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NH Passes Full Day Kindergarten, Sort Of

Yesterday, the Senate passed SB 191 also known as “Keno-garten” to partially fund full-day kindergarten in New Hampshire.

The bill would pay a portion of the costs ($1,100 of the $1,800 per pupil) to expand half-day kindergarten to full day with revenue generated through the state’s new Keno lottery.  There are no guarantees that Keno revenue will be enough to fund the program in the coming years and the bill still does not require all NH schools to expand kindergarten to a full day program.

The National Education Association of NH, representing thousands of educators across the state, explained the dilemma over SB 191 in their open letter urging legislators to support SB191.

“To be clear, SB 191 as amended by the Committee of Conference, is not perfect. NEA-New Hampshire has always, and will always continue, to advocate that full day kindergarten be funded in full in the same manner as all other grades. However, NEA-NH also recognizes sometimes you have to compromise in the process of getting to your ultimate goal.

SB 191 is just such a compromise. Yes, it does not guarantee full funding of kindergarten, and yes, the funding mechanism is not necessarily the one I would have chosen. But it is also the largest step New Hampshire has ever taken toward fully funding full day kindergarten that has occurred since I began teaching 18 years ago.

…New Hampshire’s current method of kindergarten funding puts an enormous burden on the 70% of New Hampshire municipalities (covering 80% of New Hampshire’s students) that have voluntarily elected to offer full day kindergarten. SB 191 will provide significant tax relief to those towns, and hopefully, encourage the remaining cities and towns to adopt full day kindergarten as well.

NEA-New Hampshire believes that all school districts should offer full day kindergarten. While passage of SB 191 does not accomplish that goal, it certainly puts New Hampshire much, much closer to reaching it than we ever have before.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn is disappointed that Republicans refused to adopt a fully funded, full day kindergarten program and vows to continue to push for a fully funded, mandatory full day kindergarten program.

“Senate Democrats have been leading advocates for Kindergarten, and for fully funding full-day Kindergarten, for many years — we know this issue well and we know what this means for our communities. Passing full funding for full-day Kindergarten should have been an easy task. Governor Sununu promised to support it during his campaign and full funding for full-day Kindergarten passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.”

“It’s disappointing that in the final hour, Governor Sununu and Republicans snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by removing full-day Kindergarten from the budget, abandoning full funding, and choosing to push a half-measure tied to Keno. Make no mistake, SB 191 does not fully fund full-day Kindergarten. But, Democrats will continue to lead the fight for full funding for full-day Kindergarten with no strings attached.”

NH Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley highlighted that newly elected Governor Chris Sununu campaigned heavily on expanding kindergarten and has “broken a key campaign promise.”

“The governor broke a key campaign promise today. Instead of the fully-funded full day kindergarten he pledged on the campaign trail, he offered a half-measure and turned a blind eye while Republicans gutted even that. Because of Sununu’s abject failure to lead, Democrats were forced to pick up the pieces and salvage what was left for the sake of our kids. Governor Sununu and the Republicans always seem to make common sense a complicated calculus. While Democratic leaders would simply pass fully-funded full day kindergarten, Republicans need to cut it in half, tie it to gambling measures, and beg their members to vote yes. Real reform requires real champions, and Republicans are anything but.”

After the bill passed NEA-New Hampshire praised its passage.

“NEA-New Hampshire applauds the passage of SB 191, and thanks Governor Sununu and the bi-partisan coalition of legislators for finally putting New Hampshire on the path to full day kindergarten,” said Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-NH. “The benefits of full-day kindergarten are clear. Those students that attend full-day kindergarten are better prepared to enter first grade, have a higher high school graduation rate and are more likely to go to college. Full day kindergarten is a sound educational investment and I am thrilled that the legislators in Concord have recognized that.”

Now that the bill has passed questions still remain about the constitutionality of the legislation.  Andru Volinsky, Executive Councilor, and the lead lawyer in the Claremont education funding case of 1997, told WMUR last week that the bill is unconstitutional.

… Senate Bill 191 fails to meet the standard set out in the landmark 1997 New Hampshire Supreme Court decision in the Claremont school funding case requiring the state to provide and fund a constitutionally adequate education to all students.

….The Claremont ruling did not specifically refer to kindergarten, but it did say that the state’s system of funding “elementary and secondary public education” at the time, almost entirely through property taxes, was unconstitutional.

“Full-day kindergarten is part of a constitutionally adequate education,” Volinsky said Friday. “And once you understand that concept, you understand that the state must pay for constitutional adequacy.”

Volinsky also said, by failing to fully fund, full day kindergarten local school districts who choose to expand kindergarten will be putting even more “burden on local taxpayers”.

