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Gov Hassan Continues to Stress the Need for Responsible, Compromise Budget at Nashua Chamber of Commerce

Governor Hassan: Business Tax Cuts Must Be Paid For, Cannot Come at the Expense of Critical Economic Priorities

NASHUA – At the Nashua Chamber of Commerce State of the State breakfast, Governor Maggie Hassan continued to stress the importance of working across party lines toward a compromise to pass a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that keeps New Hampshire moving forward by supporting critical economic priorities like higher education, public safety, health care, and a modern, safe transportation infrastructure.

“As the Committee of Conference on the budget moves forward this week, I remain committed to working with Republican leadership to reach a compromise, fiscally responsible budget that moves New Hampshire forward,” Governor Hassan said. “We will continue to be willing to negotiate productively throughout the week.”

Governor Hassan said she has serious concerns that the current Senate budget proposal is unbalanced and contains expensive tax cuts primarily benefiting large out-of-state corporations while under-funding key priorities including education, health care, public safety and roads and bridges.

“My budget proposal is honest about what we can afford to do and it is focused on keeping New Hampshire moving forward by supporting critical economic priorities like higher education, public safety, health care, and our roads and bridges,” Governor Hassan said. “On the other hand, the plan proposed by Republicans prioritizes tax cuts for large businesses, mostly headquartered out-of-state, without paying for those cuts, creating a $90 million hole in our budget at the expense of the priorities that are essential for our families, small businesses and economy.”

Governor Hassan said she understands that business tax cuts are among the Senate’s most important priorities and that she is willing to work with Republican legislative leaders on a proposal to cut the business taxes, but only if those reductions are paid for within this budget and do not come at the expense of priorities such as higher education, public safety, health care and transportation.

“I have made it clear to Republican leadership that I am not philosophically opposed to their proposal to lower the business taxes and that I believe we can find common ground, but those cuts must be paid for and cannot come at the expense of our state’s long-term financial health or at the expense of the priorities that are critical to the success of people and businesses – holding down the cost of college tuition, making sure our workers can access health-care without financial ruin, and keeping our roads plowed for commuters and businesses,” Governor Hassan said.

Governor Hassan has made clear that she believes it is a critical to have a transparent and honest balanced budget that moves away from gimmicks such as back-of-the-budget cuts and unrealistic “assumptions” to ensure that the state can deliver on the promises made in the budget. In addition to the reauthorization of the state’s bipartisan health care expansion program that is providing coverage to more than 40,000 hard-working Granite Staters and the new contract for state employees, ensuring an adequate budget for the Governor’s priorities include higher education, substance misuse and mental health, the Departments of Corrections and Transportation.

“First and foremost, the budget must be balanced and honest. I recognize that we may not agree on every spending priority, but we cannot promise to spend money that isn’t there,” Governor Hassan said. “Continued reliance on these irresponsible budget gimmicks will put our state on perilous financial footing and undermine the legislature’s constitutional duty to balance the budget.”

The Governor closed her remarks by reiterating that while she continues to negotiate with Republican legislative leaders, any final agreement will require compromise from both sides.

“I am committed to negotiating in good faith to reach a compromise budget, but I need willing negotiating partners on the other side,” Governor Hassan said. “We can pass a responsible, bipartisan budget that invests so that we can stem troublesome demographic trends and build a brighter economic future with more opportunity that will allow our people to climb the ladder of success. We have done it before, and we can do it again.”

ICYMI: Concord Monitor Editorial: “Budgets of Unmet Needs, Raided Funds”

Concord, N.H. – Republicans in the legislature continue to take heat for budget proposals that fail to meet the state’s economic needs, including failing to adequately fund substance misuse treatment and not continuing the state’s successful Medicaid expansion program.

The Concord Monitor editorial board wrote, “A seemingly sensible, but woeful, statement by Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Sen. Jeanie Forrester explains why New Hampshire is falling behind. ‘I would like it to be more,’ Forrester told Monitor State House reporter Allie Morris. ‘But this is what we can afford.’”

The Monitor noted that despite claims from Forrester and Republicans in the Legislature that the state can’t afford to adequately fund critical priorities like substance misuse treatment, “they want to reduce business taxes under the failed theory that it promotes business growth. That will guarantee a continued state inability to keep its promises and meet its obligations.”

The Monitor also points out that Republicans’ dedicated fund raids may be unconstitutional.

In a joint op-ed, House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff and Rep. Mary Jane Wallner wrote, “We were glad to hear that Republican senators agreed that the budget passed by the New Hampshire House was unacceptable. But, in trying to fix the House’s mess, Senate Republicans passed a budget that doesn’t actually do what they say it does… Now it’s time to work together to pass a responsible budget that actually funds the priorities it claims it does.”

See full roundup below:

Concord Monitor Editorial: Budgets of unmet needs, raided funds

… A seemingly sensible, but woeful, statement by Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Sen. Jeanie Forrester explains why New Hampshire is falling behind.

“I would like it to be more,” Forrester told Monitor State House reporter Allie Morris. “But this is what we can afford.”

