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Chris Christie Flees To New Hampshire To Avoid His Major Problems In New Jersey

Chris Christie (Gage Skidmore on Flickr)

Chris Christie (Gage Skidmore on Flickr)

This week, Chris Christie announced his candidacy for President. Unfortunately, with a historic nine credit downgrades, and near last in the nation for job growth, things aren’t going so great back home in New Jersey and his constituents are not so happy about it. Let’s recap: 

And let’s not leave out Christie’s local papers blasting him with scathing editorials that detail his failed leadership and question why he’s running at all.

“Christie wants to expand economic opportunity to all? Then why did he increase taxes on the working poor, kill the state’s affordable housing efforts, and veto a minimum wage hike? He believes in compromise? Then why is Trenton locked in the same kind of partisan stalemate we see in Washington? He believes in leadership? Then why isn’t he doing something about the crumbling bridges, the worsening fiscal crisis, or the sputtering economy?…

And it’s not all Bridgegate, either. That started the descent, and exposed the dark underbelly of his brash style, and the craven culture of this administration. Christie’s collapse, at its core, is about more than all that. It is about the failure of governing in New Jersey.” Star-Ledger Editorial Board

“The greater problem, however, is his record: Even if Christie can outrun the opposition and the scandal, it’s difficult to grasp what he would run on.

While styling himself a pragmatic decider who gets stuff done, Christie has presided over a period of fiscal deterioration and economic stagnation. The budget he just signed required his lawyers to extricate him from the pension reforms he touted as a signature bipartisan achievement. The reversal was at stark odds with his proclamation Tuesday: ‘I mean what I say and I say what I mean.’” Philly Inquirer Editorial Board

NJ Advance Media commentator Brian Donohue explains why Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential bid is nothing but bad news for the state of New Jersey.
(Five ways Christie’s presidential run stinks for New Jersey Video by Brian Donohue and Bumper DeJesus | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

The people at YouGotSchooled2016 are back talking about how this years round of Presidential hopefuls faired in their home states especially on issues of education.

  • Public schools: It’s kind of weird that Chris Christie chose to announce he is running for president at a public school when he has slashed education funding by a billion dollars.
  • Higher education: New Jersey’s higher education funding fell from its peak of $2.33 billion in 2006 (pre Gov. Christie) to $1.93 billion in 2013, a 17 percent decline. Thanks, Gov. Christie.
  • Teachers: Aside from the cuts to public education, if you’re a teacher you better avoid Chris Christie all together, unless you want to get yelled at.

But of course, Christie blames the media instead of taking responsibility for his own failed leadership. 

“As Chris Christie continues his tour through New Hampshire, he’s abandoned his own state after years of failed leadership in pursuit of his political ambitions. Granite Staters won’t be fooled by his excuses. Chris Christie’s reckless abuse of power and helping his allies have done nothing but left middle class families in the dust,” said Lizzy Price, Communications Director of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

The biggest warning of all came from one of the largest newspapers in New Jersey. “After 14 years of watching Christie, a warning: He lies,” wrote Tom Moran editorial board of the Star Ledger.

“Most Americans don’t know Chris Christie like I do, so it’s only natural to wonder what testimony I might offer after covering his every move for the last 14 years.”

‘…Don’t misunderstand me. They all lie, and I get that. But Christie does it with such audacity, and such frequency, that he stands out.”

“…But let’s start with my personal favorite. It dates back to the 2009 campaign, when the public workers unions asked him if he intended to cut their benefits. He told them their pensions were “sacred” to him.”

Chris Christie is a smooth politician that knows how to say what the people in the room want to hear. He is also a brash, overbearing, jerk who continually demeans reporters and people who challenge him on issues.  Christie’s failed leadership doesn’t make him fit to be president of my local PTA, never mind the President of the United States.

Granite State Rumblings: Proposed Changes Would Propel Head-Start Program

When Congress reauthorized Head Start in 2007, it directed the agency to review and revise its performance standards. The comment period ends in mid-August, and it could be months before final regulations are issued. Among the most significant revisions on the table:

Length of Day and Year

Current: Head Start programs must operate 128 days during a school year, for a minimum of 3.5 hours each day

Proposed Change: Head Start programs would operate 180 days during a school year, for at least 6 hours each day.

Revised Regulations

Current: There are more than 1,400 program performance standards, some of which are redundant or overly prescriptive, according to Head Start.

Proposed Change: The streamlined proposed standards have been simplified and better organized.

Strengthening Education

Current: The document that outlines what young children should know and be able to do was last revised in 2010.

Proposed Change: The new document, called the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework Ages Birth to Five, is based on the latest research on child development.

Comprehensive Services

Current: Head Start distinguishes itself from other early-childhood programs through its focus on physical and mental health services and family engagement.

Proposed Change: Head Start plans to maintain this focus, with attention on streamlining and better coordination.

Professional Development

Current: Professional development relies on “intermittent workshops and conferences” that don’t have an effect on long-term practice, according to Head Start.

Proposed Change: Many teachers would receive intensive coaching in best practices.

Local Flexibility

Current: Head Start providers had limited ability to modify a program to meet local needs.

Proposed Change: The new rules would increase opportunities for Head Start grantees to modify policies if they can show those modifications work best for their communities.

Source: Office of Head Start, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Here is a blog piece from the current edition of Education Week.

Head Start Proposals Draw Cheers, Cautions
By
Christina A. Samuels

Early-childhood advocates are praising a proposed top-to-bottom revision of the rules governing Head Start, the federally-funded program that serves a million children from low-income families and pregnant women and children nationwide, even as they raise questions about whether the budget resources would be available to bring those plans to fruition.

Head Start officials see the proposal, which was seven years in the making, as a way to cut the bureaucratic burden that has developed over the program’s 50 years in existence. They also want to incorporate the latest knowledge about what best prepares children for academic success as well as social and emotional health.

But the changes—the most noteworthy of which calls for increasing the length of a Head Start operation’s day and the number of days it must operate per year—would come with a hefty $1 billion price tag. Currently, a Head Start program must operate for at least 3.5 hours a day and 128 days a year; the proposed changes would increase that to at least 6 hours a day and 180 days per year.

President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget proposal would increase Head Start’s funding to cover both the school day and year changes and to pay for other Head Start initiatives. But, the spending increase is far from guaranteed.

