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Connolly And Van Ostern Trade Jabs Over A 24 Year Old Report That Goes After State Workers

NH Progressive Summit Gubernatorial Forum

Kary Jencks asks questions to Steve Marchand, Mark Connolly, and Colin Van Ostern at the NH Progressive Summit Gubernatorial Forum.

Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern and Mark Connolly recently traded jabs at the New Hampshire Progressive Summit Gubernatorial Forum and the NH State Employees Association (SEIU 1984) Gubernatorial Forum. Both Van Ostern and Connolly are vying for the Democratic nomination in the race to be the next Governor of New Hampshire.

(Note: I was not at the SEIU 1984 Forum so I can only report about what I saw at the NH Progressive Summit Forum, though I heard that similar comments were made at both forum’s.)

During the NH Progressive Summit forum, Van Ostern brought a couple of things to light. He mentioned that up until the mid 2000’s Connolly was a prominent Republican.

Connolly did not deny that he was, for many years, a Republican. He stated that when he was a Republican State Representative the Republicans were the real “progressives in the NH House.” He continued by saying that the Republican Party essentially moved away from him and he could no longer support them.

Another thing that surprised people at the Progressive Summit forum was that Connolly helped Governor Judd Gregg with a report on reforming New Hampshire government.   The report, The 1991-1992 Task Force on New Hampshire State Government Operations, was produced by a group of prominent businessmen in New Hampshire.

Much of the report is full of grand ideas of streamlining government operations and eliminating duplication within the state agencies. However some of the report specifically targeted state employees and retirees.

“The state should, at minimum, revise its policy regarding full payment of health and selected other insurance benefits for future retired employees and, further, consider eliminating the state’s contribution entirely,” the Task Force recommended.

The Task Force also recommended an independent third party to be involved in the collective bargaining process to show that the “extensive benefits” offered to state employees for “non-competitive wages no longer applies.”

The reported states:

“For purposes of collective bargaining, the state should retain an independent body to identify the full cost of personnel, including payroll, insurance, retirement, insurance for retired employees, vacations, holidays, and sick leave. This comprehensive package of payroll and benefits must be weighed against the economic and competitive realities of the state. In doing so, the Task Force believes the state will recognize that the justification for the philosophy that state employees are entitled to extensive benefits to compensate for non-competitive wages no longer applies.”

NH Progressive Summit Gubernatorial Forum 2In a 2011 report by USA Today, New Hampshire’s state employees were ranked 27th overall in pay when compared to state employees in other states. On the surface this is good but when compared to private sector compensation, New Hampshire state employees were over $1,800 below their private sector counterparts.

When asked for comment on the report and the specific recommendations listed above, Connolly’s campaign sent a copy of a letter, addressed to the members of the State Employees Association, where Connolly referred to his “opponent’s” comments as a “baseless attack.”

In the letter Connolly states:

“In 1991, I was asked by by my then-employer, Chubb Life in Concord, to serve on a thirteen-member panel assembled by the Governor, Speaker of the House, and Senate President to study state government and how it operates. This group met throughout 1991 and 1992 and ultimately the Task Force on New Hampshire Government Operations published its report on how to make government more efficient. It included important suggestions that I believe would strengthen our state and its employees, such as a four-year term for Governor and the implementation of a stronger sexual harassment policy for state employees.

One of the many additional recommendations made by this group in the fifty-page report held that the state should “revise its policy regarding full payment of health and selected other insurance benefits for future retired employees and, further, consider eliminating the state’s contribution entirely.” As a former state employee, I did not agree with this recommendation then and I do not agree with it now. Contrary to the attack made on me that evening, I did not recommend this, nor did I support it. Any contention that I did specifically support this recommendation is simply false.”

When asked why Connolly would sign on to a report that included sections he did not agree with, Colin Pio, Connolly’s Campaign Manager, explained that task force members broke up into different teams and specifically tackled different sections of the report. The separate sections were then compiled by the Chairman of the Committee and submitted to the Governor, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the House.

Pio explained that Connolly specifically worked on the section of the report that “focused on the Executive Branch and how it was structured.” Pio also stated that to the best of Connolly’s recollection, “there was no sign-off process for individual members.”

