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Tax Expert Agrees That Cuts To Business Tax Will Not Create NH Jobs

National State-Tax Expert Michael Mazerov Outlines Why Business Tax Cuts Will Not Produce Economic Growth for New Hampshire          

Concord, NH – Nearly 50 New Hampshire legislators gathered in Concord today to learn about the impact business tax cuts have had in other states and why such tax cuts are ineffective as a strategy to foster economic growth. Hosted by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, the event featured nationally-recognized state tax policy expert Michael Mazerov, who outlined research regarding the relationship between state taxes and economic performance.

“Preserving high-quality state and local services needed by businesses, especially education and infrastructure, should be the primary economic growth strategy for states – including New Hampshire – to pursue,” said Mazerov.

Mazerov’s presentation examined the relationship between taxes and economic growth, explored the impact business tax cuts have had in other states, and discussed the effect tax cuts can have on states’ ability to invest in education, infrastructure, and other areas vital to a vibrant economy.

“What really explains most of the relative rate of job growth among states is their ability to nurture and ensure the survival of the small number of start-ups that develop an innovative technology, product or business model,” said Mazerov.

The negative effect of tax cuts on economic growth is well illustrated by the state of Ohio. Between 2005 and 2015 Ohio implemented numerous tax cuts intended to promote economic growth, yet during this ten-year period the state’s employment rate experienced no net growth while employment increased by 5.8 percent nationally.

“The business tax cuts contained in the Committee of Conference budget would severely constrain New Hampshire’s ability to make critical investments,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “Phasing such tax reductions in over time simply puts difficult tradeoffs onto future legislatures, with no plan for accommodating the loss in revenue.”

Michael Mazerov is a senior fellow with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, based in Washington DC, where he focuses on state tax and budget policy. Prior to joining CBPP, Mazerov served as director of policy research for the Multistate Tax Commission.

Richard Gulla: New Hampshire Budget Reveals An ‘Ideological Assault’

President of the State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984)

Rich Gulla (SEA/ SEIU 1984 President) It’s been written that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This adage fits well with the New Hampshire Senate budget that was pushed through along party lines – the Legislature continues to cut revenue and then tell us we cannot afford to invest in our state.

Over the next few weeks, legislators from the New Hampshire House and Senate will work to iron out the differences in their respective budgets. Unfortunately for the state’s citizens, neither budget meets the basic needs of the state; and the finished product is likely to reflect that.

The Senate budget severely underfunds the state’s community colleges and universities; underfunds substance abuse programs; does not provide enough support for those living with mental health issues; does not provide for snow removal; and downshifts even more costs to towns and municipalities. Their budget also includes the closure of Health and Human Services district offices in four communities – Conway, Claremont, Rochester and Laconia. Some of the communities that are in greatest need.

The Senate also failed to honor the collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated in good faith between the state of New Hampshire and the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire (SEA/SEIU 1984).

SEIU 1984 LogoIn fact, the Senate Finance Committee did not even discuss the contract in committee, even after Sen. Lou D’Allesandro requested that it be discussed more than once.

Despite several meetings between Senate leadership and SEA/SEIU 1984 representatives and assurances made by the senators, the collective bargaining agreement for thousands of hard-working state employees was not given the opportunity it deserved – to be heard and discussed. This disrespectful treatment of workers is disappointing, frustrating and disheartening.

The proposed budget provides a solid look at what today’s GOP supports: lower taxes for big out-of-state businesses. As a bonus, they are adding language in another bill for a special tax break for former governor Craig Benson and his wealthy friends at Planet Fitness. If you are keeping score at home: It is tens of millions of dollars for the wealthy and corporations, and zip for working families and people in need.

Ordinarily, our organization is bipartisan. We do not care if an elected leader is a Republican, Democrat or independent – if he or she supports public sector workers and the services they deliver to New Hampshire citizens, we are friends.

At this time, though, it must be clear to even the most casual political observers that we are facing an ideological assault that is unprecedented in its agenda and harmful to our citizens.

Every cut to expenditures and every cut in revenue is designed to hack away at our infrastructure; infrastructure that in many cases was built by the Republican party of yesterday – a party that believed in investing in our children, families and communities. They are bulldozing our future and then congratulating themselves because they cut needed services.

