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.”
Bipartisan Measure Invests in Numerous Job-Creating Projects,
Funds New Women’s Prison
CONCORD – To create jobs and invest in projects that will strengthen New Hampshire’s economy and communities, Governor Maggie Hassan signed into law today the state’s capital budget (HB 25) for fiscal years 2014-2015.
The bipartisan capital budget passed by the legislature closely matches the plan proposed by Governor Hassan in February with investments in projects that are critical for encouraging innovation and creating jobs. This includes funds for the state’s Business One-Stop that is putting more services online for New Hampshire businesses; for career and technology education (CTE) centers in Salem and Whitefield; for the state’s Enterprise Licensing System that will put all professional licenses on one common, online platform; for continuation of the E-Court Initiative; for repairing the Hampton sea wall; and for Community College and University system projects.
“Our bipartisan capital budget plan will help the state move forward with job-creating projects that are critical for keeping our communities strong and building a more innovative economic future,” Governor Hassan said.
To improve public safety and strengthen New Hampshire’s corrections system, the capital budget also includes $38 million for the state to build a new women’s prison with modern facilities that can provide the same level of safety measures and programs offered at the men’s prison.
“For too long, our corrections system has woefully neglected women,” Governor Hassan said. “Through the capital budget, we are now able to build a long-overdue new women’s prison with facilities and programs that can help individuals safely move back into society when they have served their sentences.”
In total, the capital budget authorizes nearly $245 million in capital appropriations for FY 14/15, leveraging approximately $125 million in general fund bonding authority, with the balance from other sources. The full details of the capital budget can be found at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2013/HB0025.html.
“I asked an NCIA spokesperson how private companies can get away with what could reasonably be described as forced labor. He explained that the PIE program classifies certain work functions as a ‘service’ rather than an actual ‘job’, and therefore is not subject to [restrictions in a 1979 federal law]. Conveniently, then, the backbreaking work of picking crops in the blistering sun counts as a ‘service’, so prisoners can be paid even less than the immigrants who have traditionally performed this work.”
(Yes, of course there’s a Wal-Mart connection. Read about it in the British newspaper The Guardian, here.)
Here’s how the prison labor system works in Arizona:
“Arizona statute requires that all inmates that are making $2 per hour will have deductions of 30% to offset the cost of their incarceration. In addition, thirty percent of the prisoner’s wages will be deducted for court ordered restitution.” (Are you doing the math here? Sounds like the inmates actually receive 80 cents an hour for their work.)
Nevermind the recession, the prison labor business is growing. The number of inmate hours worked during FY12 was up 8.5% over FY11. Room and board “contributions” were up by 9.8%. Sales were up. Profits were up. Arizona Correctional Industries added new products and new customers, and “are currently working on finalizing contracts that will help grow our telemarketing and service business.” (ACI helpfully explains “How we do it: We provide a positive learning experience for all of our workers. We balance our home and business life. We continually strive to improve our quality focusing on Lean Continuous improvement. We are passionately involved in making the customer happy.”)
Arizona is now leading the nation in efforts to crack down on those same immigrants who used to pick crops. Read National Public Radio’s “Prison Economics Help Drive Arizona Immigration Law” here.