Forrester was defending the Senate’s decision to once again default on its obligation to dedicate 5 percent of state liquor store profits to substance abuse treatment.

… In fact, funding for the past four years has been roughly the same amount. … The result: more deaths, more crime, more broken families and higher welfare and corrections costs.

But back to Forrester’s statement.

Many of the deaths were in her district, and the senator knows that more needs to be done.

… Forrester’s statement was just another version of the Republican “live within our means” mantra. Mention revenue, in the state with the sixth-highest per capita income in the nation and Republican legislators sit down, put their hands over their ears and begin chanting, “La, la, la, la, la.”

To make matters worse, they want to reduce business taxes under the failed theory that it promotes business growth. That will guarantee a continued state inability to keep its promises and meet its obligations.

Neither budget includes money to continue the expanded Medicaid program that has allowed some 40,000 low-income adults to have health insurance, many for the first time.

… The budget the governor will either veto, sign or let pass without her signature will probably include money from raids on several dedicated funds, a practice former Concord mayor and constitutional savant Martin Gross and others say is clearly unconstitutional.

Recipients of grants from the state’s renewable energy fund, which has been raided in the past and will be to a smaller degree in the new budget, are debating whether to sue to prevent the raid. [Full editorial]

Nashua Telegraph Op-Ed: Time to come together on the budget

By Reps. Steve Shurtleff and Mary Jane Wallner

To pass a budget that truly meets the needs of our state requires both parties to put partisanship aside and work together to get things done.

No one political party has a monopoly on good ideas, and it’s crucial that both parties work together during the budget process to develop a responsible budget that will make progress for our people, businesses, and economy.

Back in February, Gov. Maggie Hassan presented a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that makes strategic investments to lay the foundation for a new generation of economic growth, without a sales or income tax.

Unfortunately, House Republicans took a very different approach, passing a strictly partisan budget that prompted outcry from all corners of our state.

We were glad to hear that Republican senators agreed that the budget passed by the New Hampshire House was unacceptable. But, in trying to fix the House’s mess, Senate Republicans passed a budget that doesn’t actually do what they say it does.

The Senate budget misleads the people of New Hampshire about what priorities are actually being funded, while relying on gimmicks that leave the budget unbalanced.

Senate Republicans claim to have restored critical services for our state’s most vulnerable citizens, including Meals on Wheels and services for individuals who experience developmental disabilities. But the reality is that their budget gimmicks – including things like magical savings estimates and unrealistic projections – place all of these services at risk.

Take for example, funding for mental health services. After claiming to “restore” $6.25 million in mental health funding, senators actually told the department to cut $6.25 million from the landmark mental health settlement the legislature approved last year, threatening critical services.

And when it comes to substance misuse treatment, senators used accounting tricks to try to hide the fact that they actually cut $3 million from the governor’s proposal for substance misuse treatment.

That’s to say nothing of their failure to adequately fund public safety, higher education and their decision not to continue our bipartisan Medicaid expansion program.

While even Senate Republicans agree that our state’s Medicaid expansion is working exactly as intended – if not better – their budget places 40,000 Granite Staters at risk of losing their coverage and creates uncertainty in the insurance market that could lead to higher rates for all of our people and businesses.

Though the Senate claimed we couldn’t afford to invest in priorities like Medicaid expansion and higher education with proven results for economic growth, they expressed no concerns about giving unpaid-for tax giveaways to big businesses, blowing a huge hole in our budget.

We believe the approach laid out in the governor’s fiscally responsible proposal would be the best way forward for our state. That said, we appreciate that passing a budget requires compromise, and as we enter the committee-of-conference process, we stand ready to do just that.

The good news is that Democrats and Republicans agree on many of the critical priorities that must be met for our economy to thrive. Now it’s time to work together to pass a responsible budget that actually funds the priorities it claims it does.

The people of New Hampshire didn’t send us to Concord to point fingers or engage in political gamesmanship. They sent us to Concord to solve problems and get results for our state.

We’ve come a long way together throughout this budget process, and it’s time to get ourselves over the finish line.

New Hampshire’s families and businesses are depending on our ability to work together to pass a budget that keeps our economy moving in the right direction, and we look forward to working with our Republican colleagues to do exactly that.

Rep. Stephen Shurtleff, D–Penacook, is the New Hampshire House Democratic Leader; Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, D–Concord, is the ranking Democratic and former chair of the House Finance Committee.

Richard Gulla: New Hampshire Budget Reveals An ‘Ideological Assault’

President of the State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984)

Rich Gulla (SEA/ SEIU 1984 President) It’s been written that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This adage fits well with the New Hampshire Senate budget that was pushed through along party lines – the Legislature continues to cut revenue and then tell us we cannot afford to invest in our state.

Over the next few weeks, legislators from the New Hampshire House and Senate will work to iron out the differences in their respective budgets. Unfortunately for the state’s citizens, neither budget meets the basic needs of the state; and the finished product is likely to reflect that.