We cannot afford to continue doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results. We call upon our legislators to take this opportunity in committee of conference to build a budget that both parties can support, by funding these critical services and the hardworking people who deliver them every day.

Otherwise, the budget next year will look much like the budget this year, and all the budgets before it.

Senator Andrew Hosmer Comments on Senate Raid of Dedicated Funds

Senate Finance Republicans Vote to Take $2.22 million from Renewable Energy Fund

CONCORD – Today, Sen. Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia), member of the Senate Finance Committee, released the following comments regarding the Senate Finance Committee’s vote to take $2.22 million out of the Renewable Energy Fund and use it to fund the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management:

“Just last week the Senate Finance Committee voted to restore the Renewable Energy Fund after the House Republicans raided it to fund their reckless budget,” said Senator Hosmer. “Today, without the benefit of a public hearing, Senate Republicans voted to reverse course and raid $2.22 million from the same fund for the next budget and then permanently raid $1.5 million in each future year.”

Along a party-line 4-2 vote, the Senate Finance Committee voted to take $2.22 million from the Renewable Energy Fund and use it to fund the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Both the House-passed version and the Governor’s proposed budget addressed a decrease in funding for Homeland Security and Emergency Management through assessments on utilities and on property, life and casualty insurance policies.

“Today’s vote shows that the Senate Republicans’ rhetoric doesn’t match their actions.  All session long, Senate Republicans have been claiming responsibility for protecting dedicated funds, including a press release just last week where Senators Forrester and Little patted themselves on the back for protecting the integrity of dedicated funds,” continued Sen. Hosmer. “While funding the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is very worthy and a high priority for us all, the Governor and House had a much more responsible way to do so. I sincerely urge my Senate colleagues to protect the Renewable Energy Fund, which is vital to the ability of NH’s small businesses to be successful.”

ICYMI: More Editorials Call on N.H. Senate to Pass a Bipartisan, Responsible Budget

Concord, N.H. – Editorials in the Concord Monitor and Valley News continued to put pressure on the New Hampshire Senate to work across party lines and pass a responsible budget that undoes drastic cuts to seniors, people with disabilities, efforts to combat substance misuse, and local property taxpayers.
Concord Monitor: Editorial: “State can’t afford price of budget cuts”
Over the next few months the Senate, a committee of conference and Gov. Hassan will pluck the spines off the cold-hearted toad of a budget passed by the House and shape into something that doesn’t boil the conscience and stab property owners in the wallet. At least we hope they will, otherwise the state’s seniors, people with a disability, their caregivers and county taxpayers will suffer.
… Taken together, the social service cuts would make it even harder for the vast majority of senior citizens in this graying state to do what they want to do – remain in their own homes for as long as possible and, ideally, to the end. More people will end up in a nursing home, exhaust their own resources sooner and wind up on Medicaid. That’s tragic for them, hard on their families and costly to taxpayers. Seniors who stay in their own homes spend down their resources, whether savings or the equity in their homes, much more slowly and require less help from taxpayers. Providing the services that help them do so makes economic and humanitarian sense.
… The cuts to social services in the House budget would downshift even more of the expense of caring for the elderly and disabled from the state and federal government to county taxpayers. Every voter should ask their state representative, if they voted for the budget, why they think that’s a good idea. [Full editorial]
Valley News: Editorial: “Don’t Just Rescue Opioid Addicts, Treat Them”
With New England in the grip of an opioid addiction crisis, much attention is being focused on naloxone, a relatively easy-to-administer drug that saves lives by reversing the deadly effects of breathing failure in people who have overdosed on heroin or prescription opioids. Remarkably, advocates say, all this is accomplished without producing major side effects other than withdrawal symptoms and without creating a high.
… Encouraging as all this is, though, we urge policy makers to ask themselves this question: After naloxone, then what? Preventing an addict from dying by overdose is wonderful, but it is not exactly the same thing as saving — or more precisely — salvaging his or her life. There’s no wonder drug for doing that, unless it’s money — money that needs to be invested in the hard work of supplying high quality, affordable and easily accessible drug treatment options at the local level and encouraging addicts to take advantage of those services.

