and life. These programs need to be adequately funded and not threatened by the cuts of sequestration. It is time to end the sequester.

For more information about sequestration: CBPP: Sequestration and Its Impact on Non-Defense Appropriations.

AFT-NH Red Alert: Standing Up Against Timberlane Regional School District Budget Cuts

A special message from AFT-NH

aft sqaurePLEASE ATTEND THE 2015 DELIBERATIVE SESSION

Thursday, February 5, 2015, 7:00 pm
at the Timberlane Regional High School Gymnasium
Registered voter check-in will begin at 6:00 pm in the TRHS Cafeteria

The Timberlane Regional School District is under attack at the deliberative session on February 5th.  Students and staff will suffer serious consequence if this cut passes. The District is comprised of the following towns: Atkinson, Danville, Plaistow and Sandown.

We know based on public comments made by Arthur and Donna Green (budget committee and school board members) there will be a motion to cut the proposed school budget by at least $2.8 million or more.

The naysayers rely on the fact that we won’t show up—but we will when the education of our children is at stake.

If you live in the Timberlane Regional School District, PLEASE attend your deliberative session and support the school budget. Some of the threatened cuts suggested run so deep as to significantly impact programs, loss of positions and user fees for bussing, music and athletics.   The proposed budget has already been significantly reduced resulting in only a 0.58% increase. Yes- just above a one-half percent (1/2%) increase. There is no room for a cut of this magnitude without a diminishment of programs and significant loss of teaching and paraeducator positions.

Talk to your friends, neighbors and colleagues and ask them to attend the meeting! Your voice matters and you can control the destiny of your schools and protect public education in your town.

Please reach out to your local union leadership in the Timberlane Teachers’ Association and the Timberlane Support Staff Union on ways you can help.

Stand Up For Your Schools!

In Solidarity,

Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

Marilinda Garcia Suggests Cutting Funding From The CDC Durning Ebola Crisis

Garcia Says We Should Not Provide More Funds for CDC Efforts to Contain Infectious Diseases Like Ebola  

Concord, NH – When asked where she could cut funding in order to balance the budget at a recent candidates forum, Tea Party candidate Marilinda Garcia said we should cut more funding from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the agency currently helping lead the response to the Ebola virus outbreak.

“We’re very concerned by Rep. Garcia’s plans to cut funding for the CDC and halt ongoing efforts to contain and prevent the Ebola virus from spreading in the United States. We believe this is a grave public safety hazard, and this is just another example of Rep. Garcia’s extreme, Tea Party agenda getting in the way of doing what’s right for our Granite State families,” said Kuster campaign spokeswoman Rosie Hilmer.

Republicans in Congress have already slashed the CDC and National Institutes of Health (NIH) budgets by $585 million and $446 million, respectively, over the past four years. This has a direct impact on the agencies’ ability to respond in a rapid and comprehensive way to public health crises.

Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified in a Congressional Committee hearing that these cuts have “in an acute and a chronic, insidious way eroded our ability to respond in the way that I and my colleagues would like to see us be able to respond to these emerging threats…particularly for responding on the dime to an emerging infectious disease threat.”

Congresswoman Kuster believes that while we must spend our tax dollars responsibly, we cannot expect our public health infrastructure to effectively protect us when we do not adequately fund these agencies, and that we should be doing more to proactively prevent the spreading of Ebola in the U.S.

Governor Hassan Highlights the Clear Choice on Expanding Opportunity and Building a Stronger Workforce at NHTI in Concord

The Governor Restored Funding that Allowed Community Colleges to Reduce Tuition, Havenstein Would Take Us Back to the Bill O’Brien Cuts that Undermined Higher Education

CONCORD—Governor Maggie Hassan visited NHTI, Concord’s Community College, to highlight the clear choice between her bipartisan leadership to expand opportunity and build a stronger workforce, and failed CEO Walt Havenstein’s Koch agenda that would take the state back to the Bill O’Brien cuts that undermined higher education and critical economic priorities.

The Governor was joined by State Senate candidate Dan Feltes and ClassCo Co-Founder and President David Luneau, to highlight her work to restore funding for higher education that allowed community colleges to reduce tuition. ClassCo is a technology, product design and development, and marketing company focused on the needs of the public safety and telecommunications communities.

“As the founder of a high-tech company right here in Concord, I know firsthand the importance of a strong workforce,” said ClassCo Co-Founder and President David Luneau. “My business relies on people being able to afford tuition so they can develop the skills and innovative thinking they need to succeed in the 21st century economy. Governor Hassan understands the needs of small businesses like mine, and that’s why she made freezing college tuition such a key priority.”

“It’s great to be at NHTI as we discuss our efforts to expand opportunity and build a stronger workforce that can fill the jobs that our innovative businesses are creating here in New Hampshire,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Our community colleges are developing innovative programs to provide our citizens with the skills they need to secure high-quality jobs, and that’s why I fought to restore funding that allowed our community colleges to reduce tuition. But my opponent’s Koch Brothers agenda and fiscally irresponsible ‘plan’ could make costs rise again at our community colleges, reversing our efforts to strengthen our workforce and putting a strain on students and families.”

Governor Hassan is fighting to expand opportunity and build a stronger workforce by freezing in-state tuition at our universities and reducing tuition at community colleges, working to modernize STEM education in our public schools, and promoting innovative options for higher education across the state.

Walt Havenstein, on the other hand, is pushing a Koch Brothers “plan” that would blow a $90 million hole in our budget, taking us back to the devastating Bill O’Brien cuts that undermined higher education and critical economic priorities.

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