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Sen. Jeanie Forrester - Governor needs to share spending numbers, soon

The governor's claims that the FY16/17 budget she vetoed is unbalanced and dishonest continue to be unfounded, misleading, and hurtful to the people of New Hampshire. As the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, I stand by our proposal as a solid foundation that is good for New Hampshire, spending $600 million more than the FY14/15 budget.

Within days of the House and Senate passing the $11.35 billion state budget, Governor Hassan irrationally acted on her veto promise. Many, on both sides of the aisle, are scratching their heads about what she hoped to achieve by taking this action. Many recall that when John Lynch was governor, he simply allowed the 2012/13 budget to go into law without his signature. He fully understood the turmoil that would descend on state agencies and our citizens with a veto. His priorities were well-placed when he allowed the budget to pass into law without his signature.

The House and Senate, in anticipation of Governor Hassan's veto, prepared a six-month continuing resolution (using FY15 appropriations) that would prevent a government shutdown. It was a bit of a puzzle when the Democrats introduced their own continuing resolution to fund government at FY16 levels, when they too had joined the chorus of claims that our budget was irresponsible and unbalanced.

Last week the Senate Finance Committee met in public with the non-partisan Legislative Budget Assistant (LBA) to review the governor's accusations that the budget was unbalanced, dishonest and made promises it couldn't keep. One by one, those claims were refuted.

In addition, the public learned that the Department of Health and Human Services had requested additional funding for Medicaid caseload spending. The governor denied that request and neglected to account for it in her budget. If the governor had acceded to the department's request, she would have been out of balance at the close of Fiscal Year 15. It was clearly disingenuous of the governor to then ask the Senate to address a problem she was aware of months before but didn't address.

I appreciate that the governor is willing to work together and I look forward to having some productive conversations. Since revenues are ahead of plan by $42.5 million, we can only assume that if there is a problem (which the governor clearly believes there is), it has to be on the spending side of the equation.

For us, what will be extremely helpful in finding a path forward will be for the governor to provide us with the spending numbers now — and not make us wait until the end of September. If the governor does have a problem, we want to be able to help solve that problem as soon as possible. The citizens of New Hampshire expect no less than for us to come together and solve this problem as soon as possible.

This budget does so much good: it funds the mental health settlement and the 10 beds at the N.H. Hospital and the staff; it fully funds developmental disabilities and the wait list; it restores cuts made by Governor Hassan to the home health agencies (like Visiting Nurses and Granite State Independent Living) and provides the first rate increase since 2006; it increases spending on drug and alcohol prevention, treatment, and recovery by 75 percent more than the last budget; and it restores ServiceLink, Meals on Wheels, the DHHS district offices, and Emergency Shelters.

This budget restores the retiree health insurance premium contribution to 12.5 percent; it spends more than the governor's budget on roads and bridges, restores the DMV stations and state troopers. This budget starts to seriously rebuild the Rainy Day Fund, from $9.3 million to more than $21 million over the biennium. It also offers a modest cut to business taxes which will help our small businesses grow.

This budget sends money back to our cities and towns through state aid grants, flood control, rooms and meals distribution, and increased education adequacy payments.

This budget does all that and more without the $129 million in taxes and fees as proposed by the governor. We found a way to build this budget without adding any unnecessary financial burden on our hardworking citizens.

The governor's unsubstantiated claims (much like the claims she made during our last budget) and her subsequent veto directly impacts our communities, state agencies, and important programs. As we wait for the governor to provide the information on spending, critical new mental health programs don't get funded, increased spending on drug & alcohol programs doesn't happen, cities and towns are held hostage and left wondering about the tax rate-setting process, and much more.

I urge the governor to work with the legislature and share the information we need to move forward.

(A Meredith Republican, Jeanie Forrester represents District 2 in the New Hampshire Senate. She is chair of Senate Finance Committee.)

 

Last Updated on Monday, 06 July 2015 09:09

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Michael Barone - Patriotism, optimism & good-natured debate

The Fourth of July is a time to remember Americans who have contributed much to their country, and this Fourth weekend is a good time to remember two such Americans who died in recent weeks — and whom I'd had the good fortune to know and joust with intellectually since the 1970s — Allen Weinstein and Ben Wattenberg.

