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Entries in Josiah Bartlett Center (132)

Wednesday
May212014

Josiah Bartlett Center - The Time for the Governor to Act is Now 

 

Weekly Update from the
Josiah Bartlett Center


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

 
 

I believe that the unique joys of another special legislative session loom on the horizon for the New Hampshire legislature. The purpose of the session will be the byzantine creature known as the Medicaid Enhancement Tax but we might just as easily call it the current budget crisis. Some legislators deny the existence of a crisis. They’re wrong.

The current crisis has come about as the courts have ruled a weird tax scheme of ours unconstitutional and placed almost $400 million the state is counting on for its budget in jeopardy. Solutions are swirling in Concord and some sort of Grand Alliance may yet come together but a solution must be reached by June 5 or a special session will be required. In the meantime, the governor’s delay in taking simple steps of preparation is inexplicable.....Click here to keep reading.
 


 

"I hoped for both the routine hiring freeze every governor does and the additional spending reductions most governors make. Today’s actions are the first small step to respond to the problem but she should also make real spending cuts by executive order as recent governors have done. In the last two decades, itemized spending reductions have accompanied freezes nine times. Nonetheless, I want to thank her for listening.” Click here to keep reading.

Friday
May092014

Josiah Bartlett Center - The Governor's Inappropriate Appointment and the State's Fiscal Crisis 

Weekly Update from the
Josiah Bartlett Center

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

 
 

Governor Hassan made a mistake by nominating someone engaged in an ongoing lawsuit against the state to regulate the area over which he’s still suing. The mistake is not one of policy but one of propriety. The nomination can and should be withdrawn before tomorrow’s vote of the Executive Council.

So the governor has nominated someone to the State Board of Education who is currently suing the state over education policy. He didn’t once upon a time sue the state. He hasn’t expressed concerns. He is currently engaged in lawsuit – a lawsuit named after him – and is going to oversee that area – the area of his ONGOING lawsuit. Does the governor not see that this is a trifle odd? 
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The $400 million hole in the state’s budget I described two weeks ago has caused the state to be placed on a negative fiscal watch. Some would ignore or minimize the crisis but the problem is large, structural, and will require more than a small tweak to fix.

This past week, the national bond rating agency Standard and Poor’s lowered the state’s outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative.’ Very quickly, the other major national group, Moody’s, followed suit and advised investors and anyone watching the state’s finances that New Hampshire’s outlook was negative. The bond rating was not lowered but both major fiscal watchdogs are advising the world that New Hampshire’s outlook is negative. I think it’s fair to say that this is not putting our best foot forward as we look to attract jobs and investment to the state. Click here to keep reading

Wednesday
Apr092014

Josiah Bartlett Center - Bow Plant Saves Ratepayers Millions 

Weekly Update from the
Josiah Bartlett Center


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

When it costs more to heat your house, your electricity is cheaper. Actually there isn’t a direct correlation between the two but cold weather – and we’ve had plenty of it – drives both dynamics. One utility-owned power plant in New Hampshire is something of a political football but is currently saving ratepayers well over $100 million this year.

The electric market in New England is all about gas. The electric market is not state specific but regional and our region comprises the six New England states. Whether a power plant is in New Hampshire or Rhode Island is immaterial. Power is sold into a regional market which doesn’t care which state the plant is in.

The lion’s share of electricity in New England comes from natural gas so gas is said to set the price. Every resource bids into the market a price at which they are willing to supply a set amount of power. The sources are then “stacked” from least to highest bid until the power need is reached. All accepted providers then get that “clearing price” regardless of what their individual bids were. Gas generally sets the price as the last accepted bid....Click here to keep reading

Saturday
Mar292014

Josiah Bartlett Center - Dickens, Budgets, and Charter Schools 

Weekly Update from the
Josiah Bartlett Center


Keeping you up to date on our latest research
on the issues impacting New Hampshire
Two issues this week. Charter Schools and Charles Dickens. I enjoyed writing the piece which uses my favorite Charles Dickens quote to pass on the advice of Mr. Micawber to today’s lawmakers (though, of course, you and I could benefit by reminding ourselves of this truism now and then). You don’t have to be the greatest Dickens fan to believe that Micawber’s insight is as profound as it is simple.
 
The second issues unfolded last week. Distressingly, charter schools are sometimes used as a political football and otherwise sensible, seemingly non-controversial proposals get caught in the political vortex. That happened with a bill related to a modest charter funding change. Problematically, I made a mistake and needed to correct it in a column two days later. Both columns are reproduced here. Everything I said in the first column about misleading information was true with the exception of authorship. Charter schools were being attacked with incorrect information designed to confuse the issue. That information was contradicted by the official fiscal note produced by the department of education. I assume that the department wasn’t the author of the contradictory and incorrect information. I was wrong. In fact, the department authored and stands by both the right information and its incorrect rebuttal. If one is right the other is wrong but they have the same author. No wonder legislators were confused and changed their mind. It is very sad but the attack on charter schools continues despite their amazing success and is at least somewhat more muted here than in places like New York City.
 

The great economic principle of our time comes not from an economist or a banker but from the great Mr. Micawber, a somewhat comic character created by Charles Dickens.  Wilkins Micawber had figured out the central organizing fact of modern life when he suggested to young David Copperfield, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the God of day goes down upon the weary scene, and  – and in short you are for ever floored.”...Click here to keep reading

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In Wednesday’s column about a misleading attack on charter school funding, I made a big mistake. I want to correct my mistake about the source of the very misleading information that was circulated and explain to you how I made the mistake and the problem with the information. It’s important that you feel free to agree or disagree with my conclusions but not have cause to doubt my information....Click here to keep reading

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A modest normalization of charter school funding, although long overdue, has become a political football and subject of misinformed and purposely misleading arguments to try and kill it. The truth, easily discovered, is that the proposal covers fewer than 2% of students and involves less than 2% of state education funding and continues to ask charter schools to prosper with less than half the funding of traditional schools....Click here to keep reading

Wednesday
Mar192014

Josiah Bartlett Center - The Rainy Day Fund and February Obamacare Data 

Weekly Update from the
Josiah Bartlett Center


Keeping you up to date on our latest research
on the issues impacting New Hampshire
Discipline Today Saves Trouble Tomorrow

Every legislative session there are 3 or 4 issues which dominate the media’s attention but some of the most important long term decisions pass by with little notice. You’d be forgiven for thinking the gas tax, gambling, and Medicaid expansion are the only three issues before the legislature. These are important but you’ll forgive me if I take a moment to talk about the state budget.

Too often legislatures focus on the budget one year and completely ignore it the next year. The budget passed last year was balanced in its own way but had a few problems that the legislature wants to correct. The most important correction is a simple but controversial partial correction to the state’s rainy day fund...Click here to keep reading

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4715 Obamacare Enrollments in February
and an Updated Look at the Pool

 
5,417 Granite Staters selected an insurance policy on the federal exchange in February. Since open enrollment began in October a total of 21,578 people have selected coverage. Overall, there has been very little change in the demographics of the pool since January, which is to be expected since as the pool grows larger, the harder it is to change the numbers...Click here to keep reading