The Senate budget severely underfunds the state’s community colleges and universities; underfunds substance abuse programs; does not provide enough support for those living with mental health issues; does not provide for snow removal; and downshifts even more costs to towns and municipalities. Their budget also includes the closure of Health and Human Services district offices in four communities – Conway, Claremont, Rochester and Laconia. Some of the communities that are in greatest need.

The Senate also failed to honor the collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated in good faith between the state of New Hampshire and the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire (SEA/SEIU 1984).

SEIU 1984 LogoIn fact, the Senate Finance Committee did not even discuss the contract in committee, even after Sen. Lou D’Allesandro requested that it be discussed more than once.

Despite several meetings between Senate leadership and SEA/SEIU 1984 representatives and assurances made by the senators, the collective bargaining agreement for thousands of hard-working state employees was not given the opportunity it deserved – to be heard and discussed. This disrespectful treatment of workers is disappointing, frustrating and disheartening.

The proposed budget provides a solid look at what today’s GOP supports: lower taxes for big out-of-state businesses. As a bonus, they are adding language in another bill for a special tax break for former governor Craig Benson and his wealthy friends at Planet Fitness. If you are keeping score at home: It is tens of millions of dollars for the wealthy and corporations, and zip for working families and people in need.

Ordinarily, our organization is bipartisan. We do not care if an elected leader is a Republican, Democrat or independent – if he or she supports public sector workers and the services they deliver to New Hampshire citizens, we are friends.

At this time, though, it must be clear to even the most casual political observers that we are facing an ideological assault that is unprecedented in its agenda and harmful to our citizens.

Every cut to expenditures and every cut in revenue is designed to hack away at our infrastructure; infrastructure that in many cases was built by the Republican party of yesterday – a party that believed in investing in our children, families and communities. They are bulldozing our future and then congratulating themselves because they cut needed services.

We cannot afford to continue doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results. We call upon our legislators to take this opportunity in committee of conference to build a budget that both parties can support, by funding these critical services and the hardworking people who deliver them every day.

Otherwise, the budget next year will look much like the budget this year, and all the budgets before it.

ICYMI: N.H. Senate Republicans Pass Unbalanced Budget That Neglects Critical Economic Priorities

Reckless Budget Cuts

Concord, N.H. – Senate Republicans’ yesterday passed an unbalanced budget that will hurt small businesses and middle class families, and take New Hampshire’s economy backward.

While Senate Republicans continue to push a partisan agenda, Governor Hassan made clear that she’s ready and willing to reach a responsible, bipartisan compromise that will keep New Hampshire’s economy moving in the right direction.

The Associated Press reported, “Democrats presented amendments to extend Medicaid expansion, increase mental health funding, and add an additional $3 million for substance abuse treatment. Each failed along party lines. Democrats chided Republicans for supporting business tax cuts rather than paying for these types of programs.”

NHPR reported that Senate Democrats criticized the plan for being “filled with ‘budget gimmicks’ such as unspecified cuts and includes favors for “special friends.’”

NHPR also reported, “Sen. Andrew Hosmer of Laconia says it’s irrational to not fully fund substance abuse treatment when there were 320 drug-overdose deaths last year. ‘One of them worked for me, good kids, good families, education. You say, how could they ever end up in this situation? Darcey S. said about her son that worked for me, every life matters, her son’s life matters. They didn’t have the resources they needed,’ he said firmly.”

The Concord Monitor noted, “One-third of the Department of Health and Human Services’ district offices, where residents can apply for Medicare and food stamps, could close under the state budget plan passed by the Senate yesterday.”

See coverage roundup below:

NHPR: N.H. Senate Approves 2-Year Budget Along Party Lines

After hours of debate and more than a dozen failed floor amendments, the Senate voted 14-10 along party lines Thursday to pass a $11.3 billion budget.

… Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn says such a budget is not in the best interest of New Hampshire citizens. “This process is 100 percent partisan, 100 percent Republican. We need a budget that meets our needs. That is fiscally balanced, that is politically balanced,” he said.

Democrats also claim the plan is filled with “budget gimmicks” such as unspecified cuts and includes favors for “special friends,” which refers to business tax cuts that will result in an estimated $19 million revenue loss in the next biennium.

… Another sticking point for Democrats is the exclusion of a state employee pay raise and the extension of Medicaid expansion, which were both included in the Governor’s version.

… Throughout the day, Democrats proposed several amendments on the floor aiming to restore funding for services such as mental health, winter maintenance and the renewable energy fund – all were rejected along party lines.

An emotional debate did; however, break out on an amendment calling for $3.1 million more for substance abuse treatment and prevention.

Democratic Sen. Andrew Hosmer of Laconia says it’s irrational to not fully fund substance abuse treatment when there were 320 drug-overdose deaths last year.

“One of them worked for me, good kids, good families, education. You say, how could they ever end up in this situation? Darcey S. said about her son that worked for me, every life matters, her son’s life matters. They didn’t have the resources they needed,” he said firmly. [Full story]

Concord Monitor: State budget plan calls for consolidation of HHS district offices

One-third of the Department of Health and Human Services’ district offices, where residents can apply for Medicare and food stamps, could close under the state budget plan passed by the Senate yesterday.