Head Start is currently funded for about $8.6 billion. The president’s fiscal 2016 budget requests $10.1 billion for the program.

“Congress is not in an additional funding mood,” said Laura Bornfreund, a deputy director of the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative, based in Washington. “What if Congress doesn’t make that appropriation? Are they going to take [program expansion] out? Are they going to make that optional? Are they going to ask centers to try to figure that out?”

Long in Coming

The proposed revisions, which were mandated by Congress when it reauthorized Head Start in 2007, were released just a month after the program celebrated the anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson signing the bill that created it as part of the War on Poverty.

By and large, the proposed changes appear to have met Head Start’s stated goals, say those who have examined the document outlining them, which was released June 18 and is open for a month of public comment.

“They have remodeled Head Start, but they’ve still done a good job of honoring the stuff that Head Start cares about—the work with families, the parent engagement, the comprehensive services. I think they did a really good job of strengthening the classroom experience for students,” said Joel Ryan, the executive director of a Head Start advocacy group for programs based in Washington state.

Ms. Bornfreund agreed that extending the length of the Head Start school day and year is “an important change to have in there, but definitely the funding and the support for programs is needed to make that shift well. Just adding a few more hours just doesn’t mean there’s going to be high-quality learning going on.”

Head Start officials say they are prepared to phase in some requirements if the rules are made final before the money to implement them is available. The final rule can end up with flexibility for Head Start providers to take a year to phase the other major requirements, such as extending the school year and day.

One element of Head Start that has not been touched is the requirement for low-performing grantees to compete for continued funding.

Department on Board

The funding question has not dimmed the enthusiasm from Head Start officials over the proposed revisions. In the proposed rules themselves, and in accompanying summaries and webinars aimed at providers, they acknowledged that the program had gotten too prescriptive, making it difficult for Head Start providers to focus on the issues that are most meaningful for children.

“We certainly know that some of you are saying, ‘It’s about time you got these out,’” Head Start Deputy Director Ann Linehan said in an webinar for Head Start grantees to announce the proposed rules.

“In this case, procrastination served us well, because it gave us time to really read all the results of the research,” she said. “This set of proposed rules really reflects the best.”

Along with the proposed rules changes, Head Start also revised a document that explains what children should know and be able to do from birth to 5 years old. What is now called the “Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework” was last revised in 2010, and only focused on children ages 3-5.

In an interview with Education Week, Head Start Director Blanca Enriquez said this new document will help programs align their curricula so that they’re best preparing children for school. And, unlike the other proposed changes, the framework does not have to go through a public comment process.

‘Supergrantees’

Another less-noticed change has to do with the authority so-called “supergrantees” have to manage their “delegate agencies.” Some large agencies, such as the Los Angeles County Office of Education or the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, contract with smaller agencies that actually provide the direct services to children.

Currently, if a grantee moves to terminate a contract with a delegate agency, Head Start rules require a number of different steps and appeals processes that involve federal officials. The proposed rules would cut the federal government’s role in that element of delegate management.

Noting another change that has flown under the radar, Monica Ortiz, the executive director of the Maryland Head Start Association, noted that the proposal would eliminate a requirement that Head Start programs have parent committees. There are other committees that have parent involvement, such as policy councils, but Ms. Ortiz said the new rules would need to ensure that a broad cross-section of parents still have an opportunity to be involved in the program.

“How do you ensure your policy council is fully representative of the full group of your parents?” she asked.

But the proposed changes to the lengths of the Head Start day and school year have garnered the most attention among grantees. Early educators refer to the length of time children spend in the classroom as “dosage,” and officials said that Head Start’s current minimums are just too low for the high-needs population that Head Start serves—especially considering that Head Start also provides other services, such as health and developmental screenings.

“If we really want our teachers to focus on the comprehensive services, they really need a full day,” said Ms. Enriquez, the director of Head Start.

However, the proposal raises multiple questions about how grantees will find space and staffing to carry out this work. Currently, only 57 percent of Head Start preschoolers receive services for 6 hours or more a day, and only 31 percent receive services for 180 or more days.

While some parents might welcome a longer day, Mr. Ryan, with the Washington State Head Start Association, said he was not sure if a longer day should be mandated for all programs. Other changes could also increase preschool quality, he said, such as reducing student-teacher ratios. The proposal would maintain the current ratio of one teacher and one teacher-assistant for 20 children ages 4-5. For 3-year-olds, the ratio would remain, as it is now, 17 children to one teacher and one teaching assistant.

“The teachers I work with will pretty consistently say … they’d be happy to put more money into increasing the dosage, but the first thing they’d do is decrease the class size,” Mr. Ryan said.

GROWING UP GRANITE

From our friends at NH Voices for Health, is this regarding the Supreme Court’s decision last week in King v. Burwell:

Today, millions of people can breathe a huge sigh of relief. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that in states with federally-facilitated marketplaces, like New Hampshire, consumers are eligible for tax credits to help them pay for their health insurance premiums. More than nine million Americans rely on these tax credits, including over 45,000 New Hampshire consumers, in order to be able to afford the cost of insurance.

“We are pleased at the outcome of today’s Supreme Court ruling, which preserves the ability for New Hampshire residents to access affordable coverage,” said Tom Bunnell, policy consultant for NH Voices for Health. “The justices followed well-established legal doctrine in concluding that subsidies are available in states that have federally-facilitated Marketplaces.”

“In addition, the ruling ensures that New Hampshire can move forward with its unique and innovative version of Medicaid Expansion, and transition the NH Health Protection Program enrollees to the private Marketplace in January of 2016,” Bunnell said.

For Granite Staters with plans on the Marketplace, the 2016 Open Enrollment period begins November 1, 2015. Five insurance carriers will offer a record 81 health plans – up from 60 plans in 2015.

Today’s decision is a win for all New Hampshire residents who can continue to rely on New Hampshire’s stable and increasingly competitive private insurance market for high quality, low cost, accessible health care. Thank you for all you do to continue making access to affordable care here

in New Hampshire possible.

Granite State Rumblings: State and Federal Budget Woes

Sad child (Image by AXEL on FLIKR)

Sad child (Image by AXEL on FLIKR)

Last Wednesday the House Labor- Health and Human Services (HHS) – Education Appropriations Subcommittee passed the fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations legislation that cut several programs that are important to children. It is the largest of the domestic spending bills that has not been considered by the Subcommittee in three years and almost six years (2009) by the full House Appropriations Committee. The full Committee is expected to review the FY 2016 bill this week.

