Rabbit season... b u d g e t season!
My posts have been missing here - they shifted to the pages of the local papers for a few weeks as one of our State Reps showed his true colors as he tried to refute, deflect and generally obfuscate the issues I raised about the House budget. You can see most of the letters on the blog page of my site www.itsalllocal.weebly.com. The funny (or not so funny) thing is that with the move of the budget to the Senate, the conversation is back at my previous post here about nonsensical cuts (see below). The House opted not to cut business taxes, but the Senate is sticking to the plan to cut revenues in the face of cuts to HHS, public education and a repeal of expanded Medicaid which is providing insurance to nearly 40,000 NH residents. The NH Hospital Association further underscored the progress made (in increased health care coverage), reporting that the NHHPP (NH Health Protection Program - expanded Medicaid) is “driving a reduction in inpatient admissions, emergency visits and outpatient hospital services among the uninsured.”
The purpose of the sunset (expiration at the end of 2016) of the expanded Medicaid bill passed in 2014 was to 'be sure' the program worked before continuing. So, fewer uninsured residents, less uncompensated care to inflate the costs to insurance rate payers - and we are cancelling it? Exactly what were they looking for in terms of success? Mental Health care, especially via community health centers, has struggled to manage - in fact, NH was sued because of the abysmal status (due to inadequate funding). Mental Health coverage is included in Expanded Medicaid and the decrease in uncompensated mental health care has provided needed stability to this vital resource. The NH Business Review published a letter from 10 Community Mental Health Centers testifying to the positive effects of Expanded Medicaid (here).
Congress expanded Medicaid for full-time low-wage workers to help both businesses and their low-wage employees.
Employers in low-wage industries find it difficult to pay the cost of insurance, and the insurance those employers can afford often comes with a very high deductible, which does not cover the employee’s family. Medicaid has no deductible and covers the entire family; it is a far better alternative.
(see this entire letter in NH Business Review HERE)
So, to summarize, the Senate proposes to cut business taxes for fewer than 10% of NH businesses. 75% of businesses do not pay the Profits Tax, 42% do not pay the Enterprise Tax. Of the business that do pay these taxes, the proposed reduction will not amount to more than a few hundred dollars for more the vast majority of them. Yet, cumulatively, the General Fund will lose $14 million in FY2017 and $93 million per biennium when fully phased in.
The same budget hawks who say we need to live within our means turn around and cut millions from our future 'means'. That is not responsible budgeting when education and infrastructure is cut, it is not moral budgeting when cuts go deep into Health and Human Services, and it does not reflect my 'core principles'.
In 2012 there were unnecessary and nonsensical tax cuts that caused real damage to residents and programs across the state. The marriage license fee was cut $5. REALLY? Is $5 even a blip on the screen of wedding planning of any scale? What does that mean to the individual - a $5, maybe $10 or possibly a $15 savings in a lifetime? And yet, the cut when taken cumulatively meant the loss of over $27,000 in 2013 alone. Worse yet, this meant a cut in the operating funds for domestic violence assistance and prevention in the State which receives funding through the marriage license fee. There were similar nonsensical, cuts in the cigarette tax, fishing license fees, etc that cut millions from designated funds and the general fund.
With the return of the majority of the house to the Republicans (and a stronger majority in the Senate), we see the same nonsense happening again. One of the concepts is to cut business taxes. For example, the Senate has SB1 and SB2 to cut the Business Profits tax and Business Enterprise taxes. This is projected to reduce the General Fund $78 million in the first biennium.
Consider this from the NH Fiscal Policy Institute:
Of the roughly 59,000 businesses that filed BPT returns in 2011, the vast majority – over 44,500 – had no tax liability; similarly, approximately 24,900 of the 59,000 BET returns that year had no liability either. In fact, according to the Department of Revenue Administration, more than 19,000 businesses – or close to a third of all businesses filing a tax return — owed zero BPT and BET in 2011. (source)
This cut won't help new businesses (not enough profits to tax yet) or most small businesses (with limited profits to tax and less BET liability). This will help larger business and corporations which can afford to pay the taxes they owe for the services they use in NH. NH businesses already enjoy a lower tax burden in NH than they do in all but 11 other states.(source) Why should we cut taxes incrementally with limited if any impact on most of the businesses in the state when it means significant and substantial cuts to the General Fund at a time when the funds for infrastructure and Health and Human Services are on the chopping block?
By the way, our Senator - Regina Birdsell (R) - is one of the prime sponsors of SB1 and SB2.
If education is your "thing", you need to visit educationbillsnh.org. Funding, Common Core, Charter Schools... whatever your issue, or whatever your opinion, you will definitely be more informed. A recent visit to the site reveals:
February 18th - HB575 to add a School Nurse to the DOE to advise on issues such as Health and Wellness, substance abuse, etc. HB537 would change the budget calculation from average daily membership in attendance to average daily membership in residence.
February 19th - SB204 would repeal the education tax credit program that provides private school vouchers for students leaving public school.
The Senate has killed CACR3 that would have overturned the Claremont decision, would have put the legislature in charge of standards, funding and arguably would have eliminated a child's right to education.
