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Budget Cuts Could Make Arizona Town a “Welfare City” [VIDEO]

Sequestration hits home for Ft. Huachuca workers as cuts threaten community;
AFGE urges swift passage of recently-announced two-year budget deal

FT. HUACHUCA, ARIZ. – The threat of sequestration and further federal budget cuts has employees at Fort Huachuca and Army bases across the country bracing for the worst, as a new video from the American Federation of Government Employees illustrates.

Fort Huachuca, located near the U.S.-Mexico border in Sierra Vista, Ariz., already has lost 1,100 civilian positions during the past 18 months due to budget cuts, says Katie Rasdall, president of AFGE Local 1662.

In response to sequestration and ongoing budget cuts, the Army plans to cut civilian staff at Fort Huachuca and more than two dozen other bases by another 30% between now and 2020.

“If sequestration continues and we start to plan for the 2020 budget cuts, there won’t be anything left here,” Rasdall said.

Mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, sequestration would force the Department of Defense and other federal agencies to make more than a trillion dollars in automatic spending cuts to programs and services over 10 years. DoD leaders have warned that sequestration will erode the nation’s defense capabilities and put the nation at risk.

AFGE supports the bipartisan budget deal announced Monday that would suspend sequestration for the next two years and provide much-needed increases in military and domestic spending.

Fort Huachuca already is seeing the effects of the federal budget cuts on area businesses and service providers who depend on the base and its workers for their own living. Job cuts at the base have taken their toll on the housing and real estate markets in Sierra Vista, residents say.

Long-time residents like Fran Kosinski, a military retiree and current member of AFGE Local 1662, say families won’t be able to make ends meet if the cuts continue.

“We’re going to become a welfare city, basically,” Kosinski says.

For more information, visit www.afge.org/DefendOurJobs.



Nashua Custodians Take Their Case To The People At Nashua’s Fall Festival

Nashua custodians took to the streets today to inform Nashuans that the Board of Education is not looking out for the best interests of the Nashua’s schools, with their plans to privatize the school custodians’ jobs.

The Board of Education has made the wrong choice but are unwilling to listen to the people of Nashua who are trying to show them the error of their ways.

AFSCME Council 93 members, the union that represents the custodians in the Nashua school district, were at today’s fall festival passing out informational flyers (include below the image) about the effects of privatization on our schools and the city.

Do you want some low-wage stranger walking around you kids schools? Or do you want a dedicated, professional, public servant with years of experience and personal connections to the schools and the children?  The choice is clear.

If you live in Nashua, please contact the Board of Education members (below) and tell them that you oppose this plan to privatize the custodians’ jobs and ask them to reconsider their decision.


AFSCME Council 93 members passing out information at the Nashua Fall Festival (image courtesy of AFSCME 93)

Privatization is Wrong for Nashua: Save the 101!

  • When these positions are contracted out, there is a revolving door of strangers, with unknown histories and backgrounds, as opposed to a custodian who is part of the fiber of the school community. Look no further than our neighboring Chelmsford, MA where privatized custodians were caught stealing children’s prescription drugs from the nurse, food from the school cafeteria, raiding students’ lockers, and stealing computer equipment. Do we feel safe knowing this will become our children’s’ education environment?
  • Private contractors cut corners to increase profits which come at the expense of quality. Current Nashua school custodians always go the extra mile to ensure our students have the cleanest environment possible. Many things they do now, like snow removal, will not be covered by the private contractor and result in additional costs.
  • When services are privatized, there is a loss of accountability and control. When Nashua residents have a complaint about a contracted service, the Board of Education becomes only a “middleman” who can often do little more than complain in turn to the contractor or enter into costly contract renegotiations or termination proceedings. Currently, if there is an issue, parents can come directly to the school, the custodian, or the union. Are we ready to give up control, Nashua?
  • When school employees, who are parents and grandparents of district schoolchildren, lose good jobs in our schools, they are pushed into unemployment and poverty. The local economy and stability of neighborhoods is harmed and the School District is obligated to cover unemployment insurance costs. School employees, instead of strengthening the community, will need public benefits just to make ends meet. Does that align with the values us as residents of Nashua hold dear?

Custodians need YOUR help to clean up the Board of Education’s mess! Please contact the Board of Education and tell them you are opposed to the elimination of 101 custodians!

Member Phone
George Farrington (603) 889-2779
Steven G. Haas (603) 889-1326
Robert G. Hallowell (603) 888-6488
William E. Mosher (603) 889-5526
David K. Murotake (603) 889-4568
Dorothy Oden (603) 880-8772
Elizabeth Van Twuyver (603) 883-5723
Sandra Ziehm (603) 883-2882

Residents of Nashua: Are These the Type
News Headlines We Want For OUR Schools?

Please contact members of the Nashua School Board NOW
and tell them to abandon their plans to privatize school custodian services.


