Press Releases

 

Saturday
Jul252015

Josiah Bartlett Center - Bad Budget Information and Asset Forfeiture  

 

Weekly Update from the Josiah Bartlett Center

Keeping you up to date on our latest research
on the issues impacting New Hampshire

Bad Budget Information Creates Squabbles

One of the greatest obstacles to our current crop of politicians getting along with each other is a lack of information or at least a lack of good information. Sharing information and sharing it correctly is important not just for the sake of government transparency but so political squabbles are more constructive. New Hampshire’s state budget process needs more and better information. A just-passed transparency bill comes too late to help this budget but is an important step for the future.

New Hampshire’s government is very transparent in some areas and pathetically opaque in others. We do a terrific job on taxes. Each month’s tax receipts are posted within a day or two of the month ending. That they are posted quickly and completely helps make them a useful analytical tool for policymakers and also for interested parties outside the legislature. But the speed with which they are posted is only a small part of the story. Click here to keep reading.


New Hampshire's Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

Did you know the government can seize your property for no other reason than that they think you might have committed a crime? While this sounds like something that would never happen in a modern democracy, it can happen in nearly every state of the Union. This practice, known as Civil Asset Forfeiture, allows law enforcement to seize the assets or property of an individual suspected of committing a crime, often times without even filing charges. It is used most often by law enforcement as a tool in the War on Drugs, in particular, seizing large amounts of money or vehicles from suspected traffickers in an attempt to stem the flow of illegal drugs. Click here to keep reading.

 

 
 
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Saturday
Jul252015

NHDP - ICYMI: Governor Hassan Proposes Budget Compromise, Republicans “Unwilling To Budge” 

 

Concord, N.H. – Yesterday, Governor Hassan presented a fiscally responsible budget compromise proposal that includes Republicans’ top priority – business tax cuts – on a faster timeline while also protecting the state’s long-term fiscal outlook and ability to support critical economic priorities like combatting the heroin crisis, higher education, roads and bridges, and health care.

Yet Republicans remain completely unwilling to compromise, insisting on blowing a massive hole in this and future budgets at the expense of New Hampshire's people, businesses, and economy.

NHPR noted “it took mere minutes for GOP to blast Gov. Hassan's compromise plan” and “make it clear the state's budget gridlock is not going to end anytime soon."

NHPR also reported, “Republicans like Senate President Chuck Morse seems unwilling to budge.”

GOP Speaker Shawn Jasper underscored just how unreasonable the House Republican position is, telling the AP, “It was very difficult to get anything through the House, even in the way of adjustments that could be seen as just keeping up with inflation.”

Jasper also told the Concord Monitor, it’s “difficult in the House to find a pathway.” By which Jasper really meant that he is not willing to compromise and pass a budget with votes from across the aisle.

NH1 News also reported, “Every week, Hassan and her team called upon legislative leaders to come and discuss the framework for a new budget. And since the beginning of this month the two State House principals, Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, and House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, have not been there… Morse was gone for two weeks for a longtime planned trip to Ireland; Jasper had both business and personal matters to attend to.”

See coverage roundup below:

WMUR: Hassan offers compromise proposal on budget

Gov. Maggie Hassan has laid out a compromise proposal to end the budget stalemate in Concord.

Hassan said she will agree on a cut to business taxes in exchange for an increase in the cigarette tax and car registration fees, which Republicans have opposed in the past.

"I'm here today to offer a compromise budget proposal," Hassan said.

With Democratic lawmakers by her side, Hassan proposed the deal that she said she hopes will meet with Republican approval. The governor said she has listened to Republican concerns and is willing to support a cut in business taxes, a Republican priority.

"The plan I'm proposing will lower the business profits tax to 7.9 percent for the 2016 tax year," she said.

Hassan said she wasn't philosophically opposed to the business tax cut, but she wanted it paid for. To accomplish that, she's proposing a 21-cent hike in the cigarette tax, which would include electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products.