… Given that the opioid crisis coincides with a budget crunch in both states, lawmakers will face some tough choices about how to provide adequate and sustainable funding for addiction treatment. Without that, though, naloxone is just a small Band-Aid being asked to staunch a hemorrhage. [Full editorial]
Concord Monitor: My Turn: Senate must restore sensibility, responsibility to state budget
(Richard Gulla is the president of SEA/SEIU 1984)
… At this point in the process, the Senate must formulate its version of a budget for consideration. We implore them to restore some of the services slashed by the House and provide the means for much needed revenue and reflect the type of state we envision: one where all New Hampshire residents may succeed, a place where the young can stay and thrive, where those in the middle of their lives can earn a good living to support and grow their families, and where the old can live in dignity.
I urge every New Hampshire resident to contact their state senator and demand that they develop a more compassionate and reasonable budget. Tell them that anything less is not right for our state. New Hampshire deserves better. [Full op-ed]

NH House Republicans Push Through Their Immoral Reckless Budget


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Today hundreds of Granite Staters filled the State Capitol building holding signs and asking legislators to oppose these reckless cuts to the New Hampshire budget.  Labor leaders, community activists and concerned citizens delivered over 800 signed petitions opposing these reckless budget cuts.

“A budget is a statement of our priorities as a community and in that sense it is an expression of our values,” explained the Rev. Jonathan Hopkins, President of the NH Council of Churches and pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church. “Our faith leads us to pay attention to the common good, not just to the interests of individuals. Our faith calls for a budget that is fair and just.”

One area of the proposed budget cuts that drew outrage today were the cuts to social programs to help people overcome their additions to drugs and alcohol. Hundred gathered and participated in a “die in” on the State House steps. (Images above of the ‘die in’ courtesy of Steve Kloppenburg)

Their voices and concerns were ignored as the House Republicans pushed through their budget with devastating cuts to a variety of state programs.

“In amending the House Finance Committee-recommended budget that already hurt families, undermined business growth and took our economy backward, Republicans in the House of Representatives managed today to make a reckless budget even worse,” stated Governor Maggie Hassan. (Full Statement Here)

“To gain the support of Bill O’Brien and the Koch Brothers, House Republicans passed a budget today that is so extreme that even the Republican House Finance Chair admitted that our state would suffer if it were actually enacted,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

“The House did a fantastic job of making New Hampshire more free market and more competitive, and forth and for most it takes out all the tax increases,” said AFP State Director Greg Moore in an press conference last week.

During the debate on the House floor Representative William O’Brien, who pushed a similar budget cuts through the House in 2011 when he was Speaker, offered an amendment to raid the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” to find extra money to make their budget work.

“From raiding dedicated funds to downshifting costs onto local communities, the O’Brien-Jasper budget proves once again that New Hampshire Republicans can’t be taken seriously on fiscal responsibility,” said Buckley. “Possibly the most fiscally irresponsible action in the O’Brien-Jasper budget deal — and that’s saying something — is O’Brien’s floor amendment to empty the state’s rainy day fund.”

“As lawmakers entered the State House, today they were greeted by hundreds of protesters decrying the O’Brien-Jasper budget’s drastic cuts. But instead of listening to the outcry from every corner of the state, O’Brien and Jasper decided to wipe out the state’s rainy day fund and threaten a credit downgrade to make even deeper cuts, including cutting funding for community colleges, further cutting our already strained corrections system, and laying off nurses at New Hampshire hospital,” continued Buckley.

“Voters will not stand for the fiscally irresponsible Jasper-O’Brien budget that empties the state’s rainy day fund, raids dedicated funds, slashes critical economic priorities for small businesses and middle class families, and downshifts costs onto local property taxpayers,” concluded Buckley.

One of the budget tactics used by Republicans to fund their disastrous budget would reverse the pay increased negotiated by the State Employees Association. These are the same workers who are now facing the potential of massive layoffs.

“When I was a child growing up in NH, the state leaders were fiscally conservative and responsible,” said Richard Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “The legislature was primarily Republican and when need be, they would find ways to raise revenue for items our state’s citizens needed and there was a good balance between revenue and spending. That is no longer the case.”

The Tea Party extremists have taken over the House and refuse to raise revenues even though the state desperately needs it.

