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Trump’s Budget Is A Disaster

NH Elected Leaders Along With National Labor And
Environmental Leaders Respond To Trump’s Proposed Cuts.

President Trump unveiled his $1.1 trillion dollar budget for discretionary spending yesterday. Elected leaders, labor unions, environmental groups, and advocates for working people are outraged at the massive cuts.

The Hill reports:

The 54-page “America First” document, focused primarily on fiscal 2018, would boost the Defense Department and related programs at Energy by $54 billion, and Homeland Security by $2.8 billion. It would offset such increases by cutting the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by $10.1 billion (28 percent) and the Environmental Protection Agency by $2.6 billion (31 percent). The latter cut would eliminate approximately 3,200 positions, according to the document.

The agency-by-agency plans include eliminating dozens of grant programs at the Education and Commerce departments—many of them related to climate change. And Trump would eliminate the following agencies:

The African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“The Trump administration should immediately go back to the drawing board,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “This budget is a blueprint for undermining the health and well-being of Granite Staters and would be particularly devastating for seniors. It’s needless and cruel to drastically cut programs that so many people in New Hampshire depend on like Meals on Wheels and heating assistance. It also makes no sense to cut clean air and water programs, coastal protection, and economic development to struggling rural communities.

“President Trump’s budget is built for corporate special interests, not hard-working families and small businesses. The Trump budget makes indiscriminate cuts that will make it harder for entrepreneurs to grow job-creating small businesses, harder for children to access a high-quality public education, and harder for seniors to stay in their own homes and live independently,” said Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH).  “President Trump’s budget would undermine efforts to strengthen our health care workforce, making it more difficult to combat the heroin, fentanyl and opioid crisis. It would slash funding for life-saving medical research. And it would cripple our ability to fight climate change, which threatens New Hampshire’s economy and our way of life.”

“A budget is a moral document. As an American, I’m deeply concerned about the drastic cuts President Trump has proposed in this budget blueprint, which fail to reflect our shared morals and values. As your representative in Congress, I will fight to stop this budget, which would hurt New Hampshire in so many ways,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH01). “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I’m particularly concerned that this budget reflects an incomplete understanding of how we keep our nation safe. Since World War II, our international affairs budget has been key to maintaining stability around the globe, and cutting critical international aid and diplomatic funding would be disastrous for our national security.”

“Today’s budget would even eliminate programs that feed the hungry, including after-school nutrition assistance and Meals on Wheels. Contrary to the Administration’s outrageous statements at this afternoon’s press briefing, these programs do work, and cutting them is the exact opposite of ‘compassionate.’ I will not stand by while this Administration uses falsehoods to justify destroying vital support systems for our most vulnerable citizens. Today I will be sending the Trump administration just a few of the dozens of peer-reviewed studies that show Meals on Wheels improves seniors’ overall health and nutritional intake and reduces social isolation. This budget is yet one more example of President Trump turning his back on the very people he claimed he was there to help,” Shea-Porter added. 

“President Trump’s preliminary budget proposal is simply a disaster for our economy, environment, seniors, and hardworking families in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH02). “This budget proposal should raise red flags for anyone who wants to grow our middle class, create good paying jobs, protect human health and our environment, and fight climate change. We can’t turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made in recent years to get our economy pointed in the right direction and this budget is little more than a return to the same failed policies of the past. President Trump needs to seriously reconsider this approach and focus on crafting a budget proposal that benefits all Americans, not just those at the very top.”

Kuster also highlighted cuts to programs that directly impact New Hampshire working families.

“In New Hampshire, we know the serious impact toxic contamination can have on drinking water, public health, and quality of life. Slashing thirty one percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget will only make defending public health and our environment more difficult. Cutting the Department of Health and Human Services by thirteen percent will eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and harm programs like Meals on Wheels and home visits that our seniors and low-income families rely on.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO called this budget proposal “destructive and dangerous.”