Both were sons of Jewish immigrants, born in the 1930s and raised in the Bronx, which then had the highest Jewish percentage of any American county and also large Irish, Italian and black communities.

The Bronx was one of the heartlands of American liberalism — the big argument in 1948 was whether to support Harry Truman or the anti-anti-Soviet, Henry Wallace — and Weinstein and Wattenberg as young adults were proud liberal Democrats. But while both remained liberals in many respects, they were willing to challenge leftist orthodoxy.

As a history professor at Smith College, Weinstein authored two books in the 1970s and came to public attention with his 1978 book "Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case." He had begun his work believing, like many on the left, that Hiss was unjustly convicted of perjury in 1950 for denying he was a Soviet spy.

But his research — including 30,000 pages of Justice Department records, interviews with Soviet spies and with Hiss himself — convinced him that Hiss was guilty. And the meticulous narrative and argumentation in "Perjury" convinced readers ranging ideologically from George Will to Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Though affirming Hiss' guilt was apostasy in academia, Weinstein continued to teach at Georgetown and Boston University. In 1985 he founded the Center for Democracy, and worked with Democrats and Republicans to advance democratic institutions in the Philippines, Central America and Russia.

Weinstein was a conduit of information between the White House and Boris Yeltsin during the 1991 coup, and, with former KGB agent Alexander Vassiliev, he gained access to Soviet secret police files, the basis for their 1999 book "The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in American — the Stalin Era." Those documents and the until-then-secret Venona transcripts of KGB communications sealed the case against Hiss and other spies whom some considered unjustly accused.

From 2005 to 2008 Weinstein served as archivist of the United States, developing digitized records and arranging federal status for the Nixon presidential library. As a careful scholar, he was not given to broad generalization. But the thrust of his life's work was a reaffirmation of the value of American democracy and the worthiness of the struggle against totalitarian rule.
Ben Wattenberg started not as an academic but as a journalist and first gained attention with his 1965 book, "This U.S.A.," co-authored with former Census Director Richard Scammon, using census data to show how "we have achieved a better America."

That led to a speechwriting job in Lyndon Johnson's White House, where Wattenberg's inveterate optimism about America and Americans never wavered despite multiple urban riots and numerous antiwar demonstrations. Wattenberg worked on Hubert Humphrey's unsuccessful 1968 campaign and in 1970, again with Scammon, wrote "The Real Majority," arguing that the Democratic (or Republican) party could win only with the support of the median voter, personified by an archetypical housewife from Dayton.

Wattenberg's arguments did not convince his fellow Democrats, who nominated George McGovern and Jimmy Carter in 1972 and 1976 while Wattenberg worked for the campaign of the hawkish liberal Henry "Scoop" Jackson. But he never lost faith in his fellow Americans.

When many writers depicted overpopulation as a looming problem, Wattenberg took the opposite view: the world needed more Americans. His immersion in statistics enabled him to appreciate before others the sharp decline in national and world birth rates. His responses included his books "The Good News Is the Bad News Is Wrong" (1984) and "The Birth Dearth" (1987).

For three decades Wattenberg was a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (where I am a resident fellow) and for even longer he produced and appeared in television series, including "In Search of the Real America" and "Think Tank."

For Wattenberg the United States was, in the title of his 1991 book, "The First Universal Nation," and he proclaimed himself, echoing the 1840s phrase, a "neo-manifest destinarian."