For those that have already chosen to expand kindergarten programs, this bill is a step in the right direction but it does not go as far as it should. This bill will help the 70% of school districts that already offer full day kindergarten.

Activists To March Against Monsanto May 20th

Protester against Monsanto. Image by Die Grünen Kärnten FLIKR

NH March Against Monsanto Rally and March at the NH State House

WHAT: A Peaceful March through downtown Concord and a rally with speakers to provide information about a Global Call to Action at informing the public about genetically engineered food and calling it into question. There will be information about saving our Bees, Monarchs and much more. Tyler Road, a local band, will kick off the rally for the third year in a row with their organic themed song, “You Can’t Bio-Engineer Love” by Dave Carroll. Experts and speakers will be followed by the march through Downtown Concord. An organic seed swap table will feature generously donated High Mowing Seeds, as well as, a collection of organic, non-GMO food for the McKenna House. Free. Family Friendly.

DATE: Saturday: May 20, 2017

TIME: 11:00AM-2:00PM

LOCATION: Concord City Plaza, in front of the NH State House, 107 N Main St. Concord NH 03301

March Against Monsanto Concord, NH Rally and March! May 20, 2017 11:00 a.m.
Rain or Shine! ~ City Plaza, Next to the Famer’s Market ~ Concord, NH

Join a world-wide event with millions of people marching in solidarity. The peaceful rally intends to educate with speakers and information tables to call into question the long term health risks of genetically engineered food for the protection of our food supply and pollinators. Tyler Road, a local band, will kick off the rally with their organic themed song, “You Can’t Bio-Engineer Love” by Dave Carroll. Speakers include bee keeper Ann Antonucci, NH State Rep Jim McConnell, Marty Michener, PH D Ecologist, Laura Wolfner, M.A. Molecular Biologist & M.A. Archealogist, and Bonnie Wright, from Non-Toxic NH, NH Right to Know GMO. The march will follow through Downtown Concord.

The goal of the day is to identify the risks to pollinators, promote organic solutions, supporting local farms and will share information about Monsanto’s herbicide Round-up, which has been declared a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization. We support food and seed sovereignty. You, your family and friends are invited. People are encouraged to bring posters, costumes and noise makers. There will be excellent opportunities for photos and interviews. This is for our present and future seven generations to come. Our time is now to stand united and create positive change. We would like to thank NH Sierra Club and NH Peace Action for co-sponsoring this event.

We will collect donations of GMO-Free or organic foods for the McKenna House Homeless Shelter in Concord, NH.

Event Organizers: Fawn Gaudet~NH March Against Monsanto Community, MAM NH, Catherine Corkery~NH Sierra Club, Doreen Desmarais~NH Peace Action, NH Rebellion, Carline Carpenter~NH March Against Monsanto Community, MAM NH

List of speakers: 

Amy Antonucci, Local Bee Keeper
State Representative, James McConnell
Marty Michener, PH D Ecologist
Laura Wolfner,  M.A. Molecular Biologist & M.A. Archealogist
Bonnie Wright, Activist~ Non-Toxic NH, NH Right to Know GMO

Tables and Supporters:

NH March Against Monsanto Community
March Against Monsanto NH
Bees and Pollinators Against Monsanto
NH Right to Know GMO
NH Sierra Club
NH Peace Action
Non-Toxic NH
NH Rebellion
Rights and Democracy
League of Conservation Voters
“Half Hour to Health” Crossroads Chiropractic radio show on WTPL “The Pulse 107.7 FM”
“Queen City Chronicles” hosted by Jon Hopwood on Manchester Public Access Television WMNH
NH Organic Farmers Association
Peppercorn Natural Foods Plymouth, NH
Kearsarge Gore Farm Certified Organic Produce in Warner
Others

Legislators Consider Prohibiting Union Dues Deductions From Public Employees

On March 1st, the NH House Labor Committee will hear public testimony on HB 438, a bill to prohibit a “public employer from withholding union dues from a public employee’s wages.” Essentially this would prohibit workers from choosing how they want to spend their own money and how they choose to spend their own money.

According to RSA 275:48 an employee can elect to have money deducted from their paycheck and sent directly to the account of their choice for dozens of reasons.  A public employee could have their rent deducted, their utilities deducted, their medical bills deducted, send money to their personal savings accounts, or to make a donation to the charity of their choice.

This bill is singling out our police, firefighters, teachers, plow drivers, public health professionals, and state employees from being allowed to have their union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks.

What benefit does the State gain by taking away the option to deduct union dues?  None.  There is no cost to have the deductions automatically withdrawn and there is no savings to be found by prohibiting automatic dues deductions.