“Working people in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin didn’t vote for a budget that slashes workforce training and fails to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. President Trump’s proposed budget attempts to balance the budget on the backs of working families. The $54 billion cut to programs that benefit working families is dangerous and destructive. Huge cuts to the departments of Labor, Education and Transportation will make workplaces less safe, put more children at risk and make improving our failing infrastructure much more difficult. The administration can and should do better.”

David Cox Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees warned that this budget would lead to massive layoffs. 

“This budget shirks our nation’s responsibility to care for its citizens and ensure the public’s health and safety, help our struggling neighbors secure better jobs and safe housing, and promote democracy around the world,” Cox stated. “The severity of the budget cuts proposed by President Trump could require mass layoffs of employees at federal departments and agencies, although the budget blueprint released by the White House does not detail how many federal employees could lose their jobs.

“This cuts, if implemented, would have devastating and lasting consequences on the nation. Every American should study the facts, reject the rhetoric, and decide for themselves if they share the bleak vision of America that President Trump is promoting,” Cox added. 

Ed Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), said these cuts take our transportation infrastructure in the wrong direction. 

“The austerity measures offered for transportation in the President’s budget blueprint go in the wrong direction and must be rejected. We cannot cut our way to a better and more modern transportation system. The President has rightfully called for a historic $1 trillion investment in our transportation system and infrastructure. But the budget released today does not advance that vision and instead would deal a severe blow to many key investment programs that are critical to our passenger and freight transportation network.”  

“This budget proposal makes it even more clear that Trump has no intention of protecting our communities or preserving our future,” said 350.org Executive Director May Boeve. “Slashing the EPA’s funding only helps make fossil fuel executives richer while wrecking the climate and leaving workers and families by the wayside. What we really need is investment in a 100% renewable energy economy that creates jobs and curbs the climate crisis, and our movements will keep fighting until we get it.”

Congressman Frank Guinta’s Double Speak On Supporting Veterans

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value,” proclaimed Vice President Joe Biden in a 2012 speech.

Vice President Biden is basically saying is that if you are not willing to pay for something you say you value, then you really don’t value it at all. This type of double speak is common among some politicians.

In New Hampshire, Congressman Frank Guinta talks a good game about his support for veterans, but in Washington, he has a long history of failing our veterans.

“Our nation’s active duty personnel and veterans risk their lives to ensure our country remains safe in the face of ever evolving threats. Our military heroes deserve the very best, and as your representative to Washington, one of my highest priorities is to protect and expand the resources, services and support available to them.

We must keep our promise to provide for those who courageously put their lives on the line to serve and protect our great country. I have always been a strong advocate for our military members and veterans in the Granite State,” wrote Guinta on his website.

We owe our veterans the benefits they’ve earned, but Frank Guinta has consistently voted against increasing funding for veterans programs.

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”

Just nine months ago, Guinta voted against the Omnibus Appropriations bill that funds the government. The bill increased funding for the VA by $6.4 billion. The legislation, which fortunately was not tanked by Guinta’s refusal to support it, increased funding for medical care by $4.7 billion and provided funds to hire 770 VA disability claims processors to tackle the claims backlog.   

In one fell swoop, Guinta voted to shut down the government and refused to increase funding for critical veterans programs. He even called these important funding increases “inducements to vote for more federal bloat and debt.”   

While serving on the Budget Committee this year, Guinta rejected an attempt by Congressman Seth Moulton, an Iraq war veteran, to increase funding by $340 million for FY2017 and $1.14 billion for FY2018. These increases would have been paid for raising taxes on the wealthiest and repealing tax breaks for Big Oil and corporations that ship jobs overseas.

