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3 NH Counties See Child Poverty Grow To Over 20%

New Data Finds Regional Disparities in Median Household Income, Child Poverty Rates Exceed 20 Percent in Three New Hampshire Counties

Concord, NH – New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau measuring median household income and poverty rates for the state’s ten counties and municipalities with more than 20,000 residents finds regional income disparities across the state. These new data point estimates for 2016 show median household incomes remaining highest in the more urban counties, while the state’s rural regions continue to experience lower household incomes and higher child poverty rates.

“While New Hampshire has the lowest overall poverty rate among states, this new data shows troubling trends in certain regions of the state,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “Child poverty rates of above 20 percent in Belknap, Carroll and Coos counties make clear that there is much work to be done to ensure economic stability for New Hampshire’s children and their families.”

On a county level, Granite Staters see widely different median household incomes from statewide median of $70,936. The state’s two most populous counties, Hillsborough and Rockingham, help boost the statewide median income, but the least populous county, Coos, has a substantially lower estimate of $47,092. The state’s other predominantly rural counties — Sullivan, Grafton, Carroll, and Belknap — have estimated median household incomes lower than the cluster of more urban counties — Strafford, Merrimack, Hillsborough, and Rockingham.

New Hampshire boasts the lowest statewide poverty rate in the country, at 7.3 percent. Despite these low statewide numbers, the percentage of people living in poverty varies widely by county. The four northernmost counties in the state all have estimated poverty rates of 11 percent or higher, while Rockingham County’s overall poverty rate is 3.6 percent. Manchester had a poverty rate of 14.1 percent, and Nashua’s poverty rate was 9.1 percent.

Relative to the 2015 estimates, Coos and Strafford counties saw statistically significant decreases in their poverty rates, while Belknap County had a statistically significant increase. Belknap County was the only county to have a statistically significant increase in child poverty, while it dropped in Cheshire, Rockingham, Strafford, and Sullivan counties.

NHFPI’s analysis of the October 19 Census Bureau data release is available here.


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

Latest Poverty Numbers Do Not Show The Real Struggles Of NH Working Families

New Hampshire Poverty Rate Continues to Decline, but Many
Granite Staters Still Struggle with Very Limited Income

Concord, NH – New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau finds that New Hampshire’s poverty rate declined to 7.3 percent in 2016, down from 8.2 percent in 2015. New Hampshire continues to boast the lowest state poverty rate in the country, a distinction it has held for the last decade.

“New Hampshire’s low poverty rate masks the experiences of far too many Granite Staters who live above the federal poverty threshold and struggle to afford basic necessities,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “In particular, the state’s high cost of housing leaves many working families with little income left to put food on the table and acquire other essentials.”

The Census Bureau data finds an estimated 94,289 people in New Hampshire lived below the federal poverty line in 2016. The poverty threshold used by the Census Bureau for income in the twelve months preceding July 2016 is $12,391 for an individual under 65 years of age and $19,171 for a family of three with one child.

NHFPI analysis of the 2016 Census poverty data for New Hampshire finds that females were more likely than males to live in poverty, with estimated poverty rates of 8.1 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. Those 65 years of age or older were less likely to live in poverty, with an estimated poverty rate of 4.6 percent, than those under 18 years old, who faced a poverty rate of 7.9 percent. Child poverty declined 2.8 percent from the 2015 level. NHFPI’s analysis is available here.

The official poverty threshold understates the degree of economic insecurity in New Hampshire and elsewhere. Due to a relatively high cost of living, New Hampshire families require a significantly higher level of income in order to afford housing, child care, health care, transportation, and food, among other basic necessities. NHFPI’s 2016 report, Taking the Measure of Need in the Granite State, outlines the shortcomings of the official poverty measures and examines alternate methods of assessing what it takes to afford a modest standard of living in various regions of the state.

New Hampshire’s low poverty rate does not provide an accurate measure of the numbers of workers struggling to get by. NHFPI analysis of the 2016 Census poverty data finds that approximately 117,000 households, or more than one in five households, collected less than $35,000 in income and benefits in 2016. In contrast, the state’s estimated median household income for 2016 was $70,936.