“The members of SEA/SEIU 1984 want our state to be a safe place for everyone to live, work, and prosper. The NH House budget does not promote these priorities – it disrupts them,” wrote the State Employees Association. “Even though they did not prevail, we salute the legislators who voted in favor of funding the state employees’ contract.”

“While today’s vote was gravely disappointing, we now look to the NH Senate to prepare a budget that is frugal yet reasonable and responsible,” concluded the SEA.

Community groups and fiscal watchdogs were quick to blast Republicans in the House for passing this budget that is guaranteed to harm our state and our economy.

“The House version of the budget is foolhardy and shortsighted. It unnecessarily pits important state priorities against one another rather than making real investments in our community, our infrastructure, and our people,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “It kicks the can down the road on identifying reasonable revenue sources that ensure the wealthy and corporations are paying their fair share, and it turns its back on programs that, if funded today, will save our state money in the long run.”

“The House budget pits vital public services against one another in an attempt to achieve a misguided sense of balance. This budget puts many of our state’s most vulnerable residents at risk, forcing cities and towns — and local taxpayers – to take on greater responsibilities and to face higher costs in the long run,” said New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch. (Full Statement Here)

Now we look to the New Hampshire Senate to see how they blend their two proposals together and craft the budget for the next two years. We already know that the Senate passed a business tax reduction that gives away millions to businesses while force deeper cuts to state agencies.

Will the Senate find a way to fix the cuts proposed by the House, or will they bend to the Tea Party extremists and force New Hampshire backwards?


Related article and recommended reading:

Republican Budget Cuts In New Hampshire Provoke Backlash From Clergy


Senate Democrats Blast House Budget

Democrats Stand Ready to Work Across Party Lines to Pass a Fiscally Responsible Budget that Expands Opportunity for All

Concord, NH – Following the passage of the House Budget, Senate Democrats released the following comments:

“The budget passed the House passed today is not a budget at all—its just a naked appeal to the Koch Brothers and the extremist Bill O’Brien wing of the Republican Party,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn. “The way forward is for the Senate to reject the House’s irresponsible approach and work across party lines, with the Governor’s fiscally responsible plan as a guide, to build on our bipartisan progress over the past two years and seize our state’s full economic potential. Senate Democrats stand ready to work across party lines in order to pass an honest budget, without back-of-the-budget cuts or other budgetary gimmicks, that expands opportunity for all, supports businesses throughout our state, and lays the foundation for a new generation of economic growth.”

“The House budget is unacceptable and now the Senate has to work together to fix it,” said Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, ranking Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee. “It slashes decades-old programs, long supported by practical leaders of both parties. Not to mention that it would threaten our bond rating by emptying the state’s rainy day fund. Between cutting funding for substance misuse during an opioid crisis, reducing services that allow seniors to stay in their communities, and downshifting costs onto local property taxpayers, its no wonder we’ve heard from people all over the state that the House budget is wrong for New Hampshire.”

“The fact that the Koch Brothers endorsed the O’Brien-Jasper budget proves just how bad the House budget is for New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy,” said Sen. Andrew Hosmer, member of the Senate Finance Committee. “We know that it’s possible to make strategic investments in the critical priorities that must be met for our people, businesses and economy to thrive while living within our means. I hope that the Senate Republican majority will join with us to again invest in our shared priorities as we did in the last bipartisan budget.”

Sen. D’Allesandro Reacts to GOP Blocking Funds to Support Public Health and Safety

Image by Marc Nozell (CC Flickr)

Image by Marc Nozell (CC Flickr)

Republicans on the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee Leave Millions in Federal Funds on the Table

Concord, N.H. – Republicans on the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee last week voted to block millions in federal funds to support critical public health and safety priorities like combating our state’s drug problem, helping our local school districts improve students’ mental health and safety, supporting our fire fighters, and keeping our highways safe.

As the Concord Monitor reported, “Republican committee members voted to delay several decisions on whether to accept and spend roughly $9 million in federal and other funds that would pay for a program to collect data on violent deaths in New Hampshire, hire an investigator for a state drug task force, fund positions to promote child safety and mental health, and pay for a new fire truck, among other things.”

