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Garcia pledges unshakable support for former Speaker Bill O’Brien’s extreme Tea Party policies

Bill O'BrienConcord, NH – During last week’s live NH1 debate, Tea Party candidate Marilinda Garcia reasserted her unyielding support for the polarizing former New Hampshire House Speaker, Bill O’Brien.

When asked if she ever opposed Tea Party House Speaker O’Brien’s extreme policies, Garcia evaded the question and could not name even one issue on which they differed. Garcia even went so far as to say that she ‘appreciated his work’ on the budget passed by the New Hampshire state legislature in 2011. This notorious budget was devastating for Granite State families; it cut funding for the state university system by half, slashed funding for domestic violence prevention programs, and eliminated millions of dollars in funding for hospitals in New Hampshire. Despite this, in a recent profile piece in the Union Leader, O’Brien was identified as Garcia’s “friend and political mentor.”

Bill O’Brien’s legislature was out of touch and too extreme for New Hampshire. If Garcia claims she is going to take what she learned in the New Hampshire legislature to Washington, as she stated in a recent Concord News Radio interview, then New Hampshire voters should know she will bring to Washington an agenda that works against our New Hampshire values— she would eliminate programs like federal student loans that allow Granite State students to access higher education, cut critical services for victims of domestic violence, and take away a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. We simply cannot allow her to push her extreme agenda on our Granite State families,” said Kuster campaign spokeswoman Rosie Hilmer.

5 Bad Bills: A Small Group Of Legislators Push To End High Academic Standards In New Hampshire

This week, the House Education Committee is finishing up hearings on five anti-Common Core bills  – bills that seek in one way or another to end New Hampshire’s use of the Common Core and any future academic standards, including the Next Generation Science Standards.

The push comes mainly from a small number of legislators (here is their recent press conference), established opponents of New Hampshire public education.  In the last Legislature, Lenette Peterson supported bills to abolish DOE, end compulsory school attendance, lower the dropout age and repeal universal kindergarten.  Al Baldasaro and J.R. Hoell were cosponsors or supporters most of those same bills.  As a member of the House Education Committee, Ralf Boehm supported bills to end universal kindergarten and lower the dropout age.  In addition, freshman legislators David Murotake andGlenn Cordelli are sponsors on most of the anti-Common Core bills.

HB 1508-FN (testimony here) is a one sentence bill that seeks to “terminate all plans, programs, activities, and expenditures relative to the implementation of the common core….any assessments and instruction based upon such standards.” Prime sponsor: Lenette Peterson Cosponsors: Alfred Baldasaro, Pamela Tucker, Patrick Bick, Jeffrey Harris, David MurotakeJane Cormier, Donald LeBrun, Jeanine Notter, William Infantine.

House Education Committee Chair Mary Gile recessed last Thursday’s packed public hearing on HB 1508 (here’s the Union Leader report) until next Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 3:00.

HB1432 will be heard by the House Education Committee Tuesday morning at 10:00 in LOB 207.  The bill effectively ends the Common Core by delaying use of the standards and the tests for two years.  It also requires a study of educational impact, privacy and funding issues and hearings in each Executive Council District.  While there is no fiscal note attached, there would clearly result in substantial costs and uncertainties.  Prime sponsor: David Murotake Cosponsors: Ralph BoehmGlenn Cordelli, John Kelley, Andy Sanborn.

HB 1496 would prevent the Smarter Balanced Assessment from being used.  The bill is a collection of blog quotes about what’s wrong with the Smarter Balanced test.  The sponsor is J.R. Hoell

HB 1397 (here is the public testimony) asks the Democratic House to establish a Republican study committee to investigate charges that NHDOE disobeyed the law by promoting the Common Core.  Prime sponsor: Jane Cormier Cosponsors: J.R. HoellGlenn Cordelli, Joseph Pitre, Sam Cataldo

HB1239 -FN-L (here is testimony on the bill) would establish a new process for adopting academic standards in New Hampshire, requiring benchmarking and implementation cost analysis based on extensive new data provided by each of New Hampshire’s 172 school districts.  Like HB 1432, the bill requires the department to hold hearings in each Executive Council District.  Prime sponsor: Glenn Cordelli.  Cosponsors: Ralph BoehmJ.R. Hoell, Jeffrey Harris, David Murotake, John Reagan, Sam Cataldo, Dick Marston.

Tea Party Legislators Push Bill To Shut Down NH Dept of Education

Are Tea Party legislators on a “search and destroy mission” aimed at the NH Department of Education? You decide.

From Bill Duncan and Advancing NH Public Education

In 2012, the O’Brien legislature considered shutting down the New Hampshire Department of Education.  Now in the minority, opponents of public education have taken a different approach.  On January 28, 2014, Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) presented her bill, HB 1397, to authorize a stacked study committee  to go after DOE.

The thesis is that that DOE has gone rogue, establishing an unauthorized new division to implement the Common Core in a stealth mode.

There can be no doubt about the intention of the bill.  The study committee would be made up of 2 House Republicans, 2 House Democrats and one Republican appointed by the president of the Senate, a guaranteed Republican majority.  The next section, about Duties, sends the committee deep into conspiracy land to ferret out law-breaking within DOE.

The hearing brought Common Core opponents out in force, as you see on this highlight reel:

 

That’s not a recognizable portrait to most who deal with NHDOE.  Long time disability rights advocate Bonnie Dunham testified about how responsive DOE has been to her concerns and characterizes the bill as a “search and destroy mission.”

 

And here is Heather Gage, Director of the Division of Educational Improvement and Chief of Staff, New Hampshire Department of Education, responding to each issue raised by supporters.