House Education Committee voted to retain HB625 which would create unlimited numbers of charter schools and HB536 which would send SPED funds to the District rather than to the charter school. Retained bills are held for further study and will likely not emerge from 'study' until next year.
sb 116 moves to the House
Senators Birdsell (R-Windham, Hampstead and Derry) and Morse (Salem, Pelham, Atkinson & Plaistow) both voted for this bill, despite Senator Morse voting against a similar bill in 2004 that would have repealed the requirement for a license for concealed carry.
SB116 would not only repeal the requirement for a concealed carry license, whether on foot or in a vehicle. It would also lengthen the duration of a gun license from four years to five years. So, basically, we would be repealing the requirement of any license to carry, but keeping the process in place for those who use their NH license to gain reciprocity (and ease of carry) in other states which recognize NH's license (23 states as of Feb 2014).
The NH concealed carry license is essentially a "shall issue" versus a "may issue" state - the instances in which the designated authority can deny a concealed carry license are very limited. RSA 159:6 says the license is to be granted to "a suitable person" but the police have the burden to provide "clear and convincing" evidence to the contrary. The decision is not at the discretion of the local authority, but only based on what can be documented and proven.
NH's law has been in place for over 90 years. Currently you only need a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver in a vehicle or to carry a loaded handgun concealed on your person. You may not have a loaded rifle or shotgun in a vehicle per the Fish and Game law RSA 207:7.
Repealing this requirement would not only remove these very limited precautions, but will reduce funds to both towns and the state. NH residents pay a fee of $10 which goes to the issuing body (ie: local police department). The Fiscal Note attached to SB116 says it is not possible to know how many permits are issued annually, so the impact is unknown. Of larger impact are the 9,800 licenses to out of state residents that are issued annually. The Fiscal Note predicts that at least 9,000 of these would likely not be needed, a loss of $900,000 annually - as well as the 800 licenses that are anticipated to continue to be applied for that would be in effect for an additional year so the $100 renewal fee will be delayed a year in terms of collections.
This bill is considered a 'Constitutional Carry" bill. The Second Amendment is below for your reference. The right of the people is not restricted in New Hampshire by our current law, it is licensed - providing a minimal check and balance on those who wish to carry concealed handguns or to carry loaded handguns in vehicles. Open carry is unrestricted. Unloaded handguns in vehicles are unrestricted. Guns do not need to be registered. Guns are very accessible for purchase in New Hampshire, especially between private parties. I have no doubt that a militia, well-regulated or otherwise, could be raised quite readily in our fair state.
SB116 is not needed in NH, would further diminish our limited general funds, and is not supported by the NH Association of the Chiefs of Police.
second amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
One update to provide.
The House Rules Committee wanted to change the threshold for a Roll Call Vote from 10 members to 20.
Roll Call Votes are how we see how our Representatives vote. When 10 or more House members request, the vote on that bill of each member present is recorded for all to see. A higher threshold would mean fewer roll call votes and less transparency.
There was a vote held - the proposed change was defeated.
One last day!! The NHRebellion walk to get the money out of politics is ending today, on the 5th anniversary of Citizens United. There will be a rally as the walks from Dixville Notch, Keene, Portsmouth and Nashua converge in Concord. There are indoor and outdoor activities planned - you can see the details at www.nhrebellion.org.
Do you recognize the man in the photo with me? That is Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry's. He has been walking with us as his group (Stamp Stampede) is working to 'stamp' money out of politics.
The NHRebellion walk is primarily to build awareness, but we are also raising some funds to carry the effort through the 2016 Primary and Presidential elections. You can visit my fundraising page here. Basically, the NHR approach is to leverage our First in the Nation primary to ask of each candidate until we get an answer: What are YOU going to do to end the corruption of money in Washington? This is a non-partisan effort, with people on all sides involved. Two years ago it was the second most important issue identified by voters after jobs/economy - and yet, not one candidate talked about it. It is time for that to change!!
If you are driving near Concord today and you see the walkers, give them a toot with your horn.
Not sure where the text from the post on the 13th disappeared to - it wasn't even a Friday the 13th! Anyway, here it is:
Here is something for you to consider while I try to figure out why our County Delegation (our state legislators) have filed a bill to change State Law such that in all Counties in NH - except for Rockingham county - will have money disbursed by the Treasurer at the request of the (elected) County Commissioners... and in Rockingham County it is not the (elected) CC's but the Delegation designee that can authorize disbursements. Convenient that the legislators are moving to remove power from other elected officials and give it to themselves.
Watch the Legislative Page to read what I find out.
In the mean time, I am sure you will find this as interesting as I did:
Did You Know?
Shop locally, stay engaged politically and cast informed votes!!
track education bills in nh legislature
You can track all education-related bills here, or sign up for daily (if applicable) emails about bills or topics you select.
Almost 70 bills related to education have been pre-filed this year. You can see a comprehensive list here:
A collection of perspectives, quotes, writings, tweets and clips that got me thinking - so I'm passing them along to you ~ Kristi - Windems Chair