One of the governor's priorities has been the continuation of health care expansion. That is not included in the proposal, but Hassan said she's still hopeful the Legislature will pass the expansion.

"My budget did include funding for the reauthorization, so that if and when reauthorization happens, the funding will be there," she said.

The budget proposal also includes negotiated pay raises for state employees, something Republican leaders have indicated they would be willing to move on.

Because of the continuing heroin epidemic, which the governor said is the major health problem facing New Hampshire, the proposal also includes money for a drug court in Manchester. [Full story]

AP: Hassan presents compromise budget plan

Gov. Maggie Hassan said Thursday she’s willing to accept business tax cuts backed by Republicans in exchange for an increase in the cigarette tax and car registration fees…

“While people on both ends of either party may still want a different plan than the one I am proposing, this plan attempts to address the concerns of both parties,” Hassan said while flanked by Democratic lawmakers.

Hassan has been rejecting attempts to lower business taxes because she says the cuts are “unpaid for” and would leave a hole from lost revenue in future budgets. The plan she outlined Thursday includes roughly $114 million in new revenue that she uses to offset a cut in the rate of the business profits tax, fund the state employee pay raise and increase spending in travel and tourism, substance abuse treatment and prevention and several other programs. It relies on $32 million from a 21-cent hike in the cigarette tax and nearly $20 million from a $5 increase in car registration fees.

Her plan also includes a small amount of money to gather data on the effects of Medicaid expansion. Lawmakers say they want to debate whether to continue the program next year, when they have a better picture of how it’s been working. Her plan projects having enough money to pay for the program in 2017 should the Legislature vote to reauthorize it next year.

… Hassan’s plan reduces the rate of the business profits tax from 8.5 percent to 7.9 percent by the end of 2016 and increases the threshold for paying the business enterprise tax, which she said would reduce the tax burden on 5,500 small businesses. It also allows for a change to the tax code sought by gym company Planet Fitness. [Full story]

NHPR: Hassan Makes Budget Overture; GOP Finds it Lacking

With state budget negotiations not gaining much traction, Gov. Maggie Hassan Thursday presented what she called a new compromise proposal. But the plan seems to have done little to persuade Republicans to return to the negotiating table any time soon.

In the proposal, which would amend the budget plan passed by the Republican-led Legislature last month, Hassan conceded to GOP leaders by not only including but expediting business tax cuts supported by the GOP.

“It is very, very clear to me that the Republican legislators think this is their number one priority and they are insisting on it as part of any budget to move New Hampshire forward, so in the spirit of compromise I am moving forward with a business tax reduction,” Hassan said in a State House press conference.

In exchange, the proposal includes several Hassan priorities that Republicans have previously rejected, including a 2 percent state employee pay raise and added $5.7 million for substance abuse treatment. It also included a 21-cent bump in the cigarette tax and a $5 increase to the motor vehicle registration fee.

… Hassan’s proposal did not, however, continue Medicaid expansion. But she included funding for it if legislators decide to reauthorize it before it ends in December 2016. It also restored funds to the renewable energy fund and community colleges and added money to pay for the so-called "Planet Fitness" tax provision passed by the Legislature. That bill would have changed the way the state Business Profits Tax applies to companies planning to issue stock.

… Throughout the press conference, Hassan stressed that both sides need to give in order to get a budget passed.  "Again this is a compromise and compromise requires people to actually do things that people may not want to do but that are the nature of this. The people of New Hampshire elected a Republican legislative majority and a Democratic governor, that means both Democrats and Republicans need to have a voice in whatever budget is passed and that is what this is about.” [Full story]

Union Leader: Gov. Hassan proposes budget compromise offering business tax cuts, cigarette tax hike; lawmakers react

While liking some of what Gov. Maggie Hassan proposed Thursday in a budget compromise, House and Senate GOP leaders say tax and revenue increases in the plan will not fly.