Governor Hassan And Senator Shaheen Call For Full Funding Of Meals On Wheels

Meals on Wheels dinner (image by Roger W, Flickr)

Meals on Wheels dinner (image by Roger W, Flickr)

(SALEM, NH) –  New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today called for bipartisan support for full funding of the state’s Meals on Wheels Program, which faces inadequate funding at the federal level and is threatened by unpaid-for corporate tax cuts at the state level. The two participated in a roundtable discussion about the effects of inadequate funding with staff, volunteers and clients of the Rockingham County Meals on Wheels Program at the Ingram Senior Center in Salem this afternoon.           

“Our older citizens have made significant contributions to our communities, our economy, and our high quality of life, and we must maintain our commitment to providing the support that they deserve in order to maximize their ability to continue engagement in our society and economy,” Governor Hassan said. “I have presented a fiscally responsible, compromise budget proposal that protects our ability to support critical priorities like Meals on Wheels now and into the future, and I continue to urge Republicans in the legislature to negotiate in good faith and offer a true counter-proposal that addresses the central issue of our disagreement – unpaid-for corporate tax cuts that create a $90 million hole in future budgets – so that we can reach a fiscally responsible, bipartisan budget agreement as soon as possible.” 

“In New Hampshire, Meals on Wheels delivers food to more than 30,000 seniors, and the demand is only growing, with our state’s over-65 population expected to nearly double by the end of the decade,” said Shaheen. “Meals on Wheels can deliver nutritious meals to a senior for an entire year for less than it would cost for that senior to spend one day in the hospital, potentially saving us billions in Medicare and Medicaid costs. We need bipartisan cooperation in Washington and Concord to keep this program funded and benefiting our seniors. I’m asking my Republican colleagues in the Senate to work with Democrats to adequately fund Meals on Wheels moving forward.”   

In June, Governor Hassan vetoed the Republican budget because it was unbalanced and fiscally irresponsible, including unpaid-for business tax cuts that would create a $90 million hole in future budgets at the expense of critical priorities like Meals on Wheels. The Governor has since presented a fiscally responsible compromise budget proposal that provides Republican legislators with what they have indicated is their highest priority – cutting corporate taxes – in a faster timeframe while addressing concerns about long-term fiscal responsibility and protecting our ability to support critical economic priorities.

In the United States Senate, nearly every Republican Senator voted for a budget that is going to result in drastic cuts to funding for Meals on Wheels over the next decade. In the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Labor-Health-Education Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2016 fails to provide enough funding to Meals on Wheels’ growing needs in New Hampshire and across the country. Shaheen strongly opposed the Republican budget as well as the Appropriations bill.

Sen Kelly Ayotte Says She Is Working For NH Working Families But Votes Say Otherwise

Ayotte Tries To Hide Record Of Voting Against Job Training, Higher Education, And Workforce Development Programs For New Hampshire

Kelly Ayotte today claimed that she understands the importance of workforce development, but since going to Washington Ayotte has looked out for big business and DC special interests, not New Hampshire’s workers and small businesses.    

The truth is that Senator Ayotte is not being honest with us about her voting record. She supported the partisan Republican budget that would slash Pell Grants in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy and DC special interests.

“The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to millions of low-income students who want to climb the economic ladder and further their education. Pell grants cover about a third of public tuition and fees which lowers the cost of college for millions of low-income students. Pell grants have already been cut by $50 billion, but the Republican budget would further cut Pell grants by nearly $90 billion over ten years.” (Budget Blog)

Senator Ayotte also voted to cut vocational trainings and displaced worker aid by millions of dollars.

“H.R.1 also makes cuts totaling $208 million in funding for vocational and adult education programs.  Cuts include elimination of two state grant programs, the Tech-Prep program, and the Workplace and Community Transition program.” (CBPP)

In New Hampshire these programs would be cut by $33.7 million dollars. Cutting job training programs for 1,000 people and leaving 700 more who have already been displaced without any assistance. The WIA Youth Services division would have to cut assistance to 1,100 students in the Granite State as well.

Senator Ayotte also voted against providing assistance to workers who lost their jobs due to outsourcing.

“Kelly Ayotte’s empty rhetoric on strengthening our workforce is nothing but a shameless attempt to hide her record of putting outsourcers and big oil special interests first, while cutting job training programs and Pell Grants that would move New Hampshire’s economy forward,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Kelly Ayotte has always put her special interest backers before New Hampshire’s small businesses and she always will – that’s why her special interest allies are already dumping millions of dollars into our state to try to rescue her vulnerable re-election effort.”

Who is Kelly Ayotte really working for, New Hampshire’s working families, or DC special interests?


Jeb Bush Essentially Says To Federal Workers, Screw You!

Jeb Bush (Gage Skidmore FLIKR)

Can we all stop pretending that Jeb Bush is a “moderate” rather than the far-right wing extremist he really is?

“He [Jeb Bush] championed tax cuts that chiefly benefited business and the wealthy, trimmed the state’s payroll, stripped job protection from thousands of mid-level civil servants, gained more power over the judiciary, exploited his Washington connections to prevent the closing of military bases and launched the nation’s first statewide private-school voucher program,” wrote Linda Kleindienst of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 2007.