American liberalism has moved in different directions from these two sons of the Bronx, but Allen Weinstein and Ben Wattenberg embodied some of its historic virtues: patriotism, optimism, openness to dialogue and friendly but zestful argument. Legacies we all can learn from.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

Last Updated on Friday, 03 July 2015 07:46

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Roche — Lakes Region Profiles - The Formula boat that never retired

It's always interesting to me to see how couples end up in The Lakes Region. For Jack Telefus & Christine King their story travels through several states for high-end corporate job positions with their prized boat in tow the whole way.
Jack was born and raised in upstate New York while Christine grew up in New Jersey. The couple met in 1971 while attending Orange County Community College. They both took jobs at IBM in Fishkill, N.Y. Christine later earned a degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickson University. Over the next 23 years she rose through the ranks at IBM, excelling in what was then a male-dominated corporate culture. After serving in Vietnam, Jack earned an engineering degree in Maryland and enjoyed a distinguished career at IBM for 30 years. The early years leading to 1971 were difficult times for Jack and Christine, "pinching pennies" was a common theme.
In 1976 they moved to Burlington, Vt. with IBM and they bought a used 27ft boat that they enjoyed cruising around on Lake Champlain for over 4 years. Once the linkage broke they decided it was finally time for a new boat. They wanted a Formula and with no dealers in the Lake Champlain area they journeyed to Lakeport Landing Marina here in Laconia, N.H. and purchased a new 38ft Formula Fastech. (Fun fact...I sold Lakeport Landing to Paul Blizzard that same year). Christine and Jack were ecstatic for their big boat. "We enjoyed boating on Champlain, the lake was big and open, but sometimes the large waves were difficult".
By 1995 Christine had become the vice president of IBM's semi-conductor division and VP of the networking business unit. She had 33,000 employees within the company which produced $6 billion in revenue at the time.
Along came a 'head hunter' in 2001 making an offer Christine and Jack just could not refuse...she was offered the top position of CEO of AMI Semi-Conductor (AMIS) with the understanding she could select the location for the company's world headquarters in Pocatello, Idaho. The New Jersey native smiles and replied "I've always wanted to be a cowgirl" and off they went. AMIS had 10,000 employees worldwide and Chris became the first female CEO of a semi-conductor company in the world. Over seven years the company grew and Chris took it public, selling the company and made the investors a lot of money. Meanwhile "there was little lake water in the southeast corner of Idaho and our prized Formula did not have much playtime after we shipped it out...we had manmade lakes in our area, and everyone laughed at us in our oversized boat in only 10ft of water". Christine's other passion is riding horses; she has seven quarter horses of her own. Thriving off competition and adrenaline she's ranked 3rd in the world in the "Amateur Cow Cutting" class. Chris became the cowgirl she wanted to be.
Enjoying her retirement for only 2 months, Christine was again approached by another head hunter in 2008. She was offered the top position as CEO of Standard Microsystems (SMSC). They sold their home in Idaho and were off to Hauppauge/Long Island, N.Y. Sadly they had to ship the Formula to storage this time, so they sent it back to Lakeport Landing because they didn't want her near salt water. At the same time, they purchased a home in Scottsdale, Ariz. so Christine could house her horses and keep up her cowgirl competitions. (Just last week she was in Las Vegas and won that competition!)
In 2011 their daughter was having her 4th baby. Their last family vacation had been on New Jersey's shore but this year their daughter didn't want beach sand. "Mom, don't you have a boat on Lake Winnipesaukee?" she asked. So for the first time in years they pulled the Formula out of storage and launched it for a vacation. They stayed at Church Landing in Meredith and later rented a lake house in Alton. The kids and grandkids just loved it up here; there was so much for the whole family to do. They visited for four summers; 3-4 weeks each year. "We liked the Lakes Region so much we started looking around for a place on the water." Jack saw a sign on a place and called the listing agent twice, with no answer. He met with Kevin Keenan at Paugus Bay Marina and mentioned the house he viewed from the road. Jack got back to Scottsdale and gets a phone call from a different agent, John Goodhue who Mr. Keenan had referred. "After the call from John and 15 houses later we decided on a beautiful lake home in Alton on the Wolfeboro line. It had everything we needed...great views overlooking the Varney islands, 5 bedrooms, 7 baths, theatre room and an impressive exercise room for Jack. We love the peaceful setting on the lake where it's so easy to boat to so many interesting restaurants. We also love the blue collar appeal of the region and feel of the people around the lake. Everyone's so friendly."
So the story continues on a happy note. Jack is retired from IBM and Christine sits on the Board of Directors of four public companies, one of which is in Boston. She still loves to ride horses but she's found another passion...piloting that Formula boat around all the islands of Lake Winnipesaukee.
Visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 279-7046.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Jim Hightower - Moving marriage equality from taboo to justice

From 1956 until 2010, CBS television's daytime lineup included America's longest-running soap opera: "As the World Turns." But times change, and now a real-life human drama of profound importance has debuted in America: "As the Generations Turn."

