Guest Blogs

Wednesday
Oct292014

NH Rep O'Brien on Today's Tax Foundation Report 

Speaker Candidate Rep. William O’Brien’s Statement on the Non-Partisan Tax Foundation Identifying New Hampshire as Third Worse in the Country for Business Taxes

In 2010 when the Republicans took back the majority in New Hampshire’s Legislature, Democrat tax increases during the preceding two, Democrat-dominated legislative terms had driven New Hampshire down to the bottom of all states in the country for business tax according to the non-partisan Tax Foundation.  New Hampshire had the highest business taxes in the country. We were number 50.
 
Republican fiscal reforms in the 2010-2012 legislative session paid off.  By 2013, New Hampshire jumped past four states and went from last in the nation – the state with the highest overall business taxes – to number 46. The signs looked good for more progress. 
 
Unfortunately, New Hampshire has experienced another two years of Democrats controlling the New Hampshire House.  According to the annual Tax Foundation survey released today, New Hampshire has now fallen back to number 48 and the signs are not good.*  With another two years of a Democrat House majority together with the most liberal Democrat governor in New Hampshire’s history, we will be back at the bottom again.
 
To know how harmful this huge tax burden is on businesses and job growth, we need only compare New Hampshire to Wyoming.  Wyoming’s business taxes are the lowest in the country and its economy grew 7.6% last year, over four times the national average. ** On the other hand, with about the highest business taxes, New Hampshire’s economy grew at 0.9% last year.  This is not only half the national average, but less than Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, all of which have lower business tax burdens.***
 
As a high business tax state, New Hampshire is losing ground.  If we shed that liability, we can have Wyoming’s additional 6.5% growth. In our $70 billion state economy that would be $4.5 billion more business and all the resulting jobs.  All we need to do is reduce state government spending and reduce taxes.
 
Maggie Hassan and New Hampshire Democrats say we can’t afford to reduce taxes. Actually, we can’t afford not to reduced taxes.  We can’t afford to throw away $4.5 billion in growth and more each year because of a lack of fiscal discipline in Concord.  We need to reduce state spending so we can get the New Hampshire corporate tax rate of 8.5% below Massachusetts’ 8% and even New York’s 7.1% rate.  If we do that, businesses, jobs and our young people will be able to return and prosper to New Hampshire. And not just that. More tax revenue that will be more affordable will come in from a larger state economy.
 
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* http://taxfoundation.org/article/2015-state-business-tax-climate-index
**Wall St. Journal, Oct. 28, 2014, page A18.
*** http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_state/2014/_images/gsp_0614.png

Saturday
Oct252014

Rep. William O’Brien’s - New Hampshire identified as the Worse State for Young People in the Nation

Speaker Candidate Rep. William O’Brien’s Statement on the Investment Group Motley Fool Identifying New Hampshire as the Worse State for Young People in the Nation

On the surface it is a paradox that the Democrat Party, which claims that it is the party for women, minorities, young people, and whatever other group it can conceivably define as aggrieved, invariably harms each of them.  So after years of pandering and false claims of racism and wars on women, under Democrat control in Washington and Concord, labor force participation for women is at more than a 30 year low under the Obama Adminstration. Unemployment among black Americans, especially among young people, as well as their rates of poverty, are at levels not seen since the Great Depression.
 
In Concord, we have listened to this rhetoric for three of the last four legislative terms and it has always lead to more spending.  And it is in that fact – the growth of Government generated by ever increasing spending by Democrats – that lays the solution to this paradox in New Hampshire.  When government grows, the economy stagnates and it is the most vulnerable among us- the young, minorities, the historically disadvantaged, who suffer first, suffer the most and suffer the longest when the economy isn’t growing.
 
In New Hampshire these past two years under Maggie Hassan and House Democrats there has once again been demonstrated that this law of economics – too much government spending leads to too little economic growth - invariably trumps the laws of Big Government, producing the opposite of the desired effect.   A well-respected investment organization geared to young people known as Motley Fool has, for the first time, identified New Hampshire as the worse state in the country for young people.
 
As the report indicates, when legislators vote too much spending, people will vote with their feet and leave.  And that is what young people have done in New Hampshire.  They have left and our population of 25 to 34 year olds is shrinking.
 
There is an alternative however.  All of us can vote at the ballot box on November 4 to remove the over-spenders in Concord, from Maggie Hassan through House Democrats and, in doing so, ask our younger citizens to stay and come grow the economy with us.

Thursday
Oct232014

Ellen Read - Do We Have a Democracy?

