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Entries in Party Politics (1315)

Saturday
May232015

NHDP - ICYMI: NH Senate GOP Budget Continue to Cut Critical Economic Priorities 

Concord, N.H. – Despite New Hampshire Senate Republicans’ rhetoric, the truth is their budget continues to cut critical priorities and would undermine the state’s ability to lay the foundation of a new generation of economic growth.

Ignoring calls from the business community, Senate Republicans voted against continuing the state’s successful bipartisan Medicaid expansion program and against moving forward with commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester.

The Senate Republican budget also includes cuts to community-based mental health services and substance misuse treatment.

And even with these cuts, it's not clear how Senate Republicans will balance their plan without fiscally irresponsible budget gimmicks. 

See coverage roundup below:

AP: N.H. Senate committee rejects $4 million for commuter rail study

A push to extend commuter rail from Boston into New Hampshire hit a snag Thursday when a state Senate committee rejected plans to spend $4 million to study the expansion.

The vote fell along party lines, with Republicans on the Senate Capital Budget Committee rejecting the proposal and Democrats championing it.

… The $4 million was initially included in Gov. Maggie Hassan's capital budget for an environmental and engineering assessment of the project. 

… Hassan said expanding rail would attract more workers and families and better connect New Hampshire to the rest of the region. Democratic Sens. Molly Kelly of Keene and Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester agreed.

"We are talking about investing so that we can bring in greater economic development and stability," Kelly said.

She referenced earlier testimony in support of rail from an executive at Dyn, a Manchester-based technology company. Bringing rail into New Hampshire could better help companies like Dyn attract young workers from Boston, she said.

"We're trying to balance what we need today and what we need tomorrow," Kelly said. "What I heard from the gentleman from Dyn is that we would need (rail) today." [Full story]

Union Leader: “D’Allesandro argued the program is working as planned”

D’Allesandro attempted to continue Medicaid expansion beyond December 2016, restore funding for the state’s drug czar, extend the Certificate of Need health facility board two years, and give home- and community-based health service providers a rate increase, but was thwarted 4-2 by the Republican majority.

… D’Allesandro argued the program is working as planned, with fewer uninsured people using hospital services and emergency rooms, while reducing uncompensated care for hospitals.

“We put this program in place and it is working,” he said. “We ought to keep it in place.”

… Senate budget writers also restored funding to the mental health system the House had reduced, but told health and human service officials to take the money from new services the state will have to provide to meet a legal settlement on the state’s mental health system. [Full story]

Daily News of Newburyport: NH Senate Democrats oppose funding cuts

With the town and region suffering a plague of drug use and related deaths, New Hampshire Senate Democrats this week took their Republican colleagues to task for cutting the proposed funding for the state Office of Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Health.

According to a press release from two senators on the Senate Finance Committee, if the cuts are not restored, it will harm the state from both a public safety and economic standpoint.

“This office funds a key position that ensures that we are strengthening our treatment and prevention efforts (in) a common-sense way to ensure that the state is responding effectively to the substance misuse epidemic,” said District 7 Sen. Andrew Hosmer, from the Lakes Region.

“All session long, we have seen the outcry from our communities for help dealing with this epidemic,” said Manchester Democrat Lou D’Allesandro, “and funding in this area should be a priority for all senators, not one that is open to cuts that go beyond the House (of Representatives’) draconian budget.” [Full story]

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Saturday
May232015

NHDP - American Congress of OB-GYNs Opposes Kelly Ayotte’s Sham Birth Control Bill 

Salon Calls Bill “A Giant Fraud”

Concord, N.H. – Today, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) joined the growing chorus of doctors and women’s health advocates opposing Kelly Ayotte’s sham birth control bill.
 
Salon called the bill “a giant fraud.” Adding, Ayotte “wants to sell women a bill of goods. They're not buying, and neither are doctors.”
 