For a state that boasts “live free or die” why would we want legislation that infringes on a workers freedom to choose how they spend their paycheck.  It is not for the government to decide how and when I spend my own paycheck.

This is a purely an assault by out-of-state lobbying groups on unions in an attempt to weaken and destroy the public unions in New Hampshire. These are the same out-of-state lobbyists who pushed so-called “Right to Work” and the repeal of collective bargaining bills in the past.  They only have one goal, destroy unions.  Since they already lost the “Right to Work” fight they are grasping at anything in an attempt to weaken the public employee unions in New Hampshire.

The Labor Committee should reject this bill again this year as they have done in years past.

Introduction To HB115: Legislation To Establish And Raise The NH Minimum Wage

Yesterday, the NH House Labor Committee began discussions on establishing and raising the NH Minimum Wage, which currently defaults to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

State Representative Doug Ley is the prime sponsor of HB 115 to establish and raise the NH minimum wage.  Below is his testimony introducing the legislation and why it is important to working people to raise the minimum wage.


TESTIMONY INTRODUCING HB 115

“Establishing a state minimum wage and providing for adjustments to the minimum wage” 

Douglas Ley

NH House: Cheshire 9 (Dublin, Harrisville, Jaffrey, Roxbury)

The legislation presented today would re-establish a NH minimum wage exceeding that set by the Federal Government, which has remained at $7.25/hour since 2009.

The basic provisions of the bill as currently drawn would provide the following:

  1. increase the minimum hourly wage in NH to $9.50/hour on 1/1/2018
  2. increase the minimum hourly wage in NH to $12.00/hour on 1/1/2019
  3. annually adjust the minimum wage to match corresponding increases in Northeast CPI as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, beginning on 1/1/2020.
  4. raise the sub-minimum or tipped wage to 60% of the minimum wage.
  5. create a training wage of $1.00/hour less than minimum for those aged 16-17 years for three calendar months or upon reaching age 18, whichever comes first.

Thus, the proposed legislation aims to increase wages for those at the bottom of the NH wage scale, create a mechanism for systematic readjustment of the minimum wage, raise the tipped sub-minimum to better provide for those in the hospitality industry, and create a training wage to cover seasonal teen labor.

Having said all this, I want to make clear this is a platform, a starting place. While I believe the proposals being set forth today are both fair and beneficial to wage-earners, employers, and the State of NH, I am always willing to listen to and consider adjustments and amendments, in the conviction that any increase is a positive step for NH.

What is the context for this proposed legislation?

National:

  • 20 states besides NH adhere to the Federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.
  • 29 states now exceed the Federal minimum wage.
  •  3 of the 20 joining NH in adhering to the Federal minimum will be   breaking ranks over the next year:
    •  LA: $10.00/hour (1/1/2018)
    •  OK: $10.25/hour (7/1/17) & $10.75 (7/1/2018)
    •  VA: $11.00/hour (1/1/2018).

Thus, if NH remains unchanged, as of 1/1/2018, we will be one of 18 states still maintaining a minimum wage of $7.25, while 32 states will have higher minimums.

Regional:

  • NH is the only New England state still adhering to the Federal minimum of $7.25/hour.
  • CT:     $10.10 per hour
  • RI:       $9.60 per hour
  • MA:    $11.00 per hour
  • VT:      $10.00 per hour ($10.50 per hour on 1/1/2018)
  • ME:     $9.00 per hour ($11.00 per hour on 1/1/2018)

In addition, ME, VT and MA all tie future increases to the Northeast CPI as proposed in the legislation now before you.

New Hampshire:

            According to data provided by DES, in 2015 there were 389,000 resident hourly wage-earners in New Hampshire. Of those 389,000:

  • 16,000 earned at or below the minimum (4.1%)
    •   11,000 earned below the minimum (tipped wage)
    •   5,000 earned at the minimum

Even more interesting is the gender breakdown:

Sub-minimum:            2000 male        9000 female

Minimum:                   2000 male        3000 female

Sticking with DES data just a little further, if we look at those earning below $10.00/hour in 2015 (approx. 20% of the hourly wage earners):    Male: 26,000             Female: 50,000

Age: According to BusinessNH Magazine (6/2016): 72% of minimum wage earners are over age 20 (meaning approximately 4500 are age 19 or less); more than 1/3 are over age 30; 14% have children; approximately 33% are working full-time at minimum or sub-minimum.

Finally, the same issue of BusinessNH Magazine referenced a study of my county (Cheshire) using 2014 data which indicated some 15% of the county workforce were at or below $12.00 per hour, the wage proposed in this legislation for 1/1/2018.