… Hassan unveiled a plan that would give GOP leaders the business tax cuts that are their top priority, while to pay for the reductions, she proposes increasing the cigarette tax 21 cents, raising car registration fess $5 and requiring business owners to prove their compensation is not profit.

… While legislative leaders have been meeting with the governor since she vetoed the $11.35 billion biennial budget approved with only GOP votes, there has been little movement.

Thursday, Hassan said she hopes her proposal will spur negotiations, so lawmakers can vote on a compromise budget plan when they return to Concord Sept. 16 to take up the bills she vetoed, including the budget.

… Hassan said she would be willing to wait for lawmakers to reauthorize the NH Health Protection Act or Medicaid expansion, but wants the money the state needs to continue the program for the second half of the 2017 fiscal year, when the federal government stops paying 100 percent of the cost.

… Hassan said she believes her plan will address both parties’ priorities while everyone will have to agree to some things they do not want.

… Hassan urged legislative leaders to work with her so a budget compromise would be available for lawmakers to vote on Sept. 16 when they return to act on her vetoes. [Full story]

Concord Monitor: Hassan offers compromise plan on state budget

… Gov. Maggie Hassan introduced a new proposal Thursday morning with the hopes that it might serve as a framework for a compromise plan.

… The governor had said previously that she wasn’t philosophically opposed to business tax cuts but wanted to make sure they were offset with other adjustments to avoid a large hole in the budget.

… The governor also suggests extending substance abuse benefits for the existing, non-expansion, Medicaid population beginning in January 2016 and adds funding over the Legislature’s budget proposal for other substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. Hassan’s plan also includes continued funding for the Senior Director for Substance Misuse and Behavioral Health position held by John Wozmak.

The governor’s compromise plan also proposes funding the state employees’ contract, funding for state police vehicles and Department of Transportation winter maintenance, and overtime funding for the Department of Corrections in 2017, among other items.

Speaking to the media a few hours after Hassan outlined her proposal, House Speaker Shawn Jasper and Senate President Chuck Morse said they were encouraged by the governor’s willingness to reconsider business tax cuts and to separate the Medicaid expansion reauthorization from the budget debate.

… Hassan is calling on legislators to work through August on a compromise in order to have a plan ready to vote on by Sept. 16. [Full story]

NH1: Landrigan: NH Political Report-Permanent state budget deal elusive, frayed feelings all around

Every week, Hassan and her team called upon legislative leaders to come and discuss the framework for a new budget.

And since the beginning of this month the two State House principals, Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, and House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, have not been there.

July is traditionally a tough month to find lawmakers; this year, Morse was gone for two weeks for a longtime planned trip to Ireland; Jasper had both business and personal matters to attend to.

If that weren’t bad enough for Hassan, the senior lawmakers and legislative staff at those sit downs with Hassan had no authority to negotiate. [Full story]

 

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Saturday
Jul252015

NHGOP LAUNCHES ONLINE PETITION URGING HASSAN TO ARM NH NATIONAL GUARD 

Concord - The New Hampshire Republican State Committee today launched an online petition urging Governor Hassan to arm the New Hampshire National Guard. Since the deadly attack at a military recruitment center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, seven states' governors have ordered their respective National Guards to arm themselves.

 

"The outrageous attack in Chattanooga has raised serious questions about the safety of our men and woman in uniform serving at recruitment stations. As the Commander-in-Chief of the New Hampshire National Guard, Governor Hassan should follow the example set by seven other governors and immediately allow our Guardsmen to arm and defend themselves," said NHGOP Chairman Jennifer Horn.

 

"We train and arm the men and women of our military to fight for our freedoms on foreign soil. Clearly, they should be able to arm and defend themselves on domestic soil. It's time for Governor Hassan to put politics aside and do the right thing for our Guardsmen."