In the letter Connolly added:

“Public employees are the backbone of our state government, and I am proud to have served as one for fourteen years. I have always believed we must honor our contract with you and your fellow members. Your retirement benefits, your pension, and your healthcare were promised to you when you started your service and, as Governor, I will stand up for your collectively bargained rights and your secure retirement each and every day.”

Only time will tell whether state employees believe Connolly’s explanation on his involvement on the 1992 Task Force or whether a 24-year-old report has any significance today.

 


Attached is a copy of the 1992 Task Force recommendations and Connolly’s letter to the members of the State Employees’ Association.

ICYMI: NH1 Reports on Former Kansas Budget Director Warning of Perils of Unpaid-For Corporate Tax Cuts

Concord, N.H. – As Chris Sununu and Republicans in the legislature continue to push their plan to blow a $90 million hole in the budget for unpaid-for tax cuts for big corporations, NH1 News reported on comments from former Kansas State Budget Director Duane Goossen warning of the negative impact of unpaid-for tax cuts.

Goossen warned that after Kansas implemented massive, unpaid-for tax cuts, the state is now “falling behind its neighbors in economic growth” and “has moved into a cycle of perpetual budget crisis.”

 

Click here for video of Goosen’s comments or see transcript below:

GOOSSEN: “Kansas is falling behind its neighbors in economic growth. The economic benefits that were touted at the beginning have not proved to be true and Kansas has moved into a cycle of perpetual budget crisis.”

Republicans Are The Reason Our Public Schools Are Hurting

Jeb Bush on Education

The Republican Primary is always fun to watch as the candidates try to outdo each other the issues. Recently it was what to do about the problems facing our public school systems.

Our public education system is in rough shape and the majority of the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Republican politicians who are starving our schools for money, forcing more and more standardized testing, and funneling our tax dollars to for-profit private and religious schools.

When you add all of these programs together it creates a disastrous ticking time bomb of epic failure.

The problems continue to feed themselves. It begins with cuts to the budget that lead to cuts teacher pay. This results in good teachers leaving the district and then bringing in new inexperienced teachers to replace them.

Then they test every student over and over, and reward high performing schools and make more cuts to low performing schools. (Can you see the problem yet?)

Then they give our tax dollars to traveling medicine men, selling snake oil to fix all of our problems by opening charter schools, stealing more money from struggling schools. Some of these schools take millions in federal, state, and local budgets to build new schools and then file for bankruptcy before they even open their doors.

Then they have to make more cuts to teachers and para-professionals starting the austerity cycle all over again.

The American Federation of Teachers thought it would be good to inform all of you of what a few of the Presidential candidates are saying our teachers and our schools.

Video

Our children deserve better than a schools system that is all test and drill. We need more arts, more music, more science, and more teachers. We need pay our teachers better so that we can retain the best teachers with the pay they deserve. We need to fund our schools properly and stop forcing cuts to staff and services. We need to stop this cycle of austerity that is strangling our public schools.  Our children deserve better!

 

Capital Gains Proposal Would Generate New Revenue While Reducing Property Tax for Thousands

CONCORD, NH – The House Ways and Means Committee today held a hearing on a proposal that would both raise needed revenue for the state and begin to address the lack of equity in its tax system. HB 634 would expand New Hampshire’s existing interest and dividends tax to include capital gains, generating nearly $100 million in new revenue each year once fully implemented.

While bolstering the resources available for the FY 2016-2017 budget, the proposal would also reduce the taxes paid by everyday Granite Staters. It would increase the basic exemptions within the interest and dividend tax and update the Low and Moderate Income Homeowner Property Tax Relief Program to ensure more individuals and families can access rebates through the program. Additionally, the proposal allocates the first $25 million in revenue to restore dedicated revenue sharing with cities and towns, reducing pressure on local property taxes.

“This proposal would close a gap in New Hampshire’s existing tax system and allow the state to make important investments in education, public safety, and other services that support working families and strengthen the Granite State economy,” said New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch in his testimony before the committee.

