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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.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, A True Fighter For NH Families (New Web Video Included)

Screenshot YouTube Stand with Me CROPPEDAfter filing her candidacy to represent New Hampshire’s First Congressional District, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) launched a new web video, “Stand with Me.” The spot focuses on Shea-Porter’s New Hampshire roots, her promises kept to fight for jobs, education, and infrastructure, and her pledge to never take a dime from Corporate PACs or DC Lobbyists.

Over the last year and a half, the NH Labor News has been covering the actions of Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.  We have highlighted some of the ways she is protecting New Hampshire’s working families.  We have at times been critical of Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and all of Congress over their failure to pass some meaningful legislation that would move our country in the right direction.

Protecting Workers At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter is a strong advocate for working families.  She has been adamant against the closing of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and reversing the effects of the draconian budget cuts of the “sequester.”

“I cannot stress this enough, Congress must pass a responsible budget that creates jobs and eliminates sequestration,” Shea-Porter said. “The men and women at the Shipyard are essential to our national defense and contribute $660 million to the region’s economy. Continuing the cuts of sequestration is unfair to these men and women, and it is a deeply misguided approach.”

The sequester forced workers throughout the federal government into furloughs, resulting in a loss of pay and a slow down of work.

“Our shipyard will not survive another 9 ½ years of sequestration,” said Paul O’Connor, President of the Shipyard Metal Trades Council. “Sequestration was never intended to be a sensible budget cutting device. It was a scheme of cuts so damaging that Congress would be forced to work together to avoid them. This is a bad law and it must end.”

Pay Equity

In Washington, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter used her position to push for pay equity for all working women.

“Working women are America’s mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives. We’re America’s factory and office workers, health care professionals and scientists, business executives and teachers,” said Shea-Porter. “Women are working everywhere, but women in America still make only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.  Equal pay for equal work is a fairness issue and an economic issue.”

Standing up for Teachers

She submitted legislation to extend the REPAY Act, which gives teachers a $250 rebate for purchasing supplies for their classrooms.

“This deduction has been extended with bipartisan support for every year since 2002, but was allowed to expire at the end of 2013,” said Shea-Porter. “We owe it to our nation’s educators and our children to ensure that they have the necessary educational tools to succeed.”

Healthcare, Medicare, and Social Security

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has also been an outspoken advocate for providing affordable healthcare to everyone, and protecting our seniors from the Republican assault on Social Security and Medicare.

“Granite State seniors have earned their Medicare and Social Security benefits through a lifetime of hard work,” Shea-Porter said. “These programs are vital to the retirement security of millions of Americans, and we must protect them for future generations.”

After the news that 40,262 Granite Staters and more than 8 million Americans in total have enrolled in private health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act, Shea-Porter stated:

“I’ve heard from constituents, both Republicans and Democrats, about how the Affordable Care Act has helped them and their families. There are still challenges, but today’s news is confirmation that access to affordable healthcare has improved for New Hampshire families.”

“Everyone in New Hampshire deserves the consumer protections offered by the Affordable Care Act: it ends discrimination against those with preexisting conditions, allows children to stay on parents’ plans up to age 26, and ensures annual and lifetime out-of-pocket limits.” 

Leadership New Hampshire Can Count On

For many years Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has continued to show her strong leadership skills in and out of Washington.  As a member of Congress, she opposes corporate PAC money and pushes to get the money out of the political process.

Even though right-wing groups routinely attack her, she continues to submit bills to make the Affordable Care Act better. She pushed for Medicaid expansion and worked to expand the coverage of those who purchase healthcare from the ACA Marketplace.

“I (Carol Shea-Poter) advocated for Minuteman to enter the New Hampshire Marketplace to provide competition, and I am delighted that Minuteman will negotiate with any of our hospitals who want to participate on the new healthcare exchange.”

Continuing her efforts to make health insurance more affordable for small businesses, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) joined with two colleagues to introduce the Small Business Tax Credit Accessibility Act (H.R. 4128). This legislation would expand and simplify the Affordable Care Act’s Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit to help more small employers purchase quality, affordable health-insurance policies.

Stick with someone we can trust in Washington.  Someone who has proven herself to be a true fighter for the middle class, and all working families.

“Granite Staters know they can trust Carol,” said Patrick Carroll, Campaign Manager for Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “Voters trust her because she fights for them every day. Carol Shea-Porter has fought to improve the lives of her neighbors in New Hampshire. Whether it’s more jobs, affordable education, access to health care, or protecting Social Security and Medicare, Carol Shea-Porter is the clear champion for New Hampshire families in 2014, and this video shows why.”

VIDEO — “Stand With Me”

Kids Or Corporations? Which Do We Value More?

Image by Rocksee (Flickr CC)

Image by Rocksee (Flickr CC)

From Pennsylvania, this story:

Governor Tom Corbett cut corporate taxes by $1.2 billion.  Then he cut nearly $1 billion dollars from the state’s education budget.  Then he acted shocked when schools from Philadelphia to Pittsburg were forced to close.

Then a child died.

From the AFT: “We don’t know if a school nurse could have saved this young boy. But we do know every child deserves a full-time nurse in his or her school. We do know all parents deserve to know that their child will be safe and his or her most basic needs will be tended to at school. We do know that all Philadelphia children deserve better.”