 

Since the deadly terrorist attack in Chattanooga, Governor Hassan has come under mounting pressure to act and arm the National Guard. Recently, former National Guardsman Senator Scott Brown urged Governor Hassan to arm the New Hampshire National Guard. The governors of Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin have already taken measures to ensure their states' guardsmen are able to defend themselves. In the absence of action from Governor Hassan, citizen patriots have taken to guarding military recruitment centers on their own.

 

The online petition urging Governor Hassan to arm the New Hampshire National Guard can be found here or by visiting bit.ly/GuardNH

 

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Saturday
Jul252015

NHDP - ICYMI: Jeb! Bush Goes Head to Head with Granite State Voter over Medicare

 

CONCORD, N.H. - Yesterday, while campaigning in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush struggled to explain his way out of comments he made this week that he’d “phase out” Medicare to a New Hampshire voter who expressed her outrage.

 

At a town hall meeting in Gorham, a woman concerned about Medicare challenged Bush, asking him, “Why are you always attacking the seniors?” See NH1’s coverage of the exchange here.

 

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley responded to Bush’s comments yesterday saying, “As of 2012, there were 231,000 granite staters that would rely on medicare for health coverage. New Hampshire can’t afford Jeb Bush’s ideas to phase out Medicare and neither can the rest of the country.”

 

“This is just the latest chapter in a long book of Republicans trying to destroy Medicare or turn it over to corporations. Nearly the entire Republican field supported Paul Ryan’s efforts to end Medicare as we know it,” added Buckley.

 

Lenore Patton of Hampton said, “Jeb Bush’s plan to phase out Medicare isn’t going to help the middle class, it’ll just put them farther and farther behind. Bush, once again, is looking out for himself and others like him - a way to put more in their pockets - instead of working to help people from falling into poverty. That is something we just can’t stand for.”

 

See below for a roundup of coverage.
 

Bush "questioned by a senior citizen" over his Medicare comments

NH1 // Paul Steinhauser

...At a town hall Thursday in northern New Hampshire, the Republican presidential candidate was questioned by a senior citizen over his comments at an event Wednesday night that was organized by Americans for Prosperity, when he said that “we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they’re not going to have anything.”

The female questioner at the town hall in Gorham asked “I’ve paid into it for all these years, just like all these other seniors. Now you want to take it away.”

“No, no, no, no, no,” Bush responded.

“Yes, that’s what you said this morning,” responded the woman, talking about the coverage of Bush that she saw on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program...

“Why are you always attacking the seniors?” she asked...

Following his Wednesday night comments, Democrats quickly criticized Bush. And top Democratic party officials held a Thursday afternoon conference call to continue their attack.

“Once again, Jeb Bush has shown that he just doesn’t get it on the issues that matter to middle class families. Maybe Jeb Bush can afford to get by without Medicare. I’m sure the Koch brothers would be fine too. But millions of Americans are counting on Medicare when they retire for access to quality, affordable health care,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Party.

“This is just the latest chapter in a long book of Republicans trying to destroy Medicare or turn it over to corporations. Nearly the entire Republican field supported Paul Ryan’s efforts to end Medicare as we know it," add New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, a DNC vice-chairman…

Bush outlines his platform at Gorham town hall

Conway Daily Sun // Barbara Tetreault

 

...One woman questioned Bush sharply on Medicare, saying she heard he wants to phase out the health insurance program for Americans 65 and older. While assuring her he supports meeting the commitment to those now receiving Medicare, Bush said the government needs to look at entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security because they are not sustainable in the long run. In a quick retort, the woman challenged his characterization of Medicare as an entitlement program, noting she paid into the program her entire working career.

 

“Why are you always attacking the seniors?” she asked...

 

 

Jeb Bush defends Medicare comments

 

CNN // Cassie Spodak

 

...At a town hall Thursday, Jeb Bush refused to back down to criticism from Democrats, and one animated local voter, who charged him with "attacking the seniors" over his push for entitlement reform.