The Huffington Post reported that ACOG President Mark S. DeFrancesco, M.D., issued the following statement on behalf of the non-profit organization of women's health doctors:
 
“The Affordable Care Act removed many barriers to preventive care that keeps women healthy. By making contraceptives available to women without a co-pay, it has truly increased access to contraception, thereby decreasing unintended pregnancies, and allowing women to better plan their futures. Unfortunately, instead of improving access, this bill would actually make more women have to pay for their birth control, and for some women, the cost would be prohibitive."
 
“As women’s health care providers, we welcome robust and productive dialogue about the indisputable role that contraceptives play in the health, well-being, and productivity of American women. We would welcome any legislation that would do what this proposal purports to do – help women. As it stands, however, we cannot support a plan that creates one route to access at the expense of another, more helpful route.”
 
BACKGROUND
 
Planned Parenthood On Republican Birth Control Bill: “Insult To Women.” “Planned Parenthood noted that birth control pills can cost women up to $600 a year, which is now covered under the Affordable Care Act, and that the bill would take away insurance coverage for birth control that’s made available over-the-counter. The bill doesn’t expand the availability or protect the affordability of IUDs and other highly effective methods of birth control.” [Planned Parenthood, 5/21/15]
 
Ayotte Voted To Bar Use Of Funds For Planned Parenthood. In April 2011, Ayotte voted in favor of: “adoption of the concurrent resolution that would direct the House clerk to make a correction in the enrollment of a bill (HR 1473) to provide $1.055 trillion in discretionary funding for fiscal 2011, and insert a section that would bar the use of funds made available in the bill to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. or its affiliates.” The concurrent resolution was rejected 42-58. [H.Con.Res. 36, Vote 60, 4/14/11]
 
Ayotte Voted For And Was An Original Cosponsor Of The Blunt Amendment. The Blunt Amendment would have allowed employers to deny women coverage for birth control and for other important preventive health services. The American Cancer Society opposed the amendment because it would allow employers deny coverage to life-saving preventive services like mammograms. [S.Amdt. 1520 to S.Amdt. 1730 to S. 1813, Vote 24, 3/1/12; New York Times, 3/2/12]
 
Following Hobby Lobby Decision, Ayotte Issued Statement Supportive Of The Decision To Deny Some Women Contraception Coverage. “U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) released the following statement today regarding the Supreme Court’s decision on religious liberty in the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby: ‘Americans shouldn’t be forced to comply with government mandates that violate core principles of their faith. This case is fundamentally a matter of religious freedom, and this ruling affirms Americans’ religious liberties as protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.’” [Office of Sen. Ayotte, Press Release, 6/30/14]
 
Ayotte Has Voted to Repeal the ACA; More Than 150k Women In New Hampshire Gained Access To Expanded Preventative Health Services Without Cost-Sharing Because Of The ACA. “Because of the Affordable Care Act, 76 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 382,000 in New Hampshire. And women can now get coverage without cost-sharing of even more preventive services they need.  Of the 76 million Americans with expanded access to free preventive services, 29.7 million are women, including 152,000 in New Hampshire receiving expanded preventive services without cost-sharing.” [Department of Health & Human Services, 8/1/13]

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Friday
May222015

DNC Response to Chris Christie's Demand For An Apology 

http://webmail.myway.com/cgi-bin/emailGetAttachment.cgi?attemid=&act=11&unm=nhinsider.myway&fid=9cbca01a_e351_4fc6_9877_7708e887a0f5&msgid=f2029375_9943_4400_bed0_a6066f2e7d74&sid=20150522115420346868218&cid=image001.png@01D0915A.3FAE0E00

The DNC released the following response on Chris Christie’s demand for the media to apologize for its coverage of the Bridgegate scandal:

 

“Oh. Right. Never mind the fact that his incompetent leadership wrecked the state budget, led to a record nine credit downgrades, the highest property taxes in the nation, and one of the worst rates of job growth in the country. Never mind the fact that there is still an ongoing investigation, and that he created a culture that led to Bridgegate. Chris Christie is the victim here, and he’s got low poll numbers because people love him so much.  If you buy that, then we’ve got a closed bridge to sell you.” –Kaylie Hanson, DNC spokesperson

 

View this post on our Factivists site here.