Meaning: It is clear that adhering to the $7.25 minimum wage provides no competitive advantage to NH. To begin, some 2/3s of those at or below minimum are working in hospitality/restaurant industries, which are heavily locally-owned. We will not and have not seen a massive influx of restaurants and hotels into NH to take advantage of our low minimum wage; conversely, we will not see restaurants and hotels fleeing the State to avoid higher wages.  Claims that such enterprises cannot afford wage increases is simply belied by the ability of comparable businesses to survive and thrive in our neighboring states, all of which feature higher minimums.

It is also quite obvious that very few employers are even able to hire any longer at the minimum wage rate. Wal-Mart and Whole Foods, two examples cited in the aforementioned BuinessNH Magazine article, have average hourly wages now averaging between $13.38 and $15.81. My own son got his first job at MarketBasket a few years ago and started above the minimum wage. In other words, the minimum is increasingly confined to certain industries and certain regions of the State, likely where there are few alternatives, especially for those who lack transportation or the time and wherewithal to travel to better-paying jobs.

With the wage gap widening between NH and neighboring states, it is not unlikely that we are seeing some NH workers seeking employment out-of-state. For someone living in Nashua or Salem, the difference between $7.25/hour and $11.00/hour is substantial, and their choice to pursue employment beyond NH only exacerbates the difficulties NH employers face in trying to hire workers.

Finally, there are those who contend that raising the minimum will result in a loss of jobs. As reported in NH Business Review (11/10/16), when NH raised the minimum from $5.15 to $7.25 (increase of 41%) the Federal Reserve estimated a job loss to the State of less than 1500 jobs—quite minimal. Other studies have concluded that job losses when one state raises its minimum wage are not very significant and soon matched by job growth. We all know, however, that a rising tide lifts all boats, so an increase in the minimum wage will push up the wages of those in the bottom 15-20% among hourly wage-earners, with most of those earnings being spent quickly and locally, thereby fueling local economic growth within the State.

Conclusion: I believe there are many powerful and ethical arguments for raising the minimum wage and improving the economic and social situations of thousands of our citizens and the thousands more depending upon them. I am sure others can/will make those arguments and I agree with them. My focus, however, is on the economic benefits. It involves simply keeping up—the 1968 minimum wage had a buying power of $11.00 in today’s dollars, so clearly the minimum has slipped over the years. Even since 2009, changes in the Northeast CPI measure an erosion of 10.7% in buying power, meaning the minimum of $7.25 in 2009 is now worth $6.47 in 2009 dollars. Thus, those working at minimum have suffered wage decreases over the past seven years.

NH faces many economic challenges in the years ahead. Energy costs, a declining infrastructure, the exodus of 1000s of young people, all of this makes for difficult economic times ahead. Maintaining a low minimum wage provides no competitive advantage to NH in our regional economy, whereas increasing the minimum will infuse more spending into our State economy while bettering the lives of those who toil at the low-end of the wage spectrum. I know this Committee will keep all these points in mind as you consider this legislation, and I thank you for your kindness and patience today.

Chris Sununu Is Sworn-In As NH’s 82nd Governor, Pushes For Right To Work, Democrats Respond

Concord, N.H. – Earlier today Governor Chris Sununu was officially inaugurated as New Hampshire’s 82 Governor.  In his inaugural address, Sununu laid out his very generic agenda and priorities for the coming legislative session.

Sununu talked about public education and creating a “work-ready” labor force.  No mention of expanding Kindergarten to Full Day throughout the state.  He also wants to woo more businesses to move to New Hampshire to create more jobs.  Many of the manufactures have openly said they have jobs available but do not have qualified workers to fill those jobs, for the pay they are offering.

Though he did not specifically say he is going to repeal the Medicaid Expansion, though he has said that throughout the campaign, he said we need more competition in the healthcare market. If he plans to repeal Medicaid Expansion he will meet fierce opposition from his fellow Republicans and Democrats who understand that the program is actually saving the state money while ensuring 50,000 Granite Staters have access to healthcare. 

Sununu has also been an outspoken advocate for passing the so-called Right to Work legislation despite never being proven to create jobs or help workers in any way.

“WE ARE GOING TO GIVE EMPLOYEES ONCE AND FOR ALL THE FLEXIBILITY THEY DESERVE IN THE WORKFORCE BY PASSING RIGHT TO WORK,” said Sununu (transcribed by WMUR). “LET’S TELL THESE COMPANIES NEWHAMPSHIRE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS.”

In fact after Wisconsin passed their own Right to Work legislation, they lost over 10,000 jobs the next year.

Democrats offered their congratulations to the new Governor but also offed some sage advice about dismantling key programs within the state.

NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley released the following statement:

“The challenges New Hampshire families are facing need to be addressed over the next two years, from ensuring that 50,000 Granite Staters retain the healthcare they are receiving through our successful bipartisan Medicaid expansion to how we reduce the cost of college for middle class families.