“Frank Guinta may claim to fight for our veterans, but his votes prove that he betrays them in Congress.  His votes against increased funding for medical care, VA claims processors, and repairs to crumbling VA facilities show his dishonesty and disrespect for veterans,” said Carol Shea-Porter spokeswoman Naomi Andrews. “His Budget Committee votes place multinational corporations, billionaires, and Big Oil ahead of our obligations to our veterans. Carol Shea-Porter was a military spouse and is proud of her husband and all of America’s veterans. She looks forward to working again for our troops and our veterans in Congress.”

It seems pretty clear that Frank Guinta’s claim to be “a strong advocate for our military members and veterans” is just campaign double speak.

Congress Pushes Budget Deal To Avoid Shutdown, Delays Sequester, And Partially Preserve Social Security

Today the White House and congressional leadership announced a budget agreement that sets government funding levels for two years and extends the nation’s borrowing limit through 2017. The agreement provides the defense and domestic discretionary budgets with equal relief from mandatory spending cuts.

“This budget agreement provides a balanced approach to funding the federal government over the next two years,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “I’m very encouraged that leadership in Congress and the White House were able to find a bipartisan compromise that lifts the debt ceiling and provides much needed relief from across the board budget cuts known as sequestration. More blind budget cutting would be disastrous for New Hampshire families and our state’s economy. It’s my hope that Congress can quickly approve this legislation and avoid any last-minute brinkmanship that could threaten the full faith and credit of the United States.”

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. praised the deal as it relieved workers from the fear of another government shutdown and forced unpaid furloughs. 

“This budget deal is an exceedingly rare example of what can be accomplished when elected leaders put aside their partisan bickering and govern in a responsible way that benefits working families.

The bipartisan budget deal announced by congressional leaders and the White House would suspend sequestration for the next two years and provide much-needed increases in military and domestic spending.

Federal workers have endured $159 billion in cuts under the guise of fiscal restraint, and our members were united in opposing any budget that would target them for additional sacrifice.

The budget also is good news for federal retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System, who will no longer be facing a 53% increase in their premiums under Medicare Part B.

Federal employees are relieved that they will no longer be facing the threat of another government shutdown or unpaid furloughs. We urge the Congress to repeal the Budget Control Act altogether so that these manufactured crises will no longer occur.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka appeared to be more relieved than joyful over the deal.

“Congressional leaders and the President successfully eluded the traps set by a conservative faction in Congress who have tried to hold our economy hostage to achieve their radical agenda.

The full faith and credit of the United States will be preserved as we pay our bills on time – preventing brinksmanship over the debt until 2017.

Tight budget caps on defense and non-defense spending will be eased, restoring funding for vital programs and stimulating the economy. While it fails to provide Medicare beneficiaries with full relief from higher costs, it reduces a spike in deductibles for everyone and avoids a sharp increase in premiums for many. It ensures that 11 million Americans on Social Security Disability Insurance continue to receive full benefits through 2022. It avoids across-the-board benefit cuts of nearly 20 percent starting in 2016. 

While it does not offer long-term solutions for these problems, it provides relief without yielding to the conservatives’ extreme “entitlement reform” approaches that would have done real harm.

Now that we have again kept our country from going over the edge, we hope lawmakers will work on a raising wages agenda that can bring better lives to working families.”

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans was pleased that Congress avoided massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare and vowed to continue pushing for a more accurate way to calculate the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly. 

“Movement to prevent a default and avert a government shutdown is welcome news for all Americans, but the deal is not perfect.

The Alliance for Retired Americans is relieved that this budget deal would protect millions of seniors from significant increases to their Medicare Part B deductibles while preventing a 20% cut to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in 2016.

The reallocation between the Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and SSDI trust funds would prevent a massive cut in benefits for the disabled. The transfer would not impact the long-term solvency of Social Security.

We would have preferred no increase to Medicare Part B premiums; however, limiting the increases of those who are not ‘held harmless’ is a step in the right direction. In early October, Virginia Alliance President Ron Thompson of Ivor, Virginia spoke at a Capitol Hill press conference on how the increase would financially harm him. Over the last two weeks more than 30,000 Alliance members contacted their Members of Congress saying that a 52% premium hike was unfair and unwarranted. Our voices were heard.

