Guest Blogs


Speaker Shawn Jasper - State Budget Negotiations

While the legislature has been enjoying a well-deserved summer recess, legislative leadership, along with the governor and her staff have begun a series of meetings for the purpose of crafting a plan that would allow us to move forward in dealing with those parts of the budget on which we disagree.  While the Continuing Resolution is in place until December, it was important to have initiated these discussions.

In a recent letter to the governor, I reminded her that we have confirmed, through the Legislative Budget Assistant, that the budget she vetoed is a balanced spending plan, addressing many of the concerns that she had brought to the legislature.

There are a number of different paths that we could have taken in order to resolve the detrimental effects placed upon the people of New Hampshire when Governor Hassan exercised her veto authority.

As a direct result of her action, we very well could witness a spike in property taxes, depending upon how and when the Department of Revenue Administration sets local property taxes, the inability of the state to address the opioid epidemic, as well as any undue pressure felt by the state’s health and human services providers.

House Finance Chair Neal Kurk (r-Weare) has pointed out a number of important points that clearly shows how ill advised the governor’s veto was.

The budget appropriates $11.352 billion in total funds for the next biennium, an increase of 5% from the current biennium.

Dedicated funds were not “raided” in the process.

The community college system would have been fully funded allowing them to freeze tuition for the next biennium; USNH would have seen an increase in funds.

Health and Human Services would have received higher funding in this budget than in any previous one--$4.449 billion, up 8% from the current budget. Additionally, funding would have been restored for elderly services, including meals on wheels, services for veterans, the developmentally disabled, and the mentally ill, with the latter at levels meeting the requirements of a legal settlement.

The nearly 40,000 people served by the expanded Medicaid program will continue to receive their 100% federally funded health coverage through December 31, 2016, as provided for in current law.

Funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment would have been increased by 49.5%, to $42.3 million.

A 5% rate increase would have been granted to providers of long-term care in the community.

Transportation department services would have been funded at $1.172 billion, an increase of 8% in the current budget.

The Department of Safety would have seen a 9% increase in its budget, largely through the substitution of general funds for highway funds.

The Fish and Game fund would have received a $1.2 million infusion from the general fund.

I outlined many more examples in my letter to the governor.

There are 160 democratic state representatives and 10 democratic state senators who very much want to address the needs of our citizens, as do members of the majority party.  This was clearly illustrated when most of minority party supported the continuing resolution.  That vote was necessary to address the governor’s veto threat so that the people of New Hampshire would not suffer through a shutdown of state government.

As I wrote to the governor, “The cleanest and clearest path forward for you would be to politically free all 170 colleagues from across the aisle, allowing them to vote their conscience on veto day.”  We remain confident that the many issues listed in my letter are mutual concerns to us all.  In fact, if it were not for the governor’s veto, we would have a state budget in place today.

I have called upon the governor to provide us with her thoughts as to the best way to address this issue.  None of Gov. Hassan’s concerns are of such a critical nature that they could not be addressed in the next legislative session. 

The governor’s argument over the 21 million dollar business tax cut issue pales in the face of the systemic stresses placed on our service providers, the neediest in our society, and the employees of New Hampshire when she chose to veto the budget. It has proved to be the most harmful of the three choices that were presented to her, i.e. sign, veto, or let the budget become law without signature.

It is incumbent upon us as leaders to evaluate the impact of the decisions we make, apply what we have learned from the results of those decisions, and consider a new course of action.  I encourage the governor to consider the current circumstances and the impact of not having a 2016-17 FY plan that addresses the many important concerns for the functioning of our state.  I call upon her to free the 170 democratic legislators, allowing them to vote to follow the clearest and quickest path for a sound, pragmatic solution, which would be to override her veto of the budget.



