Recently, I launched my Innovate New Hampshire Tour to hear directly from business leaders and workers about how we can grow the economy and create jobs by aligning our education system with the needs of 21st century businesses. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with some incredible and innovative New Hampshire companies such as Adept MobileRobots in Amherst and Dyn in Manchester. Both companies chose New Hampshire to build and grow their businesses from the ground up.
We need to ensure that New Hampshire continues to be a place that attracts and inspires that kind of innovation. We want New Hampshire to be a haven for entrepreneurs and inventors — the people who are creating the products and the good-paying jobs of the future.
As a state senator, I was proud to support the creation of the original research and development tax credit, and I join in Gov. John Lynch’s call on the Legislature to pass a bill doubling the research and development tax credit. The credit sends a powerful message that New Hampshire is open for business and open for innovation.
Unfortunately, the Republicans in the Legislature have chosen to send another message: Their extreme anti-choice agenda comes before anything else.
Doubling the research and development tax credit was a bipartisan initiative. The bill is supported by Gov. Lynch, and Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate. This bill should already be on its way to the governor’s desk for his signature. Unfortunately, House Republican leadership decided to hijack the research and development tax credit and attach anti-choice legislation to it.
I strongly believe that the Legislature should not be interfering in private medical decisions. Women are smart enough and strong enough to make their own health care decisions, and they should be able to make these decisions in private, consulting with their doctors and families as they choose.
Unfortunately, the current New Hampshire House has taken a very different approach. It has moved forward obsessively on an agenda aimed at limiting women’s access to abortion services and to birth control.
Much of what the current Republican leadership has done over the past two years has hurt New Hampshire’s economic future. When I was a member of the Economic Development Advisory Council, business leaders told me again and again that an educated workforce is key to business and job growth in New Hampshire. This Legislature cut funding for higher education in half.
In the face of business concern about growing health care costs, this Legislature raised taxes on hospitals by $300 million, costs that are being passed on to local businesses. Businesses in the southern tier believe the expansion of Interstate 93 is critical for their futures; this legislature cut transportation funding.
In Nashua and Manchester, businesses are begging for the state to at least study the possibility of rail. Republicans in Concord turned away federal funds for that study.
Businesses want an educated workforce, a good tax environment, and a solid infrastructure. They also want stability and to know that state leaders are focused on the issues that matter to building the economy.
The Republican leadership in the House is sending a damaging message to business leaders who are considering locating or growing their companies in New Hampshire: Their extreme ideological agenda comes before jobs and economic growth.
Maggie Hassan is the former state Senate majority leader and a Democratic candidate for governor.