“Most New Hampshire residents would see no change in the taxes they pay if this proposal became law, but everyone would see greater support for the services they count on state government to provide,” added McLynch. “Of those who would pay a different tax bill, many more would receive a tax cut than would experience a tax increase.”

New Hampshire has historically relied on taxes on property, the sale of property, and the income some property produces to help finance public services. Yet, New Hampshire currently excludes from taxation the income received from the sale of stocks and other assets, known as capital gains. IRS data show that 88 percent of all taxable capital gains reported in New Hampshire in 2012 accrued to taxpayers with incomes over $200,000; taxpayers with incomes of over $1 million accounted for 66 percent. As a result, 98 percent of the revenue generated by HB 634 will come from the top 20 percent of income earners in the state.

Due to a variety of factors, New Hampshire’s revenue system has yet to fully recover from the national recession of 2007 through 2009. At the close of FY 2014, General and Education Fund revenue amounted to $2.17 billion. After adjusting for inflation, that sum is approximately 12 percent or roughly $290 million less than what was collected from the same sources in FY 2008.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

LTE: Our Country And Our Veterans Deserve Better

During the Iraq war we air shipped, about 12 billion dollars in cash to Iraq and now we have trouble accounting for most of this money.  The top 10 percent of our population, that have 90 percent of the wealth, they may have an idea as to where some of this missing money is but I can tell you where it is not going!  We have returning servicemen that need jobs; some have none because when they left their job, it was guaranteed to be there; then when they came back, if the company moved out of the country, sorry no job and we allow this to happen.  The younger returning veterans, who had no job before leaving, are welcomed home to minimum wage jobs with family unfriendly benefits at a retail box store selling merchandise that is not made in this country.  We have politicians that want to lower or do away with the minimum wage, who is funding their campaign?  We have politicians that want more free trade agreements for us.  The last ones worked just fine, look at the unemployment numbers.  Ross Perot was correct about the giant sucking sound!  We have been deficit spending for more than 70 years, and now it has become a game for the rich or middle class to who will pay.  The Tea Party wants it paid back immediately without new taxes.  When this country becomes a divided rich and poor nation, we will become a weak nation just like the ones we try to help.  We need leaders, a truthful news media and zero lobbyist.

Joe Gallagher,
Manchester

Workers’ Compensation Medical Costs in NH Significantly Higher

Image of Catholic Medical Center, not mentioned specifically in post. (Wiki Commons)

Image of Catholic Medical Center, not mentioned specifically in post. (Wiki Commons)

Concord, NH ­– In the world of workers’ compensation, the fees charged by the health care community are significantly more expensive on average in New Hampshire than in other states, according to the New Hampshire Insurance Department.

“Medical costs in New Hampshire have grown to almost 75 percent of total workers’ compensation dollars in New Hampshire, compared to about 60 percent countrywide,” said Deb Stone, actuary and director of market regulation at the Insurance Department. “It’s my belief, based on actuarial analysis, that the lack of limitation on what can be charged by medical providers and facilities is a major contributor to this trend.”

New Hampshire went from being listed as the 14th most expensive state for workers’ compensation coverage in the country in 2008 to the 9th most expensive in 2012, according to the Oregon Workers Compensation Rate Ranking Study.

Physicians’ services

On average, workers compensation surgical procedures in New Hampshire are 83 percent more expensive than those in the region* and more than twice as expensive as they are nationally, according to data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance. In total, the data included four categories of physician services: surgical, radiology, physical and occupational therapies, and doctors’ visits. Insurance Department actuaries found that medical costs in New Hampshire exceeded those in surrounding states and the nation by a substantial margin in all four categories. For radiology, the costs were 35 percent more expensive than in the region and 66 percent more expensive than nationally; for physical and occupational therapies, the costs were 95 percent and 64 percent more expensive, respectively; and for doctors’ visits, costs were 36 percent and 47 percent more expensive.

The data represent the most common procedures comprising at least 50 percent of the total dollars spent by workers compensation insurance companies on physician services.

“New Hampshire is more expensive, not only on average, but for every single individual physicians’ services procedure reviewed, save one,” said Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “We are among the most expensive states for workers’ compensation, and it makes it more costly for businesses to operate here.”