Jeb Bush has made it perfectly clear that he wants federal workers to give up more to pay for his brother’s tax cuts that should never have happened.

Yesterday the Hill published the article, Jeb Bush: Strip Feds of Automatic Pay Raises and Due Process, which is even worse than the title indicates.

He starts with yet another hiring freeze and reducing the number of dedicated public servants by eliminating positions as people retire. His plan is similar to Congressman Paul Ryan’s plan (replace one worker for every three who retire). So when Joe and Mary retire from OSHA that means will just have to make do with two fewer safety inspectors because the campaign contributors Bush caters to won’t care if OSHA is grossly understaffed and can’t fulfill its responsibilities.

In theory the Bush/Ryan plan would reduce the overall government workforce by 10% in five years. That’s 10% less Air Traffic Controllers, 10% less food safety inspectors in the Department of Agriculture, 10% less agents to help you in the Social Security Administration, 10% fewer scientists at NASA, 10% fewer prosecutors in the Department of Justice, 10% ….you get the idea.

That is only the beginning. Next he wants to go after workers’ paychecks!

Jeb argues that federal workers are overpaid and that the government rewards “longevity instead of performance.” He wants to eliminate annual increases and only give increases “based on performance.”

This is another classic union-busting tactic: pitting workers against each other for pay increases and rewarding those who oppose the union or suck up to their managers. What happens to workers who question their boss about safety violations in their workplace? What happens to workers who see something illegal going on? Do you think they will be getting pay raises next year?

How do you judge the performance of a food safety inspector? Is it the number of violations he caught and wrote up, which resulted in a lower number of facilities inspected, or is the employee who breezed through more facilities but missed more violations?

On top of pitting workers against each other, as Governor Jeb Bush incentivized managers who saved the government money or found ways for their departments to reduce spending. “Sorry no bonuses for you because I am showing Governor Bush that I am saving the government thousands of dollars.”

The political right loves to tell everyone that government workers are overpaid and are underserving of their paycheck. In fact the Washington Post reported the complete opposite.

White-collar federal employees on average earn 35.2 percent less than private-sector workers in comparable jobs.”

I actually agree with Jeb when he says: “Just like in the real world, compensation should depend on the type of work, and the quality of the work.” The Washington Post goes on to say that more educated federal workers are at a “disadvantage” to their private sector counterparts.

I think someone should inform Jeb that federal workers have already given more than their share from their paychecks. Over the last ten years alone federal workers have contributed over $159 billion dollars to debt reduction plans pushed by the Republicans who control Congress.

  • Federal workforce contribution_April 9 copy3-year pay freeze (2011, 2012, 2013) — $98 billion
  • 2012 UI extension which increased retirement contributions for 2013 hires to 3.1% — $15 billion
  • 2013 lost salaries of 750,000 employees furloughed because of sequestration — $1 billion
  • 2013 Murray-Ryan increased retirement contributions for post-2013 hires to 4.4% — $6 billion
  • 2014 pay raise of only 1%; lower than baseline of 1.8% — $18 billion
  • 2015 pay raise of only 1%; lower than baseline of 1.9% — $21 billion

Total Federal Employee Sacrifice Thus Far: $159 billion

In the 2016 budget they want to take even more!

Republicans are proposing another $238 billion in forced concessions by federal workers through higher retirement contributions and creating a voucher system for health benefits that are going to cost employees even more.

The 2016 budget will force federal workers to lose between $2,525 and $5,617 dollars. Each.

So far Jeb Bush wants slash the number of dedicated public servants, force workers to give back thousands of dollars from their own wallets to “reduce the debt,” give bonuses to managers who reduce spending in their departments, and then he wants to make it easier to fire employees for arbitrary reasons.

That’s right, Jeb Bush wants to strip away employees’ union rights, repealing the right to due process and turning federal workers into “at will employees” – all to make it easier to fire people.

Another classic union busting tactic is to “reduce spending” by firing higher-paid employees (before they can collect any retirement) and replacing them with lower-paid new employees.

As Governor, Jeb Bush used this same tactic to fire 16,000 workers from their jobs with the State of Florida. Jeb Bush gave agency heads to use their “sound discretion” to send people packing, and tied it to his “Service First” program that gave incentives to managers who found ways to reduce government spending.

This isn’t a “moderate” agenda.

Bush may not be insulting veterans or giving out people’s cell phone numbers – and he’s not trying to terrify the electorate with talk of apocalypse or an imagined invasion of Texas – but a lack of hard-core lunacy doesn’t make him a moderate candidate.

He’s part of the far-right wing.

His agenda would decimate federal services that we rely on.

And as this “clown car” primary season keeps getting weirder and weirder, we need to not lose sight of that.

Granite State Rumblings: State and Federal Budget Woes

Sad child (Image by AXEL on FLIKR)

Sad child (Image by AXEL on FLIKR)

Last Wednesday the House Labor- Health and Human Services (HHS) – Education Appropriations Subcommittee passed the fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations legislation that cut several programs that are important to children. It is the largest of the domestic spending bills that has not been considered by the Subcommittee in three years and almost six years (2009) by the full House Appropriations Committee. The full Committee is expected to review the FY 2016 bill this week.