From our friends at First Focus is this summary of what is in the bill and the bad news for kids.


How children fare in the House spending bill (and it’s bad news)

By: Sarah Kyle

Under the leadership of Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK), the 2016 Labor HHS Education bill would provide about $153 billion for Labor, HHS, and Education programs – $3.7 billion less than the current level of spending and $14.6 billion less than what President Obama proposed in his FY 16 budget. Altogether, 27 programs were eliminated in the bill, including 19 for education. The cuts are symptomatic of the greater issue relating to the discretionary caps in place for FY 2016, widely acknowledged during the mark up by Republicans and Democrats on the Subcommittee. According to OMB, in the absence of congressional action in FY 2016, both defense and non-defense discretionary spending will be at the lowest levels in a decade, adjusted for inflation.

For the U.S. Department of Education, the bill includes $64.4 billion, a $2.8 billion cut that is more significant than sequestration in 2013, and $6.4 billion less than president’s budget request.

The bill eliminates 19 education programs, including:

  • Preschool development grants,
  • Teacher quality partnerships and safe, and
  • Drug-free schools and communities.

Some programs’ funding levels were level funded or frozen, effectively a cut due to inflation and student population growth, and comes after years of cuts, freezes, or small increases. This is of particular concern for important education programs intended to benefit low-income children, such as Title I grants, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and English Language Acquisition State Grants. The draft bill freezes funding at $14.5 billion for Title I grants, which reach about 20 million American children each year, at a time when child poverty is growing, particularly for young children, and when LEAs are significantly underfunded.

The bill does not include funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers that support before-and after-care and summer activities for students in high-poverty and low performing schools.

Finally, the bill freezes funding for English Language Acquisition State Grants at $737 million towards helping English language learners (ELL) develop high levels of academic achievement. In 2011-2012, about 4.4 million ELL students attended public schools, representing about 9.1 percent of total student enrollment.

The bill also eliminates the Preschool Development Grants, which provide critical funds to states to develop the infrastructure and improve the quality of preschool programs for 4-year-olds living in low-income families. The elimination of this program endangers the ability of states to develop and expand access to high quality preschool for the children who need it the most.

There were some notable increases to education, including investments to support children with special needs, as authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was funded at $12 billion, roughly about $500 million more than current level funding. Impact Aid basic support payments went up by about $10 million while other Impact Aid programs were frozen. It also provides an additional $20 million for Indian Education to support a comprehensive approach to educational improvement and reform for Indian students.

At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the draft bill provides $71.3 billion, an almost $300 million increase above FY 2015 and $3.9 billion below the president’s request. There is an increase of approximately $300 million to Head Start, resulting in overall funding of $8.8 billion. Head Start is celebrating its 50th year anniversary of providing comprehensive services to the most disadvantaged children and families to ensure that they are healthy and ready to thrive in school. The increase in funding falls far short of what is needed to serve all children in need of Head Start, which serves less than 50 percent of the children eligible for the program. The president requested roughly $10.1 billion for Head Start, an additional $1.5 billion or 17 percent increase over the current funding level of $8.5 billion, to provide full-day and full-year Head Start services for low-income children and families. The increase would also help mitigate the impact of sequestration on Head Start that resulted in 57,000 slots lost in the program.

This bill also provides level funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which Congress recently reauthorized with important safety and quality requirements. The president proposed a 15 percent increase to the program, funding it $2.8 billion to help low-income families in obtaining child care so that parents can work or attend classes or training. The recently reauthorized CCDBG requires significant funding increases to enable states to implement the safety and quality provisions. Level-funding the CCDBG means that working families will receive fewer childcare subsidies, resulting in the loss of adequate, affordable childcare nationally. This negatively impacts children, who will be forced into potentially unsafe childcare facilities and providers, and for parents, who without childcare, cannot maintain stable employment to support their families.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services – which is charged with carrying out Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — were cut by $344 million, and $919 million (almost $1 billion) below the President’s budget request. According to HHS, CHIP and Medicaid provided coverage for more than 45.3 million children in the U.S. in FY 2013. With more than 60 percent of all children relying on CHIP and Medicaid at some point last year, these programs are essential to our nation’s overall health and well-being.

The bill also freezes funding for Community Health Centers (CHCs) that play a critical role in serving over 7 million children across the nation, including more than 350,000 children who are covered under CHIP, and one in three children who live in poverty. Communities served by a CHC have significantly reduced the rates of infant mortality and low birth weight babies. The president’s budget included $4.1 billion for CHCs in FY 2016, including $2.7 billion in Affordable Care Act mandatory funding, to support 1,300 grantees and approximately 28.6 million patients.

The largest increase in the bill went to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with $1.1 billion, bringing the nation’s premier research agency up to $31.2 billion. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development received $1.305 billion, an increase from last year, and slightly below the president’s request of $1.318 billion. The bill also restores the National Children’s Study (NCS). In December 2014, the NIH made an announcement that it would dissolve the study as a result of recommendations by the Advisory Committee to the Director (of NIH) that the NCS is not feasible.

The Administration for Children and Families also received $27.8 billion, a $50 million bump from FY 2015, yet almost $2 billion less that the president’s request, to carry out activity for federal programs relating to children, including foster care, adoption assistance and the Community Services Block Grant.

For the U.S. Department of Labor, the bill allows for $11.07 billion, which is $206 million less that FY 2015, and $1.4 billion below the president’s budget request that included paid leave initiatives. The bill level funds Job Corp, which provides young people 16 through 24 with educational and vocational training at no cost, as well as youth training activities under Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that provides workforce preparation. Youth Build, which provides grants to provide education, employment skills and training for disadvantaged youth, received $82 million, a slight increase, but less than the president’s request for $84.5 million. The Connecting for Opportunity initiative for additional summer and year-round job opportunities for disconnected youth was not included in the bill.

While there are a few bright spots in this bill providing additional resources to some programs, there are alarming cuts and program eliminations that could be extremely damaging to federal services for children. Congress needs to consider a broader approach to FY 2016 spending and raise discretionary spending caps in order to make long term investments in our greatest domestic priority: our kids.


Growing Up Granite

On Wednesday the NH Senate and House will vote on the $11.3 billion budget approved by Republican lawmakers on the Committee of Conference last week. Governor Maggie Hassan has expressed her intention to veto the budget should it make its way to her desk.

