Concord, NH, September 17, 2015 – Yesterday, after months of political posturing, the Governor, Republican and Democratic legislators arrived at a compromise budget that ended the continuing resolution. The approved budget contains and funds the NH State Employees’ previously negotiated contract.
“On behalf of our Executive Branch members (state employees), I thank the Governor and the Legislators for acknowledging the hard work and commitment of those who serve the state,” said Rich Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “I also applaud our members and allies who called or emailed their legislators asking for their support,” said Gulla. “and, thank the members of the general public who requested and proudly displayed yard signs in support of the state employees. We know these conversations and signs had an impact, and we are grateful.”
This budget is a compromise that resulted from both sides of the aisle working together and SEA/SEIU Local 1984 is cautiously optimistic that the legislature can continue to work well together and take up additional concerns the organization has. Including:
· NH State Retirees have not had a Cost of Living Increase since 2009 – six years without an increase in income while living expenses rise. The average pension for a state worker is around $13,000 a year.
· NH DHHS is still underfunded to provide the important services to our citizens in need, including caring for and educating children at Sununu Youth Services Center and the additional funding in this budget for addiction treatment for the growing heroin crisis and mental health is a start, but more is needed.
· NH DOT is still underfunded for winter snow removal. This jeopardizes public safety and commerce. If produce trucks, emergency vehicles, and winter sports enthusiasts cannot travel in the state, the NH tourism economy will suffer.
· The high cost of medical care in New England is a concern. SEA/SEIU Local 1984 will work with the Governor and legislature on responsible and humane ways to address this issue.
· Medicaid expansion is not dealt with in this budget but is kicked down the road for another day, as is the revenue hole that will result from the compromise on the business tax.
“Today, we celebrate the funding of the state employees’ contract. Tomorrow, we roll up our sleeves and tackle the other issues,” said Gulla. “In the meantime, the employees who keep the state running smoothly and efficiently now have a contract.”