“Blocking these funds is bad public policy,” said Senator Lou D’Allesandro, Democratic member of the Joint Fiscal Committee. “These funds have always gone through the Fiscal Committee and they have no impact on the next budget. The Republicans’ decision to hold up money that would help make our communities safer doesn’t make any sense to me.”

For more details on the blocked items click here (key page numbers included below):

The Fiscal Committee blocked federal funds to better collect and analyze data related to violent deaths occurring in the state (pg. 86).

The Fiscal Committee blocked the Department of Justice from using federal forfeiture dollars to hire a full-time Criminal Justice Investigator for the purpose of statewide investigations of drug related activities (pg. 116).

The Fiscal Committee blocked grant funding for a highway safety program allowing State Police to collect better and timelier data on highway crashes (pg. 95).

The Fiscal Committee blocked more than $1.9 million in federal funds for Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) in order to promote child safety and mental health. Project AWARE will serve approximately 4,000 children, youth and families per year and train approximately 700 youth-serving adults per year in New Hampshire (pg. 101).

The Fiscal Committee blocked federal funds for the purchase of a mini-pumper fire truck and personal protective equipment (pg. 44).

The Fiscal Committee blocked school safety funding to assist local schools in the development of Emergency Operations Plans (pg. 74).

FACT CHECK: Senate GOP’s False Excuses for Voting to Kill Bill to Ensure Balanced FY 2015

Concord, N.H. – After voting to kill SB 233, a fiscally responsible bill to help ensure the state ends FY 2015 with a balanced budget, Jeanie Forrester and Chuck Morse issued false statements underscoring that they’ve lost all credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

See below for a complete fact check of the false statements from Jeanie Forrester and Chuck Morse.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) issued the following statement on the Committee voting down the Governor’s request for budget cuts from the Legislative and Judicial Branches:

Forrester’s Claim: “For almost a year, I have been asking Governor Hassan to share with the Legislature information on the spending problems within New Hampshire agencies.”

Fact: Taking aside the numerous briefings from Governor Hassan and her administration to the Legislative Fiscal Committee, Forrester could’ve simply checked TransparentNH for monthly spending data by agency.

Forrester’s Claim: With revenues running ahead of projections, it was essential that we address spending proactively. Instead, the Governor kept the problem to herself, tried to blame it on revenues even as they exceeded our targets, and finally came forward with this package of cuts to branches that are controlling their spending.”

Fact: Forrester can’t possibly write with a straight face that Senate Republicans are “controlling their spending” after they massively overspent the Senate’s operations budget.

And the Governor has repeatedly highlighted budget challenges (dating back to last spring), including troubling trends with business and I&D revenues and increased caseloads at DHHS (mostly representing more children getting on traditional Medicaid due to a change in federal law). Beginning last spring, the Governor took preventive and preemptive action including, among other actions, instructing agencies to halt equipment purchasing. Right after, Senate Republicans went on a shopping spree for new office furniture.

Forrester’s Claim: “The Governor would have raided dedicated funds and taken money from branches that are living within their budgets, yet would barely scratch the surface of the $58 million overspending problem. As such, the Finance Committee voted down this bill.”

Fact: Again, Forrester’s statement that Senate Republicans are “living within their budgets” is beyond laughable.

Additionally, the dedicated funds mentioned in the bill are transferring dollars from one fund at the Department of Safety to another fund at the Department of Safety to address a shortfall in plea by mail revenue. This measure is necessary to fund state police detectives and the state crime lab.

Not to mention that Forrester’s claim of a “$58 million overspending problem” is simply not true. That number is an estimation representing all potential liabilities, including the large back-of-the-budget cuts to DHHS that Forrester and her Senate GOP colleagues insisted upon. As Forrester knows, all agency spending has been approved by the legislature (whether through the budget, Fiscal Committee, or other legislation).

Despite these challenges, the Governor has worked with department heads to make the tough decisions to maintain a balanced budget, including issuing an executive order that cut $18 million from state agencies and working with DHHS to submit a plan to end FY15 with a balanced budget.

Meanwhile, Forrester’s Finance Committee voted to kill a bill that would help ensure a balanced FY15 budget because it would require the legislature to make cuts to its own budget. (You can listen to the full hearing here).

Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) added the following statement:

Morse’s Claim: “The Legislature continues to manage its budget, and it is now time for the Governor to manage her state agencies spending problems.”