Jim Rubens - Don't Shoot the Messenger: Gary Hart on Endemic Political Money Corruption 

Gary Hart on Endemic Political Money Corruption


Why is this presidential campaign a contest of styles and personalities and not policy? Why is the leading Democratic candidate campaigning on her cookie recipes rather than her position of the Trans Pacific Partnership? Why is no Republican giving us straight talk on climate science? Why does the corporate lobbyist think-tank commentariat so viciously marginalizes any candidate who opposes amnesty for illegals, the national security state or military pork?
To be a leading candidate is to be muzzled and directed by today’s big-dollar political money system that has subverted the national interest and corrupted Washington to the bone.
Former US Senator Gary Hart lays it out forcefully in his newly published essay. Below are snips:
  • Four qualities have distinguished republican government from ancient Athens forward: the sovereignty of the people; a sense of the common good; government dedicated to the commonwealth; and resistance to corruption. Measured against the standards established for republics from ancient times, the American Republic is massively corrupt. 
  • There has never been a time …when the government of the United States was so perversely and systematically dedicated to special interests, earmarks, side deals, log-rolling, vote-trading, and sweetheart deals.
  • The key word is not quid-pro-quo bribery, the key word is access. In exchange for a few moments of the senator’s time and many more moments of her committee staff’s time, fund-raising events with the promise of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars are delivered. 
  • You have a billion, or even several hundred million, then purchase a candidate from the endless reserve bench of minor politicians and make him or her a star, a mouthpiece for any cause or purpose however questionable, and that candidate will mouth your script in endless political debates and through as many television spots as you are willing to pay for. 
  • The lobbying business is no longer about votes up or down on particular measures that may emerge in Congress or policies made in the White House. It is about setting agendas, deciding what should and should not be brought up for hearings and legislation. 
  • America’s founders knew one thing: The republics of history all died when narrow interests overwhelmed the common good and the interests of the commonwealth … [T]he government of the United States is for sale to the highest bidder. 
  • In addition to the rise of the national security state, and the concentration of wealth and power in America, no development in modern times sets us apart more from the nation originally bequeathed to us than the rise of the special interest state. There is a Gresham’s law related to the republican ideal. Bad politics drives out good politics. Legalized corruption drives men and women of stature, honor, and dignity out of the halls of government. 
  • [If we are] to restore our highest ideals, then major changes must be made in the way we elect our presidents and our members of Congress.