Despite a strong economy and low unemployment rate, much of the recent job growth in New Hampshire has occurred in sectors that typically offer low wages, such as the health care, social assistance, accommodation and food services industries, and wages for many low-income workers have not kept pace with inflation. NHFPI’s Snapshot of the State’s Labor Market outlines average weekly wages in these fields and additional information.

“As New Hampshire endeavors to sustain a strong workforce, policymakers should strive to ensure that all residents have access to the necessary education and training that will prepare them for new employment opportunities and help them achieve economic stability,” added NHFPI Executive Director John Shea. “In addition, policymakers should find ways to increase the availability of housing and child care services, which are affordable to all residents.”


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

NH Health Protection Program, aka NH Medicaid Expansion, Moves Forward After Key Vote

Yesterday, the New Hampshire House of Representatives Finance Committee, by a bipartisan 18-8 margin, approved HB 1696, which would reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program through December 2018.

“It is clear that our bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program is getting results for our people and businesses and boosting our economy, while also strengthening our efforts to combat the heroin and opioid crisis and help save lives. The House Finance Committee’s vote is another step forward, and I will continue to work with members of both parties to reauthorize this critical program,” state Governor Maggie Hassan.

“We applaud the House Finance Committee vote in favor of reauthorizing the New Hampshire Health Protection Program,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “The legislators who cast a vote in favor of the legislation are taking a much needed step forward to ensure that the nearly 48,000 Granite Staters currently on the program can continue to have affordable access to preventative and primary care in New Hampshire.”

“At the same time, we ask those few politicians who voted against New Hampshire families to recall the stories of hardworking small business owners who can’t afford health care coverage, and of mothers who are thankful to finally be able to see a doctor about health concerns so that they can be there for their children for years to come, and to reconsider whose side they stand on,” added Rice-Hawkins.

New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch applauded the committee’s decision.

“Today’s vote by the House Finance Committee represents another positive step toward reauthorizing the program for two more years and continuing a successful, unique, and bipartisan approach to promoting health security and fostering economic growth.”

“Many of the Granite Staters who take part in the Health Protection Program work in jobs that are low-paid, but that help keep the New Hampshire economy moving. They provide care to children and to the elderly, build roads and bridges, and staff restaurants and hotels in communities across the state,” added McLynch.

Reauthorizing the NHHPP will also help address the growing opioid addiction problem plaguing our state.

“The program would continue health insurance coverage for nearly 48,000 Granite Staters. Approximately 6,700 of those individuals will likely access treatment services for substance use disorders,” said Linda Saunders Paquette, Executive Director of New Futures. “The New Hampshire Health Protection Program is the single-most important tool NH has to address its drug and alcohol crisis.”

“New Hampshire had the third highest rate of drug induced deaths per capita (100,000 residents) in the United States in 2014. According to an October 2015 poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire, Granite Staters view the opioid crisis as the number one issue facing our state, added Saunders Paquette.

“New Futures’ advocates will be the first to tell you that access to treatment and recovery services are critical to someone physiologically snared by heroin. On behalf of our constituents, New Futures applauds the House Finance Committee for supporting a practical and bipartisan response to our drug and alcohol epidemic,” concluded Saunders Paquette.

Making Ends Meet Conference Explores Solutions to Enhance Economic Stability for New Hampshire Families

nhfpi-budget-policy-conference-illoCONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) today convened Making Ends Meet: Enhancing Economic Security, Fostering Shared Prosperity to examine a range of policy solutions that can help to ease the struggles New Hampshire’s working families face.

“New Hampshire has one of the higher costs of living in the nation, leaving many working families to face a substantial gap between what they earn and what they must spend on essentials — from housing and groceries to health care and child care,” said NHFPI Executive Director Jeff McLynch. “New Hampshire should pursue a comprehensive strategy that addresses both sides of the equation, boosting stagnant incomes and bringing the cost of basic necessities within closer reach.”

The event opened with a review of basic family budgets for New Hampshire, presented by David Cooper, senior analyst with the Economic Policy Institute.