While it appears a crisis has been averted, we have not improved retirement security for our nation’s seniors by expanding their earned Social Security benefits. We will continue to fight to make that a reality by urging Congress to implement a more accurate way to calculate cost-of-living adjustments: the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).”

Kelly Ayotte’s Dysfunctional Republican Majority Fails Students, the Environment and 9/11 First Responders

Concord, N.H. – Yesterday, Kelly Ayotte’s dysfunctional Republican majority pulled off a stunning trifecta: managing to fail students, the environment and 9/11 first responders all in a single day’s work.

“There is no question that Kelly Ayotte’s dysfunctional Republican majority is simply not working,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Aaron Jacobs. “Letting any one of these programs expire for students, the environment and 9/11 first responders would have been bad enough, but to let all three expire in one day because of Washington Republicans’ political games is simply mind boggling.”

See below for more details: 

New York Daily News: 9/11 heroes face death as dysfunctional Congress lets Zadroga Act expire

“… a key part of the life-saving bill expired at 12:01 a.m. Thursday when a dysfunctional and gridlocked Congress failed to act to renew it. ‘Stress is not even the word. It’s beyond stress,’ said Poliseno, who is married with two daughters — Olivia, 9, and Victoria, 11. ‘My life depends on this.’”

Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Federal conservation fund allowed to expire for first time in 50 years

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund, a pot of federal money filled with offshore drilling royalties used for conservation projects and parks, expiredWednesday, meaning no new money can be deposited into it… The fund, which has never been allowed to expire in its 50-year history, has helped build fishing access sites, city parks and hiking trails… [Tester] said the failure falls on the Republican majority and shows that they don’t care about public access to public lands.”

Nashua Telegraph: Nashua joins Shaheen in conservation support

“Nick Caggiano, superintendent of Nashua’s Parks and Recreation Department, praised the conservation fund for allowing the city to develop new programs and facilities, as well as the ability to maintain and upgrade its current sites. ‘The funding is very important,’ he said. ‘And that’s $1.2 million that I wouldn’t otherwise have.’ In addition to the positives it brings to the city’s green landscape, funding for such recreational projects help attract new residents to the downtown, according to Tracy Hatch of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

WSAU: Federal Perkins Loan Program expires without Congressional reauthorization

“The federal government passed their continuing resolution to keep the government running without a partial shutdown Wednesday, but a very popular program did not get an extension. The Federal Perkins Loan Program expired at Midnight.  The Perkins program had been around for 57 years, until Midnight, when it reached it’s sunset date. This program was a revolving loan pool funded by both government and universities that made fixed rate low interest loans to income-eligible students.”

State Employees Praise Budget Compromise Agreement

“We are pleased not only for the state employees, but for all citizens of NH that the Governor and GOP leaders have reached a compromise budget agreement. 

The compromise budget will include business tax cuts and the state employees’ previously negotiated 2% cost-of-living pay increase.  It will support critical priorities for New Hampshire’s families and businesses. And, it will include a trigger mechanism that ensures revenues are at levels that would at least sustain the current budget before additional tax cuts go into effect. It will also allow the next legislature to determine what spending or revenue offsets should be made to pay for the second round of tax cuts – before they go into effect.”

We applaud the Governor and the legislature for continuing to work together to arrive at this point.  We were confident that, in the end, ideology would take a back seat to this common sense approach that benefits NH citizens by preserving critical public services, while also serving the interests of our economy.

Tomorrow, the legislature will introduce legislation that reflects the compromise – a bill that provides for the 2015 – 2017 employment agreement with the state employees and a bill that provides for the business tax decrease, with the “trigger.”  They will then consider an override of the Governor’s budget veto. If the legislation passes, Governor Hassan will then ask Democrats to support overriding the veto allowing both the compromise and the budget to go into effect.