The spending plan calls for HHS to consolidate district offices to save $2 million over the next two-year budget. Offices in Claremont, Conway, Laconia and Rochester have been identified for possible closure, according to HHS.

The office consolidation was added to the state budget by the House, and it was not changed by the Senate.

… HHS has 11 district offices across the state. The offices are tasked with helping residents apply for food stamps, health care, Medicare and child care. The offices also serve as a headquarters for staff who check on foster care families and cases of abuse or substance abuse in the community.

The Laconia office serves nearly 30 communities including Holderness, Tilton, Ashland and Groton. The office has a 62-person staff and a caseload of about 12,000 people, according to HHS.  [Full story]

AP: New Hampshire Senate passes $11.3 billion budget

New Hampshire senators voted along party lines to pass an $11.3 billion state budget Thursday, with Democrats failing at every turn to change the two-year spending plan.

… the budget does not include money to continue Medicaid expansion beyond 2016 or fund $12 million in state employee pay raises. Democrats also said the budget fails to adequately fund mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

“Never pat yourself on the back for the things that you did do, but worry about the things you didn’t do,” Democratic Sen. Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester told his colleagues.

Democrats presented amendments to extend Medicaid expansion, increase mental health funding, and add an additional $3 million for substance abuse treatment.

Each failed along party lines. Democrats chided Republicans for supporting business tax cuts rather than paying for these types of programs.

“We can either provide treatment and save lives with the funding that we have or we can give tax breaks to the 1 percent of businesses in New Hampshire,” Democratic Sen. Molly Kelly of Keene said after introducing the substance abuse funding amendment. “It’s a trade-off. It’s a choice we have. What do you think the people of New Hampshire would say about that choice?”

Other Democratic efforts aimed to increase funding for the Department of Corrections, university and community college systems, and winter maintenance in the Department of Transportation. [Full story]

WMUR: New Hampshire Senate passes budget

… The big critique from Democrats, that the budget does not provide enough increases in several areas including mental health, drug abuse and higher education.

… Governor Hassan released a statement today that read in part, “I continue to have serious concerns that the Senate’s plan is unbalanced and will hurt families, undermine business growth and take our economy backward. The plan includes large tax cuts that will create a hole in this budget and budgets well into the future and relies on gimmicks that will ultimately leave the budget unbalanced.” [Full video]

Union Leader: Senate approves $11.33b state budget

Voting along party lines, 14-10, Republican senators approved an $11.33 billion two-year budget Thursday as the governor called for significant changes to reach a bipartisan compromise.

… However, the plan does not include money for a 2 percent pay raise for state employees, or for continuing Medicaid expansion beyond Dec. 31, 2016, when the federal government stops paying 100 percent of the costs.

Gov. Maggie Hassan said while the Senate budget is an improvement over the House plan, much more needs to be done to reach a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that moves the state forward.

… But Democrats assailed the plan as shortchanging New Hampshire citizens, giving tax breaks to big business that really cost $23 million, and failing to properly fund essential programs and services such as higher education that would also spur the economy.

Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, said while Democrats and Republicans may have agreed 80 percent of the time, the remaining 20 percent represents $52 million.

“What didn’t we do that we can do to make a difference in the lives of the people we represent?” D’Allesandro said. “Look at the things we didn’t do. What’s left on the table?”

Sen. Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, said lawmakers have been making tough decisions for years because there never is enough money, but this year is different.

We do have a choice, and we’ve chosen to make cuts to the (business profits tax) and the (business enterprise tax),” she said. “We have so many other priorities; the 1 percent (of businesses) who gain would rather see us spend the money in other ways.”

… In emotional testimony, Democrats urged their Republican colleagues to increase funding for drug and alcohol abuse treatment and prevention and for continuing the state’s Medicaid expansion program.

Sen. David Pierce, D-Hanover, chided his colleagues for being unwilling to support reauthorizing Medicaid expansion beyond 2016.

“To yank away (from families) the coverage they have come to expect, that they enrolled in, is morally reprehensible,” Pierce said. “Why not, today, do the right thing?”

… Sen Andrew Hosmer, D-Laconia, told of an employee’s son who died from a drug overdose. “Every life matters,” he said. “Every life matters.” [Full story]

Kelly Ayotte Votes Against New Hampshire’s Best Interests In Budget

Senator Kelly Ayotte 2 (Gage Skidmore)

Senator Kelly Ayotte at CPAC in 2013 (Image by Gage Skidmore FLIKR)

As the Senate wrapped up a slew of budget amendment votes Kelly Ayotte’s priorities were on full display, and now she has to begin the difficult work of trying to explain her indefensible votes to her constituents back home.