From our friends at First Focus is this summary of what is in the bill and the bad news for kids.

How children fare in the House spending bill (and it’s bad news)

By: Sarah Kyle

Under the leadership of Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK), the 2016 Labor HHS Education bill would provide about $153 billion for Labor, HHS, and Education programs – $3.7 billion less than the current level of spending and $14.6 billion less than what President Obama proposed in his FY 16 budget. Altogether, 27 programs were eliminated in the bill, including 19 for education. The cuts are symptomatic of the greater issue relating to the discretionary caps in place for FY 2016, widely acknowledged during the mark up by Republicans and Democrats on the Subcommittee. According to OMB, in the absence of congressional action in FY 2016, both defense and non-defense discretionary spending will be at the lowest levels in a decade, adjusted for inflation.

For the U.S. Department of Education, the bill includes $64.4 billion, a $2.8 billion cut that is more significant than sequestration in 2013, and $6.4 billion less than president’s budget request.

The bill eliminates 19 education programs, including:

  • Preschool development grants,
  • Teacher quality partnerships and safe, and
  • Drug-free schools and communities.

Some programs’ funding levels were level funded or frozen, effectively a cut due to inflation and student population growth, and comes after years of cuts, freezes, or small increases. This is of particular concern for important education programs intended to benefit low-income children, such as Title I grants, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and English Language Acquisition State Grants. The draft bill freezes funding at $14.5 billion for Title I grants, which reach about 20 million American children each year, at a time when child poverty is growing, particularly for young children, and when LEAs are significantly underfunded.

The bill does not include funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers that support before-and after-care and summer activities for students in high-poverty and low performing schools.

Finally, the bill freezes funding for English Language Acquisition State Grants at $737 million towards helping English language learners (ELL) develop high levels of academic achievement. In 2011-2012, about 4.4 million ELL students attended public schools, representing about 9.1 percent of total student enrollment.

The bill also eliminates the Preschool Development Grants, which provide critical funds to states to develop the infrastructure and improve the quality of preschool programs for 4-year-olds living in low-income families. The elimination of this program endangers the ability of states to develop and expand access to high quality preschool for the children who need it the most.

There were some notable increases to education, including investments to support children with special needs, as authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was funded at $12 billion, roughly about $500 million more than current level funding. Impact Aid basic support payments went up by about $10 million while other Impact Aid programs were frozen. It also provides an additional $20 million for Indian Education to support a comprehensive approach to educational improvement and reform for Indian students.

At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the draft bill provides $71.3 billion, an almost $300 million increase above FY 2015 and $3.9 billion below the president’s request. There is an increase of approximately $300 million to Head Start, resulting in overall funding of $8.8 billion. Head Start is celebrating its 50th year anniversary of providing comprehensive services to the most disadvantaged children and families to ensure that they are healthy and ready to thrive in school. The increase in funding falls far short of what is needed to serve all children in need of Head Start, which serves less than 50 percent of the children eligible for the program. The president requested roughly $10.1 billion for Head Start, an additional $1.5 billion or 17 percent increase over the current funding level of $8.5 billion, to provide full-day and full-year Head Start services for low-income children and families. The increase would also help mitigate the impact of sequestration on Head Start that resulted in 57,000 slots lost in the program.

This bill also provides level funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which Congress recently reauthorized with important safety and quality requirements. The president proposed a 15 percent increase to the program, funding it $2.8 billion to help low-income families in obtaining child care so that parents can work or attend classes or training. The recently reauthorized CCDBG requires significant funding increases to enable states to implement the safety and quality provisions. Level-funding the CCDBG means that working families will receive fewer childcare subsidies, resulting in the loss of adequate, affordable childcare nationally. This negatively impacts children, who will be forced into potentially unsafe childcare facilities and providers, and for parents, who without childcare, cannot maintain stable employment to support their families.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services – which is charged with carrying out Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — were cut by $344 million, and $919 million (almost $1 billion) below the President’s budget request. According to HHS, CHIP and Medicaid provided coverage for more than 45.3 million children in the U.S. in FY 2013. With more than 60 percent of all children relying on CHIP and Medicaid at some point last year, these programs are essential to our nation’s overall health and well-being.

The bill also freezes funding for Community Health Centers (CHCs) that play a critical role in serving over 7 million children across the nation, including more than 350,000 children who are covered under CHIP, and one in three children who live in poverty. Communities served by a CHC have significantly reduced the rates of infant mortality and low birth weight babies. The president’s budget included $4.1 billion for CHCs in FY 2016, including $2.7 billion in Affordable Care Act mandatory funding, to support 1,300 grantees and approximately 28.6 million patients.

The largest increase in the bill went to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with $1.1 billion, bringing the nation’s premier research agency up to $31.2 billion. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development received $1.305 billion, an increase from last year, and slightly below the president’s request of $1.318 billion. The bill also restores the National Children’s Study (NCS). In December 2014, the NIH made an announcement that it would dissolve the study as a result of recommendations by the Advisory Committee to the Director (of NIH) that the NCS is not feasible.