Below is a piece that was published in Sunday’s Concord Monitor written by Governor Hassan.


My Turn: Why I will veto the Committee of Conference budget proposal
By Gov. MAGGIE HASSAN
For the Monitor
Sunday, June 21, 2015 (Published in print: Sunday, June 21, 2015)

In recent days, Republicans on the budget Committee of Conference finalized a budget proposal that is unbalanced and dishonest about what it funds. It also includes unpaid-for corporate tax cuts, creating a hole in this budget and in future budgets at the expense of critical economic priorities. For these reasons and more, I will veto their budget if it reaches my desk.

What this means is that the Legislature needs to return to work immediately, prepare a continuing resolution that will fund state government in the short term, and get back to the table and negotiate in good faith to develop a bipartisan budget that is fiscally responsible and that supports the priorities needed to keep New Hampshire’s economy moving forward.

To keep our economy moving in the right direction, I proposed a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that was transparent and honest about how we would support critical economic priorities without an income or a sales tax. The plan that I proposed clearly set those economic priorities, including making higher education more affordable, strengthening public safety, ensuring access to affordable health care, and repairing our roads and bridges.

I have been at the table with Republican leadership and have been clear throughout the budget process about how we can achieve a bipartisan budget that addresses our shared priorities. Unfortunately, Republican leadership has refused to compromise on any of the major issues – most critically on a responsible way to pay for their unfunded tax cuts for mostly big corporations.

Instead, their fiscally irresponsible approach undermines our economic future by giving unpaid-for tax cuts to big corporations, mostly headquartered out-of-state, that will create a hole in this budget and a more than $90 million hole in future budgets. It puts big, out-of-state corporate interests ahead of New Hampshire’s families, small businesses and economy, and only 1 percent of businesses – many of which are large multi-state corporations – would receive more than 75 percent of the benefits from the proposed rate reduction.

The Republican budget also fails to reauthorize our bipartisan health care expansion plan, even though leaders from both parties, the business community and the health care industry agree that it has been successful. This leaves more than 40,000 hard-working Granite Staters at risk of losing their coverage and creates uncertainty for all businesses and consumers.

And the Republican budget fails to live up to the fair contract negotiated in good faith with our dedicated public employees.

At the same time, the Republican budget is left unbalanced by relying on misleading budget gimmicks. It uses money from fiscal year 2015 that is already designated to pay this year’s bills, and it does not honestly fund the services we all agree are essential to our people, families and businesses.
Without a plan for how we would pay for Republicans’ corporate tax cuts now and in the future, we cannot sufficiently support the shared priorities that we all agree on. These are the priorities that are critical to our small businesses and families, and they are the priorities that businesses tell me are critical to their ability to grow, to thrive and to create jobs.

While maintaining our low-tax environment – which the Tax Foundation ranked as the seventh-best in the country in its business tax climate index – is critical, low taxes alone will not move our economy forward. We must also continue supporting priorities such as a strong and healthy workforce, a modern transportation infrastructure and safe communities. Nothing in my budget proposal would jeopardize New Hampshire’s status as having one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, but unlike the Republican budget, it responsibly and transparently supports critical economic priorities.

By failing to pay for their corporate tax cuts, the Republican budget is setting our state on a perilous fiscal path. It will make college tuition more expensive. It will hurt our ability to ensure that workers can access health care without financial ruin. It will lead to unplowed, unsafe roads for commuters and businesses. And it will not adequately address substance misuse, even as we are in the midst of a heroin crisis.

Our families deserve better. Our businesses deserve better. And the hard-working people of the Granite State deserve better.

Republicans need to join me in putting New Hampshire’s families, businesses and economic interests first, and I invite them to join me and follow the example of the people of New Hampshire, who work together to improve their communities every day. That’s what Granite Staters deserve from their elected leaders.


For a clearer understanding of the tax cuts in the proposed budget and what they mean for NH businesses and state revenue, here is the newest Common Cents blog from our friends at the NH Fiscal Policy Institute.

Revenue Loss from Business Tax Cuts Will Benefit Select Set of Companies

The version of the FY 2016-2017 budget that both the House of Representatives and the Senate will consider on Wednesday includes significant reductions in the rates of New Hampshire’s twin business taxes: the business profits tax (BPT) and the business enterprise tax (BET). While policymakers should be concerned about the impact that such changes would have on New Hampshire’s ability to fund vital public services both now and in the future, questions should also be asked about which businesses would stand to gain from lower BPT and BET rates.

As data from the Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) make quite clear, at present, a relatively small number of businesses pay the lion’s share of the BPT and BET. Of the $462 million in combined BPT and BET paid in tax year 2012, 68 percent was paid by businesses with tax liabilities in excess of $50,000. Furthermore, DRA data indicate that just 1,097 businesses – or about 2 percent of businesses filing tax returns that year – fall in this range of liability. Not surprisingly, then, in an analysis issued earlier this month, DRA finds that 76 percent of the proposed BPT rate reduction would accrue to just 718 businesses, while just under 50 percent of the proposed BET rate reduction would accrue to just 440 businesses.

Moreover, given the nature of the modern economy, it seems likely that a sizable share of any business tax cut will not remain here in New Hampshire to spur its economy, but rather would flow out of state. Indeed, information compiled by the New Hampshire Business Review for its 2015 Book of Lists indicates that many of the state’s largest employers are owned by parent companies based out of state. For example, among the 50 largest manufacturing employers in the Granite State, 40 appear to be owned by parent companies situated in another state or another country. Consequently, multistate or multinational companies operating in New Hampshire – and benefitting from a business tax cut – will not be constrained in what they do with those dollars. Rather than invest here, they could use them to bolster operations in another part of the country or to increase dividend payments to shareholders worldwide.

In short, the revenue loss associated with lower BPT and BET rates will result in gains for a relatively select set of companies with little guarantee of a return to the New Hampshire economy.

Every Child Matters Grills #FITN Candidates On Working Family Issues

“I think minimum wage is a classic example of a policy that is best carried out in the states,” Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina recently told MacKenzie Flessas at WMUR-ABC TV’s “Conversation with the Candidate” in New Hampshire.

cwtc-Fiorina-034-jpg

“To me, a national minimum wage does not make a lot of sense,” the former corporate CEO said in response to a question that began with the observation that, “In New Hampshire, someone who earns minimum wage earns less than $300 per week.”