 

There is little prospect that this bill will get serious support, but it will serve as an early indicator of where legislators stand on the Common Core.

The Rules change that could end gridlock in the US House

Record dysfunction in Congress: it’s NOT just the Senate, and NOT just the filibuster.

Republican extremists in the House have also been using parliamentary tricks to block legislation – including bills that had bipartisan support and would have passed if our elected Representatives were actually allowed to vote.

“The use of ‘closed rules’ has excluded most House members from full participation in the legislative process,” Rep. Louise Slaughter, ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, wrote earlier this week.

“Under a closed rule, no amendments are allowed on the House floor. As a result, House Republicans are able to pursue a politically driven agenda without allowing commonsense amendments that could achieve bipartisan compromise.  This approach has also empowered the most extreme members of the House to pursue narrow policy goals at all costs.”

Like, say, the government shutdown.

“On Sept. 30 — the eve of the government shutdown — Republicans on the House Rules Committee changed the rule so only House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) could call up a Senate-passed clean funding bill — a bill that has the votes to pass the House and would end the shutdown, if it were given a vote.”

One man, standing in the way of a vote that impacts millions of Americans.  (Remind you of anything?  Such as: then-Senator Scott Brown single-handedly blocking an extension of unemployment benefits, back in 2010?  The Senate couldn’t vote until they added an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.)

This is what’s REALLY wrong with Congress:  our elected Representatives aren’t being allowed to vote on legislation that has bipartisan support.

GOP leadership is using the “closed rule” process to keep the House from passing legislation.  Last year was the most “closed” year in House history.  “In fact, the House GOP passed as many closed rules in a single week in October as during the entire last year of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) speakership.”

The Senate is finally reforming the filibuster.

Isn’t it time for the House to reform the “closed rule” process?

You Cannot Drive Anywhere But At Least We Did Not Raise The Gas Tax

I am not going to say ‘I Told You So’ but you already know that I am.  Last year Representative David Campbell proposed a meager $.12 cent gasoline tax that would go directly to the roads and bridges fund.  This would have been the first increase to the gasoline tax in over two decades. The Concord Monitor explains what the increase would mean:

When fully implemented, the additional 12 cents per gallon would bring in about $92 million a year. It would mean an estimated $816.8 million over the next 10 years, $183 million for municipal aid and $633.8 million for state projects, on top of revenue from the existing gas tax.”

The ‘no tax increase’ TEA-publicans in the NH Senate rejected the bill.  Not only did they reject the idea, they legislatively killed the bill so that it could not be resurrected in the next session.  That decision is now going to hurt the people they swore to represent.

The NH Department of Transportation is facing a $20 million dollar shortfall.  The problem only gets worse as they face a $50 million dollar shortfall in 2016, and $107 million by 2017. A shortfall that easily been corrected by the $.12 increase.

Kevin Landrigan reported on the DOT funding problems in yesterdays Nashua Telegraph.

“(Transportation Commissioner Chris) Clement said to cope with declining revenues, starting in October 2015, he would have to lay off a third of his workforce of 1,750

That’s right, if we do not do something to adjust for the rising costs of road repairs, the state will have to lay off over 500 workers.

(Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement) filled in some of what this would mean – a 56 percent drop in the crews that fix ailing bridges, a 20 percent cut in the number of salt sheds and closing one of the agency’s six district offices.”

Gary Rayno from the Union Leader also spelled out the drastic cuts to the DOT’s workforce and what that will mean for Granite Staters. “The state’s 13 bridge maintenance crews, which repair the majority of the state’s red-listed bridges, would have to be reduced to seven. The current winter maintenance policy of having the roads “black and wet in two-and-a-half hours” won’t hold, he (Clement) said, noting it will take longer.  The 300-member engineering staff, which designs and inspects federal projects, will be cut in half.” Patrick McKenna, the department’s Director of Finance said, “We may come up with the $250 million to finish the (Interstate 93 expansion project between Salem and Manchester), but not have the engineers to do it.”

Gary Rayno perfectly captured Senator Morse’s response to these proposed cuts at the Tuesday night hearing.

We’re going to have to look at reducing spending … rather than increase taxes or tolls,” Morse said. “We produce the budget and (Clement) needs to live within his means.”

Morse is standing firm on his ‘no tax increase’ pledge by telling the DOT commissioner to take the little money you get and like, because we are not raising taxes.  Actually he implies that they need to make deeper cuts that they already have to make ends meet.

Morse is even opposed to a smaller increase to the gas tax as proposed by fellow a Republican Senator.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Jim Rausch, R-Derry, Senate Transportation Committee chairman, will be introduced in the 2014 session to raise the gas tax 4.5 cents, which would raise $32 million a year for highways.” (Union Leader)

Then there is the question of the $250 million the state still needs to finish the I-93 expansion. If the DOT cannot come up with the funds the entire project will come to a grinding halt in October of 2016.

How many jobs is the state going to have to cut before the Senate President will see the error of his ways? How many laid off laborers from his district will it take before Senator Morse starts to care about them and their families?

So are we finally willing to talk about our revenue options?

When fully implemented, the additional 12 cents per gallon would bring in about $92 million a year. It would mean an estimated $816.8 million over the next 10 years.” (Concord Monitor)

I will let you contemplate that idea as you are crawling along I-93, in the middle of a winter storm, as you are waiting for the non-existent snowplows to do their work.  Or maybe you will reconsider that ‘no tax increase’ policy, as you wait for yet another front end alignment on you car due to the massive potholes popping up throughout the state.

Some of us have been right here waiting for the Legislature to start making investments in our state, and putting people to work.

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