*The region is defined as Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Data from Massachusetts were not available: Massachusetts does not contract with NCCI. In the study, 35 states were used as the national comparison.

Facilities

On average, the costs for surgical procedures at ambulatory surgical centers in New Hampshire are 37 percent more expensive than the surrounding region and 77 percent more expensive than countrywide. Also, on average, hospital outpatient surgical procedures cost 15 percent more in New Hampshire than in the region and 25 percent more than countrywide. Further, in cases where the same procedure may be performed either as a hospital outpatient procedure or in an ambulatory surgical center, the data show that the cost in the ambulatory surgical center is generally more – in some instances as much as twice as expensive, or even higher. For hospital outpatient non-surgery procedures, NH is 51 percent more expensive than both the surrounding region and countrywide on average.

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that employers are required by state law to provide for their employees. This is to ensure, in part, that people who are injured or disabled on the job are not required to cover medical bills related to their on-the-job injury or illness. New Hampshire is one of just six states that do not have legal guidelines in place to cap the amount that health care providers can charge workers’ compensation insurance companies for services. In addition, current state law (RSA 281-A:24 I) mandates that workers’ compensation insurance “shall pay the full amount of the health care provider’s bill.”

The National Council on Compensation Insurance is an advisory organization that provides information to the insurance industry and to regulators. It provides services to the workers compensation industry in most states. In New Hampshire, it develops rates and advisory loss costs, administers the Residual Market, and provides data for analysis of issues such as the pricing of proposed state legislation and research. It provides similar services to all the New England states except Massachusetts.

Following today’s meeting of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council’s Subcommittee on Medical Cost Containment, Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement:

“As workers’ compensation medical payments soar higher for Granite State businesses, New Hampshire has become one of the most expensive states in the nation for workers’ compensation. Employers and workers have done their part to increase workplace safety, but high workers’ compensation costs remain a burden on our businesses.

“I have supported legislation that would have created a commission to examine these issues and recommend solutions. But that legislation recently died, and I do not believe that we can wait until the next legislative session to begin working on solutions. That is why I will be creating a task force of workers, businesses, insurers and members of the health care community to make recommendations to reform the workers’ compensation system in order to reduce costs for our workers and businesses and to support their efforts to keep our economy moving forward.”

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.

Cuts To Transportation Infrastructure Program Will Hurt Jobs And The Economy

Transportation Investments Generating Economic Return (TIGER) program promotes economic activity, New Hampshire jobs 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) is calling on Senate Appropriators to oppose cuts to the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Return (TIGER) program proposed in the House so that states can continue to improve and expand their transportation infrastructure, promoting job creation and economic development. The TIGER program provides funding for a wide variety of transportation projects, from freight rail to bridge projects in New Hampshire.

“In New Hampshire, TIGER has provided vital resources to enable the replacement of the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth and upgrades to infrastructure in the downtown district of the state capital in Concord…. TIGER remains critical to the completion of freight rail, bridge replacement and a wide range of other projects in my state that will help spur economic development,” Shaheen wrote.

“America’s transportation network is an important driver of both quality of life and national economic competitiveness, and TIGER bridges critical gaps in formula funding programs to ensure that we are able to make investments in projects that are essential to both local and national goals,” Shaheen added.

Since 2009, more than $3.5 billion in TIGER funds have been distributed to states through the Department of Transportation. The House Committee on Appropriations has proposed cutting $500 million from the program for FY 2015. TIGER funds have been critical to many important New Hampshire projects including the replacement of the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth, Concord’s Downtown Complete Streets Improvement Project and improvements to the New Hampshire Northcoast Railroad.

 

The full text of Shaheen’s letter is included below:

May 15, 2014

The Honorable Patty Murray
Chair
Subcommittee on Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Washington, D.C.  20510

The Honorable Susan Collins
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Washington, D.C.  20510

Dear Chair Murray and Ranking Member Collins:

As you draft Fiscal Year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations legislation, I write to request that you continue to provide strong support for the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Return (TIGER) program.  Robust funding in the Senate THUD appropriations bill for the successful TIGER program is particularly crucial given the drastic $500 million dollar cut that has been proposed by the House Committee on Appropriations for FY 2015.