It's the inspiring story of our society's continuing struggle to evolve toward dignity and mutual respect ... as well as love. The moment came on June 26, 2015, when Justice Anthony Kennedy proclaimed from the ornate chamber of the Supreme Court: "The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty."

Kennedy and Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor voted to make this higher level of inclusiveness the law of the land, but they are not the producers of it. Indeed, while the court's ruling debuts a new day, it is the culmination of generations of painful struggle by brave gay and lesbian activists and advocates. And it is particularly the product of a defiant and determined LGBTQ movement for equality that arose from the brutal police riot at the Stonewall Inn in New York on June 28, 1969.

This democratic evolution from rank inequality literally came out of America's closet, rising through only a few neighborhoods at first, but then entering the consciousness of today's youth. Rejecting the shibboleths, ignorance, fears and bigotry that previously permitted such intolerable discrimination, young people have, in a remarkably short amount of time, created a generational shift in the nation's consciousness.

The true Supremes are the people themselves, and it's their awakening enlightenment that has transformed marriage equality from taboo to simple justice.

It is unfortunately true, however, that not everyone has evolved on the issue of equality in our Land of the Free. The Supreme Court's ruling that states can no longer ban same-sex marriage has set off a cacophony of howling hyperbole by the GOP's far-out presidential wannabes.
"I will not acquiesce to an imperial court," blustered Fox News political huckster Mike Huckabee. "Resist and reject judicial tyranny," he bellowed. Huck even couched his cry for continued discrimination against gay people by likening it to Abe Lincoln's principled refusal to honor the court's 1857 ruling that African-Americans could not be citizens. Sure, Mike, you're a modern-day Lincoln — except that he was opposing discrimination, while you're demanding that government enforce it!

Then came the wild hair of the GOP's presidential menagerie, Donnie Trump, trumpeting his keen insight that the court's gay marriage decision is Jeb Bush's fault. Really. The Donald explained that Jeb's brother George appointed Chief Justice John Roberts to the court, so ... there you have it. Shhhh — let's not spoil Trump's hallucination by telling him that Roberts actually voted against letting gays marry.

Now on to Scott Walker, widely touted by the GOP's billionaires as the "serious" contender. Yet, he is seriously pushing a constitutional amendment to allow states to keep prohibiting same-sex marriages. "No one wants to live in a country where the government coerces people to act in opposition to their conscience," said Walker, apparently oblivious to the fact that state governments have long been coercing LGBTQ people to do exactly that. And now Walker is promising, if elected, to coerce them right back into a life of unconscionable injustice.

Every one of the 13 Republican presidential candidates is marching backward into the bigoted past, piously thumbing their noses not only at millions of gays and lesbians and their families, but also at the ever-growing majority of Americans — especially young people — who support marriage equality.

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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DuBois — Getting to know the Belknaps