Below is just a sampling of where Kelly Ayotte voted against New Hampshire’s best interests:

  • Voted against an amendment to prevent companies from getting tax benefits for shipping jobs overseas. Over 106,000 jobs in New Hampshire are at risk of being outsourced
  • Opposed an amendment to adopt the Paycheck Fairness Act to give women more tools to fight pay discrimination.
  • Voted against measures to protect Social Security against privatization and benefit cuts and prevent Medicare from being turned into a voucher program
  • Voted against an amendment that would let young people refinance their student loans, which would help 129,000 borrowers in New Hampshire, and against restoring cuts to the Pell Grant program
  • Opposed a measure to provide two free years of community college by raising revenue through requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes

Kelly Ayotte’s priorities are clear, and New Hampshire students, seniors families and workers don’t make the list.

“If anyone wasn’t clear about how extreme Kelly Ayotte truly is, they don’t need to look any further than her votes on this budget against New Hampshire students, seniors, families and workers,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “New Hampshire voters deserve better than Kelly Ayotte’s refusal to stand up for their best interests and they’ll hold her accountable in 2016.”

These are not the priorities of New Hampshire working families.  These are the priorities of the rich, elite 1% who want to take more from the hard working middle class and refuse to pay their fair share.

“From voting to protect tax benefits for companies that outsource jobs to opposing a measure that would let young people refinance their student loans, Kelly Ayotte proved once again that her focus in Washington is looking out for her special interest allies and not the best interests of New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

This budget will not help Granite State families, it will only hurt them.  Slashing social programs that low income families rely on, reducing benefits to seniors who are already struggling to pay their bills on a fixed income, and gives more tax breaks to wealthy corporations who skirt paying their fair share in taxes.

It is obvious that Senator Ayotte is more interested in following her out of touch party leadership than doing what is right for New Hampshire families.  She is also setting herself up nicely for a potential GOP Vice President nomination, building a hefty war chest and voting right down party lines.

Senator Soucy Condemns Senate GOP for Failing to Raise the NH Minimum Wage

Republicans Kill Minimum Wage Increase that Affects More Than 76,000 people    

CONCORD – Senator Donna Soucy of Manchester issued the following statement today after Senate Republicans defeated her prime sponsored, Senate Bill 261 on a party-line vote of 14-10.

“Today, the Republican-led Senate failed to strengthen the financial security of hard working Granite Staters and expand opportunity for more than 76,000 people who would have been affected by raising the minimum wage,” said Senator Soucy. “Senate Democrats support restoring and increasing the minimum wage, so everyone will have an opportunity to succeed and support themselves and their families.”

A NH Fiscal Policy Institute report shows that 72% of the New Hampshire minimum wage workers, who would directly or indirectly benefit from this bill are age 20 and older with nearly 40% being 30 and older. Fifty-nine percent are women and 14% are parents.

“Paying decent wages is a good investment for our businesses,” said Senator Soucy. “Well-paid workers are better employees and better customers; their spending helps sustain our businesses and our economy.”

This vote puts Senate Republicans on the wrong side of the vast majority of NH residents. 76%  Granite Staters support an increase in the state’s minimum wage, which includes 70% of Independents and even 64% of Republicans.


Governor Hassan’s Statement on Senate Minimum Wage Vote


CONCORD – Following the New Hampshire Senate’s vote today to reject SB 261, a bill that would restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage, Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement:


“It is disappointing that Senate Republicans voted down a common-sense measure to restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage, which would have a ripple effect on wages higher up the pay scale while supporting businesses and encouraging job creation by putting more money in the pockets of consumers so that they can buy goods and services.


“Individuals working full-time in New Hampshire should be able to earn enough to pull themselves above the federal-poverty threshold and support their families, but for too long, wages have failed to grow with the cost of our families’ needs. In order to boost our economy and strengthen the economic security of thousands of Granite Staters, I will continue fighting to restore and increase our minimum wage.”


New Hampshire Citizen Outlines Personal Outsourcing Experience, Slams Scott Brown’s Outsourcing Agenda

In Open Letter to Granite Staters, Ed Cunningham Explains
How “Scott Brown Only Cares About Himself”  

Manchester – Today, the Shaheen campaign released an open letter to voters from New Hampshire native Ed Cunningham, who has lived in New Hampshire his whole life but saw his life turned upside down after his job was shipped overseas. The letter slams Scott Brown for voting for tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and for cashing in on the board of a company that outsourced American jobs.

“Scott Brown outsourcing policies have real consequences,” said Shaheen Communications Director Harrell Kirstein. “Ed Cunningham’s story shows firsthand why Scott Brown is fundamentally not for New Hampshire.”

See the open letter below:

My name is Ed Cunningham and I’ve lived in New Hampshire my entire life.  I was born and raised in Danville, and now live in Kensington with my wife Ginger. I’ve worked hard my entire life to provide for my family, and I never expected any sort of hand out. I always thought that if I worked hard and played by the rules I would be OK. I wanted to retire with dignity, and maybe help my kids start off on their own here in New Hampshire.

I almost lost everything in 2007 when my job was outsourced to another country. I was working at Lucent Technologies in Massachusetts when they decided that outsourcing jobs to increase their bottom line was more important than participating in maintaining a middle class here in the United States.