The Administration for Children and Families also received $27.8 billion, a $50 million bump from FY 2015, yet almost $2 billion less that the president’s request, to carry out activity for federal programs relating to children, including foster care, adoption assistance and the Community Services Block Grant.

For the U.S. Department of Labor, the bill allows for $11.07 billion, which is $206 million less that FY 2015, and $1.4 billion below the president’s budget request that included paid leave initiatives. The bill level funds Job Corp, which provides young people 16 through 24 with educational and vocational training at no cost, as well as youth training activities under Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that provides workforce preparation. Youth Build, which provides grants to provide education, employment skills and training for disadvantaged youth, received $82 million, a slight increase, but less than the president’s request for $84.5 million. The Connecting for Opportunity initiative for additional summer and year-round job opportunities for disconnected youth was not included in the bill.

While there are a few bright spots in this bill providing additional resources to some programs, there are alarming cuts and program eliminations that could be extremely damaging to federal services for children. Congress needs to consider a broader approach to FY 2016 spending and raise discretionary spending caps in order to make long term investments in our greatest domestic priority: our kids.

Growing Up Granite

On Wednesday the NH Senate and House will vote on the $11.3 billion budget approved by Republican lawmakers on the Committee of Conference last week. Governor Maggie Hassan has expressed her intention to veto the budget should it make its way to her desk.

Below is a piece that was published in Sunday’s Concord Monitor written by Governor Hassan.

My Turn: Why I will veto the Committee of Conference budget proposal
For the Monitor
Sunday, June 21, 2015 (Published in print: Sunday, June 21, 2015)

In recent days, Republicans on the budget Committee of Conference finalized a budget proposal that is unbalanced and dishonest about what it funds. It also includes unpaid-for corporate tax cuts, creating a hole in this budget and in future budgets at the expense of critical economic priorities. For these reasons and more, I will veto their budget if it reaches my desk.

What this means is that the Legislature needs to return to work immediately, prepare a continuing resolution that will fund state government in the short term, and get back to the table and negotiate in good faith to develop a bipartisan budget that is fiscally responsible and that supports the priorities needed to keep New Hampshire’s economy moving forward.

To keep our economy moving in the right direction, I proposed a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that was transparent and honest about how we would support critical economic priorities without an income or a sales tax. The plan that I proposed clearly set those economic priorities, including making higher education more affordable, strengthening public safety, ensuring access to affordable health care, and repairing our roads and bridges.

I have been at the table with Republican leadership and have been clear throughout the budget process about how we can achieve a bipartisan budget that addresses our shared priorities. Unfortunately, Republican leadership has refused to compromise on any of the major issues – most critically on a responsible way to pay for their unfunded tax cuts for mostly big corporations.

Instead, their fiscally irresponsible approach undermines our economic future by giving unpaid-for tax cuts to big corporations, mostly headquartered out-of-state, that will create a hole in this budget and a more than $90 million hole in future budgets. It puts big, out-of-state corporate interests ahead of New Hampshire’s families, small businesses and economy, and only 1 percent of businesses – many of which are large multi-state corporations – would receive more than 75 percent of the benefits from the proposed rate reduction.

The Republican budget also fails to reauthorize our bipartisan health care expansion plan, even though leaders from both parties, the business community and the health care industry agree that it has been successful. This leaves more than 40,000 hard-working Granite Staters at risk of losing their coverage and creates uncertainty for all businesses and consumers.

And the Republican budget fails to live up to the fair contract negotiated in good faith with our dedicated public employees.

At the same time, the Republican budget is left unbalanced by relying on misleading budget gimmicks. It uses money from fiscal year 2015 that is already designated to pay this year’s bills, and it does not honestly fund the services we all agree are essential to our people, families and businesses.
Without a plan for how we would pay for Republicans’ corporate tax cuts now and in the future, we cannot sufficiently support the shared priorities that we all agree on. These are the priorities that are critical to our small businesses and families, and they are the priorities that businesses tell me are critical to their ability to grow, to thrive and to create jobs.

While maintaining our low-tax environment – which the Tax Foundation ranked as the seventh-best in the country in its business tax climate index – is critical, low taxes alone will not move our economy forward. We must also continue supporting priorities such as a strong and healthy workforce, a modern transportation infrastructure and safe communities. Nothing in my budget proposal would jeopardize New Hampshire’s status as having one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, but unlike the Republican budget, it responsibly and transparently supports critical economic priorities.

By failing to pay for their corporate tax cuts, the Republican budget is setting our state on a perilous fiscal path. It will make college tuition more expensive. It will hurt our ability to ensure that workers can access health care without financial ruin. It will lead to unplowed, unsafe roads for commuters and businesses. And it will not adequately address substance misuse, even as we are in the midst of a heroin crisis.

Our families deserve better. Our businesses deserve better. And the hard-working people of the Granite State deserve better.

