NH’s Largest Public Labor Union Endorses Dan Feltes for State Senate

SEIU Logo

SEIU 1984 LogoConcord – The SEA/ SEIU Local 1984 Executive Board endorsed Dan Feltes (Democrat/Concord) for the New Hampshire State Senate.  Feltes is running for the District 15 seat that has been held by long-time Senator Sylvia Larsen who announced her retirement earlier this year.

Late last month, Feltes met with the union’s Political Education Committee where he clearly described his reason for running and his vision for a state legislature that is responsive to the needs of the hard working men and women in his district.

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members were impressed by Feltes’ commitment to moving all working families forward in New Hampshire.  “Dan’s passion and selfless dedication to helping others is demonstrated by his work with New Hampshire Legal Assistance,” said Ken Roos 1st Vice President of the labor union and chair of the Political Education committee.   “We appreciate his work ethic and we are confident he will bring progressive ideas to ongoing challenges facing so many families across the state.”

The labor organization’s leaders also believe Feltes is postured to be a positive contributing member of the NH Senate because of his work to help bring the reality of affordable housing to workers who are struggling to make their paychecks stretch from month to month.  Diana Lacey, President said “Dan Feltes is prepared to lead beginning day one in the senate and will work each and every day to make a real difference for New Hampshire.”  Lacey also cited Feltes’ history of working well with members of both political parties to get things done.

His support for early education, expanding opportunities for working families to do more than just keep their head above water, and his commitment to face every challenge with the energy and intensity to actually fix problems rather than kick the can down the road, make Dan Feltes the right candidate in both the primary and general election.  “Through our lengthy conversation with Feltes,” said Roos, “it was crystal clear to us that he sees there is much more work to do and we believe Dan Feltes is the best candidate to represent the voters in Concord, Hopkinton, Henniker and Warner.

With the need to find solutions to state infrastructure deficiencies, the next election will present voters with critical decisions to either move forward or continue pushing off problems until they become more expensive and unfixable.  With today’s endorsement of Dan Feltes, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 is saying fix the problems today.

About The State Employees’ Association/ SEIU Local 1984

The State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire represents about 11,500 public and private-sector employees across the Granite State.  First formed in 1940 as a social organization, the SEA won passage of New Hampshire’s Public Employee Labor Relations Law in 1975.  Since then, the union has negotiated hundreds of contracts with state, county, municipal and private-sector employers.  The SEA affiliated with the Service Employees’ International Union in 1984.  With 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas.

New Hampshire House Responds to People’s Call for a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

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Written on May 15, 2014

Note: Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted with bipartisan support to pass by a 2-to-1 margin an amended version of SB 307 that calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and related cases.

Statement of Jonah Minkoff-Zern, Co-Director, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign

Lawmakers in the New Hampshire House of Representatives are finally responding to the people’s call to rein in the torrent of money that is flowing into our political system. We applaud them for it, and we urge Senate lawmakers to follow suit.

In March, the state Senate moved forward SB 307 as a hollow bill that created a committee to examine the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling and make recommendations to the New Hampshire congressional delegation. But it did not explicitly recognize the need for a constitutional amendment. Citizens United gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections.

Today, the House voted to pass a version of SB 307 that includes language specifically calling for a constitutional amendment. This is in line with what the people of New Hampshire have been calling on their elected officials to do.

In March, residents made it crystal clear that they want to free elections from corporate influence and mega-donors when they overwhelmingly passed warrants at 48 town meetings calling for the state Legislature to support a constitutional amendment to overturn the 2010 Citizens United ruling. And the momentum is still building. On Tuesday, both Hanover and Peterborough passed town resolutions calling for the Citizens United ruling to be overturned. On Wednesday, New London and Sanbornton passed similar resolutions. This brings to 52 the number of New Hampshire towns calling for a resolution this year.

The bill will head to conference committee where the Senate now has a chance to follow the will of their constituents and pass the amended language. If passed, New Hampshire would become the 17th state to call for an amendment to stop the flood of money from corporations and the ultra-wealthy into our elections.

View more information about the efforts to pass a constitutional amendment in New Hampshire.