With the election less than two weeks away, several of my friends and I have recently attended candidates’ debates and forums, and although we all submit the same question multiple times at each event, the question never gets asked.  And this year we have fewer opportunities than ever to even ask the question, because candidates around the country this year are refusing to debate each other more than ever before.  This is ironic, since our question is what will be done to restore our democracy.  Yet, this doesn’t surprise us,because we know, as most New Hampshirites do, that the U.S. no longer has a government that answers to its People.

     And a recent Princeton study has officially declared what we all already felt:  the U.S. is no longer an actual democratic republic, but a plutocratic oligarchy--rule by the wealthy elite.  The study demonstrated definitively that policies end up reflecting the wishes of the tiny fraction of one percent of the country that makes substantial political contributions, and not the desires of average voters.

     But we didn’t need a study to tell us this, did we?  Ninety-six percent of the public—conservatives, liberals, and everyone in-between, agree that it is important to reduce the influence of money in our political system.  We feel that our legislators do not really care about what we want, but about what their donors, who they spend 70% of their time courting, want—even if their donors are outside their district, or their state, or now thanks to shadowy superPACs, even outside the country, in effect.  In fact, candidates no longer have to raise a single dollar from an actual constituent, yet election spending is higher than ever.

     And that is why my friends and I feel the need to ask our candidates what they are going to do about it.  But our question never gets asked because usually debate moderators have a set agenda based on the hot-topics of the day--things like healthcare, national security, spending, the environment, and net neutrality, for example.  But each of these issues, and so many more, come back to a single issue:  the profit of corporations that have donated to and lobbied legislators until they get policies that benefit them, usually at the expense of the citizens at large. 

     We cannot make healthcare policies that benefit everyone, or be judicious in our use of military force, or rein in spending, or protect the air and water and climate we live in, or ensure an open internet—not as long as the corporations that profit from forcing us into expensive insurance plans, or from selling weapons of war to the government, or from receiving government giveaways, or from polluting without regulation, or from monopolizing access to information, make the majority of political contributions to our legislators, who are supposed to represent We the People.  

     We learn in school that a democracy cannot exist without a well-informed public.  And so it is incumbent upon the so-called “fourth branch of government”--the press and media at large--to show to the people, who already have the sense that big money has corrupted our government, that how we conduct our elections is at the very heart of every other issue, whether it is a conservative or liberal cause.  The press needs to remember that until we have a government that actually represents the will of the people, no other issue will be resolved according to the best interest of the people.  The press must stress that business should mind its business, which is selling goods and services and making a profit within the confines of the law; and remind us that it is the business of the citizenry, and nothing else, according to the constitution, to direct the government in making law.

Monday
Oct132014

Eric T. Rottenecker - Governor Hassan Stacks The Wind Energy Deck!

This last July, the mandated SB-245 (establishing the SEC), was signed into law by Governor Hassan, this is what we ended up with.


 There is hereby established a committee to be known as the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee consisting of 9 members, as follows:(a) The commissioners of the Public Utilities Commission, the chairperson of which shall be the chairperson of the committee;(b) The commissioner of the department of environmental services, who shall be the vice-chairperson of the committee;(c) The commissioner of the department of resources and economic development;(d) The commissioner of the department of transportation;(e) The commissioner of the department of cultural resources or the director of the division of historical resources as designee ( all of these commissioners are governor appointees ); and (f) Two members of the public, appointed by the governor, with the consent of the council, at least one of whom shall be a member in good standing of the New Hampshire Bar Association, and both of whom shall be residents of the state of New Hampshire with expertise or experience in one or more of the following areas: public deliberative or adjudicative proceedings; business management; environmental protection; natural resource protection; energy facility design, construction, operation, or management; or community and regional planning or economic development.


I'm surprised that the Chair of Municipal and County Government, wasn't somehow added to this list.

The appointments of the two members of the public was supposed to happen before the Oct 1st deadline.
The two so called "public members" the Governor had chosen were Sen. Bob O'Dell (R) who chairs the Ways and Means committee, vice chair of Energy and Natural Resources and member of Finance, and Rep Amanda Merrill (D) who sits on Science Technology & Energy. Both of these nominees are pro wind-farm, anyone want to guess where this is going? Talk about stacking the deck. 