As you know, Congress initially funded the TIGER program to meet the need for a flexible, multi-modal discretionary funding program that had long been identified by mayors, governors and leaders who are best positioned to understand local transportation needs and priorities.  TIGER’s broad eligibility, which encompasses port and freight rail projects that are not eligible for any other sources of federal funds, enables states and localities to implement critical projects that contribute to local economic prosperity while advancing national goals.  Since 2009, USDOT has distributed more than $3.5 billion in TIGER grant funding for port, rail, transit, pedestrian, highway and bridge projects in all 50 states.

In New Hampshire, TIGER has provided vital resources to enable the replacement of the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth and upgrades to infrastructure in the downtown district of the state capital in Concord.  Despite the program’s successful investments in New Hampshire and across the country, continued funding for TIGER remains critical to the completion of freight rail, bridge replacement and a wide range of other projects in my state that will help spur economic development.

America’s transportation network is an important driver of both quality of life and national economic competitiveness, and TIGER bridges critical gaps in formula funding programs to ensure that we are able to make investments in projects that are essential to both local and national goals.  Thank you for your leadership and support for the TIGER program.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senate

3-31-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Smarter Balance Testing and A ‘Thank You’ To Legislators

Now that crossover has come and gone both chambers will start working on each other’s bills.  Both chambers have till May 15th to act on these bills.

I would like to thank all the representatives that supported us on the following bills:

AFT-NH supported the recommendation of Ought To Pass as amended on HB 1494-FN, relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees. The amended version ensures this is just a housekeeping bill that establishes a procedure for the determination of the costs of purchase of service credits, clarifies the ability to earn service credit while on a salary continuance plan, changes the date for the approval of the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), adds a penalty for employers who fail to timely remit data on compensation paid to retired members, and repeals obsolete provisions.

AFT-NH was also in support of the Inexpedient To Legislate on HB 1228, establishing a commission to investigate the procedure for public employee collective bargaining. There have been many committees/commissions that have studied this issue and too often, it only seems to open the door for destructive legislation.  Rather than risk opening a Pandora’s Box with a study commission, let’s prepare specific legislation to remedy some of the problems already identified in previous study committees.

We are disappointed that the following bills were defeated: 

HB 1105-FN-L, relative to aid to school districts for costs of special education. AFT-NH supported this bill because it would have lifted the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully funded it. With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million to communities. Catastrophic aid is a state fund that helps local district with exorbitant special education costs for our severely disabled children.

HB 1114: which sought to establish a minimum state expenditure for school building aid of $50,000,000 per fiscal year. This bill would have put a floor to building aid not a cap. For the past six years many district have not been able to afford completing upgrades, repairs or build new buildings because of the cost. Keep in mind, 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

Common Core and The Smarter Balance State Assessment

There were several bills voted on in the House that were related to the Common Core and the Smarter Balance state assessment. Knowing that both of these will be moving forward in New Hampshire we need to ensure that all schools have the following in place:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice.
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class.
  • We must provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
  • Ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • Communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students, AND
  • Develop best practices and strategies along with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply.
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments, AND
  • Make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers.
  • Assessments need to be aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • Professional development and training in the Standards needs to be offered, AND
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.
  • We need to make sure the assessments inform teaching, not impede teaching and learning.
  • Assessments need to support teaching and learning, and must align with curriculum rather than narrow it.
  • Assessments should be focused on measuring growth and continuous development of students instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn.
  • Assessments should be diverse, authentic, test for multiple indicators of student performance and provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools improve, not sanctions that undermine them.
  • The development and implementation of assessments must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.
  • These assessments must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!
In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

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UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS

TUESDAY, APRIL 1

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
1:00 p.m. HB 1146, establishing a committee to study the feasibility of funding a kindergarten
to college/career ready program and a universal college savings account.
1:30 p.m. HB 1489-FN-A-L, establishing a committee to study the establishment of a fund to
reimburse costs associated with firefighters who have cancer.
Executive Session May Follow

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
10:30 a.m. HB 1435, requiring law enforcement officials to disclose specific information relating
to a police checkpoint.

House EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306
10:30 a.m. SB 395-FN, relative to the retirement classification of the Director of the Division
of Forests and Lands.
11:30 a.m. SB 418, relative to the proclamation of firefighters memorial day.

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
11:30 a.m. SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and recommendation of the municipal
budget committee to the governing body.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2

Senate EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 100, SH
9:30 a.m. HB 1152-FN, terminating the benefit program for call, substitute or volunteer firemen
administered by the New Hampshire retirement system.
10:00 a.m. HB 1398-FN, allowing the retirement system to make payments in lieu of payments
to estates in certain instances.
10:30 a.m. HB 1617-FN, permitting the retirement system to access death, marriage, and
divorce records of the division of vital records administration for the administration of
RSA 100-A.
Executive Session May Follow

House ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 120-FN, relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to
reporting by political committees.

House LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
1:30 p.m. SB 295, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions.

THURSDAY, APRIL 3

Senate HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 103, LOB
9:00 a.m. HB 1488-FN, establishing the New Hampshire program on educational support for
military children.
9:20 a.m. HB 1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of student data.
Executive Session May Follow

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
11:15 a.m. SB 339-FN, relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in which fees
received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

House FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
1:30 p.m. Work session on SB 339-FN, relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in
which fees received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

TUESDAY, APRIL 8

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
11:00 a.m. SB 335-FN, (New Title) establishing a commission to study career and technical
education centers.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 207-FN, relative to paycheck equity.

12:30 p.m. LOB 305-307: All legislators are invited to a showing of the acclaimed documentary “Inequality for All” which features Robert Reich, economics professor, best-selling author, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, as he demonstrates how the widening income gap is having a devastating impact on the American economy. The film is described as “a passionate argument on behalf of the middle class.” The showing is open to all. This event is part of the film’s “50 State Capitals Tour” this winter and spring, designed especially for Legislators and policy-makers.

THURSDAY, APRIL 10

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
9:00 a.m. HB 1624-FN, modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of
juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights.
Executive Session May Follow

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 343, relative to the duties of the statewide education improvement and
assessment program legislative oversight committee and repealing the school
administrative unit legislative oversight committee.
11:00 a.m. SB 350, relative to the transfer of adequacy aid calculation data from the
Department of Education to the Department of Revenue Administration.
1:15 p.m. SB 348, establishing a commission to study sexual abuse prevention education in
elementary and secondary schools.

TUESDAY, APRIL 15

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 355, relative to access to social media by educational institutions.
11:00 a.m. SB 414-FN, relative to Medicaid-funded services provided as a part of a child’s
individualized education program.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16

12:30 p.m. 62 North Main Street:  Big Money and Politics – New Hampshire is the highest per-capita recipient of outside special-interest money. Learn about the efforts to address this issue at the state level, understand the federal landscape and what you can do about it. This presentation, including a panel discussion led by the Coalition for Open Democracy and Americans for Campaign Reform, is part of New England College’s education series to take place at the college’s new Concord facility. Walk south on North Main, Located on the clock tower side, near the Norway Bank, three-minutes from the steps of the State House.

THURSDAY, APRIL 17

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

MONDAY, APRIL 21

CHARTER SCHOOLS AND OPEN ENROLLMENT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE (RSA 194-B:21), Room 100, State House
11:30 a.m. Regular meeting. Presentation by Paul Leather, Deputy Commission Department of Education on HB 435.

Sen. Clark’s proposed constitutional amendment on the use of dedicated funds passes Senate

(Concord, NH) Last week, the New Hampshire Senate passed CACR 19, a constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Martha Fuller Clark that would require that dedicated funds “shall be used only for the special program for which such fees or assessments were imposed.”

Dedicating funds is a popular way to offer stable, long-term support to important and popular programs. From highway funds to domestic violence prevention, the legislature has created approximately 300 such funds over the years to provide consistent funding to our priorities.

Just as often, however, the legislature has found these funds irresistible when the need to plug gaps in biannual budgets arises, as it inevitably does. This constitutional amendment, if passed by the House and by the citizens on Election Day, would not make that impossible – it would simply require a two-thirds majority of both the House and the Senate to pass.