In Voting Against The Minimum Wage Increase, The Only Person NH Sen Andy Sanborn Is Voting For Is Andy Sanborn

Screen Shot GSP Video  Andy Sanborn

As an elected representative of the people, State Senator Andy Sanborn, should be working for the people, however his vote appear to tell a different story.

Last week the NH Senate voted against raising the minimum wage to $9.00 over the next two years.  Senator Sanborn spoke out against the minimum wage increase as a “job killer.” Sanborn stated, “How many jobs are going to exist in the State of NH, if there are no more employers?” Sanborn even went as far to say that raising the minimum wage ignites a “war on employers.

You can see his entire statement in this video:

Senator Sanborn knows a lot about how business works, so that means we should listen to him on this right?

Sanborn currently owns “The Draft” a sports bar where servers make the NH tipped minimum wage ($3.13 per hour), and other workers make a little more than minimum wage.

Personally I do not understand how Senator Sanborn did not at least declare a conflict of interest on the minimum wage vote, seeing that one could interpret his vote as protecting his own profits rather than representing his constituents (keep in mind 76% of Granite Staters support the legislation).  That is because Senator Sanborn is really doing what he does best, looking out for himself.

In late 2004 and early 2005 Andy and his wife (Rep) Laurie Sanborn were the owners of Banagan’s, a chain of bike and ski shops throughout New Hampshire.  The ultimate small business owner’s dream, a growing business and expanding to multiple stores.  Except that in 2005, Sanborn was forced into court after Banagan’s filed bankruptcy.   Sanborn and his company left his supplier holding the bag for over $600,000 dollars in claims.  The settlement allowed Sanborn to use the money from his “going out of business sale” to pay off part of his business debts.

The Concord Monitor reported on the story in 2008 and spoke with Jack White, the Nashua lawyer who took Banagan’s to bankruptcy court on behalf of four equipment dealers.

“White isn’t convinced that even Sanborn believed he could pay all his debts with a closing sale. He said he thinks Sanborn’s main goal was, instead, to make enough money in the closing sale to pay off his bank loan, for which he was personally liable. Once the case landed in bankruptcy court, White said, the bank had to stand in line for payment along with the other companies owed money. And Sanborn became responsible for any part of the bank loan left unpaid.” (emphasis added)

The Concord Monitor also reported that Banagan’s would only end up paying $31,000 of the over $600,000 they owed to equipment suppliers.

Thankfully Banagan’s had enough money in the bank to pay back the personal loans Andy took out for the business, otherwise he would not have been able to open The Draft restaurant.

Prior to the opening of The Draft, Sanborn said he spent over $100,000 on televisions alone.

Somehow Sanborn had $100,000 to buy televisions for his new business, but only had $31,000 to pay his previous business suppliers.

Now the Sanborns, a State Senator, and a State Rep (wife Laurie), are vehemently opposed to raising the minimum wage knowing full well an increase would effect their businesses bottom line.

The Sanborns are doing what is best for them, and ignoring what the people of New Hampshire want and agree is best for the state.

NH Senate Republicans Block Minimum Wage Increase (Statement by Granite State Progress)

Image from @OFA_NH pic.twitter.com/ZG7B0GfERQ

Politician making $185,000 a year first to object to raising the wage for state’s lowest income earners

CONCORD, NH – The NH Senate voted 13-11 on party lines today to kill HB 1403, raising the state minimum wage. Statement from Granite State Progress:

“A Senate Republican making $185,000 a year called the minimum wage bill ‘feel good legislation’ but refused to spend even one day living in the shoes of his constituents who makes less than ten percent of his salary, even when they are working full-time,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, in reference to Senator Peter Bragdon’s opening remarks. “Senator Bradley chose to use industry talking points instead of rely on economic data, and Senator Sanborn voted against the bill without disclosing the conflict of interest that he pays some of his workers minimum wage.”

“In contrast, several Senate Democrats took the Minimum Wage Challenge to live on minimum wage before voting on this bill. That experience illustrated for them the lack of affordable housing options, the slim budgets, and the constant anxiety that a minimum wage earner lives with every day. Questions about how to put gas in your tank and food on the table become very real when you don’t have a $185,000 golden salary to live on. Minimum wage earners work hard and play by the rules, but Senate Republicans sent a message loud and clear that they don’t care,” Rice Hawkins said.