The state employees’ will receive a 2% wage increase as of January 1, 2016 and a second 2% increase in January 2017. 

While we are happy with this forward movement and support the compromise, we remain concerned about other outstanding issues.  We look forward to continuing to work with our legislators to find reasonable solutions that are fiscally conservative and protect the state’s long-term financial outlook and ability to support critical priorities for New Hampshire’s families and businesses.”


You can read Governor Hassan’s full statement of the compromise here.

You can also read the response from the NH Senate Democrats here.

NH Worker To Legislature: Current Revenue And Spending Levels Fail The People Of NH

An open letter to the NH Legislature 

Hello my name is Paula.  I want to thank you for the work you all do for New Hampshire but it is not enough.  State employees and the citizens of New Hampshire need you to develop new revenue!  

I work for you and the citizens of New Hampshire.  I earn approximately $20.00 an hour.  I perform the regular duties of two positions, one of which was taken away when someone retired.  I process applications, which means I certify applicants to our program based on a child’s chronic health care needs and I also pay bills on behalf of many families for the program.  Presently, besides my regular duties, I am also covering for another program within the department – helping with invoicing and everything that goes along with it.  I also help coordinate other things in my office and covering a portion of another job due to someone’s vacation.  

I worked in the private sector while my children were growing up and when they became older I decided to apply for state service so that I could give something back to a state I loved so much.  I have loved to work for this state and our citizens for the past 12 years (prior to that I worked as a temporary employee for the state).  I know how important my job is to get things “done” for the people we serve.  Because, if I can’t or don’t perform my duties then the children and their families will not receive the services they need. 

I am writing to not just ask for a 2% raise but to “beg” for it and I have never “begged” for anything in my life.  My husband can no longer work.  He worked for 45 years as a surveyor and the job has taken a toll on his body due to debilitating arthritis.  He can no longer work.  We also help family members through their hard times.  I worked a part time job for about eight months last year and I was too exhausted to continue.  I also earn extra money at some of the fairs around the state in the fall.

We, state employees, worked without raises for many years, gave up benefits, paid more for our insurance, etc.  We haven’t caught up to what we have given back to our beloved state and the people we serve.  I need the money for food, to help pay my monthly bills, which includes a mortgage, to pay taxes, and to pay for gas.  I would really appreciate my 2% raise and invite any of you to walk a day in my shoes beside me and tell me I don’t deserve it because you can’t find the revenue!

NHDP Chair Buckley: Sen. Forrester Crossed A Line With Her Toxic Political Rhetoric

Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party 

Whether Sen. Jeanie Forrester’s recent opinion piece (Monitor Forum, Aug. 26) was motivated by her continuing desire to do Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s political dirty work or by Sen. Forrester’s own political ambitions, the fact remains that her piece was as false as it was offensive.

It is entirely expected that over the course of developing a budget for our state there will be disagreements over priorities. But Sen. Forrester crossed a line with her toxic political rhetoric that has no place in any civilized budget discussion. 

While Sen. Forrester is correct that there have been regular budget meetings with the governor and legislative leadership of both parties, I understand that Sen. Forrester has been conspicuously absent, despite her role as Senate Finance Committee chairwoman.

Not only has Sen. Forrester made it perfectly clear that she has no interest in good-faith budget negotiations, but she’s now launching outrageous political attacks to distract from the shortcomings of the fiscally irresponsible Republican budget.

The Republican budget would set up our state’s economy for failure by creating a $90 million budget hole in order to enact unpaid-for corporate tax cuts at the expense of critical priorities for our people and businesses, such as higher education, transportation and addressing the heroin crisis.

Gov. Hassan and Democrats in the Legislature have made clear that they are particularly concerned that the Republican budget falls short on combating our state’s heroin epidemic, and the governor’s compromise proposal includes an additional $5.7 million to help address this critical public health and safety challenge.