“Unfortunately, Governor Sununu made it clear he wants to make it harder for NH employees to earn a fair wage by tilting the playing field in favor of big corporations, harder for our kids to get a great education by diverting money away from public schools toward private schools, and harder to advance renewable energy by slowing down investments in solar energy in favor of fossil fuels.

“I hope our newly-elected governor will focus on the issues that matter to New Hampshire families and not get distracted by partisan pet issues.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn released the following statement: 

“Later today, I am meeting with Governor Sununu to congratulate him on his inauguration and get to work making New Hampshire a better place by preserving the bipartisan progress we’ve made over the past several years, expanding opportunity for all people, and building a strong economy from the bottom up.” 

“Senate Democrats are ready to work with the new governor, as we have with our Republican legislative colleagues, to craft compromises. But I’m concerned that, so far, Governor Sununu has focused on a divisive template of policies that make it harder for people to make ends meet and harder for people to get ahead.”

“To meet our constitutional oaths to ‘faithfully and impartially’ serve, I will urge the governor to hold regular, bi-weekly meetings with legislative leadership of both parties so that we can identify the seeds of agreement that can grow into fruits of our labor — things like renewing our successful NH Health Protection Program and bipartisan infrastructure investment plan—as well as priorities that strengthen families that Governor Sununu promised to support during the campaign–  like full-day kindergarten, paid family leave, and reducing the cost of a college education.”

“Granite State working families deserve meaningful policies like these and I’m disappointed we didn’t hear more about these issues today.”

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff released the following statement:

“I congratulate Governor Sununu for his success in the November election and his inauguration as Governor of our state.”

“I look forward to working with Governor Sununu and our Republican colleagues on bipartisan initiatives. The House Democratic Caucus stands ready to find common ground on any policies that benefit the working families of New Hampshire.”

“I was encouraged by the Governor’s statements during the campaign in which he expressed support for full-day kindergarten, paid family and medical leave and other initiatives that align with the priorities of Granite Staters. It was disappointing that those issues, on which the Governor campaigned, were not mentioned today in his Inaugural speech which provides a roadmap for the Governor’s policy agenda for the next two years.”

“Equally disappointing was that soon after speaking of not being divisive, Governor Sununu indicated a top priority would be the enactment of “Right to Work,” which is among the most politically divisive issues among both Democrats and Republicans the legislature.”

“It is my hope that when Governor Sununu provides more detail on the policies he wishes to advance, that those policies are aligned with Granite State families and the values of our great state.”

 

New Poll Shows Gun Violence Prevention is Key Issue for NH Voters; Most State House Candidates Have a Record on Background Checks

On Friday, the Center for American Progress Action Fund released new polling, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), of voters in Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In the six battleground states, voters across the aisle expressed strong support for commonsense gun safety legislation, finding that candidates who endorse these policies are set to perform well on Election Day.

nh-ayotte-background-checks-pollIn New Hampshire, 42% of likely voters were LESS likely to vote for Kelly Ayotte because of her opposition to comprehensive background checks on gun sales. Only 14% were more likely to vote for Ayotte because of her position. Additionally, the poll found strong support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike for a number of gun violence prevention policies, and also that voters are more likely to vote for state legislators who support expanded background checks.

Of the 705 State House candidates on the ballot tomorrow, 307 of them already have a vote record on background checks. Granite State Progress compiled those votes from the past two legislative sessions and matched them with this year’s State House candidate list — take a look and see whether your State House candidates side with the gun lobby like U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, or with the overwhelming majority of Granite Staters who support common sense gun violence prevention.

GSP Brief: NH State House Candidates on Background Checks, 2016

GSP Brief: NH State House Candidates on Background Checks, 2016

 

 

Granite State Progress Releases List of 30+ Free State Project Candidates Running for State Legislature

Free State Project members running for political office often hide or deny their FSP affiliation; Granite State Progress’ Free State Project Watch exposes those connections

Concord, NH – Granite State Progress released a list of more than 30 Free State Project members running for the New Hampshire state legislature, including two State Senate candidates and dozens of House candidates.

“Granite State Progress has been tracking the Free State Project and its influence since 2008, paying particular attention to Free Stater activity in elections and legislation,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Free State Project members running for political office often hide or deny their FSP affiliation from voters and downplay their extreme beliefs when asked. To challenge this, Granite State Progress researches and compiles a list of Free State Project candidates running for office so voters know about the extreme affiliation of those candidates.”