In an online poll yesterday Granite State Progress asked whether Senate Republicans would table the bill, vote it down immediately, or vote it down after making misleading arguments. Option C won online and in reality. Below is a round-up of key political statements from today’s floor debate:

Sen. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford called the bill “feel good legislation”. Bragdon signed a contract this week for an $185,000 per year job.

Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro said that raising the wage would harm teenagers and entry level workers. In New Hampshire, 72 percent of minimum wage workers are over the age of 20 years old and have real breadwinner responsibilities. Bradley has previously refused to answer whether he believes in a minimum wage at all.

Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford claimed that raising the minimum wage would harm small businesses, particularly restaurants. Sanborn did not mention that he pays minimum wage to some of his workers at The Draft – nor did he declare a conflict of interest before voting against the bill.

Previously … Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield told the Laconia Citizen he “thinks it’s ‘silly’ to say that someone couldn’t be supported on minimum wage as they can take on multiple jobs.”

In contrast, Senate Democrats spent an hour urging their colleagues to support the bill: 

Sen. Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord called the legislation “one of the most important issues this session.”

Sen. David Pierce, D-Hanover took the Minimum Wage Challenge this week to try to live on a minimum wage budget.  He told fellow legislators you must “walk a mile in another man’s shoes before you make you decision.” Of the experience he said: “The minimum wage challenge produced such anxiety for me … I was shaken by the experience.”

Sen. David Watters, D-Dover also took the Minimum Wage Challenge this week to try to live on a minimum wage budget.  He told fellow legislators:

“Taking the Minimum Wage Challenge this week, it quickly became obvious to me that I couldn’t live and work in Dover without public support for food and housing.  The usual amount provided for food is $37.75 a week, so I went to Janetos, a local downtown market where people without transportation can shop at good prices, and, given the kind of community Dover is, everyone feels welcome and accepted.  $5.45 a day meant careful meal planning. A loaf of bread, peanut butter, eggs, lots of potatoes and pasta, a can of tomatoes, some cheese, two pieces of chicken, a head of broccoli, carrots, milk, and toiletries.  As the funds dwindled, I felt that anxiety of not having enough, putting things back on the shelf, buying by lowest price for a smaller quantity, and seeing that any staple, such as flour, oil, coffee, would mean not enough food for meals.  In planning for one peanut butter sandwich a day for lunch, I recalled when I was working in a factory or in construction filling my lunch box with four to six sandwiches, fruit, cookies, milk, and eating every crumb to keep up strength for hard work.  There’s just not enough to keep body and soul together …

Everyday experiences become a crisis on minimum wage.  I had some surgery this week—would Medicaid have covered the procedure and the $25.00 copay, or would I have had to put it off, try to ignore the problem, and hope for the best?  Or when to fill the tank, looking for a gas station with prices a few pennies less, and seeing the $40.13 it cost just to get to work for a week meant 5-1/2 hours of pay. My old car’s due for an oil change, too. Every day becomes an emergency when the tank runs low.

Video of Sen. Watters participating in the Minimum Wage Challenge grocery shopping trip is below.

Granite State Rumblings: We Must Increase The Minimum Wage And Details Of Sen. Watters Min Wage Challenge

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The state minimum wage bill (HB1403) comes before the full Senate this Thursday, May 8th. HB 1403 would increase the state’s minimum wage in two steps, $8.25 per hour in 2015 and then to $9.00 per hour in 2016, and then ensure that it keeps pace with the cost of living moving forward.

minimum wageThis is an important piece of legislation for Granite State workers as they struggle to make ends meet each and every day. Raising the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour by 2016 would increase the wages, either directly or indirectly, of nearly 76,000 New Hampshire workers, resulting in an additional $64 million in wages, in the aggregate, being put into the state’s economy over the next two years. (source; NHFPI)

NH District 04 Senator, David Watters, saw how difficult it is to live on a minimum wage job when he took part in the Minimum Wage Challenge this past weekend in Dover with ECM-NH’s Field Director, MacKenzie Flessas. (See photos and read about it in Growing Up Granite below).

Over the past several months, five states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, and West Virginia – have enacted legislation to increase their minimum wages, according to an article posted by the NH Fiscal Policy Institute.