Thanks for listening,

Jim Rubens


Rep. Max Abramson - New Hampshire's Dumbest Lawmakers 

In response to the Red-Tailed Hawk disgrace, during which a group of fourth graders from my district were forced to watch from the Gallery as their simple bill was “mocked and ridiculed” by legislators, some of us have put together a family friendly contest for school age kids.  Called “New Hampshire’s Dumbest Law,” school and college students in New Hampshire are invited to find an outdated law on the books that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  It is illegal, for example, to collect seaweed on the beach at night, to sell your clothes to pay a gambling debt, or to check into a motel under a nickname.  Several of us will select the silliest and most ridiculous rule still on the books, then cosponsor a bill to repeal that outdated, improbable law that no one could believe in.  There is a Facebook page of the same name with directions for how to search for and submit their idea for the silliest law before the September 15th deadline.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives looks very different from the inside, to be sure, than it does to the public.  As a freshman representative, the workload and effort to catch up and understand the process are tremendous.  Speaking directly with the likes of former speakers Bill O’Brien and Gene Chandler, Representative Pam Tucker, Senator Nancy Stiles, John Reagan, and Russel Prescott is a very different experience in person than seeing them on the news.
Seated on the bench just a few yards from the podium, waiting to speak in favor of the bill that would have made the Red-Tailed Hawk the state raptor, I watched in embarrassment as Representatives Bartlett, Burt, and Groen ridiculed the bill and brought the House of Representatives to a new low, something that few then realized would go viral and make us all infamous nationwide.  Rather than apologize for his own inaction during the fiasco, Speaker Shawn Jasper took the opportunity to write the fourth graders (see NHInsider April 1, 2015), who are in my district, and criticize members of the House for their behavior.
From the outside, though, the public is being told that the legislature just can’t agree with Governor Maggie Hassan, who has just vetoed an $11.3 billion budget, already 7% larger than the last one, because it doesn’t provide $40 million in pay raises and Medicaid Expansion.  The impression is given that the elected officials can’t get their act together.  The impression is largely correct.
From the outside, the mainstream media continues to report on the “civil war” going on among House Republicans, a problem that we don’t see on the Senate side.  Shawn Jasper, described by many legislators who knew him as a “self-inflated bully” (NHInsider, Japser Boasts About His Bullying Abilities, February 27, 2012) aligned with Democratic leadership to narrowly take the Speakership, giving the Democrats the power to defeat countless NHGOP “platform” bills.  Efforts to restore local control and parental oversight of schools, improve transparency in local government, strengthen self-defense rights, and reduce the burden of regulations and unfunded state mandates on businesses and towns has been defeated repeatedly by a coalition of 60 Jaspercrats (“Republicans” who vote like Democrats) and 160 Democrats who must vote as Flanagan and Shurtleff, respectively, tell them to.  For three months, every Republican platform bill went to defeat or was amended to death, finding only the support of about 140 conservative or “liberty” Republicans, often followed by derisive laughter from Jaspercrats and Democrats.
From the anteroom (formerly a bar, according to lore) behind the Hall of Representatives to the hallways of the Legislative Office Building, I am asked almost daily why Jasper still refuses to assign me to a committee, why he continues to ostracize pro-life conservatives, why he “acts like a 61 year old baby.” I am warned by over 30 different reps not to go into his office alone, that he is liable to just make things up afterward and perhaps later claim that I threatened or came at him. “That’s a set up!” several warned.  All bullies are cowards, and all are two-faced.  Even Jasper had friends before he had the power to hurt those who wouldn't kiss up to him.
From the outside, there remains a need to appear congenial and bipartisan, giving the appearance of professionalism and working together.  From the inside, Democrats are holding the entire state hostage and threatening a winter shutdown of our highways in order to squeeze a few tens of millions more out of the taxpayer.  In other states, they turn whole communities into ghettos and fill states with people dependent on handouts in order to build safe Democratic holdouts, albeit at the expense of dramatically higher crime, taxes, and urban sprawl.
From the inside, platform Republicans are asking what our message is after Hassan has followed through with her threat to veto the budget.  Myself having consulted with authors, business owners, inventors, and tech startups about marketing and branding decisions that have to be made early, I am left wondering why no one is working on this critical part of the NHGOP effort.  Again I propose “smaller government, local control,” which everyone agrees with, but no one remembers to repeat it.  No other message is brought forward, and I wonder what people are thinking in caucus.
