Concord, NH - In case you missed it, a roundup of today's New Hampshire news clips is below.
DOVER - If President Obama's American Jobs Act (AJA) passes, local Democrats claim the impact would be a boon for the Granite State, benefiting the educational system, small businesses, the under employed and unemployed, and aid in deficit reduction and tax relief.
But top Republican leaders in the state say not so fast. They believe the legislation would not accomplish stated goals and just add to the already troubling national debt.
"The American Jobs Act incorporates New Hampshire values of balance and common sense," said Democratic State Rep. David Watters in a statement, when the act was initially unveiled. "It makes Wall Street play by the same rules as Main Street, rewards hard work and punishes cheating."
"This legislation will help those Granite Staters who have been struggling to find work for a long time. It invests in education and teachers so that our children are ready for the jobs of the future. It puts construction workers in jobs building our schools and fixing New Hampshire's roads and bridges. It gives small businesses a tax break while continuing the payroll tax cut for middle class families. And it does all of this without adding to the deficit - paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes and making sure everyone is paying their fair share," Watters said.
But, Republican U. S. Sen. Kelley Ayotte couldn't disagree more. In her opinion, more stimulus spending would only put the country further in debt.
"The first stimulus package failed to deliver the jobs the Administration promised, which makes his (Obama's) proposal for additional spending all the more puzzling," Ayotte said in a statement released, Friday. "Furthermore, he is now proposing to pay for the plan with a huge permanent tax increase on job creators. We need pro-growth policies that will give small and large business owners the confidence they need to invest and hire workers over the long term. Those policies should include tax reform, eliminating job-killing federal mandates, lowering health care costs, and reducing our massive debt."
Watters said the educational component of the American Jobs Act is particularly important to New Hampshire as the state and the nation crawls out of the recession. Watters, also a professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, said educating young people to enter into a modern economy is very important. "If we don't provide a modern education we'll fall behind."
Concerning the youth of the Granite State, Watters admitted he hates the saying, but said, "One of our biggest exports here in New Hampshire is young people." They move to look for work in bigger cities, he said.
Some of the highlights of the impact the AJA would have here in New Hampshire, according to an outline of the act provided by the White House, include:
n Will provide $120 million in funds to New Hampshire to support up to 1,700 educator and first responder jobs.
n Proposes a $25 billion investment in school infrastructure that will modernize at least 35,000 public schools. New Hampshire will receive $70 million to support as many as 900 jobs.
n Proposes $5 billion in investments for facilities modernization needs at community colleges. New Hampshire could receive $8.7 million in funding in the next fiscal year for its community colleges.
"Overcrowding is an increasing problem in Manchester classrooms and Congress needs to pass the American Jobs Act now so we can make sure our kids are getting the education they deserve," said Donna Soucy, member of the Manchester School Board at an Oct. 5 press conference in Concord.
"Our kids deserve the best," said Ray Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, at the press conference. "They deserve the best schools and real leaders in Washington who will stand up for them, work together and get things done instead of just saying, 'no, no, no' for political gain."
"This is the time to change course, put political gamesmanship aside and support this proposal that includes bipartisan ideas to get Granite Staters working again," Watters said in his statement. "These are ideas that even republicans have voted on," he said. "I think something will pass, and I think we have to encourage Frank Guinta to vote for it. I think the pressure is on. This is a good workable plan, that's paid for."
Guinta, R-N. H., disagrees on the other side of the aisle: "The president's newest jobs plan is so fundamentally flawed that members of his own party refuse to support it," Guinta said in a statement, Friday. "The house and senate versions have zero co-sponsors and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., blocked the bill from coming up for a vote earlier this week. It's time for the administration and senate leadership to consider the many real jobs bills the house has already passed."
Watters claims that if the American Jobs Act works well, it will up the gross domestic product by a percent, and through the Payroll Tax Cut, put about $1,500 back into the pockets of the average New Hampshire family making roughly $55,000 annually.
"President Obama wisely decided to invest in jobs and programs that will rebuild our nation to meet its promises and potential," said Laura Hainey, president of AFT-NH, at the press conference in Concord. "We ask that Congress pass the American Jobs Act immediately. We have seen the loss of over 300,000 education jobs across the nation since 2008. The White House understands that teachers and support personnel should be in the classrooms and in our schools and not in the unemployment line." The AFT-NH is the New Hampshire branch of the American Federal of Teachers an AFL-CIO union with more than 3,600 members in New Hampshire including teachers, school support staff, police, higher education faculty and town employees.