I can’t begin to describe how it feels to lose your job in the way I did. The range of emotions you go through – from sheer anger, to sadness, to frankly a terrible sense of fear and helplessness – is something I would never wish on my worst enemy. I didn’t know what I was going to do.

I was lucky. Eventually I found another job. But others weren’t as lucky and many of my friends struggled to find a job.

Because of what happened to me, it’s very hard to put into words just how angry I was when I found out that Scott Brown not only voted for tax breaks for companies to ship jobs overseas, but is now personally profiting from a company that outsources American jobs.  It infuriates me – especially because he flat out lied to people during last night’s debate about his record.

Anyone who works for a living needs to know that Scott Brown only cares about himself and his own self interests. There is no other explanation for why he voted the way he did in 2010;  voting against a bill to help small business to create jobs in America. He then turned around and accepted a job from Kadent corporation, a company that plans to outsource even more American jobs. It’s impossible for me to take a word he says about “jobs” seriously. It’s obvious he doesn’t care about our jobs, he only cares about making money for corporations and himself.

Scott Brown symbolizes everything that is wrong with politicians who support the corporate greed that is ruining our country and the lives of our workers because it benefits their own bottom line. I am sending this letter to every newspaper in New Hampshire because I think this is that important. We can’t let him fool voters into thinking he actually cares about us.

Ed Cunningham
Kensington, NH

Massachusetts and New Hampshire AFLCIO Presidents Speak Out Against Outsourcers Scott Brown And Mitt Romney

As Outsourcing Champion Mitt Romney Campaigns With Scott Brown, Massachusetts and New Hampshire Labor Leaders Speak Out on Brown’s Outsourcing Record

Manchester, NH – Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman and New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark Mackenzie spoke out against Scott Brown’s outsourcing record today as he campaigned alongside outsourcing champion Mitt Romney. Like Romney, Scott Brown has a record of profiting off companies that ship American jobs overseas. In the Senate, Brown voted to protect tax breaks for companies that shipped jobs overseas.

“New Hampshire shouldn’t make the same mistake Massachusetts made, because Scott Brown’s record when he went to Washington proves that he’s not for working families. He’s a guy that works to protect his corporate special interest backers, at the cost of the middle class,” said Steven Tolman, President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “Now we know that since losing in Massachusetts, Brown has been making hundreds of thousands of dollars off of a company that made outsourcing part of its business plan. That company, Kadant Inc., even outsourced jobs in Massachusetts, the same state he once served. Scott Brown was wrong for Massachusetts and he’s wrong for New Hampshire.”

“Outsourcing is the type of business practice that lines the pockets of people like Scott Brown and Mitt Romney, but is devastating for communities in a state like New Hampshire,” said Mark Mackenzie, President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. “When jobs are shipped overseas, families suffer, unemployment rates increase, and entire communities are decimated. The fact that Scott Brown personally profited from this practice is shameful. We can’t trust him and most definitely can’t afford to send his agenda back to the Senate.”

As a Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown voted to protect special tax breaks for companies that offshore American jobs. After leaving the Senate, he made more than a quarter million dollars by serving on the Board of Directors of Kadant, Inc., a company that outsourced American jobs to increase its bottom line. Just two days before he announced his most recent campaign in New Hampshire, Brown signed legal documents endorsing the company’s business strategy, which included establishing cheaper manufacturing facilities in China and Mexico.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party is releasing a new web ad ahead of Scott Brown’s campaign stop with fellow Massachusetts politician and notorious outsourcer, Mitt Romney. During Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, it was revealed that Mitt Romney invested millions of dollars in a company that profited off of U.S. Outsourcing. Similarly, Scott Brown has been making hundreds of thousands of dollars off an outsourcing company, even endorsing their business strategy, which included sending jobs to China and Mexico.

To view the web ad on YouTube, click here:

“Scott Brown and Mitt Romney both cashed in off of outsourcing jobs–and that’s just further proof that both are wrong for our economy and wrong for New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Julie McClain.



What happened in the US Senate yesterday? (Hint: They’re not trying to overturn Citizens United anymore.)

Money Corrputs by Light Brigading via Flikr

photo by Light Brigading via flikr

Yesterday, the Senate GOP voted to block any further consideration of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

That means the amendment won’t go over to the House of Representatives for a vote.

And it won’t go out to the 50 states for a ratification vote.

The proposed amendment would have explicitly authorized Congress and state legislatures to set campaign finance limits. (Read more about Citizens United and the resulting “unprecedented amounts of outside spending” in the 2010 and 2012 elections here.)

So… those 16 states that have already voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United? Sorry, folks.

All those other states – including New Hampshire – whose state Legislatures have shown interest in a constitutional amendment? Sorry, folks.

Those 80% of ordinary Americans – including 72% of ordinary Republicans – who oppose Citizens United? Sorry, folks.

The Senate GOP knows better than you do.

So you don’t get a vote on this.

Who to thank, for taking the states’ vote away? The 42 GOP Senators who voted to block the amendment yesterday.

citizens_united_switched_votesOr, more bizarrely, the 25 Senators who on Monday night voted to let the amendment proceed – but by Thursday afternoon, had changed their votes to block it. (And yes, that would include New Hampshire’s own Senator Kelly Ayotte.)