Linda Saunders Paquette, a leading advocate in the fight against substance abuse, recently wrote “When it comes to combating New Hampshire’s growing substance abuse epidemic, Gov. Hassan’s proposed budget compromise is clearly better for both sides than the alternative, or in this case, alternatives.” Meanwhile, Sen. Forrester had the audacity to question the commitment of the governor and Democrats in the Legislature as they fight for additional funding to address this pressing public health and safety challenge.

Public health and safety officials have made clear that the single most important action we could take today to combat the heroin epidemic is to reauthorize our state’s successful Medicaid expansion program, and treatment providers have indicated they are waiting to expand programs and facilities until they have certainty that Medicaid expansion will be reauthorized.

Yet Sen. Forrester refuses to reauthorize Medicaid expansion today for no reason other than partisan politics.

Instead, Sen. Forrester continues to push for a plan that would create a $90 million hole in the state’s budget for years to come, undermining critical economic priorities like holding down college tuition, combating substance abuse, maintaining our roads and bridges, and protecting access to quality, affordable health care.

Sen. Forrester and Republican leadership openly acknowledge that they don’t even know if their irresponsible plan would create economic growth.

But it’s hardly a mystery what unpaid-for corporate tax cuts would do to our state. All we need to do is look at what’s happened in states like Kansas, where these Koch Brothers policies have already played out.

Experience shows that unpaid-for corporate tax cuts don’t produce economic growth, just rivers of red ink and deep cuts to critical economic priorities.

Not to mention that the irresponsible budget Sen. Forrester is pushing even raids dedicated funds, a clear and undeniable violation of Forrester’s own campaign promises to her constituents.

And while Sen. Forrester even tries to attack Gov. Hassan on funding for mental health services, it was Forrester and her Republican colleagues who suggested that the Department of Health and Human Services should simply violate the state’s landmark mental health settlement.

Sen. Forrester’s overheated political rhetoric serves only to harm efforts to pass a responsible budget.

I urge Sen. Forrester to stop trying to score political points, and instead negotiate in good faith so we can pass a budget that truly meets the needs of New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy.


Courtesy of the NHDP
Also published in the Concord Monitor

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Statement Regarding Yesterday’s GOP Proposed Budget Compromise

Yesterday, GOP legislative leaders presented a counter proposal related to the state budget that included full funding for the state employees’ 2015-2017 contract. We appreciate the recognition from the legislative leaders that funding this negotiated agreement for the people who deliver essential services for the public every day is a critical piece toward passing a good budget.

The commitment of our state workers was evidenced just yesterday with the rapid response to the sinkhole on I93. Within moments, crews were on the scene assessing and ultimately repairing the 20 foot deep hole in the highway. While this story received widespread attention, there are many other events that go unnoticed every day that are addressed by state employees to insure the safety, health, and prosperity of our state.

The new contract, which includes a 4% wage increase over two years, was negotiated/bargained in good faith by both parties the union and the state.. We are thankful that our elected officials on both sides of the aisle now agree that this contract should be funded.

While there are still outstanding issues that need to be addressed in order to ensure a balanced budget meets the needs of our state, it is an encouraging step that we have proposals from both sides being exchanged and we are beginning to see common ground. We hope that further progress can be made to reach a bi-partisan budget that we can all be proud of.

Granite State Rumblings: “Farm To Preschool” Program For Healthy Eating and The NH Budget Battle Continues

It is never easy trying to entice younger children to eat their fruits and veggies. But I found that a few great ways to get our Spidey to try them is to grow them in a garden in our backyard, trips to the farmer’s market, and pick our own blueberries and strawberries at a local farm, and then have him help prepare them into tasty delights in my kitchen.

This month’s USDA blog has some great information about the “farm to preschool” program that is gaining interest across the country.