MacKenzie is ECM’s New Hampshire field director. She and other ECM staff have also elicited replies during sessions of the TV campaign series from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Some highlights are provided here, and the full questions and remarks can be found at WMUR’s website.

ECM was able to ask former Florida Governor Jeb Bush a question today during taping of a program that will be broadcast Friday evening, May 29.

Senator Graham told ECM state director Mary Lou Beaver during one WMUR studio conversation that he has been a leading Republican champion in Congress for early childhood programs because, “by the time you are five years old, 90 percent of your mental development is there.” Graham promised that if he runs for president and wins, he will partner with states to assure adequate nutritional support for kids. But he warned that more ambitious plans to help children– “to give them a chance to compete in the twenty-first century” –will require entitlement reform.

Former Governor Perry told Beaver that he would “repeal Obamacare” and allow states to be laboratories of innovation for health care, suggesting health savings accounts, allowing insurance to be sold across state lines and tort reform as hopeful ideas. That was in response to a question from ECM about how to ensure that low-income children and their parents in New Hampshire would not lose health care access if the Affordable Care Act had to be replaced.

Governor Kasich said that he supports keeping the Earned Income Tax Credit to help low-wage working families, but he declined to endorse expanding or strengthening the program when asked. Kasich pointed instead toward education, including online programs, to help people get jobs that would pay more.

ECM will continue to ask candidates questions about policies that affect kids as part of our 2-year effort to put children at the center of campaign discussion during the presidential election process. In New Hampshire, Save the Children Action Network, a sponsor of the “Conversation with the Candidate” series, is a key partner in the effort to highlight early childhood issues.

We’ll continue to let you know what the candidates say!

Granite State Rumblings: Conversations With Candidates and The Gap Between Wealthy And Poor Grows

May has been a very busy month for the New England crew of Every Child Matters. Possible and declared candidates for President have been flowing into New Hampshire creating opportunities to ask them questions or listen to them as they begin to lay out and try out their positions on issues.

We have attended tapings of WMUR – ABC TV’s “Conversation with the Candidate” and have asked questions of Senator Lindsay Graham, former Governor Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, and Governor John Kasich. Here’s a list of the candidates we spoke with, the questions we asked, and where you can find their response on the tape:

Senator Lindsay Graham

Hali(Part 2 – 3rd question: 8:20) – When I graduate, I will be faced with debt and without the promise of a job. What would you do to make sure that students have jobs so that they can pay back their student loans?

MaryLou(Web Extra 1st question: 0:23) – A report called “Ready, Willing and Unable” showed that 75% of young people in America ages 17-24 are unable to enlist in the military.  It’s because they fail to graduate high school, have a criminal record or are physically unfit.  We know that intervening in the earliest years of life, birth to five, can turn these life trajectories around.  What will you do as President to make sure all children get a strong start and can “be all they can be”?

MacKenzie(Web Extra at 19:08) – Recent ground-breaking research suggests that the Earned Income Tax Credit helps families at virtually every stage of life. It also found that the EITC is particularly effective at encouraging work among single mothers working for low wages.  It is considered among the most effective policies for increasing the work and earnings of female-headed families. If elected President, will you work to ensure that this tax credit is expanded and strengthened?

Rick Perry

MaryLou (Part 2, 2nd Question at  3:15) – If you are President and going to replace the Affordable Care Act with something else, what would that look like and how would you ensure that low income children and their parents here in NH do not lose access to the care the currently receive?

Carly Fiorina

MacKenzie(Part 2, Question at 14:00) – In NH, someone who earns minimum wage earns less than $300 per week. It is barely enough to pay rent, let alone other life necessities. If elected President, what policies would you enact that would ensure the strength of working families, businesses, and the economy? And is an increase in the minimum wage one of those policies?

Governor John Kasich

MacKenzie(Web Extra, Question at 16:10) – Recent ground-breaking research suggests that the Earned Income Tax Credit helps families at virtually every stage of life. It also found that the EITC is particularly effective at encouraging work among single mothers working for low wages.  It is considered among the most effective policies for increasing the work and earnings of female-headed families. If elected President, will you work to ensure that this tax credit is expanded and strengthened?

We will continue to ask the candidates questions about issues that affect children and their families as they come into the state and keep you informed of what they have to say. To find out who is in the state and where they will be check out our NH Calendar of Events on our webpage.

GROWING UP GRANITE

firstdecade“New Hampshire has one of the lowest poverty rates in the country, but overall, the gap between the wealthy and the poor is growing. On the whole, we’ve found that while children in New Hampshire are somewhat better off than those across the nation, New Hampshire still has a growing trend in inequality in terms of poverty and family income, where low-income children and poor children are on the rise after decades of decline and income is pretty much all but stagnated for those in lower income groups in the past 50 years, but it has actually increased for families in higher income groups. This means that more and more, there is this likely growing gap in outcomes between worse- and better-off children in New Hampshire,” said Vulnerable Families Research Associate Andrew Schaefer when he spoke with NH Public Radio’s Peter Biello. You can read the full text here and listen this week to NHPR’s series: The First Decade: Early Childhood Disparities and the Future of NH’s Kids.

Also from the NHPR series and the Carsey School of Public Policy is this great graphic:

There are many factors that affect the way a family with children lives. We’ve selected ten of these – factors which affect income, access to resources, and stability – and combined them to illustrate how families are doing at either end of the income spectrum.

This graphic illustrates how the top 25% and bottom 25% compare, and how the bottom 25% compares with the average of all New Hampshire families.

nhhbh

Granite State Rumblings: Making The Case for Expanding Head Start Programs 

Image by U.S. Department of Education

Image by U.S. Department of Education


Over the past few months I have been in at least three different venues across the state where the topic of Head

Start has come up. In each of those conversations at least one person has said that Head Start does not work and Congress should do away with it.  They did not say we should fix what they perceive to be wrong with Head Start, just do away with it.

I have to admit I left those places shaking my head and wondering if the people who feel so strongly about doing away with Head Start have spent time in the classrooms with the children, teachers, and parents. If they had they would have seen that every day Head Start programs help children to catch up cognitively, socially, and emotionally with their peers who are higher up on the economic ladder, encourages and celebrates parents as their child’s first teachers, help pregnant women receive the services they need in order to give birth to healthy babies, and puts smiles on the faces and hope in the hearts of children and their families.