Fact: Governor Hassan has worked with department heads to carefully manage state expenditures, and state agencies beat their savings reduction targets last year by $8.5 million. Given additional challenges – including more children getting on regular Medicaid due to a change in federal law and back-of-the-budget cuts insisted on by Senate Republicans – the Governor has worked with department heads to make the tough decisions to maintain a balanced budget, including issuing an executive order that cut $18 million from state agencies and working with DHHS to submit a plan to end FY15 with a balanced budget.

When asked why the Senate overspent its operations budget and wildly missed its own budget targets, Senator Morse replied, “I had a lot on my plate last year.”

Morse’s Claim: She needs to stop raiding dedicated funds and trying to take money away from other branches of government that are meeting their Constitutional obligation to live within their means.”

Fact: Again, see here: “when it came to returning unspent money to the treasury, it was the State Senate that seemed to spend like there was no tomorrow.”

(Written by the NHDP)

Mass Nurses Warn Of Harmful Cuts To Newton Wellesley Hospital

Newton Wellesley Hospital Nurses Go Public With Concerns
About Patient Safety in Response to Plan by Partners to Cut Staffing and Increase Patient Loads for Nurses in the Hospital’s Busy ED

Plan to Cut Staff Comes as the ED Nurses Struggle to Confront a Growing Flu Epidemic and After NWH and Partners has Posted a Healthy Profit in Recent Years

Wellesley, Mass. ¾ The registered nurses of Newton Wellesley Hospital represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United (MNA/NNU), recently began a leafleting/advertising campaign to alert the public about a potentially dangerous plan by Partners Health Care, the multi-billion dollar owner of our hospital, to reduce RN staffing levels and increase nurses’ patient assignments in the facility’s busy emergency department, which the nurses believe will impact the quality and safety of care.  The cuts come as the facility continues to make a healthy profit and the census in the ED has increased over the past year, and as the facility struggles to cope with a growing flu epidemic.

Newton Wellesley Hospital operates a busy and efficient emergency department that treats more than 58,000 patients a year who are experiencing a variety of illnesses and injuries, many of them potentially life threatening, where timely care is essential.

According to Laurie Andersen, a longtime ED nurse at the facility and chair of the nurses’ local bargaining unit, “The patients of our hospital have been fortunate as, until now, our emergency department was staffed with a safe complement of expert nurses, with safe patient loads that allowed us to provide the timely care you expect and deserve.  Unfortunately, our administration has announced a plan to reduce the number of nurses on staff, cutting a least one nurse per shift, which will increase the number of patients assigned to each nurse.  This plan will decrease our ability to be flexible and efficient in providing the safe patient care the public needs.”

According to data gathered by the nurses, visits to the emergency department have increased by 2 percent in the past year, and in recent months, the hospital has been flooded with patients visiting the ED, which is being exacerbated by an increase in patients suffering from flu like illnesses.

“Even without these cuts we have had several days where we are boarding patients, including intensive care patients, in the emergency department because we have no beds available to move patients to, and we have more patients coming in our doors all the time.  We have had to initiate care for sick emergency patients young and old in the hallways to make sure that they receive safe care.” Andersen explained. “On numerous occasions we have been on ‘Code Orange’ which means we have no inpatient beds but the Emergency department never closes or turns away sick patients.  We are a busy hospital and when inpatient beds are full, the emergency department must continue to care for those patients as well as caring for all other sick or injured patients from our community.  The nurses at Newton-Wellesley want to provide excellent, timely safe care to our patients and that is why we are so concerned about these cuts.”

According to official financial reports, these changes are being proposed at a time when the hospital posted profits in excess of $27 million and when Partners Health Care, the corporate owner of our hospital, recorded profits of more than $700 million over the last two years.

The nurses have been actively engaged in efforts to convince management to maintain the current staffing levels.  More than 85 percent of the ED nurses signed a petition last year opposing this plan, and earlier this year more than 20 nurses attended a meeting with management to speak out against the plan and what it would mean for the safety of our patients.  Beginning last week, the nurses began an effort to hand out leaflets to the public explaining their concerns, and this week the MNA/NNU has placed ads in local papers about the situation.  The flyers and the ads ask for community members to call the NWH President to ask him to maintain the current staffing levels at the hospital.  For a copy of the leaflet, contact David Schildmeier at dschildmeier@mnarn.org.