If those 25 Senators had voted the same way on Thursday as they voted on Monday, the constitutional amendment would be going to the House. And then, maybe, out to the 50 states for ratification votes.

So… what happened during those 68 hours, to make those 25 Senators change their votes?

Can’t tell for sure, from out here in the hinterlands. The news is full of the Oscar Pistorius case… 9/11 remembrances… the Ray Rice case… ISIS and the spectre of terrorism. But there’s relatively little press coverage of this attempt to amend our Constitution.  The 80% of Americans who oppose Citizens United probably don’t even know that the Senate took a vote yesterday.

Here’s my best guess: I think Mitch McConnell happened. I’m guessing that the Senate GOP Leader told them how to vote… and the 25 Senators did. (Even Arizona Sen. John McCain, one of the sponsors of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, more commonly known as the McCain-Feingold Act.)

That’s just a gut-instinct guess, but there are two things behind it.  First, during Committee consideration of the amendment, the GOP members marched in lockstep to oppose the amendment. Every recorded Subcommittee and Committee vote was strictly along party lines.

Second reason: GOP Leader McConnell has opposed campaign finance limits since… well, it seems like forever.

Take some time and listen to the GOP Leader’s speech at a June “retreat” for billionaires organized by the Koch Brothers.

In his remarks, GOP Leader McConnell tracks the history of campaign finance reform efforts “back to the beginning of the 20th century” … and how they “petered out” during “the great prosperity” of the 1920s. (Do you think he remembers how the 1920s ended?)

He reminisces about his own efforts to block passage of campaign finance reform:

We had filibuster after filibuster, which in my first term in the Senate I was leading. And then it came back again in the first two years of Clinton. The bill would pass the House, the bill would pass the Senate, and then it would go to conference. And I was so determined, I came up with a new filibuster. That’s all I’d ever done before was filibuster and go in, go into conference. We had to do it all night long. Under (inaudible) procedure every senator had an hour, and if you didn’t show up right on time, you were out of luck.

Everybody rallied together. This was about two months before the great fall election of 1994. Everybody rallied together. We went around the clock. Everybody showed up on time. And I thought, well, maybe we’re finally through with this nonsense.

He says “The worst day of my political life was when President George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold into law.”

He talks about his own lawsuit to overturn McCain-Feingold. (You can read the Supreme Court decision here.)

He talks about what has happened since his lawsuit.

So what really then changed the Court was President Bush’s appointment of John Roberts. The most important was Sam Alito because we lost the McCain-Feingold case five to four because of Sandra Day O’Connor. The majority was all liberal. Then she retired, and Sam Alito replaced her, and we now have the best Supreme Court in anybody’s memory… Now, that’s where we are today. I’m really proud of this Supreme Court and the way they’ve been dealing with the issue of First Amendment political speech. It’s only five to four, and I pray for the health of the five.

And then he talks about some other things of interest to his audience of billionaires: like minimum wage… environmental regulation… regulation of the financial services industry. And he promises to use federal spending bills to “go after” those issues.

And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board (inaudible).

And – in response to a mostly-inaudible question from David Koch about “free speech” and amending the Constitution – GOP Leader McConnell says:

Having, having struck out at the Supreme Court, David, they now want to amend the Constitution. … These people need to be stopped, and believe me, something that I thought to do (inaudible) what is spent (inaudible) independent coordination?

Yeah, read that again: “These people need to be stopped.”

THAT’s why I’m guessing “Mitch McConnell happened” to those 25 Senators who switched their votes between Monday and Thursday.

What can we do about it, now? What can we – the 80% of Americans who oppose Citizens United – do, now that the Senate GOP has blocked the amendment?

We can make it a campaign issue.

Scott Brown in 2010 Image by Wiki Commons

Scott Brown in 2010
Image by Wiki Commons

Starting here in New Hampshire, with Scott Brown… who, as Massachusetts Senator, helped block the DISCLOSE Act back in 2010. Here in New Hampshire, 69% of us want a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Even among Granite State Republicans, six out of 10 want a constitutional amendment. (Sen. Ayotte: who were you listening to, when you voted yesterday?) How do you think Scott Brown will vote on this, if he is elected in November?

We need to make Citizens United an issue in the 2014 campaigns.

There’s not all that much else we can do, at this point.


If you want to wander through Leader McConnell’s campaign finance disclosure records – including $14.8 million in “large individual contributions” – click here. Remember: that’s just contributions to his official campaign.

“Outside spending” is much harder to track. So far, during this election season, McConnell has also “been boosted by $2.2 million in positive ads, mainly by the [U.S.] Chamber. Outside Republican PACs have already spent $7 million on ads attacking his Democratic challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.”

A running tally of money that “non-profits” have spent on electioneering so far in the 2014 campaign is available here.


More information about grassroots efforts to support the “Democracy for All” amendment is available here.

Tuesday’s NHLN story about the amendment is here.