When my family and I moved to the Lakes Region in 1977 I gave little thought to hiking locally. I was drawn north to the White Mountains to hike the many trails located in the National Forest. It wasn't until a few years ago that I became acquainted with the mountain range located almost in my back yard. A hiking friend asked me if I wanted to attend a meeting of the BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders), a group of volunteers who maintain many of the trails located in the Belknap Range. I agreed to attend and signed on as a trail maintainer with my hiking partner Steve Zimmer. From that point forward I became enamored of not only the trail system, but the history and geography of the region known as the Belknap Mountain Range.
The Belknap Mountain Range is a prominent mountainous ridge that runs west of Lake Winnipesaukee in the towns of Gilford, Gilmanton, and Alton, N.H. It is comprised of several prominent peaks including Piper (2,044 feet), Gunstock (2,250), Belknap (2,382) and Major (1,786). A fire tower on Belknap and the cleared summit of Gunstock, as well as numerous scattered ledges on all the peaks, provide fine views of Lake Winnipesaukee, the Ossipee and Sandwich Range, and Mt. Washington. The range was named for Jeremy Belknap (1744-1796) who in 1784 published the first volume of the History of New Hampshire and in 1792 completed the work. The Belknap Range is part of a volcanic complex that surrounds Lake Winnipesaukee and includes Red Hill, the Belknap Range, the Ossipee Mountains and Merrymeeting Mountain. They were created during the Mesozoic Era and the breakup of the Pangaea supercontinent. If you are interested in more information on the formation of the Belknap Range read "Stepping-Stones Across New Hampshire: A Geological Story of the Belknap Mountains." by Jay Long, 2005.

Several trails are ideal for the beginner hiker or a family with small children and serve as a wonderful introduction to the Belknaps. I would recommend the Mt. Major trail, the Piper Trail or the Gunstock Mountain Trail. One of my favorite trails is a section of the Fire Road/Round Pond Trail. It can be accessed from Bickford Road, which runs off of Rt. 11A. There is a small parking area at the end of the road and the trail starts immediately from the parking lot. It climbs gradually on a recently reconstructed fire road, with some fine viewing areas toward Belknap Mountain. At about one mile the fire road merges with the Round Pond Trail which starts at the Gunstock Mountain Ski Area parking lot. This trail is marked with red blazes. Continue on the Round Pond Trail, until it merges with the Piper Link Trail blazed in lime green. Stay to the left, continuing to climb gradually to the height of land. The trial then leads down to Round Pond and around its northern and eastern shore line. Round Pond is a beautiful mountain pond occupied by a very active beaver colony. The trail had to be relocated last year and moved to higher ground due to beavers building an extensive dam at the far end of the pond.

The trail continues along the eastern side of the pond to a clearing at the southern end of the pond. This area has been used often for camping and picnicking. The Daniel Webster Boy Scout Council owns much of the land near and around the pond and uses it for numerous activities in the summer. Here is a great spot for a rest in the sun, a snack and if you are brave, a dip in the pond. When you are ready to head back to the parking lot simply reverse direction and follow the trail back.
If you have the energy, the time and an adventurous spirit you can choose to climb Mt. Clem and Mt. Mack, as both mountains are accessible off the Round Pond trail. Watch for the BRT sign (Belknap Range Trail) that will take you up to the summits of both mountains. Since there are a number of other trails in the area you should have the Belknap Range Trail map with you, along with a compass (and the ability to use the compass) to ensure that you can return to the Round Pond Trail. Trail maps are available at the libraries in Gilford, Gilmanton, Laconia, Barnstead, Meredith, Center Tuftonboro and Sanbornton. You also can download or print the 11″ X 17″ map at http://belknaprangetrails.org/belknap-range-trail-map/.
I hope you take the opportunity to get to know the Belknap Range, just as I have done over the past several years. The range is a jewel in our "backyard" and provide wonderful opportunities for numerous days of hiking pleasure. You can learn more about the trails by going to www.belknaprangetrails.org
Gordon DuBois has hiked extensively in Northern New England and the Adirondacks of New York State. In 2011 he completed the Appalachian Trail (2,285 miles) hiking north from North Adams, Mass. to Mt Katahdin, Maine in 2007 and in 2011 hiking south from Mass. to Springer Mt. in Georgia. He has also hiked the Long Trail in Vt., The International AT in Quebec, Canada and the John Muir Trail in California. Gordon has summited the New Hampshire Hundred Highest peaks, and the New England Hundred Highest, 98 of these in winter. He spends many days hiking locally and in the White Mountains with his dog Reuben. He especially enjoys hiking in the Lakes Region due to the proximity to his home in New Hampton. He is also a trail maintainer for the BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders) and can be found often exploring the many hiking trails in the area.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 July 2015 08:02

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