Other highlights of the American Jobs Act that proponents claim would directly affect the Granite State include:
n Tax cuts for small businesses that would see 30,000 firms in NH receive a payroll tax cut.
n Immediate investments in transportation infrastructure that make available $132,600,000 to the state's highway and transit modernization projects, and could support a minimum of approximately 1,700 local jobs.
n The state could receive about $20,000,000 to revitalize and refurbish local communities, in addition to funds that would be available through a competitive application.
n Reforms to unemployment insurance system that could help put the 18,000 long-term unemployed workers in New Hampshire back to work.
n Extending unemployment insurance and preventing 1,700 people looking for work in the state from losing their benefits in just the first six weeks.
n A Pathway Back to Work Fund that could place 300 adults and 700 youths in jobs.
n Payroll tax cuts that would see a typical New Hampshire household, with a median income of around $64,000, receive a tax cut of around $1,980.
The president is expected, in the coming days, to release a detailed plan that will call on the Joint Committee to come up with additional deficit reductions necessary to pay for the American Jobs Act and still meet its deficit target, according to the White House report.
Londonderry Rep. Al Baldasaro's comments to a news organization that he thought it was "great" an openly gay soldier was booed at a Republican debate have not only drawn harsh criticism, but have incited a petition calling for his resignation.
The petition was launched Monday afternoon and has already garnered more than 300 signatures.
Harrell Kirstein, press secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, which called for Baldasaro's resignation last week, said by putting forth the petition, people are looking for a response from House Speaker Bill O'Brien, who has remained silent on Baldasaro's remarks since they occurred last week.
"People are concerned Rep. Baldasaro, who serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee, isn't fit to be a voice for the people of New Hampshire," Kirstein said.
According to news reports, O'Brien has no plans to call for Baldasaro's resignation.
A call to the House office Monday went unreturned.
Baldasaro is campaigning for Texas Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Perry.
Over the weekend, Baldasaro made it onto the pop culture blog site PerezHilton.com.
Newt Gingrich will be there. So will Herman Cain. Ditto for Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Gary Johnson.
Our advice to New Hampshire's Democratic legislators: It may not be your kind of crowd, but make sure you're there too.
Speaker Bill O'Brien has invited the presidential candidates to address the New Hampshire House tomorrow. This is a terrific opportunity for the candidates and the lawmakers, of course, but what might the impact be on the other business of the day? After all, O'Brien has made it clear that the chair (read, O'Brien) sets the agenda, and the chair is not limited to the printed schedule. In other words, nearly anything can come up at any time. Just last month, O'Brien called an unexpected vote to override one of the most controversial bills of the session - legislation expanding the legal use of deadly force - with no notice to the public or to Democratic leaders.
O'Brien's notion of fair play and transparency leaves much to be desired, but Democrats should consider themselves warned.
Will the presence of so many speechifying Republicans tomorrow encourage Democrats to call in sick? Will their absence give O'Brien just the votes he needs to, say, override Gov. John Lynch's veto on right-to-work legislation? What a coup, after all, to pass the bill in the presence of candidates who have touted the anti-union measure from the campaign trail.
Cynical? Perhaps. But if Democrats are savvy, they'll show up tomorrow - prepared to listen politely to the candidates, prepared to sustain the veto. Better safe than sorry.
It could be that, following Tuesday's Republican presidential campaign debate at Dartmouth, most New Hampshire moderates will have had their fill of the candidates. After all, there have been seven such televised gatherings of the major candidates, the only variations among the debates being whom the latest polls indicated ought to be attacked.
But we encourage moderates in the New Hampshire Legislature to take in at least one more such assembly anyway, this one a live performance in the State House Wednesday. Speaker of the House William O'Brien is setting aside speech time for candidates to whom he's issued invitations; about half a dozen have accepted so far.
O'Brien reportedly had planned to send his invitations (which also were extended to President Obama, who at press time had not accepted) at a later date - in February, just before what had been the tentative date of the 2012 N.H. Presidential Primary. But last week's leapfrogging by states trying to get an earlier spot in the nomination process changed all that, hence a primary in New Hampshire as early as December.
To be sure, the arranged parade of candidates at the State House Wednesday is a nice gesture, and confirms the importance that the Granite State attaches to its first-in-the-nation primary tradition.