The report continues by informing us that Delaware’s wage standard will soon begin climbing towards $8.25 an hour, West Virginia’s will grow to $8.75 per hour, and, for some Minnesota employers, the wage floor will be set at $9.50 per hour. In Connecticut and Maryland, the minimum wage will eventually reach $10.10 per hour. As a result, by 2016, half of the states and the District of Columbia will have minimum wages above the current federal standard of $7.25 per hour.

It is important to note that those states that have – or will have – a minimum wage in excess of the federal level tend to have something in common: a relatively high cost of living, as does New Hampshire.

The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s (MERIC) research indicates that the cost of living in New Hampshire was close to 21 percent above the national average in 2013, driven principally by housing, utility, and health costs. The NHFPI article quotes The National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s recent Out of Reach report confirming how difficult it can be to meet some of these costs in the Granite State. It finds that New Hampshire was the 11th most expensive state in the country for renters in 2014.

As NHFPI Executive Director, Jeff McLynch pointed out in is testimony before the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee in February, “ in considering an increase in New Hampshire’s minimum wage, two claims are commonly made in opposition.  Neither have merit.”

“First, some maintain that the primary beneficiaries of any minimum wage increase would be teenagers.  ….an analysis of Current Population Survey data by the Economic Policy Institute reveals that 72 percent of the workers who would see a wage increase from a $9.00 per hour minimum wage are adults.  For many low-wage workers, their job is not a “starter” position or a “foot in the door.”  For many of them, their personal economic circumstances demand that they take whatever job they can find, simply to put a roof over their head, a jacket on their back, and food on the table – either just for themselves or for their family.”

“Second, others have argued, in keeping with traditional criticisms, that raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage will reduce employment.  Needless to say, this question has been explored for decades, but the most recent, high quality studies on the relationship between state minimum wages and employment levels find little evidence to suggest that raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage will produce large-scale job losses.  For instance, a 2010 study conducted by researchers from the University of Massachusetts, the University of North Carolina, and the University of California examined state minimum wage increases during the period from 1990 to 2006 using data from nearly 300 bordering counties that had differentials in their minimum wages.  It concludes that: ‘[Our] estimates suggest no detectable employment losses from the kind of minimum wage increases we have seen in the United States…’”
See more at: http://www.nhfpi.org/research/nhfpi-testifies-support-increase-nh-minimum-wage.html#sthash.e2pklkci.dpuf

Every Child Matters in New Hampshire agrees with the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, our partner organizations in the Raise the Wage coalition and 76% of Granite State residents that it is time to raise the minimum wage in New Hampshire. Doing so will help families make ends meet, boost sales at businesses across the State, and put New Hampshire on a path towards an economy that works for everyone.

If you agree, please call your Senator today and let him/her know to support HB1403 on Thursday.

The Minimum Wage Challenge

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ECM – NH Field Director MacKenzie Flessas and State Senator David Watters

This past weekend, Senator David Watters (District 4-Dover) and I sat down to talk about the challenges that families who are living on minimum wage face everyday in our state. The weekly wage for a minimum wage worker who works full-time is $290 before taxes.

Senator Watters was given a worksheet to divide his weekly expenses given his new minimum wage income. For the purpose of this exercise, it was assumed that Sen. Watters was currently receiving Food Stamps as a single person. The maximum amount of this assistance is $5.45 per day.

So we went into the grocery store with a budget of $38.10 (a week’s worth of Food Stamps benefits)

We began in the Produce section. While looking at the fresh vegetables, Sen. Watters said “I know I need vegetables, but I’m not sure if I can afford it yet.” I followed him around the store as he tried to make a meal plan for the week, settling for meals like eggs, bread and peanut butter, and pasta and sauce. At one point he was given the choice of feeding his cat or buying fresh vegetables. A compromise had to be made. One day a week of no food for his beloved cat would enable him to purchase broccoli. “Fresh food is too expensive for me.”

We checked out and came up with a total of $36.91. (84 cents under budget)  Senator Watters commented, “At times I just felt desperate. I no longer cared about brands, I only needed to look at prices.” He also recognized that he did not buy some essential items that he would need to purchase eventually, such as sugar, cooking oil, flour and dish soap.