Three out of five of the Executive Council had voted down these appointments, Governor Hassan tabled the two appointments until after the Nov election in hopes of getting the votes from said council. This is a sad irresponsible way of running a government, call Governor Hassan, tell her to throw her two appointments out. Tell her to read the bill over again, look beyond Concord and choose two members of the public that do not have Concord moon-dust on their shoulders prior to the December 1st deadline when the Site Evaluation Committee needs to submit a permanent funding plan.The site evaluation committee needs time to consider potential funding sources, including but not limited to the imposition of reasonable application fees and the use of general funds. The site evaluation committee shall consider whether a dedicated fund is necessary as part of a permanent funding plan. The plan shall describe the costs of the ongoing administration of the site evaluation committee's duties, including state agency expenses associated with processing an application under this chapter. The plan shall make recommendations for funding sources to meet those needs, except that such funding sources shall not include annual operating fees imposed on energy facilities or further use of the renewable energy fund. This is a tall order to wait until after the election. And what ever happened to the Oct 1st deadline, after all, it’s only been three months since the bill was signed. The SEC is the final word in placement of the so called renewable energy franchises that are popping up all around the state, without a full committee, is it going to be rubber-stamp operations as usual?

As a write in candidate for the House, I can't endorse the choice of Senator O'Dell and Representative Merrill Governor Hassan has chosen to appoint, just as I can’t support the conflict of interest the PUC Commissioners will bring to the table.

Eric T. Rottenecker
Write-in Candidate
Grafton Dist 9
Alexandra, Ashland, Bridgewater,Bristol, Grafton.

Thursday
Oct022014

ICYMI: Gov. Maggie Hassan's toxic partisanship poisons Concord

Published in the Union Leader, October 1, 2014

 

Gov. Maggie Hassan's toxic partisanship poisons Concord

 

By Sen. Jeanie Forrester

 

LATELY GOV. Maggie Hassan has been taking credit for the bipartisan budget we passed last year. She wants you to forget the scathing rhetoric she unleashed on the Senate Republicans before she reversed course and signed that budget into law.

 

After submitting an irresponsible budget proposal that relied on fatally flawed revenue estimates that included a significant reliance on unproven gambling revenues, Hassan spent the rest of the budget debate taking shots at Republicans, without actually participating in the process. She accused Senate Republicans of choosing “the fiscally irresponsible approach of sweeping, across-the-board cuts,” and claimed that the modest increases in social service spending would be “nothing short of devastating.” She warned of “hundreds of layoffs” that never happened.

 

Sitting on the Senate Finance Committee at the time, I didn’t hear once from the governor about the budget. She didn’t take part in the budget negotiations, except by news release. Republicans passed our balanced budget without a single Democratic vote.

 

Two weeks later, when the Senate budget bill came out of the Conference Committee with few changes, Hassan reversed her position and starting patting herself on the back for a budget she spent months bashing. It was a shocking reversal, given the venom she had unleashed on us so recently. But we were happy to have the governor’s belated support, and we passed the budget with a unanimous Senate vote.

 

We shouldn’t forget Hassan’s track record of budget disasters. As Senate Majority Leader, she watched as two consecutive Democratic budgets fell apart. She supported more than 100 increases in state taxes and fees, and that still wasn’t enough to pay for the massive increase in state spending.

 

New Hampshire was forced to borrow more money to pay its bills, to cut state aid to cities and towns, and to employ gimmicks like booking phantom revenues that never materialized.

 

The 2009 budget was such a mess that the Legislature was forced to come back into special session to fill a $295 million deficit. This required dramatic cuts to senior citizen programs, juvenile placement programs, and catastrophic aid to hospitals. And even this was only a stop-gap measure.

 

The 2011 Legislature inherited an $800 million hole in the budget. Republicans reversed some of Hassan’s massive spending increase, and to this day she still blames all of the state’s problems on the budget that cleaned up her mess.

 

Hassan refuses to take responsibility for the recent downgrade of our state’s bond rating outlook. She again tried to blame the Republican Legislature, even though the S&P decision specifically cited the Medicaid lawsuit spurred by cuts she supported, the growing liability in the New Hampshire Retirement System, and our state’s inadequate Rainy Day Fund. Hassan has consistently opposed Republican efforts to address these looming fiscal challenges.

 

Time and again, Maggie Hassan has ignored problems under her watch. Unlike her claims of working in a bipartisan way, she doesn’t work with the Legislature to solve these problems. She prefers to step in once the Legislature reaches a bipartisan solution, and then claim credit for it. She is not leading. She is not solving problems.

 

I respect my Democratic colleagues in the Senate, and our counterparts in the House. We share a common dedication to making New Hampshire a better place to live, even as we disagree on how to do it. But the partisan bitterness coming from the governor’s office is toxic. It poisons the political atmosphere at the State House, making it harder for Republicans and Democrats to reach across the aisle.

 

New Hampshire citizens expect more and deserve better.

 

Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.