Farm to Preschool Helps Healthy Habits Take Root Early

Posted by Kacie O’Brien, Farm to School Regional Lead, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Western Region

“May I have more kale chips, please?” asked a four-year old preschooler during one of my first site visits as farm to school lead for the Food and Nutrition Service’s Western Region. The preschoolers I was visiting grew and harvested the kale themselves a few feet beyond their classroom door and were enjoying the crisp treat as a snack. At the time, the USDA Farm to School Program was just beginning to expand their support to K-12 schools. Since then, I have worked with school districts in bringing the farm to their cafeterias and classrooms.

Our reasons for supporting farm to preschool are numerous. While the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 authorized the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to establish the Farm to School Program, the legislation also expanded the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to not only aid child care institutions in serving nutritious foods, but to contribute to their wellness, healthy growth and development. Farm to preschool meets that requirement, and is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a strategy to increase access to healthy environments. As evidenced by the eager kale chip request, farm to preschool efforts can set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Through CACFP, more than 3.3 million children receive healthy meals every day as part of the day care they receive. CACFP offers a viable market for local and regional farmers, ranchers, and fisherman, as well as food processors, manufacturers, and distributors. Additionally, with parental involvement and hands-on activities as regular practices, early child care settings are a natural fit for connecting children and families with where and how their food is produced.

From Georgia to Oregon, statewide support to implement the farm to preschool program is growing. For National Farm to School Month, the Kansas Department of Education created a Taste of Kansas CACFP menu featuring products grown and produced within the state. Also, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture hired a farm to preschool specialist and offers a whole host of resources on their farm to preschool website.

USDA resources include a new farm to preschool fact sheet, farm to preschool website and a policy memo encouraging early child care providers to use local food as a means to enhance CACFP operations. For 2016, we expanded the USDA Farm to School Grant Program to include school-based CACFP programs. We are updating existing resources, including the Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs Guide, and adapting our hands-on garden-themed curriculum Grow It! Try It! Like It! to fit the needs of day care homes.

Keep your eyes peeled and sign-up for the USDA Farm to School E-letter to stay up-to-date as we further engage with and meet the needs of CACFP providers in offering local foods, garden activities, and more.

Growing Up Granite

Sununu Youth Services-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)

Sununu Youth Services-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)

The budget discussions taking place in Concord include talks about the John H. Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester. “The state spending plan passed this year by the Republican-controlled House and Senate – but vetoed by Hassan – directed the Sununu Center to cut its $28 million budget by roughly $5.1 million over the next two years and to come up with a plan to reduce its costs, which could include privatizing services or repurposing the building.”

“Juveniles placed in the Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC) range in age from 13 to 17 years old. When a youth is committed to SYSC a systematic process is used to classify and assign youths to a secure residential unit where they participate in a prescribed behavioral program. The program encompasses academia, cottage life and group sessions. Progress in all three spheres is measured using a rating system with progress regularly communicated to the youth. Program completion and ultimate eligibility for release and parole from SYSC is determined by the youth’s progress in addressing identified problem areas and program goals based on assessment by the youth’s Program Team. The Program Team is comprised of a unit clinical coordinator, resident house leader, youth counselor, education representative, juvenile services officer, parent or guardian and the youth. The average length of stay prior to initial release from SYSC is 8-12 months. A NH juvenile may be committed to the SYSC subsequent to being adjudicated as delinquent by a NH District Court.”

– Source DHHS website

Hassan tours Sununu Youth Services Center amid budget conversation about how to reduce costs

by ALLIE MORRIS Monitor staff

A dozen teenage girls, in matching pink sweatshirts and tan pants, lined up before a rainbow-colored welcome sign to shake Gov. Maggie Hassan’s hand before they gingerly walked her to a hallway lined with their drawings, paintings and collages.

One by one, each showed Hassan her artwork taped to tan cinder-block walls and large windows. Hassan paused in front of a black-and-white pencil drawing of a lion, in mid-roar, and asked the young artist what had inspired the picture. “Courage,” the teen responded.

The girls live at the Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester, the state’s juvenile detention facility.