Young children living in poverty are more likely to face challenges that can negatively impact their development and create disparities in their cognitive and social abilities well before they enter Head Start or pre-school programs at age 4. In an effort to ensure that all young children have the same opportunities to succeed in school and life, the federal Early Head Start program was created to support the healthy development of low-income infants, toddlers, and pregnant women.

Research shows that Early Head Start makes a positive difference in areas associated with children’s success in school, family self-sufficiency, and parental support of child development, but federal funds are reaching fewer than 4% of eligible children and families. Children who participated in Early Head Start had significantly larger vocabularies and scored higher on standardized measures of cognitive development than children in a control group who did not participate in Early Head Start. Additionally, Early Head Start children and parents had more positive interactions, and these parents provided more support for learning than did those in a control group. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Making a Difference in the Lives of Infants and Toddlers and Their Families).

In addition to early learning opportunities, Head Start and Early Head Start’s comprehensive early childhood development programs provide children and families with access to a range of services such as health screenings, referrals and follow-up support, parenting resources, and social services. Programs emphasize the importance of parental involvement and staff work to cultivate parents’ abilities as their children’s first teachers.

So you may ask, if Head Start and Early Head Start provides all of this for children and their families, why do some people want to get rid of it? 

The answer to that may come down to this word: fadeout.

Our friends at The First Five Years Fund have this to say about the Head Start Fadeout Myth.

Head Start Fadeout, a common argument against investing in early childhood education, is based on a highly selective read of research findings found in Head Start evaluations and, to a lesser extent, the Perry Preschool project.

Critics argue that gains made through early childhood education disappear by the third grade. They acknowledge that disadvantaged children who received early education arrive at kindergarten ahead of peers who did not, but use third grade evaluations to claim there is no lasting effect to justify the investment.

A measurement of progress in the third grade is not a measurement of life outcomes. It’s simply a snapshot in time—and an incomplete one at that.

Research from many studies—including those cited by fadeout critics—overwhelmingly show that the benefits of early childhood education become more evident throughout schooling and adult life. There is no fadeout; there is constant, steady movement into upward mobility.

Disadvantaged children who receive quality early childhood education are more likely to persist in school, enjoy better career outcomes, higher wages and healthier lifestyles. These findings can be found in analysis of the Perry Preschool Project and Abecedarian in the United States, as well as the British Cohort Study in Great Britain, all of which are randomized control studies with longitudinal data that spans upwards of 35 years.

We’ll take 35 years of evidence over three any time.

The fadeout myth comes from an incomplete read of data and a narrow view of what constitutes success.

For example, the Perry Preschool Project has been criticized for not permanently increasing IQ among the treatment group. IQ gains that are evident at kindergarten among the treatment group tend to equalize with the control group during schooling years.

However, IQ is not the only measure of success in an individual. Nobel Laureate Economist James Heckman found that the social and emotional skills learned through early childhood education were the major drivers of success in school, career and life among the Perry treatment group, who far outperform the control group in adult outcomes.

Similarly, the 2012 National Head Start Impact Study shows achievement among the treatment group equalizing with the control group by third grade. In this case, the Impact Study was flawed because many in the control group were allowed to attend other preschool programs, including Head Start programs in other locations. We may be seeing parity here because we’re comparing children with similar experiences.

Heckman says that using the Head Start Impact Study to claim that early childhood education is ineffective is “a generalized conclusion that is neither thoughtful nor accurate.” (Read more of his analysis here.) Heckman also finds that “Head Start graduates tend to be more persistent in their education, more inclined to healthy behaviors, and less inclined to be involved in criminal activity.”

“Head Start is by no means perfect, but that should not rule out efforts to improve the program’s quality and surround it with other high-quality birth-to-five programs that will deliver better outcomes for children, families and society.” – James Heckman


In May of 1965, President Lyndon Johnson announced Project Head Start. Head Start was part of Johnson’s War on Poverty, which embodied a basic belief that education was the solution to poverty.

It began as an 8 week demonstration project.

In 1977, under the Carter administration, Head Start began bilingual and bicultural programs in about 21 states. Eighteen years later, in1995 under the Clinton administration, the first Early Head Start grants were given to provide high quality child development and family services to income eligible pregnant women and families of very young children.

Head Start was most recently reauthorized again in 2007, under the George W. Bush administration, with several provisions to strengthen Head Start quality.  The statute also included a provision that regulations be promulgated to move programs from an indefinite project period to a five-year grant cycle. In 2009, under the Obama administration, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act added more than 64,000 slots for Early Head Start and Head Start programs.

Sequestration had a major impact on Head Start in 2013. The Office of Head Start reported that approximately 57,000 children were cut from Head Start programs nationwide because of sequestration. In addition to turning away those 57,000 children, Head Start programs were forced to

  • Cut 1.3 million days of service
  • Provide 18,000 fewer hours of service through shortened school days
  • Terminate or reduce salaries of 18,000 employees

In January of 2014 President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. This Act included $8,598,095,000 for programs under the Head Start Act, representing an increase of approximately $1.025 billion over the fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding level.

The approximately $1.025 billion increase restored the 5.27 percent reduction from sequestration and provided all grantees with a 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The FY 2014 funding level also included $500 million for expansion through the Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership to support communities in expanding high-quality early learning and development opportunities for infants and toddlers.

State funding for Head Start was eliminated by the NH Legislature in the 2010.

In recent years, Head Start has served as a successful, comprehensive model for states in developing high quality pre-kindergarten systems. Additionally, Head Start’s unique shared governance structure provides a model to promote meaningful partnerships with families. Each program has a Policy Council that includes parents of children in the program and makes policy decisions together with staff.

Most children in New Hampshire Head Start programs attend 5 days a week for part of the day. Children and families receive an array of comprehensive supports and services. The top two services families receive are parenting and health education.

Pregnant women also receive a variety of supports and services. Included are coordination of prenatal and postpartum health care, dental and mental health services and follow up (substance abuse prevention and treatment), prenatal education on fetal development, information on the benefits of breastfeeding, emergency/crisis intervention, and others.