Republicans need to join me in putting New Hampshire’s families, businesses and economic interests first, and I invite them to join me and follow the example of the people of New Hampshire, who work together to improve their communities every day. That’s what Granite Staters deserve from their elected leaders.

For a clearer understanding of the tax cuts in the proposed budget and what they mean for NH businesses and state revenue, here is the newest Common Cents blog from our friends at the NH Fiscal Policy Institute.

Revenue Loss from Business Tax Cuts Will Benefit Select Set of Companies

The version of the FY 2016-2017 budget that both the House of Representatives and the Senate will consider on Wednesday includes significant reductions in the rates of New Hampshire’s twin business taxes: the business profits tax (BPT) and the business enterprise tax (BET). While policymakers should be concerned about the impact that such changes would have on New Hampshire’s ability to fund vital public services both now and in the future, questions should also be asked about which businesses would stand to gain from lower BPT and BET rates.

As data from the Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) make quite clear, at present, a relatively small number of businesses pay the lion’s share of the BPT and BET. Of the $462 million in combined BPT and BET paid in tax year 2012, 68 percent was paid by businesses with tax liabilities in excess of $50,000. Furthermore, DRA data indicate that just 1,097 businesses – or about 2 percent of businesses filing tax returns that year – fall in this range of liability. Not surprisingly, then, in an analysis issued earlier this month, DRA finds that 76 percent of the proposed BPT rate reduction would accrue to just 718 businesses, while just under 50 percent of the proposed BET rate reduction would accrue to just 440 businesses.

Moreover, given the nature of the modern economy, it seems likely that a sizable share of any business tax cut will not remain here in New Hampshire to spur its economy, but rather would flow out of state. Indeed, information compiled by the New Hampshire Business Review for its 2015 Book of Lists indicates that many of the state’s largest employers are owned by parent companies based out of state. For example, among the 50 largest manufacturing employers in the Granite State, 40 appear to be owned by parent companies situated in another state or another country. Consequently, multistate or multinational companies operating in New Hampshire – and benefitting from a business tax cut – will not be constrained in what they do with those dollars. Rather than invest here, they could use them to bolster operations in another part of the country or to increase dividend payments to shareholders worldwide.

In short, the revenue loss associated with lower BPT and BET rates will result in gains for a relatively select set of companies with little guarantee of a return to the New Hampshire economy.

Is The NH GOP Taking Us Down The Same Road As The Kansas Legislature?

NHGOP Ignores What’s The Matter With Kansas, Unpaid-For Tax Cuts For Big Corporations Will Lead To Years of Red Ink

Look At States Governed By Republicans – Like Kansas – “And It Seems That The GOP Might Need A Collective Refresher Course In Economics, If Not General Math”

Concord, N.H. – As New Hampshire Republicans continue pushing their plan to blow a $90 million hole in future budgets with unpaid-for tax giveaways for big, out-of-state corporations, they’re ignoring one key issue: we’ve already seen how this plays out.

When Kansas Governor Sam Brownback declared his state was a real-world “experiment” in Koch Brothers economics, he was right. The fact is simple: unpaid-for tax cuts will either result in budget deficits, cuts to critical priorities – or as happened in Kansas, both.

A recent report from U.S. News explains, “Look at states governed by Republicans” like Kansas, “and it seems that the GOP might need a collective refresher course in economics, if not general math.”

**See also: “Where Republicans Went Wrong in Kansas” (The Atlantic); “Republicans Have Become the Party of Red Ink” (U.S. News); “Kansas’s Failed Experiment” (The Atlantic); “Kansas Is Totally Screwed” (Mother Jones); “A ‘cautionary tale’ in Brownback’s failed Kansas experiment” (MSNBC); “Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas (New York Times)

“New Hampshire Republicans either need a refresher course in economics, or they could just get on a plane and see what’s the matter with Kansas for themselves,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “The bottom line is that unpaid-for tax cuts result in budget deficits, cuts to critical economic priorities, or as we’re seeing in Kansas, both. Any Republican who tries to claim otherwise needs to take their head out of the sand.”

ICYMI: Concord Monitor Editorial: “Budgets of Unmet Needs, Raided Funds”

Concord, N.H. – Republicans in the legislature continue to take heat for budget proposals that fail to meet the state’s economic needs, including failing to adequately fund substance misuse treatment and not continuing the state’s successful Medicaid expansion program.

The Concord Monitor editorial board wrote, “A seemingly sensible, but woeful, statement by Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Sen. Jeanie Forrester explains why New Hampshire is falling behind. ‘I would like it to be more,’ Forrester told Monitor State House reporter Allie Morris. ‘But this is what we can afford.’”

The Monitor noted that despite claims from Forrester and Republicans in the Legislature that the state can’t afford to adequately fund critical priorities like substance misuse treatment, “they want to reduce business taxes under the failed theory that it promotes business growth. That will guarantee a continued state inability to keep its promises and meet its obligations.”

The Monitor also points out that Republicans’ dedicated fund raids may be unconstitutional.