As a member of Laurie Sanborn’s Business Caucus, Bill O’Brien and Pam Tucker’s Republican Majority Caucus, Carol McGuire and Leon Rideout’s House Republican Alliance, and the Pro-life Caucus, I am amazed at how much legislators talk over each other.  As something of an expert on many areas of public policy, I watch members raise their voices and argue over each other.  Their heart is in the right place, but they are pushing efforts and positions that should never leave the room, some of which turn into proposed legislation.  Watching the sausage get made with the wrong ingredients is often a frustrating view of Amateur Hour, adults acting like ten year olds.  Advocates of SB113, the casino bill, were stunned when it went down to a terrible defeat, losing by about 50 votes in the House.  Now that it’s too late to resurrect, they are only now talking about actually getting input from legislators who were reluctant to support it.
Governor Hassan and the Democrats are now going against the will of suburban moms, an act of political suicide and sheer insanity in the modern two party marketplace.  Democrats have voted against and vetoed everything from giving local control to school boards to making the unpopular Common Core optional, from increased funds for charter schools to keep them open to letting parents opt out of politically motivated or objectionable material on these standardized PACE or SBA tests.
Jaspercrats are even joining Democrats to oppose letting businesses buy health insurance from out of state preferred provider networks (HB128), adding an obscure mold remediation licensing mandate ( SB125, despite the fact that the EPA already offers a free course and certificate that won’t count toward this new mandate, and that only two other states require one), enacting a very unpopular fee schedule set by the Department of Labor (SB133, even though both parties vocally decried fee schedules as terrible policy), and adding many other regulations that will just make life more difficult for Granite State businesses, a longtime Republican mainstay.
Worse, Jaspercrats and Democrats locked together to push through numerous “crony capitalist” bills, including the infamous SB30 “Balsams Bailout,” the $28 million loan guarantee that we were repeatedly told had nothing to do with the Balsams.  I’d love to be able to live out in the middle of nowhere and get to force the taxpayers to back a huge five star resort in my backyard so that my offspring won’t have to go to the trouble of moving to southern New Hampshire to get work like the rest of us schmucks.  While we’re telling people with physical and mental disabilities to go take a hike because the State is broke, maybe we could spend another $28 million on job training and scholarships for those recovering from work injuries, disabled vets, or those with permanent disabilities instead.
Questions were raised about SB221, which sounded like it would turn over $950 million in assets to private investors for just $100 million, with rates guaranteed by ratepayers in order to convince some wealthy investors to take nearly a billion in assets off our hands for about ten cents on the dollar.  With careful money management like this, it’s no wonder that our elected officials are so handsomely compensated.  Our annual reimbursement of $100 would almost be enough to bring half of your family to Water Country for the day, provided that you walk there and don’t eat, drink, or rent a locker for your sport blazer and winter boots.
Under the ever-present threat of removal from their various “leadership” positions, chairs, vice chairs, majority leaders and whips must steadfastly vote as N.H. Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley tells Speaker Jasper to tell Majority Leader Flanagan to tell them to vote, no matter what the cost to the taxpayer or Republican party unity.  Only three votes against “leadership” will get any chairman removed.  Rep. Laurie Sanborn was pulled from the House Finance Committee after she steadfastly refused to support the ill-fated 8 cent per gallon gas tax increase.  Others have been threatened with being pulled from Committees of Conference if they will not do what Ray Buckley tells Jasper to tell Flanagan to tell them to do.
The tragedy of the House of Representatives is that the Speaker wields absolute, unaccountable power.  Since the Democrats vote as they are told (or get removed by the union officials at the upcoming election) this gives a few wealthy liberals total control of the output of the House, even though the voters actually voted Democrats out for these very reasons.  This is the real reason why 240 Republicans cannot currently downsize government, root out waste, fraud, and abuse, or take on the power of the trial lawyers.
The response to New Hampshire’s Dumbest Law from the House Clerk and the Speaker’s Office is that cannot be announced to the full membership or included in the House Calendar as it would not be fitting with “the decorum of the House.” New Hampshire’s Dumbest Law can be discussed and promoted anywhere else.  The “self-inflated bully” was chosen by House Democratic leadership to turn the House into a fiasco and a national embarrassment.  It worked.
Representative Max Abramson
representing the towns of Hampton Falls and Seabrook
(Despite numerous requests of the Speaker, I am still the only member of the House without a committee assignment.)