Can We Overturn Citizens United? US Senate will vote again later this week.

(FLICKR LIght Brigading

(FLICKR LIght Brigading)

Last night, the proposed constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United moved one tiny step forward. By a 79-18 vote, the US Senate invoked cloture to end a GOP filibuster of the measure.

That means the Senate will actually be able to vote on the amendment, probably later this week. But will it pass? One Hill reporter says, “The amendment is almost certain to fail.”

That’s because constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote in the Senate – and until last night, the Senate GOP had been working in lockstep to defeat (or undermine) the measure. Every recorded Subcommittee and Committee vote was strictly along party lines: with the Democrats in favor of moving the proposal forward; and the Republicans trying to keep it from seeing the light of day.

So even though some GOP Senators (including NH Sen. Kelly Ayotte) voted to end the filibuster last night, it’s quite possible they will be pressured into voting against the amendment when it comes up for a vote.

If the Senate approves the amendment, it will still need to be approved by the House and ratified by two-thirds of the states. (Read more about the process here.)

Cash Bribe Politician MoneyWhat’s at stake: The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission helped unleash unprecedented amounts of outside spending in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. (Read more here.)

It has led to billionaires like Sheldon Adelson wielding incredible personal influence.

It led to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell making a pilgrimage to a “secret strategy conference of conservative millionaire and billionaire donors hosted by the Koch brothers” where he promised to block debate on “all these gosh darn proposals” like increasing the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits, and allowing students to refinance their college loans.

Now, Mitch McConnell may believe – as he told those prospective donors – that “all Citizens United did was to level the playing field for corporate speech…. We now have, I think, the most free and open system we’ve had in modern times. The Supreme Court allowed all of you to participate in the process in a variety of different ways.”

But America is seeing through that spin.  

Sixteen states have already endorsed the idea of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

More than 500 local governments have already supported such a change. (Here in the Granite State, the list includes: Alstead; Amherst; Andover; Atkinson; Barnstead; Barrington; Bradford; Bridgewater; Chesterfield; Conway; Deerfield; Eaton; Exeter; Francestown; Henniker; Hampstead; Hudson; Kingston; Lee; Lyme; New Boston; Northwood; Rindge; Tilton; Wakefield; Webster; and Windham)

And the public? America is united on this issue. There is more agreement on overturning Citizens United than on just about anything else. 80% of Americans – and 72% of Republicans – oppose Citizens United. Here in New Hampshire, 69% of Granite Staters support a constitutional amendment like the one the Senate will finally be voting on. (Amendment supporters include six out of every 10 NH Republicans, and almost three-quarters of NH independents.  Senator Kelly Ayotte, are you listening?)

So this past weekend, the GOP tried out some new spins, trying to rationalize why they will be voting against something that eight out of 10 Americans support.

New Spin #1: It’s the Democrats! “‘Senate Democrats have long been funded by a group of billionaires bent on maintaining their power, yet they pretend to be outraged’ by the spending of the Koch brothers and their allies. …In advance of Monday’s floor debate, Senate Republican staffers circulated a chart showing the reach of Democracy Alliance…”

(No, this spin does not explain why Republicans want to maintain the Citizens United status quo. If the Republicans and the Koch Brothers are truly outraged by Democratic big-dollar contributors – why don’t they vote to approve the constitutional amendment?)

New Spin #2: Guns! (Yes, really.)

Here’s how the National Rifle Association described Citizens United: “The court declared unconstitutional the parts of the law that had been enacted for the explicit purpose of silencing the NRA and its members. Of course, the gun-banners in the White House and Congress opposed the decision because it thwarted their plans.”

Here’s how the NRA described the amendment to overturn Citizens United: “As the title of the proposed constitutional amendment suggests, S.J.R. 19 is intended to allow anti-gunners in Congress to silence their critics and to control the gun ‘debate.’”

(The actual title: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.” And: while the NRA may be #5 on the list of non-profits that spend money on electioneering… the proposed amendment isn’t actually about guns. It’s about allowing Congress and the states to “regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.” It’s about “protect[ing] the integrity of government and the electoral process.”)

Does the GOP really think either of these spins is going to stick any better than the “Citizens United leveled the playing field” spin?

Why is this such an important issue for those of us in the Labor movement?

Reason 1: “Whatever slice [of political contributions] you look at, business interests dominate, with an overall advantage over organized labor of about 15-to-1. Even among PACs – the favored means of delivering funds by labor unions – business has a more than 3-to-1 fundraising advantage. In soft money, the ratio is nearly 17-to-1.”

Reason 2: Mitch McConnell, shilling for those billionaire donors: “In late April, Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, successfully filibustered a bill to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, a widely popular measure that would increase wages for at least 16.5 million Americans. Earlier in the year, McConnell also led a filibuster of a three-month extension of unemployment insurance to some 1.7 million Americans.”

Is our government really for sale to the highest bidder?

The 2014 campaigns are breaking fundraising records set in the 2012 and 2010 elections.

Isn’t it time to send this constitutional amendment to the states for a ratification vote?

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