New Hampshire’s role started more than a decade ago when the ultra-extreme Free State Project voted on a state to move 20,000 libertarians to with the stated purpose to take over state government and dismantle it, and New Hampshire was the unlucky recipient of that vote. The Free State Project seeks to create a libertarian “utopia” void of public infrastructure and common laws, and to use their numbers to dramatically change New Hampshire. The Free State Project even threatens to secede from the rest of the country once it meets its initial goals:

“Once we’ve taken over the state government, we can slash state and local budgets, which make up a sizeable proportion of the tax and regulatory burden we face every day. Furthermore, we can eliminate substantial federal interference by refusing to take highway funds and the strings attached to them. Once we’ve accomplished these things, we can bargain with the national government over reducing the role of the national government in our state. We can use the threat of secession as leverage to do this.” – Announcement:
The Free State Project by Founder Jason Sorens

To date, the Free State Project has recruited more than 20,000 people to sign the pledge to move to New Hampshire, hitting their goal to “Trigger the Move” – all those who signed up are supposed to start moving once the agreed upon goal was met. More than 2,015 people have already moved.

“Free State Project members sign a pledge to move to New Hampshire and work to change the way of life in our state. They do not move here for a job, or for family, or even because they like what New Hampshire has to offer. Instead, they move here because a political group they are affiliated with voted on a state to move to and take over, and New Hampshire is the unlucky recipient of that vote,” Rice Hawkins said. “It is not surprising that so many Free Staters run for public office. Free State Project members uproot their families and move to New Hampshire purely to enact a political agenda, and running for office only further helps them reach that goal. Local communities who have dealt with them first-hand know how extreme their ideology can be, and that’s why we’ve seen push back from both Republicans and Democrats to expose them.”

The Free State Project candidate list is part of the Free State Project Watch of Granite State Progress, and can be found online at https://freestateprojectwatch.org/. The website includes the candidate list as well as individual candidate profiles.

Granite State Progress released similar candidate lists in 2012 and 2014. Members of the media and public are encouraged to ask FSP candidates whether they disclose their Free State Project affiliation in campaign materials and if not, why.

New Hampshire Wants Paid Family And Medical Leave Yet Only One Gubernatorial Candidate Openly Supports It

Eighty-Two percent (82%):
The percent of Granite Staters who support paid family and medical leave.

In August, the UNH Survey Center and Kristin Smith released a report showing overwhelming support for paid family and medical leave in New Hampshire. The poll showed that eighty-two percent (82%) support paid family and medical leave.  Among Democrats polls showed over ninety-six percent (96%) support the paid leave initiative.  The poll also showed that over sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republicans support paid family and medical leave as well.

medical-leave-support-nh-poll

As with any type of legislation there is always a cost aspect.  Kristin Smith and UNH asked workers directly if they would be willing to pay up to $5 a week to have access to paid family and medical leave, the answer was shocking. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of respondents said they would pay $5 a week to have a family and medical leave insurance program.

Not only do the people of New Hampshire want paid family and medical leave, they are willing to pay for it themselves.

Earlier this year, State Rep Mary Stuart Gile and State Senator Dan Feltes filed legislation to make paid family leave a reality in New Hampshire. Rep. Gile has worked on this issue for almost two decades, including a number of study committees.

“After years of study, it’s time to finally move forward with paid family and medical leave insurance, and Granite Staters of all backgrounds and political affiliations agree – in fact, eighty percent (80%) of Granite Staters agree…. Insuring some short-term wage replacement will allow workers to care for an aging family member, care for a new child, and care for themselves, including getting needed substance misuse treatment,” Rep Gile and Sen Feltes said in a joint statement.

So who is against this type of legislation? You probably already guessed it, the corporate “business community.” The same business community that fights against raising the minimum wage and pushes workers down in the never-ending race to the bottom, to maximize their personal profits.

Nationally, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the Chamber of Commerce, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) have all come out against paid family and medical leave but could not say what is bad about the program.

The NFIB tried to confuse people by telling a reporter at The Hill, “You’re paying twice for the same labor.” NFIB is implying that the employer must pay a temp worker to replace the worker they are also paying on medical leave. In reality, the worker is paying into an insurance plan. The insurance plan then pays them when they take extended leave. The employer pays nothing for the worker who is out on leave, so their costs would remain exactly the same.

SHRM spokesperson Lisa Horn told USA Today that “Her organization supports companies offering paid leave generally, but prefers incentives for employers to offer it, rather than require it.”

That sounds great but the fact is, as Fortune Magazine points out, “Only 11 percent of American workers get paid family leave through their employers or state programs.”  This is the same tired “free market” garbage that lobbyists use to convince politicians to vote against raising the minimum wage.