The boy wasn’t the first child who died.  Twelve-year-old Laporshia Massey died from asthma complications that started while she was at school.  Could her death have been prevented there had been a school nurse on staff?

Of course, Governor Corbett responded by attacking the teachers’ unions – without mentioning the budget hole created by his corporate tax cuts.

Yep, another politician who wants our teachers to make “sacrifices.”

(But not the corporations.  Somehow, they never ask the corporations to make “sacrifices.”)

But it’s not just Pennsylvania.

A friend of mine is an elementary school art teacher, whose classroom is out of supplies and whose budget is out of money.  How do you teach elementary school art without construction paper and glue sticks?

A middle school student complains about seeing her teachers outside of school.  “It’s really embarrassing when you run into your teacher in a restaurant,” she says.  “But it’s even more embarrassing when your teacher is your server at the restaurant.  Why can’t we pay teachers enough that they don’t need a second job to survive?”

All across the country we hear stories of states being forced “make the hard choices” when it comes to budgets.  They try to make us believe that they have no other choice than to cut programs to keep their budgets balanced.  They never mention the possibility of restoring revenues that were given away as tax cuts.

A strong public education is vital to our communities.  A strong education is the foundation of the American Dream.  Public schools provide the tools necessary to lift people up, to find good high paying work, and to get that little house with the white picket fence.  A strong public education system — which I believe should include higher education — is the key to countering America’s poverty problems, too.

But budget cuts have forced some schools to close completely, leaving children and their parents scrambling.  Teacher layoffs have led to larger class sizes, and less time to help students.  Budget cuts are forcing teachers and parents to supply schools with basic necessities like paper, pens, chalk, and paper towels out of their own pockets.

Cuts to school lunch programs mean that too many teachers are reaching into their own pockets to buy lunch for students who would otherwise go hungry.

Yet corporations keep their tax cuts.

The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are on the front lines of this fight to protect and preserve our public education system.  AFT is running a new campaign entitled “reclaim the promise” that challenges people to stand up for public education.

Stand up and fight to ensure that children in all communities get access to a high quality education.

Stand up and say “NO” to the government leaders who would rather cut funding to schools than ask businesses to pay their taxes.

Stand up and say: “NO MORE hungry children.”

And “NO MORE children dead, without a school nurse around.”

 

(Special Hat-Tip to my friends Kevin Mahoney and Sean Kitchen at Raging Chicken Press for always keeping the light shining on the atrocity of Governor Corbett’s attack on public schools and public workers.)

New Hampshire Vouchers: The Choice Nobody Is Taking

NH Voucher

Once a year, in effort somehow convince people that private charter schools are better than public schools, organizations like ‘Students First’ are pushing ‘National School Choice Week’.  This once a year event floods the media with stories about how school vouchers are working or that school vouchers are a better use of your tax dollars.  This is all complete hogwash.

The simple truth is that people are not choosing to change schools and the school vouchers program is more about getting taxpayers to pay for private religious schools.

After the red tide of Republican legislators took Concord (NH) by storm in the 2010 elections things quickly began to change. The GOP controlled legislature quickly passed their version of a school ‘voucher’ program, giving businesses a tax credit for scholarships to private schools, and slashed the state budget.

The voucher program has been in effect now for over a year so we should be able to see the thousands of people who were waiting in line to execute their ‘choice’.

Bill Duncan a local public school advocate queried the state to see exactly how many people in the Granite State applied for scholarships under the new program.  In a response from the Department of Education they stated, “the voucher program says that no more than 15 public school students will receive scholarships in the first year of the program.”

Only 15 public school students applied for the scholarship. I guess the voucher program is not as popular as the GOP tried to make people believe when they passed the bill.  The low number of applications could be due in part to the rejection by the NH Supreme Court that clearly stated that public funds could not go to religious schools.

In a recent blog post on Advancing New Hampshire’s Public Education, Bill Duncan said, “The voucher program is an embarrassment to the Republican legislative majority that passed the bill last year over the Governor’s veto.”

As they did here in New Hampshire, ALEC pushed a school voucher program right into Republican controlled Legislature.  States controlled by Republican Legislatures are pushing similar bills throughout the country.

“This movement is doing more than threaten the core of our traditional public school system,” said Timothy Ogle, executive director of the Arizona School Boards Association. “It’s pushing a national policy agenda embraced by conservatives across states that are receptive to conservative ideas.” via States Redefining Public Schooling – NYTimes.com

Kansas and Idaho recently rejected the voucher credit program, despite opposition from the Republican Legislators.

It has become painfully obvious that some of the members of the NH Legislature are making the wrong choice.  They claim that the voucher program is about helping families who cannot afford to attend a private school with the financial assistance needed to attend the school of their choice.  The people of New Hampshire have made their choice, and they have chosen to stay in their local public schools.

Legislators do need to make a new choice, to properly fund our public schools.  The current trend to cut funding to ‘save money’ is harming our children.  At least once a month my children come home from school with a request letter for classroom supplies.  The school cannot afford to supply things like paper towels, cleaning supplies, and many other basic classroom needs.

One of my friends, who I will refer to as ‘Jane’, works in a school in one of the more affluent towns in New Hampshire.  Jane is an art teacher and as they start the second half of the year they are already out of black construction paper and glue sticks. Really, how can an art class that is out of construction paper and glue?

The week lets make the choice to do what is right for our children by calling our legislators and demanding better funding for our public education system.

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