The woman told Bush she was very concerned about news reports alleging that Bush's policies would do away or change Medicare.

"My Medicare right now is wonderful and I paid into it for all these years. Why are you always attacking the seniors?" she asked Bush...

Democrats seized on the comments, saying they show Bush is out of touch with middle class families.

"I am sick and tired of Republicans who say that the only way to save Medicare is to destroy it. But my frustration is nothing compared to what it must be like for hardworking Americans who have their peace-of-mind and well-being threatened every time Republicans want to score a few political points," DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on a call with reporters Thursday.

Chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party Ray Buckley said Republicans will face opposition in the first-in-the-nation primary state if they try to "destroy Medicare."

"[Bush] thinks phasing out Medicare will be a quote-unquote 'winning argument.' I'm happy to take that bet. Not here in the Granite State," Buckley also said on the call...

 

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Saturday
Jul252015

NH DOS - THREE QUICK AND EASY STEPS TO BASIC HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS 

 

CONCORD, NH – State Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) encourages residents and visitors to prepare now for potential hurricanes and tropical storms as we head into August and September, the most active portion of the Northeast hurricane season.

 

"It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm to severely impact an area," HSEM Director Perry Plummer said. "Though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects a less-active hurricane season for the Northeast, we should always be working toward preparing our families, communities and businesses for the potentially severe events of each season."

 

The core steps to preparedness are simple: 1) complete a Family Emergency Plan to know how your family will contact one another, where you will meet and where you will evacuate to when an emergency occurs, 2) complete Emergency Contact Cards for each member of your family to keep with them at all times, and 3) prepare an Emergency Kit to sustain your household for at least three days. More information about each of these steps and what to do before, during and after a hurricane can be found at ReadyNH.gov.

 

Complete A Family Emergency Plan.

Make sure your family has an up-to-date emergency plan. Before an emergency happens, sit down together and decide how you will contact each other, where you will go and what you will do during an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your emergency kit or another safe place where you can access it in the event of a disaster. Family Emergency Plan forms are available at ReadyNH.gov.

 

Complete Emergency Contact Cards.

Emergency Contact Cards should be completed and given to each family member to keep with them at all times. Emergency Contact Cards contain contact information for a local contact, an out-of-town contact, and a neighborhood meeting place. It will be important to have these pieces of information when an emergency occurs so that you don't have to rely on the contact information in your cell phone when charging capabilities may be limited. Emergency Contact Cards are available at ReadyNH.gov.

 

Build a Kit.

Emergency Kits are essential and should be kept in a safe location where they will be accessible during an emergency. Basic emergency kits should be kept in each car as well. Emergency Kits should contain enough water, non-perishable foods and prescriptions to last at least three days for each person in your household. In addition, each Emergency Kit should contain a flashlight, radio, extra batteries, first aid kit, sanitation items, cash and additional clothing. It is important to customize kits to meet your needs and the needs of your family and pets. Emergency Kit Shopping Lists are available at ReadyNH.gov.

 

Closely monitor media reports and promptly follow instructions from public safety officials as a storm approaches.  Information on severe weather watches and warnings will be available from media sources, the National Weather Service, a NOAA all-hazards radio, the free NH Alerts service, and the free NH Alerts app. To learn more about NH Alerts and for more detailed, easy-to-follow instructions of what to do before, during and after a hurricane and other disasters, go to ReadyNH.gov. 

 

New Hampshire Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management coordinates the State’s response to natural and human-caused disasters. NH HSEM also provides planning and training in preparation for possible terrorist attacks. For additional information about NH HSEM, go to http://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/hsem/index.html. Follow NH HSEM updates on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NH_HSEM and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NH.HSEM. Also, sign up for the free NH Alerts service and download the free NH Alerts mobile app to receive emergency information via your landline, mobile and smartphones, including severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and emergency information from NH HSEM. To learn more about the free NH Alerts service and to download the free NH Alerts app, visit: www.readynh.gov.

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