In a joint op-ed, House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff and Rep. Mary Jane Wallner wrote, “We were glad to hear that Republican senators agreed that the budget passed by the New Hampshire House was unacceptable. But, in trying to fix the House’s mess, Senate Republicans passed a budget that doesn’t actually do what they say it does… Now it’s time to work together to pass a responsible budget that actually funds the priorities it claims it does.”

See full roundup below:

Concord Monitor Editorial: Budgets of unmet needs, raided funds

… A seemingly sensible, but woeful, statement by Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Sen. Jeanie Forrester explains why New Hampshire is falling behind.

“I would like it to be more,” Forrester told Monitor State House reporter Allie Morris. “But this is what we can afford.”

Forrester was defending the Senate’s decision to once again default on its obligation to dedicate 5 percent of state liquor store profits to substance abuse treatment.

… In fact, funding for the past four years has been roughly the same amount. … The result: more deaths, more crime, more broken families and higher welfare and corrections costs.

But back to Forrester’s statement.

Many of the deaths were in her district, and the senator knows that more needs to be done.

… Forrester’s statement was just another version of the Republican “live within our means” mantra. Mention revenue, in the state with the sixth-highest per capita income in the nation and Republican legislators sit down, put their hands over their ears and begin chanting, “La, la, la, la, la.”

To make matters worse, they want to reduce business taxes under the failed theory that it promotes business growth. That will guarantee a continued state inability to keep its promises and meet its obligations.

Neither budget includes money to continue the expanded Medicaid program that has allowed some 40,000 low-income adults to have health insurance, many for the first time.

… The budget the governor will either veto, sign or let pass without her signature will probably include money from raids on several dedicated funds, a practice former Concord mayor and constitutional savant Martin Gross and others say is clearly unconstitutional.

Recipients of grants from the state’s renewable energy fund, which has been raided in the past and will be to a smaller degree in the new budget, are debating whether to sue to prevent the raid. [Full editorial]

Nashua Telegraph Op-Ed: Time to come together on the budget

By Reps. Steve Shurtleff and Mary Jane Wallner

To pass a budget that truly meets the needs of our state requires both parties to put partisanship aside and work together to get things done.

No one political party has a monopoly on good ideas, and it’s crucial that both parties work together during the budget process to develop a responsible budget that will make progress for our people, businesses, and economy.

Back in February, Gov. Maggie Hassan presented a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that makes strategic investments to lay the foundation for a new generation of economic growth, without a sales or income tax.

Unfortunately, House Republicans took a very different approach, passing a strictly partisan budget that prompted outcry from all corners of our state.

We were glad to hear that Republican senators agreed that the budget passed by the New Hampshire House was unacceptable. But, in trying to fix the House’s mess, Senate Republicans passed a budget that doesn’t actually do what they say it does.

The Senate budget misleads the people of New Hampshire about what priorities are actually being funded, while relying on gimmicks that leave the budget unbalanced.

Senate Republicans claim to have restored critical services for our state’s most vulnerable citizens, including Meals on Wheels and services for individuals who experience developmental disabilities. But the reality is that their budget gimmicks – including things like magical savings estimates and unrealistic projections – place all of these services at risk.

Take for example, funding for mental health services. After claiming to “restore” $6.25 million in mental health funding, senators actually told the department to cut $6.25 million from the landmark mental health settlement the legislature approved last year, threatening critical services.

And when it comes to substance misuse treatment, senators used accounting tricks to try to hide the fact that they actually cut $3 million from the governor’s proposal for substance misuse treatment.

That’s to say nothing of their failure to adequately fund public safety, higher education and their decision not to continue our bipartisan Medicaid expansion program.

While even Senate Republicans agree that our state’s Medicaid expansion is working exactly as intended – if not better – their budget places 40,000 Granite Staters at risk of losing their coverage and creates uncertainty in the insurance market that could lead to higher rates for all of our people and businesses.

Though the Senate claimed we couldn’t afford to invest in priorities like Medicaid expansion and higher education with proven results for economic growth, they expressed no concerns about giving unpaid-for tax giveaways to big businesses, blowing a huge hole in our budget.

We believe the approach laid out in the governor’s fiscally responsible proposal would be the best way forward for our state. That said, we appreciate that passing a budget requires compromise, and as we enter the committee-of-conference process, we stand ready to do just that.

The good news is that Democrats and Republicans agree on many of the critical priorities that must be met for our economy to thrive. Now it’s time to work together to pass a responsible budget that actually funds the priorities it claims it does.

The people of New Hampshire didn’t send us to Concord to point fingers or engage in political gamesmanship. They sent us to Concord to solve problems and get results for our state.

We’ve come a long way together throughout this budget process, and it’s time to get ourselves over the finish line.

New Hampshire’s families and businesses are depending on our ability to work together to pass a budget that keeps our economy moving in the right direction, and we look forward to working with our Republican colleagues to do exactly that.

Rep. Stephen Shurtleff, D–Penacook, is the New Hampshire House Democratic Leader; Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, D–Concord, is the ranking Democratic and former chair of the House Finance Committee.