Friday
May222015

NHDP - US Sen Kelly Ayotte’s Misleading OTC Birth Control Bill

Ayotte’s “Plan” Would Force Women to Pay Hundreds of Dollars More Out of Pocket for Birth Control That is Now Free Thanks to the ACA
 
Ayotte Has Voted to Defund Planned Parenthood, Supported Allowing Bosses To Deny Women Health Insurance That Covers Their Full Health Needs, And Voted to Repeal the Affordable Care Act
 

Concord, N.H. – Kelly Ayotte’s misleading over-the-counter birth control proposal may sound good, but it’s not. Right now, women can get birth control at no cost thanks to the Affordable Care Act. But Ayotte’s “plan” would force women to pay $600 per year more in out-of-pocket costs, costing women more than $480 million a year across the country.
 
“While over-the-counter birth control may sound good, the reality is that Kelly Ayotte’s ‘plan’ would force New Hampshire women to pay hundreds of dollars per year - out of pocket - for birth control that they can get for free rightnow,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Lizzy Price“If Kelly Ayotte really cared about access to affordable birth control, she wouldn’t have voted to defund Planned Parenthood, supported allowing bosses to deny women insurance that covers their full health needs, and voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”
 
“Not only has Ayotte consistently voted for backward policies that would set women and families back economically, but now she’s trying to mislead voters about her true record. New Hampshire women won’t be fooled by Ayotte’s attempts to deceive and mislead with this latest political smokescreen,” added Price.
 
BACKGROUND
 
Planned Parenthood: Why Recent Over-the-Counter Birth Control Proposals are Really Underhanded. “Since their positions are so unpopular with voters in their states, it’s obvious why they’re trying to confuse voters by masking their real agenda: to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), take away the no-copay birth control coverage that is already available to more than 48 million women nationwide, and force women to ONCE AGAIN pay out-of-pocket for all birth control.” [Planned Parenthood, 9/8/14]
 
Ayotte Voted To Bar Use Of Funds For Planned Parenthood. In April 2011, Ayotte voted in favor of: “adoption of the concurrent resolution that would direct the House clerk to make a correction in the enrollment ofa bill (HR 1473) to provide $1.055 trillion in discretionary funding for fiscal 2011, and insert a section that would bar the use of funds made available in the bill to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. or its affiliates.” The concurrent resolution was rejected 42-58. [H.Con.Res. 36, Vote 60, 4/14/11]
 
Ayotte Voted For And Was An Original Cosponsor Of The Blunt Amendment. The Blunt Amendment would have allowed employers to deny women coverage for birth control and for other important preventive health services. The American Cancer Society opposed the amendment because it would allow employers deny coverage to life-saving preventive services like mammograms. [S.Amdt. 1520 to S.Amdt. 1730 to S. 1813, Vote 24, 3/1/12; New York Times, 3/2/12]
 
Following Hobby Lobby Decision, Ayotte Issued Statement Supportive Of The Decision To Deny Some Women Contraception Coverage. “U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) released the following statement today regarding the Supreme Court's decision on religious liberty in the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby: ‘Americans shouldn't be forced to comply with government mandates that violate core principles of their faith. This case is fundamentally a matter of religious freedom, and this ruling affirms Americans' religious liberties as protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.’” [Office of Sen. Ayotte, Press Release, 6/30/14]
 
Ayotte Has Voted to Repeal the ACA; More Than 150k Women In New Hampshire Gained Access To Expanded Preventative Health Services Without Cost-Sharing Because Of The ACA. “Because of the Affordable Care Act, 76 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 382,000 in New Hampshire. And women can now get coverage without cost-sharing of even more preventive services they need.  Of the 76 million Americans with expanded access to free preventive services, 29.7 million are women, including 152,000 in New Hampshire receiving expanded preventive services without cost-sharing.” [Department of Health & Human Services, 8/1/13]

 
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Thursday
May212015

NHDP - ICYMI: NHFPI: "Senate Revenue Estimates Insufficient to Restore Services and Cut Business Taxes"

Concord, N.H. – The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute points out that if Senate Republicans continue to increase spending without raising any new revenue, they will inevitably be forced to revert to the fiscally irresponsible budget gimmicks like back-of-the-budget cuts and inflated lapses that the legislature has relied on for years.  
 