Bipartisan Spending Bill Will Promote Economic Growth, Includes Key NH Measures

Bill to fund government restores COLA funding for disabled veterans, includes $75 million for fishery disaster relief, investments in Shipyard

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced today that the bipartisan appropriations bill unveiled last night will both promote economic growth and include many key measures she has championed in recent months. The legislation will specifically keep the government funded through Fiscal Year 2014, repeal many of the reckless sequester budget cuts, and promote job creation and economic growth.

The bill builds on the bipartisan budget agreement passed in December and makes investments in many New Hampshire priorities, including:

  • Disaster relief funding for New England fisherman
  • A fix to a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for disabled veterans
  • Military construction resources for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
  • Resources to complete the activation of the Federal Corrections Institution (FCI) in Berlin
  • Funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The legislation also rolls back wasteful spending including taxpayer funded expenditures on oil paintings of public officials. Senators Shaheen and Tom Coburn (R-OK) drew attention to this waste of taxpayer dollars by introducing bipartisan legislation last year designed to cut these expenditures. The legislation also requires all federal agencies to become better stewards of taxpayer dollars by implementing mandatory 10 percent cuts to overhead costs and by investing in Inspectors General offices as Shaheen has fought for. This effort will help agencies better identify waste and cut spending through audits and oversight.

“This bipartisan appropriations bill makes strategic investments in our economy that will help create jobs while also preventing another government shutdown and repealing some of the sequester cuts that hurt economic growth,” Shaheen said. “Now we have to keep up the bipartisan momentum to pass this bill and additional job-creating measures.”

The appropriations bill, negotiated by the House and Senate, includes a partial fix to COLA adjustments in order to protect disabled veterans. Last month Shaheen introduced the Military Retirement Restoration Act to protect all future military retirees from the COLA cuts passed in a bipartisan budget agreement in December. Shaheen’s legislation would restore the cuts and replace the savings by eliminating a tax loophole for American corporations that use offshore tax havens, a move that would generate an estimated $6.6 billion in savings.

“This bill also takes a good step toward correcting the cuts to military retiree benefits,” Shaheen said. “I hope we can continue in this direction and vote on my plan to restore all of the adjustments as soon as possible on behalf of the people who have served our country.”

The funding package also invests in New Hampshire defense priorities, authorizing $1.6 billion toward the continued development of the new KC-46A aerial refueling tanker to be based at Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire as well as $11.5 million for new military construction at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. In addition, the bill funds the Beyond Yellow Ribbon Program, which connects servicemen and women and their families with community support, training, and other services, at $13 million. Also included in the package is funding for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which will help modernize the way the U.S. meets challenges posed by the spread of weapons of mass destruction, at $500 million.

“New Hampshire plays an important role in our national defense and this bill rightfully makes strategic investments to support our shipyard, our economy, and our men and women in uniform,” said Shaheen, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support.

Additional measures included in the funding bill are $75 million toward fishery disaster relief, $3.425 billion for LIHEAP, and $6.9 billion to the Bureau of Prisons, which is sufficient to complete the activation of the Berlin Prison that is expected to create 340 local jobs and provide a $40 million economic boost to Northern New Hampshire.

Shaheen has repeatedly advocated for Congress to support New Hampshire fishermen and other states affected by declining fish populations and consequent economic losses by authorizing disaster relief.

“Fishing is one of our state’s oldest industries and remains a critical engine of our economy,” said Shaheen. “The resources in this bill will provide necessary support for fishermen and coastal communities who are struggling during difficult times.”

Funding for LIHEAP in this bill is a $169 million increase from FY 2013 levels, for a total of $3.425 billion. The program helps seniors and low income households in New Hampshire with home heating costs and has become particularly critical in recent years as the struggling U.S. economy and high energy prices and reduced LIHEAP funding have forced more Americans to go without this critical assistance. Shaheen has been a strong supporter of LIHEAP throughout her time in the Senate and was recently part of a successful bipartisan effort to encourage Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to expedite the release of LIHEAP funds, allowing those in need to receive assistance as soon as possible.

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