Budget Debate heats up inside and outside State House
As the New Hampshire House debated and ultimately approved the state's two-year, $10.2 billion budget, thousands of protesters rallied on the steps of the State House to voice their opposition to the significant budget cuts for most state agencies, and to proposed changes in collective bargaining rules. New Hampshire Watchdog's Grant Bosse heard first-hand from the protesters about their concerns. Watch our exclusive video report now.
NH Watchdog covers the State House
But the budget wasn't the only big issue in Concord this week. The House also sent repeal of the RGGI program to the Senate, and approved a Constitutional Amendment requiring a super-majority vote from both houses to raise taxes, fees, or borrowing, and blocked the use of eminent domain for projects like Northern Pass. The Senate approved a provision to effectively end teacher tenure in New Hampshire. Read more about these important issues at New Hampshire Watchdog.
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750,000 Lines and Counting!
Earlier this week, we uploaded the remainder of the spending data from 2009 to NHOpenGov.org. Every last dollar spent by the state in Fiscal Year 2009 is now in our search-able database. Looking forward, with the assistance of the Executive Council and the ongoing cooperation of the Department of Administrative Services, we will soon be adding monthly data updates from the current fiscal year, and eventually compiling every state transaction from 2009 onwards. NHOpenGov.org is a powerful tool to keep New Hampshire government accountable to the people. Please try it for yourself.
NH Council follows Arlinghaus' advice on health insurance exchange
In his weekly column in the Union Leader, JBC President Charlie Arlinghaus advised the New Hampshire Executive Council to "take it slow" on approving a $666,000 planning grant to set up a Health Insurance Exchange under ObamaCare.
"The concern about setting up an exchange is that we would be creating a program designed around a law that we know will have to be changed. If the whole law isn’t thrown out – and that remains a possibility – enough of it certainly will be that even its most ardent supporters will want to change it to make it work in light of a new reality. Why comply with rules we know won’t be in effect?
We also know we don’t want and can’t afford a Massachusetts-style $29 million exchange. Let’s not set one up. If Utah’s experiment is promising we can import that when the time comes. Let’s give it a chance to operate and then decide.
Another obvious concern is with federal regulation. Utah’s experiment doesn’t in any way resemble the prototype of ObamaCare, the Massachusetts system. The federal statements on it have been noncommittal. It is still likely that federal regulators will eventually force exchanges to comply with all of the federal mandates in a way that make them more or the same as a federally-managed exchange." Read the whole thing.
On Wednesday, the Council took that advice, and unanimous tabled the health insurance exchange grant. Arlinghaus gets results!
Inside the Cloakroom- Taxes, Tenure, and Northern Pass
In this week's episode of The Cloakroom, we take a closer look at CACR 6, which would require a super-majority vote of both the House and Senate to approve any increase in state taxes, fees, or borrowing. We interview Representative Gary Richardson (D-Hopkinton) about his objections to the constitutional amendment. We also sit down for an inclusive interview with Senator Jim Forsythe (R-Strafford) on the eve of Senate passage of his proposal to end teacher tenure in New Hampshire schools. And we capture highlights on the debate over whether utilities projects like Northern Pass should be barred from the use of eminent domain.
Watch the latest episode of The Cloakroom now.
NH Watchdog Poll Results
Last week, we asked you if Northern Pass should be built. Our readers overwhelmingly answered no.
This week, we ask if it should be easier for local school officials to get rid of under-performing teachers. Click the Vote Button to take the NH Watchdog Poll.