“I believe it is important that there should be truth in government. If we want to gain the trust of the public we should keep our word and not take money from our citizens that has been dedicated for one particular purpose through funds and fees and use it for another,” Sen. Clark said. “Perhaps the most egregious example is when, in 2011, the legislature took millions of dollars from a fund created to provide scholarships for students in our state and used it to replace the state’s obligation to fund operating dollars for our university system. Putting this issue before the public with a Constitutional amendment will allow us to see if they agree.”

Having passed the Senate with a vote of 21-2, CACR 19 now goes to the House for consideration. If it passes the House, it will go before the voters on the ballot for the November 4th general election. Support of two-thirds of the voters is required to make this measure a part of the New Hampshire Constitution.

Shea-Porter Urges President Obama to Include RENEW Business Tax Deduction in FY 2015 Budget Request

Carol Shea Porter Official PhotoWASHINGTON, DC – As part of her efforts to revive the American economy and jumpstart the American Dream, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has sent a letter to President Obama detailing her recently introduced Reward and Encourage New Business Act (H.R. 3861) and encouraging the President to include the same tax deduction in his Fiscal Year 2015 budget request.

“I recently visited Port City Makerspace, a community-based workshop that provides tools and workspace to local builders and designers,” Shea-Porter wrote. “Along the tour, I witnessed New Hampshire entrepreneurs working to achieve their dreams while growing the local economy. In your Fiscal Year 2014 budget request, you included a permanent increase in the tax deduction for business start-up costs. In order to give entrepreneurs like the ones at Port City Makerspace the support they need to start new businesses, I urge you to again include this increase in your budget request for Fiscal Year 2015.”

Small and new businesses play a very important role in the economy. In 2010, the Kauffman Foundation reported that, between 1977 and 2005, firms in the first year of their existence created an average of 3 million jobs per year. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the first 3 months of 2013, 1,025 businesses were started in New Hampshire. The RENEW Business Act would permanently double the tax deduction for new businesses from $5,000 to $10,000, which would help create jobs and grow the economy.

As the Department of the Treasury wrote in its budget request documents last year, permanently increasing the deduction limit to $10,000 “lowers the tax cost of investigating new business opportunities and investing in new business activities. Increasing the dollar limit on expensed start-up expenditures would provide a stimulus to business formation and job creation.”

Shea-Porter first introduced this legislation in 2008 as the Small Business Start-Up Support Act (H.R. 7236), and was pleased to see it signed into law during the 111th Congress. Unfortunately, the expanded deduction was allowed to expire, which is why she introduced the RENEW Business Act this year and is urging the President to support the proposal in the White House’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

President Obama’s budget is expected to be released on March 4. Full text of the letter, which was sent earlier this month, is below.

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President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama: 

I recently visited Port City Makerspace, a community-based workshop that provides tools and workspace to local builders and designers. Along the tour, I witnessed New Hampshire entrepreneurs working to achieve their dreams while growing the local economy.  In your Fiscal Year 2014 budget request, you included a permanent increase in the tax deduction for business start-up costs.  In order to give entrepreneurs like the ones at Port City Makerspace the support they need to start new businesses, I urge you to again include this increase in your budget request for Fiscal Year 2015. 

Small and new businesses are critical to our economic success.  They drive job creation, stimulate local economies, and provide employment for members of our communities.  That is why I recently introduced the Reward and Encourage New (RENEW) Business Act to permanently double the start-up tax deduction for new businesses from $5,000 to $10,000.  

As the Department of the Treasury wrote in its budget request documents last year, permanently increasing the deduction limit to $10,000 “lowers the tax cost of investigating new business opportunities and investing in new business activities.  Increasing the dollar limit on expensed start-up expenditures would provide a stimulus to business formation and job creation.”  Given the critical importance of these start-ups’ activities to our economy, it is vital that the tax deduction be permanently doubled.

Thank you for your efforts to help small businesses, and I ask that you again include a permanent increase in the deduction for start-up expenses in your budget request for Fiscal Year 2015.

Sincerely,

Carol Shea-Porter
Member of Congress

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