Kevin Bowe - How did Hillary and Jeb do taming their base last week?

This is the 2nd installment of a weekly web series on the NH Primary.  This 2 minute video gives you an overview of the back-to-back campaign events of Clinton and Bush.  


Jim Rubens - GOP Pushback on the Pope's Politically Incorrect Science 

In my run for US Senate, I engaged in a lonely effort to persuade fellow Republicans to acknowledge fossil fuel combustion as the primary cause of global warming and the need for policy change to mitigate existential harm to humans and the environment. Many told me that these views cost me the election.
I can’t recall a single instance where debating science changed minds, so I wheeled out otherwise respected authorities like the Department of Defense, the CEO of ExxonMobil, and the National Academy of Science, all echoing my case. None seemed to persuade.
Now comes Pope Francis, who makes the case that earth and all its living things are God’s gift to humans who are entrusted with their care and that fossil fuel combustion is destroying creation and harming the world’s poor. The Pope is getting the same reaction from most Republican leaders, discredit the authority: he should stick to matters of the spirit, and limiting fossil fuel use will deny food, healthcare and progress to the world’s poor. Pushing back at the Pope, Jeb Bush told voters at a Derry, New Hampshire town hall that "I don't get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope."  
However, Republican policy preferences, including Jeb’s as Florida Governor, are unabashedly guided by faith on the social issues like abortion, assisted suicide and same sex marriage – and this distinction is key – where powerful economic interest groups have little stake in the outcome. Three weeks ago, Bush was the only Presidential candidate to address a closed-door, invitation-only event sponsored by owners and executives of six coal mining companies. The coal industry spent $11 million in the 2014 election cycle, with just 4 percent of that going to Democrats.
It’s time to get honest about this: the expression of faith in politics is filtered by big-dollar special interest campaign money. Republican campaigns are funded by fossil fuel interests who want the right to keep polluting. Democratic campaigns funded by unions who want to trap poor children in failing, monopoly schools.
The needed debate over global warming is not whether the Pope should talk about climate science and creation care. The debate between small government conservatives and big government liberals must be over high-impact solution options. President Obama’s approach through EPA carbon regulation is massively complex and therefore thoroughly subject to regulatory capture by the interest groups that run Washington and buy most election outcomes.
Unlike the Pope who leans left on tax-enforced wealth redistribution, I have great confidence that technology and American innovators can and will find robust solutions that will largely displace fossil fuels as the globe’s primary energy source within not more than two generations. Domestic policy can accelerate this innovation (and no, Governor Hassan, not with a gambling casino).
The US leads the world in medical technology and biomedicine, enjoying the resulting high-paying domestic jobs and strong net exports. We’ve achieved this as a direct result of $30 billion annual funding for pre-commercial health science research, sustained over the past decade and largely distributed via competitive grants by the National Institutes of Health. Despite this success and strong political support for protecting our science and technology lead, the US has fallen to #11 in global R&D per capita.
Heresy for small-government conservatives, but the $2 billion per year the federal government has spent over the past decade on basic energy research is too little to ensure continued American leadership. My pitch: add $10 billion per year in sustained national support for pre-commercial energy R&D.
I do not mean more Solyndras, taxpayer guarantees for nuclear plant construction, oil and gas subsidies, or corn ethanol supply mandates. Phasing out existing federal energy subsidies like these can pay for about half of a $10 billion R&D bump. Government should stop picking commercial winners and losers because crony capitalism distorts, corrupts and freezes marketplace dynamics which otherwise accelerate knowledge and technology commercialization and drives out cost. Taxpayer-backed energy R&D should focus on blue-sky work in materials science, nano-chemistry, quantum physics, solar PV, energy storage, batteries, offshore wind platforms, and thorium fuel cycle reactors, for example. 
Commercialized clean-energy technologies are already booming without subsides. Unsubsidized energy efficiency and utility scale wind and solar PV (in that order) are already cheaper than or competitive with combined cycle natural gas as electricity sources.
Once energy storage becomes less costly than natural gas, market forces will cause displacement of fossil fuels as primary heat, electricity, and transportation energy sources worldwide. Dictators and terrorists will be defunded, energy price shocks will be history, excessively resource dependent nations economically democratized, and global warming curbed.
Rather than impoverishing third-world nations via increased dependency on fossil fuels imported from dictators and terrorists (as most Republican presidential candidates inferentially advocate) let’s heed the Pope by using accelerated innovation and free-market commercialization to bring low-cost clean energy to the world’s poor and to humanity and all creation.


Thanks for listening,

Jim Rubens