In New Hampshire, Head Start grew from 1,267 enrolled children in 1997 to more than 2,000 children (cumulative) enrolled today. New Hampshire is funded to serve 1,618 children and their families at any given time, but actual enrollment can be higher. However, far too many eligible children are not served due to lack of funding:

  • Nationally, it is estimated that Head Start serves less than 43% of eligible children and their families, and Early Head Start serves less than 4% of eligible infants and toddlers. 
  • New Hampshire Head Start serves only about 18% of eligible children aged birth to five years and their families.

Here is some more NH specific information from the 2013-2014 Program Information Report (PIR):

  • Cumulative Enrollment of Children by Age – Total 2,027    
    • Less than 1 Year Old – 139
    • 1 Year Old – 161
    • 2 Years Old – 185
    • 3 Years Old – 693
    • 4 Years Old – 849
  • Total Classes Operated – 87
  • Homeless Children Served – 175
  • Foster Care Children Served – 38
  • Child Welfare Agency Referral Children Served – 52
  • Number of Programs Providing Transportation – 2
  • Children with Health Insurance (at end of enrollment year) – 1,995
  • Children without Health Insurance (at end of enrollment year) – 32
  • Total Number of Families – 1,868
    • Two Parent Families – 795
    • Single Parent Families – 1,073

Recent research has shown what the Head Start community has long observed: Head Start works! Not only does it promote gains in children’s learning and development, Head Start also is associated with improved children’s health, promotes family self-sufficiency, and is cost effective.

Has Head Start had an impact on your life?  We would love to hear your story to share with others.

Scott Walker, A Horrible Governor And Based On What He Has Done To Wisconsin, Should Not Be President

There is now doubt that the Republican’s are off and running in their attempts to win New Hampshire’s First In The Nation Primary.

This weekend Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker tested the primary waters with a whirlwind tour of New Hampshire. Walker has recently come under fire for his comments comparing union protesters to ISIS terrorists. Union members across the country were appalled by Gov. Walker’s statement at the CPAC convention. We are workers not terrorists!

Now, Gov. Walker has taken his anti-worker, pro-business agenda on the road and one of his first stops is New Hampshire, where he was immediately met by hundreds of protestors. Labor leaders from across New England demanded an apology from Gov. Walker for his comments at the CPAC convention.

(Below is a short video of some of the speeches given in Concord)

 

The fact is that Governor Walker would be a complete nobody if it were not for his outright assault on working families in Wisconsin and his laundry list of controversy that follows him like a puppy dog.

Pretty much everyone in the country knows about Walker’s attack on working families, when he striped away the collective bargaining rights of tens of thousands of Wisconsin workers. The outrage from unions can still be felt in union halls across the country. Then to make it worse, Walker just pushed for and signed “Right to Work” legislation that is a well know union busting piece of legislative garbage. Listen to this compelling testimony from a Vietnam Veteran opposing Right To Work in Wisconsin.

Directly attacking union workers is not the only way that Walker has hurt the working families of Wisconsin. He is in some really deep trouble over his current budget, which gave huge tax cuts to his wealthy friends and corporations.

“Governor Walker has called so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation a distraction and apparently that’s exactly what he wants,” said Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca. “By rushing to pass Right to Work in less than a week, clearly the governor and Republican legislators want to distract from how destructive their budget is for Wisconsin’s workers, students and middle-class families.”

“Under Walker’s fiscal mismanagement the state budget faces a deficit in excess of $2 billion, which Walker proposes balancing with massive cuts to the University of Wisconsin System and K-12 public schools, scoop and toss borrowing schemes, and even hiking the costs of senior’s prescription drugs,” wrote One Wisconsin Now.

Walker’s tenure in the State Capitol has been riddled with accusations of campaign financing violations and criminal investigations.

The New York Times talked about how Gogebic Taconite got approved for a huge mining project in Northern Wisconsin. “The mine legislation was bad enough from an environmental point of view: It allows the operator to fill streams with mine waste, eliminates public hearings and reduces the taxes the operator would have to pay,” wrote the NY Times. “It turns out to be even more shocking from an ethical viewpoint. Newly released documents show that the mine operator, Gogebic Taconite, secretly gave $700,000 to a political group that was helping the governor win a 2012 recall election.”

This campaign donation and the alleged connection between Walker’s recall election campaign and the Wisconsin Club For Growth – a super PAC that cannot legally coordinate with the Walker campaign – brought Walker up on corruption charges.

“Because Wisconsin Club for Growth’s fundraising and expenditures were being coordinated with Scott Walker’s agents at the time of Gogebic’s donation, there is certainly an appearance of corruption in light of the resulting legislation from which it benefited,” a lawyer for lead John Doe prosecutor Francis Schmitz wrote in an April 2014 court filing.

Walker also created a quasi-public job creation agency, called the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which was recently accused of serious wrongdoing. The WEDC came under fire in the Wisconsin State Journal for “failure to track public subsidies to private companies and for the departure of numerous top executives.”

The Wisconsin State Journal continued, “A May 2013 audit found the quasi-public agency was not following state law in how it was keeping tabs on millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, and earlier this week the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the agency continues to have difficulties despite assurances that the problem had been addressed.

This does not even begin to scratch the surface of how bad and possibly corrupt Walker truly is. He slashed funding for public schools by $127 million dollars while giving a $10,000 tax break, in the form of a school voucher, for people who send their children to private schools. He also cut over $300 million dollars from the University system and “suggested the cuts could be made up for if professors ‘consider teaching one more class per semester.’”

After cutting the University system by $300 million dollars, Walker had $220 million left over to donate to construct a new basketball arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. That is one way to show everyone in Wisconsin, and the rest of America, that getting a quality education is less important than a professional basketball arena.

“Typical Walker,” said NEA Director Britt Hall, an instructor at Wisconsin’s Waukesha County Technical Council, “It’s smoke and mirrors — it’s ‘do more’ on the one hand, and choking the system on the other.”

Scott Walker has made it abundantly clear to the people of Wisconsin that he was the wrong choice for Governor. The state budget is billions short, he cut education by hundreds of millions of dollars, gave tax breaks to wealthy corporations, and he approval rating is beginning to show it. He has fallen over six points in the last few months alone.

“Walker’s made it clear that he sides with big dollar special interests over Wisconsin and New Hampshire working families,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “Our country doesn’t need a Presidential candidate who disparages the voices of tens of thousands of every day citizens but gladly takes phone calls from the billionaire Koch brothers.”

Scott Walker is not right for Wisconsin, not right for New Hampshire, and certainly not right for President.