“For most regions of New Hampshire, costs for housing and child care alone exceed what many low wage workers bring in,” said David Cooper. “In Concord, a single parent with one child faces costs that are more than twice what they would earn working full time at $10 an hour, forcing untenable choices between food, rent, heat, and basic necessities.” 

The first panel discussion examined low wages and workplace policies that make it difficult to care for family needs. Panelists outlined an array of strategies that can boost wages and incomes, from increasing the minimum wage and ensuring access to paid leave to creating an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and increasing financial assets. Panelists included Holden Weisman, state and local policy manager, CFED; Ben Zipperer, research economist, Washington Center for Equitable Growth; and Jeffrey Hayes, program director, job security and income quality, Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

A second panel of state and national policy experts examined New Hampshire’s high cost of housing, child care, and health care and discussed policy changes that can make these basic necessities more affordable. Panelists included Helen Blank, director, child care and early learning, National Women’s Law Center; Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and Elissa Margolin, director, Housing Action New Hampshire.

“Access to affordable health care is essential for families to achieve economic stability,” said Judith Solomon. “The reauthorization of New Hampshire’s Health Protection Program would ensure individuals have the ability to address health concerns before they become serious conditions and increase the chances that they can remain in the workforce.” 

The event concluded with a keynote address by Dr. Katherine S. Newman, provost of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a distinguished author, researcher, and lecturer who has dedicated much of her career to the study of poverty, inequality, and economic opportunity in the United States and around the globe. Dr. Newman is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America and Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low Wage Labor Market.

“For far too many families across this country, the economic downturn accelerated the steady erosion of their economic security and sent them into a downward spiral toward poverty,” said Dr. Newman. “There is no single solution to reverse this trend. We should take a systems approach to addressing their challenges, so that working families have the ability to provide a solid foundation for their children and increase their access to economic opportunity.” 

The event’s nearly 140 attendees, which included New Hampshire legislators, business owners, nonprofit and community leaders, and concerned citizens, were provided with an opportunity to engage in dialogue around the numerous financial challenges facing low-wage earners and policy changes that can enhance their economic stability.

NHFPI’s third annual policy conference, Making Ends Meet was made possible with the support of presenting sponsor National Education Association-NH (NEA-NH), supporting sponsor Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, and the following partner organizations: Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, New Futures, Full Circle Consulting, and Kieschnick Consulting Services. 


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

Support Our Local Community Non-Profits: The NH Labor News’s Suggestions For #GivingTuesday

giving_tuesday_logostackedToday is Tuesday, December 1st, 2015.  Not only is it my birthday – Thank You – but it is #GivingTuesday.  #GivingTuesday is a relatively new tradition following #BlackFriday, #SmallBusinessSaturday, and #CyberMonday.

#GivingTuesday is intended to inspire you to give something back this holiday season.  There are millions of great organization out there doing amazing work on a variety of issues.  These organization tend to be very lean because as non-profits they do not have a boatload of funds to fuel their agenda.

Donations to a Non-Profit are also tax deductible. Double bonus.  Unfortunately the NH Labor News is not a non-profit charity so if you choose to make a donation to us you cannot write it off on your taxes.

To help narrow down the monstrous list of possible places you can donate to I have compiled a short list of NH based non-profits, with links to their websites.  I have worked with each and every one of these groups on different campaigns over the last six-years.  (In no particular order.)

Special Note: Some of the groups listed below have sent out emails stating that if you act today, #GivingTuesday, your donation will automatically be matched by an anonymous contributor.  If you miss the double matching, it is ok, they will still be happy to receive your donation.