NH Senate Cuts Taxes For Former Governor Benson’s Company 

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement after the Senate today voted in favor of an amendment to House Bill 550, relative to administration of the tobacco tax and relative to the sale or exchange of an interest in a business organization under the business profits tax:

“Planet Fitness is a valued New Hampshire company, and the Granite State has a great deal to offer as its corporate headquarters, including a low-tax environment without a sales or an income tax, a highly skilled workforce and a small, responsive state government. While we want to do everything that we can to keep the Planet Fitness corporate headquarters and its high-quality jobs here in New Hampshire, we cannot hastily and without full transparency make drastic changes to our tax laws due to a last-minute request from one company without a deeper analysis of the fairness to other tax-paying businesses in the Granite State and the impact to the state’s budget.

“This proposal was brought forward at the very last second of the legislative session without an adequate public process and its costs are not paid for in the Senate budget. At the same time, the Senate budget includes other large business tax cuts that will create a hole in this budget and budgets well into the future. We must analyze the creation of this tax loophole with the same scrutiny as any other tax law changes of this magnitude would be, and have an honest and transparent discussion about the priorities we would choose not to fund in order to pay for each of these tax law changes.”

Senator Dan Feltes Comments on Passage of Special Tax Break

following the passage of HB 550 along a party line 14-10 vote, Sen. Dan Feltes, member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee released the following statement:

“Carving out tax breaks for a single business at the last minute with no transparency is not the way to re-write tax law and can lead to harmful, unintended consequences for the people of New Hampshire,” said Sen. Dan Feltes. “This tax break, which was only brought up at the last minute by former Governor Craig Benson for a business that he serves on the board for, has not had a full vetting and is being rushed through the legislative process. We shouldn’t be opening loopholes for Governor Benson, we should be closing loopholes that disproportionately benefit the wealth and big corporations at the expense of the middle class, small businesses, and property taxpayers.”

NH Senate Republicans Cut Business Taxes At The Expense of Working Families

Image by Marc Nozell (CC Flickr)

NH Senate Chamber Image by Marc Nozell (CC Flickr)

Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee voted today to give big businesses more tax giveaways while making small businesses and middle class families pay the price.

“Our budget is a statement of priorities and with the actions taken by the Senate Finance Committee over the last week have clearly demonstrated they side with large corporations rather than the working people of New Hampshire,” said Senator Woodburn. “The cost of these tax giveaways is clear and the price is dear. Rather than fund Medicaid Expansion, which is helping tens of thousands of Granite Staters and strengthening our economy, Senate Republicans have decided to give tax cuts to large, out-of-state corporations instead.”

The Senate voted to approve an amendment that reduced the Business Profits Tax by 0.2% and the Business Enterprise Tax by 0.025% in Fiscal Year 2017. Based on the fiscal notes in SB 1 and SB 2, the original vehicles for the tax giveaways, these tax cuts would reduce state revenues by $15.6 million in Fiscal Year 2017. Senate Democrats have fought to include the extension of Medicaid Expansion in the budget, which would cost about $12 million in Fiscal Year 2017, far less than the cost of the business tax cuts.

“New Hampshire’s business community has called on us to continue the state’s successful expansion program because it’s reducing heath care cost-shifting onto our families and businesses, strengthening the health of our workforce, and boosting our economy,” said Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, ranking Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee. “Our businesses need healthy workers and reductions in energy rates before they need a 30th tax reduction in 8 years. New Hampshire is a great place to do business now and these tax cuts do nothing to address the real problems facing our growing economy.”

Senate Republicans’ big business tax giveaways would cost $15 million in the next biennium, which is more than the cost of continuing the state’s successful Medicaid expansion program for 40,000 Granite Staters.

“We’ve heard throughout the budget process that New Hampshire needs to ‘live within its means.’ If we cut business taxes today only to put off their full consequences for later years, this action violates that notion entirely,” said  New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) Executive Director Jeff McLynch.

“The Finance Committee has approved a cut of $14 million from the FY 2017 budget while the state struggles to find necessary funding for higher education, health care, and other services to support vital human needs,” said McLynch.

“These proposed reductions in business tax rates will reduce revenue by more than $80 million per biennium when fully phased in, with no plan to replace the lost revenue,” said McLynch.

“Phasing business tax reductions in overtime simply puts off – for another day and onto future legislatures — the difficult choices and tough tradeoffs that would have to be made to accommodate the revenue losses certain to result from business tax cuts,” said McLynch.

Not to mention that Senate Republicans have also proposed cutting more than $3 million from the Governor’s proposal for substance misuse treatment and defunding the state’s landmark mental health settlement.

“Senate Republicans are putting their majority at risk as they vote for more big business tax giveaways while cutting critical economic priorities and threatening health coverage for 40,000 Granite Staters,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “From cutting funding for substance misuse treatment to refusing to continue New Hampshire’s successful Medicaid expansion program, Senate Republicans’ budget proposal would hurt the health and economic wellbeing of our communities and undermine the state’s ability to lay the foundation of a new generation of economic growth.”

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