And by the way, several of his purchases today are not allowable under the food stamps benefit: cat food, toothpaste, and shampoo, so they had to be paid for from his minimum wage earnings.

“I don’t know what I would do week after week, it would grind me down. It makes me understand what this is all about.”

As I reflect upon this challenge with Senator Watters, I think, what would families in our state do without these essential assistance programs? Even with the small amount of help that Sen. Watters was receiving during his Minimum Wage Challenge (housing assistance, heating assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid,) he was still not able to have a positive balance of money at the end of the month.

With more than 42,000 children in our state living in poverty, and for whom many of their families are making minimum wage or just above, I know that investing in an increase in minimum wage will give families the basic necessities that they need to grow healthy, productive children, which is an investment in New Hampshire’s future.

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The full Senate will vote on the increase in Minimum Wage on Thursday May 8th. I urge our Senators to stand up for the most vulnerable people in our state, the 15.6% of children living in poverty, and vote Ought to Pass on the Minimum Wage increase, HB1403.

Thank you Senator Watters for having the courage to take the challenge.

MacKenzie

To see what Senator Watters thought about the Minimum Wage Challenge view this YouTube Video.

Here is what Senator Watters bought with his weekly food allowance of $38.10:

Item Price  Balance
$37.75
10lb bag potatoes $4.99 $32.76
3lb onions $2.89 $29.87
Carrots $1.50 $28.37
1/2 Gallon milk $2.59 $25.78
Eggs $1.89 $23.89
Bread $1.79 $22.10
2lbs Chicken $1.26 $20.84
1/2 lb Cheese $2.78 $18.06
Linguine $1.39 $16.67
Rotini $1.39 $15.28
Canned tomatoes $1.99 $13.29
Cat food $4.50 $8.79
Shampoo $1.49 $7.30
Toothpaste $1.49 $5.81
Peanut butter $2.89 $2.92
Broccoli $2.89 $0.03
$36.91 ended up being the total, so something might have been on sale. $.84 left over from Food Budget

 

 

 

 

 

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

Minimum Wage 101

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.”

 

4-28-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: NH Retirement System, Charter Schools, and More

AFT NH Legislative Update

The following bill passed the full House last week and now returns to the Senate, who will decide whether to accept the House’s changes or send it to a Committee of Conference.

SB193: Expanding Access to Oral Health Care in NH. This bill forms a Study Commission that would examine barriers to oral health care for under-served NH residents. We believe this study will help build the case that addressing the dental workforce must be part of any long-term strategy to bridge the gaps in our system of oral care access.

The following bills passed the full Senate last week and have been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.  

HB 1494:  relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees. See more at: http://nh.aft.org/legislation/aft-nh-legislative-update-april-21-2014#sthash.NWMn0ODH.dpuf

HB 1624-FN: modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights.  AFT-NH is in support of this bill. This bill updates our current juvenile justice system by:

  • Raising the age at which youth are treated as adults in the justice system from 17 years to 18 years,
  • Improving procedures to determine competency of youth,
  • Clarifying a youth’s right to and waiver of legal counsel,
  • Determining the qualifications for legal counsel to defend youth,
  • Defining data to assess the effectiveness of current interventions and proposed changes.

The following bills passed both Chambers and now move to the Governor’s desk.

HB 1398-FN, allowing the retirement system to make payments in lieu of payments to estates in certain circumstances.AFT-NH has no position on this bill but is monitoring.

HB 1392-FN-L, removing the restriction on the number of pupils eligible to transfer to a chartered public school.AFT-NH is not in support of this bill and asks that the Governor veto it. There has been no past problem for any student wishing to attend a charter school. Furthermore, the unintended consequence could negatively impact the public school by depleting a grade level of attendance or curriculum options.

HB 1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of student data. We believe that this bill will help protect the privacy of students in New Hampshire.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit www.aft-nh.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS

TUESDAY, APRIL 29

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
1:00 p.m. HB 1624-FN, modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights.

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
9:30 a.m. HB 1198, relative to the procedure for filing a child in need of services (CHINS) petition and relative to the definition of sexual abuse under the child protection act.

House CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 204, LOB
10:30 a.m. SB 207-FN, relative to paycheck equity.

House EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
10:30 a.m. SB 396, relative to child restraint practices.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30

10:00 a.m. House in Session

THURSDAY, MAY 1

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

House ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
11:00 a.m. Continued executive session on SB 120-FN, relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees.

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:30 a.m. Executive session on SB 339-FN, (New Title) relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in which fees received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

House FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
2:00 p.m. Work session on SB 395-FN, relative to the retirement classification of the director of the division of forests and lands.

House STATE FEDERAL RELATIONS AND VETERANS AFFAIRS, Room 203, LOB
11:00 a.m. Executive session on SB 307, establishing a committee to review Citizens United amendments to the United States Constitution.

THURSDAY, MAY 8

House EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
10:00 a.m. Ad Hoc subcommittee on retirement.

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on SB 395- FN, relative to the retirement classification of the director of the division of forests and lands.

Senate Republicans Blaming Public Employees for State’s Revenue Shortfalls

NH Retirement Coalition

NH Retirement Coalition

CONCORD – Yesterday, New Hampshire Senate Republicans were quick to attack their fellow legislators and public employees after Standard & Poor announced New Hampshire’s bond rating was adjusted following a court ruling on the Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET).

In 2007, responsible and bipartisan retirement reforms were enacted. Instead of allowing these changes to work, in 2011 Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and his fellow Senate Republican colleagues added to the unfunded liability (UAAL) by slashing employer contributions. Due to Senate Republicans’ so-called pension reforms in 2011, they increased the UAAL by 11.5% – adding over $400 million to the state’s underfunded status, exacerbating the problem. These failed policies were a contributing factor to New Hampshire’s lowered bond rating.

Embracing real pension reform for newly hired employees and encouraging an open discussion with public employee groups would have been a responsible solution to our state’s financial concerns. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans refused to discuss retirement security for all public workers, and sentenced newly hired police officers and fire fighters to a future reliance on taxpayer-funded services.

 

For more information on the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition, please visit nhretirementfacts.com and follow us @NH_RSC

New Hampshire Raise the Wage Coalition Calls on State Senators to Live on Minimum Wage for a Week

NH Senate Committee Hearing 
(Image from Arnie Alpert -- NH AFSC)

State Senators asked to walk a mile in shoes of constituents before casting vote on minimum wage bill

NH Senate Committee Hearing  (Image from Arnie Alpert -- NH AFSC)

NH Senate Committee Hearing
(Image from Arnie Alpert — NH AFSC)

CONCORD, NH – Several members of the New Hampshire Raise the Wage Coalition are calling for State Senators to live on minimum wage for one week before voting on whether to raise the state’s minimum wage. The request was made during the Senate Finance committee public hearing on HB 1403 today, and echoed in an email sent to all State Senators shortly after the public hearing ended.

HB 1403 would raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage in two stages and provide for annual cost of living increases in the future.  It would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2015 and to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2016.  Beginning January 1, 2017, it would automatically increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage to account for inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index. Raising the wage would directly impact 48,000 workers and another 28,000 would experience an indirect increase, ultimately benefiting 76,000 New Hampshire workers and the overall economy in the state.

Organizations calling on the State Senate to live a week on minimum wage include Granite State Progress, NEA-New Hampshire, NH Citizens Alliance, Every Child Matters, and the New Hampshire Conference of the United Church of Christ – Economic Justice Ministry Team. All of the groups are members of the New Hampshire Raise the Wage coalition.

“The average minimum wage earner in New Hampshire is an adult earning less than $300 a week,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “These are people with real breadwinner responsibilities trying to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head. We are calling on our State Senators to better understand the plight of these Granite State families by spending a week living in their shoes. They will find out what it’s really like to plan a budget, buy groceries, find a place to live and manage transportation in New Hampshire on under $300 a week.”

“There are lots of facts and figures tossed around when politicians debate an issue. The Minimum Wage Challenge will make sure this discussion is grounded in the real-life choices confronted by tens of thousands of Granite State workers who are trying to get by on just $7.25 an hour,” Rice Hawkins said.

Organizations issuing the call have offered State Senators who participate an opportunity to meet with local advocates to review housing options and visit the grocery store together, among other things. Press interested in these activities can contact Granite State Progress.

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

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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.