Granite State Progress: An all encompassing organization that monitors the NH Legislature.  Led the fight against ALEC in our state house, transparency in our legislative process, higher minimum wage, blocking Right To Work and more. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

The NH Citizens Alliance: A champion of low-wage workers, women’s rights and all Granite Staters.  Pushing for equal pay, higher minimum wage, paid sick time and more. They have also launched a new campaign #StandWithWomen to guarantee full and fair opportunities for women to succeed and take care of their families. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

The AFSC- New Hampshire: For 40 years Arnie Alpert has been fighting Right To Work in the NH Legislature. This Quaker organization is dedicated to helping working families as well has making the world a better place.  Fighting for social and economic justice and bringing back the founding principles of our democracy. If you have not already you must sign up for their State House Watch! (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

MIRA: The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) is the largest organization in New England promoting the rights and integration of immigrants and refugees. Eva Castillo is the NH director and together with help from the NH Labor News and other community activists we hosted a welcoming vigil for refugee children last year. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

League of Women Voters: The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

The NHFPI: the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England: PP offers low-cost or even free healthcare to thousands of Granite State women. Preventative medicine is the best medicine.   (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

Every Child Matters Education Fund of NH: ECMEF is a non-partisan, non-profit focused on improving the lives of our future generation by ensuring they get a quality education.  They lobby for early childhood education and expanding public school.  Along with education, ECM pushes back against cuts to programs designed to help combat poverty. ECMEF-NH Director MaryLou Beaver is also a feature commentator on the NH Labor News with her weekly Granite State Rumblings update.  (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

Second Wind Foundation for Pulmonary Fibrosis: A charity organization to help people suffering with the little known, life threatening disease, Pulmonary Fibrosis.  The organization was started when my good friend Ron Geoffroy’s wife, Marylou, was diagnosed with PF. After her passing, Ron continues to lead the organization and help others who are suffering with PF. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

Whether you give $5 or $500 dollars, every dollar is appreciated.  

Please make a contribution to any or all of these great groups and let them know that Matt from the NH Labor News sent you

NH House Republicans Push Through Their Immoral Reckless Budget

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Related article and recommended reading:

Republican Budget Cuts In New Hampshire Provoke Backlash From Clergy

 

Building a Better Budget Examines State Budget Priorities, State Tax System; Strategies to Strengthen NH’s Middle Class

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) today convened Building a Better Budget: Meeting Today’s Needs, Preparing for Tomorrow to provide a forum for dialogue around how to build a budget that allows the Granite State to create, maintain, and restore the public structures that are vital to a vibrant economy.

“New Hampshire’s budget is a statement of priorities, a reflection of the values that we hold as a state, as a society, as a people,” said NHFPI Executive Director Jeff McLynch. “It is time to begin a thoughtful dialogue around how the state sets priorities and how we can ensure that New Hampshire is a place where everyone has access to opportunities to thrive and prosper.”

The event opened with a panel discussion which examined several key elements of New Hampshire’s state budget, with an emphasis on current and long-term needs pertaining to transportation, higher education, mental health, and income support programs. Panelists included Christopher Clement, former commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Transportation; Amy Messer, legal director, Disability Rights Center; Kristyn Van Ostern, associate vice chancellor and chief financial officer, Community College System of New Hampshire; and Ife Floyd, policy analyst, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

A second panel of national tax policy experts examined New Hampshire’s revenue system and offered insights into how other states approach taxation and practices that would make the Granite State’s revenue system more sound and more fair. Panelists included Norton Francis, senior research associate, Urban Institute; Carl Davis, senior policy analyst, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy; and Dan Bucks, former director for the Montana Department of Revenue.

The nearly 140 participants, which included New Hampshire legislators, nonprofit and community leaders, and concerned citizens, were provided with an opportunity to engage in dialogue around how New Hampshire could build a budget that better meets the needs of low- and moderate-income families and individuals struggling to get by.

The event concluded with a keynote address by Anna Chu, director of the Middle-Out Economics project at the Center for American Progress, who illustrated how a strong and stable middle class is the key driver of economic growth and outlined strategies to help New Hampshire support its middle-class and increase economic opportunities for all Granite Staters.

NHFPI’s second annual policy conference, Building a Better Budget was made possible with the support of lead event sponsor the National Education Association-NH (NEA-NH) and the following partner organizations: Child and Family Services, American Federation of Teachers-NH (AFT-NH), New Futures, Full Circle Consulting, Louis Karno and Company, and Kieschnick Consulting Services.