But the scheduling also has legislative consequences if legislators who have seen enough of the socially-conservative GOP field don't show up.
For months the Speaker has been playing a coy game regarding the timing of a vote to override Governor John Lynch's veto of an anti-union bill. During the summer O'Brien tried several times to schedule a vote on a "right to work" bill (the measure would bar unions from charging non-members for the costs of bargaining and grievance processing that benefit them), but he backed off each time when he found he lacked the numbers.
So he's gone month to month. In a departure from House traditions, he didn't schedule a single "Veto Day" for override efforts; instead he has strung along his political opposition, leaving himself the option of a surprise vote just about any time he pleased.
The Wednesday session presents such an opportunity, with moderates who oppose "right-to-work" legislation possibly staying home to avoid a parade of candidates they have probably already seen.
These moderates, who are surely aware of the destructive aims of a national "right-to-work" drive, should not be deterred. There are other veto overrides that might come up Wednesday, but "right-to-work" stands out. Moderates of both parties should count on being in Concord Wednesday.
MANCHESTER - Voters should know before casting their ballots where city candidates stand on the issues, including those who have ties to the Free State Project, say City Democrats.
Manchester City Democrats have linked seven candidates for city office with the libertarianminded group for signing on to the Free State Project, posting to the group's website, being listed as friends of the organization or for receiving an endorsement from members of the project.
Most of the candidates interviewed said they are not closely tied to the group, if at all, but do share some positions held by Free Staters, such as favoring limited government intrusion in business and private lives and reduced spending and taxes.
The candidates' level of involvement also varies. Selectman candidate Cameron DeJong in Ward 2, a state representative, is a member of the Free State Project and is listed as one of 1,000 people who pledged to move to New Hampshire as part of the movement in 2008. But fellow selectman candidate in Ward 1 Jean Esslinger's only apparent involvement is receiving an endorsement from a member of the project during her 2007 run for Board of School Committee.
Ward 10 Alderman Phil Greazzo and candidate for Ward 2 alderman Craig Haynie, candidate for Ward 5 alderman Mike Segal, candidate for Ward 11 alderman Emily Sandblade and candidate for Ward 4 school committee Roy Shoults were also listed as having ties with the Free State movement.
The Free State Project is an effort to relocate 20,000 libertarian- minded people to New Hampshire to engage in the local political process in hopes of creating communities where government involvement is limited. Manchester City Democrats Chairman Bob Backus said residents should be made aware of any association with the group because of the impact these candidates would have on city services, such as police protection and local education, if elected.
"Those are things we don't think can be left entirely to free market forces," said Backus.
"We think they bring to New Hampshire a perspective that's not a native-grown New Hampshire perspective. I think that's something people should know," Backus continued. "We've always had a proindividual liberty streak to us. In spite of that, I think most citizens believe we do have a community we all share and support. Not everyone should be on his own all the time."
Greazzo, who is called a Free State Project friend on the organization's website, said he is not part of the group "in any way."
"Do I identify with some things they believe in? I do. I actually oppose some of the things they do," said Greazzo, noting those Free Staters who take part in acts of civil disobedience or breaking the law as a way to express their views on government. "I think there are better ways to go about it."
Greazzo said he has lived in the state for 15 years and called attempts to associate him with the movement a political ploy to discredit him.
Haynie agreed that linking him with the Free State Project was meant to present him in a negative light.
"I think they see the most visible Free Staters are the ones out in Keene," said Haynie, referring to a group that publicly protested and thwarted laws, such as drinking in public, in the city's Central Square. "They are trying to associate other people with them and try to show them as basically hooligans."
Haynie calls himself a libertarian Republican, agrees with most of the Free Staters' philosophies and believes "government should interfere with our lives as little as possible." Haynie also spoke out at a Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting against the police for confiscating onlookers' cameras at the arrest of a small group who were writing on the police station headquarters with chalk.
Segal, an organizer for Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign, was connected to the movement through his involvement in the Manchester police station incident as well.
Emily Sandblade was also on the friends of Free Staters list for writing a tongue-in-cheek post on the Free State Project site called, "The Top 10 Reasons Why the Mafia is Better Than the State." Though the list appears to be a humor piece, it concludes by stating, "The next time that somebody argues that anarchy results in an increase in organized crime, smile sweetly and tell that person it would be a real improvement over the state."
Shoults said he was initially interested in the group, but after meeting with members found many to be outside the mainstream.