 

(If you want to see the entire speeches from the Scott Walker protests, here is the long version of the speeches)

 

AFT-NH Legislative Update 2-3-15: Kicking Off The Session

AFT NH Legislative Update

The 2015 session of the NH State legislature is underway and as always, there are many bills to follow and monitor.  Some legislative proposals will garner our support but others will earn our enmity and opposition as we defend the interests of our members and of working people in New Hampshire.  As we review proposed bills, we will determine our support or opposition based upon the basic legislative objectives listed below:

Education

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for neighborhood public schools that are safe, welcoming places for teaching and learning.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure that teachers and school staff are well-prepared, are supported, have manageable class sizes, and have time to collaborate so they can meet the individual needs of every child.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to make sure our children have an engaging curriculum that includes art, music and physical education

Retirement

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for universal access to secure retirement plans into which the state of NH and its cities and towns pay their required yearly contributions.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure all workers are covered by retirement plans that provide consistent and adequate income to maintain a reasonable standard of living.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure earned retirement benefits are fully funded and safeguarded from market volatility or changes in employers’ economic situations.

Public employees

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for first-rate public services that support communities and keep them safe, healthy and vibrant.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure public employees are well-prepared and supported so they can provide the high-quality services our communities depend on.

Collective bargaining

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for collective bargaining laws in the state of NH and will work to defeat any and all legislation that either erodes or repeals NH’s collective bargaining laws for public employees.

Revenues

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors, and vital to our shared economic success.

Charter Schools Accountability

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voices in school policy and program, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools.

So far this session the House Education Committee heard testimony on HB 116: relative to the renomination of teachers. This bill reduces from 5 to 3 consecutive years of teaching required for a teacher to be entitled to notification and a hearing if the teacher is not reappointed. This bill would falls under our objective of “AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure that teachers and school staff are well-prepared, are supported, have manageable class sizes, and have time to collaborate so they can meet the individual needs of every child.”

AFT-NH believes that all teachers deserve due process when being non-renewed.  Due process is the right to a legitimate reason, or “just cause,” before a teacher can be fired and requires a notice and an impartial just cause hearing before termination. We are asking to be treated fairly and without prejudice.

A Red Issue Alert went out this week about the above bill and if you have not taken action there is still time by clicking here.

They are also many bills moving through both chambers in regards to Common Core and state assessments. These bills would fall under the objective of; “AFT-NH will stand up and fight to make sure our children have an engaging curriculum that includes art, music and physical education.”

If these Standards and assessments are to work we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing the Standards:

  • 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,
  • We need to ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • We must communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students,
  • We must 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,
  • We need to make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers,
  • We must be certain that assessments are aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • We need to have professional development and training in the Standards, and
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

With regards to assessments, AFT-NH believes in assessments that support teaching and learning, and that are aligned 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.  Assessments should not be designed to deliver sanctions that undermine students, teachers and schools.  Development and implementation of such tests must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.

Further, AFT-NH believes that assessments designed to support teaching and learning 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 itself.

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on SB 1 reducing the rate of the business profits tax.This bill would fall under AFT-NH’s objective to “stand up and fight for incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors, and vital to our shared economic success.” AFT-NH has concerns with this bill. We have heard over and over that there is a $30 million shortfall in this current budget. With a hole of $30 million why would you cut roughly another $30 million in this biennium budget? How will this amount be made up or where in the budget will cuts be made?

Keep in mind that the state of New Hampshire already underfunds catastrophic special education aid to district by capping it at 72%.  With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million onto communities.  There has been a moratorium on Building aid which has hindered many districts from complete upgrades, making repairs to buildings or building new schools. Remember:  50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

Lastly, what are the assurances that by reducing the business profits tax jobs would be created?  I see this as only leading to reductions in the public services that all citizens of New Hampshire rely upon.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

AFT President Randi Weingarten on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

“Unions give workers the voice they need, and public education gives our children the opportunity they deserve.” 

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten’s statement on President Obama’s State of the Union address:

“Tonight, the president invoked our shared values, reminding us what unites us as a nation. He asked us to turn the page, to ensure shared prosperity, to pave the road to middle-class economics so that all who want a chance to succeed get that chance. He affirmed that every child in every neighborhood matters. And he reinforced that unions give workers the voice they need, and public education gives our children the opportunity they deserve.

“All workers deserve a pathway to a good job with a living wage—one that covers the cost of healthcare and child care, and allows them to pay down exorbitant student loans, save for their retirement, provide the basic necessities for their family, like food and housing, and still have a little left over. Working families see that the economy is getting better, but too many have yet to feel it. That must change, and the president raised many ideas tonight to change it. We need to ensure that all families can climb the ladder of opportunity. And to do that, we need our government to reinvest in public education and support our educators. The tools the president advanced tonight—providing free community college and greater access to early childhood education, raising the minimum wage, offering child care and paid sick leave to parents—all will help if they are enacted.

“The president summoned us all to come together, to think bigger, to aim higher. That’s what the teachers, nurses and public workers, those who are and want to be the middle class in America, do every day. This is our credo. We want to do what’s best for our communities and our country. We want to reclaim the promise of America.”

AFL-CIO Releases Youth Economic Platform, Leading Up to State of the Union Address

Platform to serve as foundation for upcoming nationwide actions

Today, the AFL-CIO Young Worker Advisory Council released its economic platform as part of an effort to build a nationwide youth economic movement for raising wages. The platform, which is being announced on the eve of President Obama’s State of the Union address, is an agenda for action for the labor federation’s nearly 50 Young Worker Groups across the country—including in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Despite the economy slowly rebounding, young people continue to lag behind. The President’s community college proposal is a wonderful idea but it has to be part of a bigger plan to revive the American Dream,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “This document and its principles should serve as the outline of what the President embraces in the State of the Union when he talks about young people next week.”

The platform includes a number of proposals that would help young people overcome many significant economic challenges. Among them: free high-quality public higher education, increased public investment to create jobs, stronger union rights, a heavier emphasis on combatting discrimination in the workforce, and policies that raise wages for all not just the wealthy.

“Unless there’s an election coming up, politicians far too often relegate the interests of young people to the backburner. To make sure that changes, young workers have told us they will fight for this agenda in the coming months,” said AFL-CIO Young Worker Coordinator Tahir Duckett.

The report can be viewed here: http://go.aflcio.org/nextup-future-economy

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