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

 

Senate Finance Committee Opposes Higher Wages for Nearly 76,000 Granite Staters

CONCORD, NH – The Senate Finance Committee today voted 4 to 2 against legislation that would raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage, which currently rests at the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. HB 1403 would increase the state minimum wage to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2015 and to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2016. Beginning January 1, 2017, the bill would make automatic cost-of-living adjustments to account for inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index.

New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch issued the following statement in response:

“With this vote, the Finance Committee has put the Senate on a path to denying nearly 76,000 low-wage workers a modest raise that would ease their daily struggles to afford food, shelter, and other necessities.

Over the last several decades, New Hampshire’s minimum wage has lost 23 percent of its purchasing power. Unless the Senate changes course and approves HB 1403, low-wage workers will fall even further behind as prices for gas, groceries, and clothing continue to climb.

States like Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota, Maryland and West Virginia have moved forward to strengthen their minimum wages. There’s no reason New Hampshire shouldn’t do the same. It’s time we raise the minimum wage to ensure that everyone — whether it’s a waitress or cashier or the owner of the business where they work — can share in the high quality of life for which New Hampshire is so routinely praised.”

 

Senate Finance Committee Considers Increase to Minimum Wage (Via NHFPI)

CONCORD, NH – The Senate Finance Committee today considered legislation that would increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage, which currently rests at the federal rate of $7.25 an hour. HB 1403 would increase the state minimum wage to $9.00 an hour over two years and make automatic cost of living adjustments in future years.

New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch provided testimony in support of the bill and issued the following statement:

“One of the values that we as Americans – and as Granite Staters – hold most dear is the value of work. Few would dispute that if you work for a living, you ought to be able to secure life’s basic necessities for yourself and for your family. Yet, far too many of New Hampshire’s workers are struggling just to get by.

“HB 1403 would significantly ease that struggle and provide for a modest, gradual, and sustained increase in New Hampshire’s minimum wage. It would raise the wages of nearly 76,000 Granite Staters and help to boost to the bottom line of local businesses, since low-wage workers, out of sheer necessity, will spend those higher wages in local supermarkets, shops, and gas stations.

“New Hampshire should reinstate its own minimum wage, and raise the wage to a level that enables its citizens to afford basic necessities.”

For additional information, see NHFPI’s Issue Brief, Long Since Due: An Increase in New Hampshire’s Minimum Wage, available at:
http://www.nhfpi.org/research/state-economy/issue_nh-minimum-wage.html

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) is an independent, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

 

NH House Approves Bill to Extend Health Insurance to More than 50,000 Granite Staters

NH Senate Medicaid Vote 6-6-13 Inzane TimesCONCORD, NH – In a show of bipartisan support, the House of Representatives today approved SB 413 by a vote of 202 to 132, enabling New Hampshire to accept federal funds to provide affordable health insurance to more than 50,000 low-income Granite Staters.

“Today is a great day for thousands of New Hampshire residents who will now, for the very first time, have access to affordable health care,” said Deb Fournier, policy analyst for the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute.

“Members of the House and Senate should be commended for their steadfast dedication and commitment to reaching a solution that works for everyone,” said Fournier. “By enabling the state to accept these federal funds, Legislators have made a fiscally responsible decision that will save millions in state budget costs and pave the way for millions of federal dollars to enter the state economy and benefit communities across the state.”

SB 413 is a bipartisan compromise which utilizes federal Medicaid funds to support a program of privately-delivered health insurance for low-income individuals. The compromise is the result of months of discussion and debate regarding how best to design a program that solves a critical health policy issue for New Hampshire.

SB 413 creates a three-stage Health Protection Program to extend affordable health insurance to low-income Granite Staters: the Health Insurance Premium Program, the Bridge to Marketplace Premium Assistance Program, and the Marketplace Premium Assistance Program. Federal funding will cover 100 percent of the costs associated with the Health Protection Program, which will be repealed at the end of 2016 unless future legislatures vote to extend it.

For more information, see the NHFPI Health Protection Program fact sheet.

 

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