Hassan toured the Manchester facility Friday amid an ongoing state budget conversation about how to reduce costs at the detention center as its population continues to decline.

The Sununu Center is run by the state Department of Health and Human Services and houses 12- to 17-year-olds who were detained or committed by the courts. Roughly 248 children come through the facility each year. And although the center was designed to fit 144 children at its campus off Elm Street, the population usually hovers around 50.

Lawmakers are now considering ways to cut state costs at the facility – budgeted at roughly $14 million annually – and make better use of the space.

Some ideas include turning a portion of the detention center into a treatment facility for youth with mental illness or substance abuse problems.

A group of lawmakers and stakeholders, put together by Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Jeanie Forrester, will begin meeting Aug. 17 to discuss options.

“We’re looking at the facility and saying, ‘What else could we do with the facility as it relates to youth?’ ” said Forrester, a Meredith Republican. “It’s just not an effective use of the space.”

There is also a sense of urgency. The state spending plan passed this year by the Republican-controlled House and Senate – but vetoed by Hassan – directed the Sununu Center to cut its $28 million budget by roughly $5.1 million over the next two years and to come up with a plan to reduce its costs, which could include privatizing services or repurposing the building. The cost-cutting proposal was supposed to be submitted by November and implemented beginning Jan. 1, 2016.

Since the budget was vetoed, lawmakers are now back at the table negotiating a compromise, and how to fund and use the Sununu Center will likely be a point of debate. Members of both parties agree the center’s operations need to be looked at.

Hassan proposed an updated budget in July that would restore the Sununu Center funding cuts and direct the center to come up with a plan by March.

“We do have to plan for how this center should be funded in the future and how it should operate with what looks like a significantly smaller census,” Hassan said after the Sununu Center tour Friday. But she said the state shouldn’t be cutting the center’s budget without any plan in place about how to proceed.

The center’s future will remain in limbo until lawmakers finalize a state budget plan. But in the meantime, Forrester and the work group will start coming up with a cost-cutting plan. “We can’t be sitting around waiting to see what happens,” she said. The first meeting will be a tour of the Sununu Center.

Department of Health and Human Services officials said they are ready to participate.

“We want to do what’s best for the kids,” said Mary Ann Cooney, HHS associate commissioner.

On Friday morning, Hassan left the center with a new hat, made for her by one of the students, and a basket full of fresh produce the kids had grown in their garden.

She heard from the teens that the state needs more options for substance abuse treatment, she said, and that the center’s chaplains are some of the most valuable resources.

“The kids, they find the work they are doing here is work they need to do so they can stay focused and constructive outside the Sununu Center,” she said. “They are learning here to focus, and to ask for help when they need it.”

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at amorris@cmonitor.com.)

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Response to Governor’s Compromise Budget Proposal

On Thursday morning, Gov. Maggie Hassan presented a compromise budget proposal and urged lawmakers to get to work quickly to reach an agreement.

The compromise proposal includes more funding for numerous key priorities, including winter road maintenance, fighting the addiction epidemic, overtime at the Department of Corrections, and the Community College System of New Hampshire. The proposal also includes funding for the new state employee contract negotiated by SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members; the Legislature cut funding for that agreement during budget negotiations.

Following the press conference, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Richard Gulla issued the following statement:

“We applaud the governor for proactively putting forward a budget compromise that incorporates priorities from both Republicans and Democrats, and including the funding necessary to fulfill the fairly negotiated contract for the hard working state employees who deliver quality public services to our state every day,” Gulla said.

“Throughout this budget process, our members have continued to do their jobs to make sure our roads are safe, our veterans and most needy are cared for, and that Granite Staters have the tools they need to compete for good jobs in today’s economy,” Gulla said. “Now it’s time for the Legislature to do its job, by coming back to the table quickly and reaching a bipartisan compromise by the target date of Sept. 16 so that we have a state budget that meets the needs of our state.”

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