Fortune also pointed out that many of the arguments against providing a paid family and medical leave insurance program are completely bogus.  In California and New Jersey, the insurance program costs workers no more than $30 dollar a year for up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.  Forbes noted that in those states with paid leave, ninety-one percent (91%) said “the program has had a positive or no negative effect on profitability and performance.”

It is important to know who is fighting against the will of the people on paid family and medical leave.  This becomes very important when we start looking at the New Hampshire Gubernatorial race.

Colin Van Ostern, the Democratic candidate for Governor, has been outspoken in his support for paid family and medical leave. As an Executive Councilor Van Ostern voted to commission a study to identify “the costs, benefits, alternative models, and public support for family leave policies in New Hampshire, with a goal of identifying the barriers that hold Granite Staters back from fully participating in our economy.”

Van Ostern continued, “As Governor, Colin will work with stakeholders to incorporate the best ideas recommended by this study to advance policies that will help remove existing barriers to workforce participation.”

Chris Sununu has yet to identify his position on paid family and medical leave yet but recently praised his endorsement by the National Federation of Independent Business.

As reported by NHPR: “Bruce Berke, the state director for the business group, cited Sununu’s familiarity with the state’s business climate as a factor in the endorsement.  ‘He knows these issues, he understands their impact, and he has lived these issues as a business owner,’ Berke said.”

In the NHPR article, Casey McDermott specifically cited Sununu’s opposition to raising the minimum wage, another issue supported by eighty-seven (87%) of Americans and seventy-six (76%) of Granite Staters, as one of the policies that NFIB also supports.

Any reasonable person would also expect that Sununu would oppose paid family and medical leave as do his NFIB endorsers.

Again, “Van Ostern says he’d work to raise the minimum wage and promote paid family leave.” Sununu said, “I oppose establishing a state minimum wage” and praises his endorsement from one of the biggest opponents of paid family and medical leave.

Governor Maggie Hassan Accepts Sierra Club’s Endorsement

 CONCORD – Today, Governor Maggie Hassan accepted the Sierra Club’s endorsement at an event at Carter Hill Orchard. The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest grassroots conservation organization, with over 10,000 members and supporters in New Hampshire.

“I am deeply honored to receive the endorsement of the Sierra Club as we continue working together to protect our land, air and water,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Throughout my time in office, I have worked with members of both parties to take stronger action to protect our environment, combat climate change and support clean energy alternatives to help our citizens, businesses and economy thrive. Unfortunately, Senator Kelly Ayotte has shown time and again that she puts her corporate special interest backers such as the Koch Brothers first at the expense of our natural resources and the health of our citizens. In the Senate, I will work across the aisle to build a stronger, clean energy future for our families and businesses.”

“Governor Maggie Hassan has been a climate champion for New Hampshire and understands that protecting our environment is more than just an election year issue,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “The Governor’s strong record stands in stark contrast with climate disaster Senator Kelly Ayotte, who has repeatedly voted to protect tax breaks for Big Oil, voted against clean water protections, and has said that the role of the Environmental Protection Agency needs to be reined in. The Sierra Club is proud to endorse Maggie Hassan for Senate because we know that she will always fight for our environment.”

As a State Senator, Governor Hassan sponsored the legislation that allowed the state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to reduce harmful emissions and energy costs, create jobs and encourage innovation in New Hampshire’s clean energy economy. She also helped pass the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to maintain and grow our clean, renewable energy sector.

As Governor, she has built on these efforts by signing bipartisan legislation to update RGGI and New Hampshire’s RPS, establishing a long-term New Hampshire Energy Strategy that focuses on clean, renewable energy, fully funding New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), and raising the net metering cap to help New Hampshire’s clean energy industry continue to grow and thrive. She was also proud to sign the Under 2 MOU, a global compact among cities, states and provinces worldwide to limit the increase in global average temperature to below two degrees Celsius.

In the Senate, Maggie will fight to build on New Hampshire’s progress and work to achieve a cleaner environment and stronger energy future that will help our citizens, businesses and economy thrive. Maggie supports policies such as setting a strong national target of 50 percent clean and carbon-free electricity by 2030 and expanding RGGI’s reach by encouraging more states to join. She will also work to build on New Hampshire’s leadership in boosting clean energy efforts by creating a strong national net metering model rule and extending clean energy tax incentives, while ending special tax breaks for Big Oil companies.

Meanwhile, Senator Kelly Ayotte has shown time and again that she sides with corporate special interests at the expense of our natural resources. Ayotte has voted multiple times to protect tax breaks for Big Oil, was the only New England Senator to vote against critical clean water protections and has an environmental record that is worse than former Senator Scott Brown’s.