NHFPI: Senate Revenue Estimates Insufficient to Restore Services and Cut Business Taxes
http://www.nhfpi.org/commoncents/senate-revenue-estimates-insufficient-to-restore-services-and-cut-business-taxes.html
 
Earlier today, the Senate Ways and Means Committee finalized its revenue estimates for the FY 2016-2017 biennium, projecting that, absent changes in law, the General and Education Funds will collect $4.62 billion over the next two years. While that forecast is $118 million higher than the one on which the House of Representatives premised its version of the FY16-17 budget, preliminary decisions made by the Senate Finance Committee late last week and early this one have already effectively committed over half of that $118 million difference. As a result, the Senate’s version of the budget would not be able to restore major funding reductions approved by the lower chamber and also enact a sizable reduction in business taxes in the next biennium.
 
Overall, Senate Ways and Means projects that General and Education Fund revenue will total $2.24 billion in FY 2015, rise by 1.9 percent in FY 2016, and climb by another 2.0 percent by FY 2017. (By comparison, the House anticipated aggregate growth rates of 1.3 percent and 1.0 percent respectively; the Governor expected increases of 2.7 and 1.9 percent.) Among New Hampshire’s more sizable sources of revenue, Senate Ways and Means forecasts that the combination of the state’s two business taxes – the business profits tax (BPT) and business enterprise tax (BET) – will amount to $545.5 million in FY 2015 and grow by 2.5 percent in each year of the upcoming biennium, a rate of growth considerably above the rates assumed by the House. In addition, Senate Ways and Means foresees comparatively robust growth in the meals and rooms tax, anticipating growth of 6 percent per year; Governor Hassan’s Consensus Revenue Estimation Panel recently updated its expectations for that tax to 6.4 percent growth in FY16 and 5.9 percent in FY17.
 
Consequently, Senate budget writers, in effect, have $118 million more with which to work than their counterparts in the House did in assembling their version of the budget. However, the Senate Finance Committee has already begun to allocate those funds. Last week, Senate Finance removed provisions from the House’s version of the FY16-17 budget that would have directed roughly $52 million from the Renewable Energy Fund to the General Fund; thus, it will need to use $52 of the $118 million to compensate for the loss of those funds. Similarly, the Finance Committee struck provisions of the House’s version of the budget that would have instituted Keno in New Hampshire, a move that the House anticipated would yield roughly $12 million in the next biennium; accordingly, it will need another $12 million to fill the hole in the underlying budget. The Finance Committee also rejected the House’s attempts to transfer $4 million in funds related to the recent MTBE legal settlement to be used to meet General Fund expenses; that $4 million too will need to come out of the difference in baseline estimates. Factoring in these funding commitments, the Senate is left with just $50 million with which to work.

All of this, of course, assumes that the Senate will neither seek to generate additional revenue nor attempt to reduce projected collections. Given the Senate’s prior approval of reductions in the rates of the BPT and the BET via SB 1 and SB 2, the latter seems far more likely than the former at this stage. In fact, if the substance of both SB 1 and SB 2 were incorporated into the budget, the result would be the loss of approximately $28 million in FY16-17 and upwards of $80 million biennially once fully implemented. In other words, to put SB 1 and SB 2 into effect, the Senate would need to use another $28 million of the $118 million difference in baseline revenue estimates.
 
The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to take up the budget for the Department of Health Human Services tomorrow. That budget represents the single largest set of differences between the Governor’s and House’s versions of the FY 2016-2017 budget, with the latter providing approximately $120 million less in General Funds for services for the developmentally disabled, the elderly, and the homeless, among others. Yet, it already appears that only a portion of the Senate’s higher revenue estimates will be available to restore funding for public services designed to assist and to protect the most vulnerable citizens of the Granite State. Any attempt to reduce business taxes as part of the FY16-17 budget would only further reduce the degree to which the Senate is able to reverse the House’s decisions.
 
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