Legislative Committee Fails To Act On Governor Hassan’s “Gateway To Work” Program

Republicans Block The Proposal That Is Strongly Supported by New Hampshire’s Business Community 

CONCORD –Today, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal, which would have strengthened workforce development in our state and has strong support from the NH Business and Industry Association. An attempt to remove the proposal from the table was defeated by the Republican majority on the Fiscal Committee.

Announced in Governor Hassan’s State of the State Address earlier this year, Gateway to Work will use repurposed existing federal funds to help New Hampshire’s citizens succeed in the workforce through strengthening job training, creating new apprenticeship opportunities, helping remove the barriers that cause too many citizens to fail in the workplace, and helping young people in the Granite State get a leg up on their futures.

“As we educate our young people and build the highly skilled workforce of the future, innovative businesses looking to grow here in New Hampshire need more workers now,” Governor Hassan said at the Gateway to Work kickoff event in March. “We have an opportunity to better use the talent of our own people right here in New Hampshire, helping our businesses thrive while closing the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.”

“Through Gateway to Work, we can provide more of the workers our businesses need to thrive,” Governor Hassan said. “We can help give more of our families the opportunity to work their way to self-sufficiency and into the middle class. And we will do so using only existing federal funds, while achieving long-term savings for taxpayers by moving people off of public assistance,” added Hassan.  

The New Hampshire business community has continued to say that New Hampshire does not have enough skilled workers to fill the open jobs currently available now.  Recently the Washington Post highlighted New Hampshire’s growing need for skilled manufacturing workers as the majority of the workforce heads into retirement.

“While New Hampshire’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate is largely a good thing — it’s one of the nation’s lowest — it also means the labor pool is shallow. It’s created a squeeze for manufacturing companies in particular for two reasons: The industry’s workforce is aging at a faster than average rate, while fewer young workers have the proper skills — or interest — to fill the void of retiring workers,” wrote the Washington Post.

Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement after the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal:

“New Hampshire’s continued economic growth depends on our ability to meet the workforce needs of our businesses. As we work to retain existing businesses and attract new ones, the number one concern that I consistently hear from employers is their need for skilled workers.

“Gateway to Work has strong support from the business community because it would move people off of public assistance into sustainable careers, saving taxpayer dollars and providing innovative businesses with the workers they need to grow and thrive. With a strengthening economy and an unemployment rate that is among the lowest in the nation, the business community is desperate for workers. I am disappointed by the Fiscal Committee’s repeated delays with transferring the existing federal funds to launch Gateway to Work, and I am concerned that Republicans on the committee are allowing politics to prevent us from moving forward with this common-sense initiative to fill jobs at growing companies and help close the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.”

After the vote, Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), member of the Fiscal Committee, released the following statement: 

“I am frustrated and disappointed that the Joint Fiscal Committee played politics with our state’s economy today by voting against transferring TANF dollars to fund the innovative Gateway to Work program.  This program that has strong support from New Hampshire’s business community would have gone a long way towards strengthening our economy by providing potential employees with the skills and services they need to successfully gain employment.”  

“We hear constantly that with an improving economy, the most significant challenge our employers face today is finding skilled workers who are able to take jobs when offered. Gateway to Work targets potential employees who have barriers to employment such as reliable child care and transportation and helps lower those barriers to get them into the workforce. Every day that we delay implementation of this program, we leave both our unemployed constituents and our businesses behind.  We should be doing all we can to help Granite Staters escape poverty and move off of public assistance and towards self-sufficiency, and the vote by the Fiscal Committee today is a step in the wrong direction.” 

“Today’s action by the Republican majority forces our unemployed constituents to stay on public assistance programs instead of finding good employment and leaves our businesses without the workers they need to thrive and expand our economy.”

Representative Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord) issued the following statement after the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal:

“I am extremely disappointed that Republicans continue to obstruct the implementation of the Gateway to Work initiative. It is a common sense program critical to New Hampshire’s future and should be approved as quickly as possible.

The Gateway to Work initiative would help workers, businesses, and the economy as a whole by investing in job training, apprenticeship opportunities and other supports for hard-working Granite Staters. There is no reason to delay an initiative that benefits everyone: Gateway to Work would help workers to get good-paying jobs, help businesses utilize a skilled workforce, and reduce government spending by moving people off public assistance and into stable careers. Republicans need to stop playing politics with our state’s future and approve Gateway to Work.”

By continuing to block programs like the “Gateway to Work,”  Republicans in Concord are showing that they are less interested in doing what is best for working people and businesses in New Hampshire and more interested in chasing wild conspiracy theories from doctored videos and sticking to their partisan opposition to Governor Hassan.

Republicans routinely complain about having too many people “living off the system” on public assistance and yet oppose one of the strongest proposals to help people “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” by providing them with the skills necessary to find a lasting career that will help lift them out of poverty.

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