To The Daily Sun,
In 2013, the Winnipesaukee Public Health Council was developed to advocate for improved health outcomes and better coordination of services among public health partners. The council is comprised of community leaders representing multiple stakeholders from the towns within Belknap County, Franklin, Hill, Danbury and Northfield.
Representatives include leaders from municipal government, health care, social services, first responders, faith, planning, business, education, public health, elder services and citizens.
The council has identified priorities health issues in the region (based upon local health assessments). These priorities include:
— Access to health care.
— Assistance in navigating through the health-care system.
— Substance misuse.
Much progress has been made to ensure that all citizens have access to affordable health care. The New Hampshire Health Protection Program has provided health care access to people, many who have never had insurance before. Health literacy is provided through primary care practices and other programs to improve individual and community health outcomes. Community Health Centers (FQHC), provide the critical safety net with state support for those with very low income and social determinants of health compounding their personal health-care needs.
These improved outcomes will benefit individuals, families and assist in the economic vitality of our community. Please support the continuation of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP), and the funding of community health centers.
Navigating the health care and social service system can be a daunting task. Helping individuals and families identify their needs and assist them in connecting with services and supports are vital services for our citizens.
This is especially true in individuals/families seeking long-term care services. In a region that is getting older, these services are a lifeline, part of the safety net preventing more costly institutional care. Please support the continuation of the statewide network of ServiceLink Resource Centers.
Our family, friends and neighbors are reeling from the growing trend of substance misuse. Prevention treatment and recovery services are scant and are unable to service the growing demands for care. The impact to individuals, families, communities, and to our local economy is extensive. It is critical that we provide the services and supports needed to change the course of the lives of our citizens with addictive disorders. Please support the continuation of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program and support a substance use disorder benefit to those individuals on regular Medicaid for FY2017.
The collective result of the massive changes to the safety net would result in down-shifting to the local town services fire, police, welfare, which are already struggling with their own budgets. Not only will this be a burden to the county, it will not be a solution for the people affected. We know that in the past, down-shifting has resulted in no-shifting and the needs of the community members will not adequately be served.
As you know, the N.H. General Court Committee of Conference is currently addressing the FY2016-17 budget which will hopefully begin on July 1. We know how important these programs are to our community and hope that you will support them.
Thank you for your service to our community and for your attention to these important matters.
Members of the Winnipesaukee Public Health Council
Marge Kerns, Geoff Ruggles, Linda Ferruolo, Jim Wells, Ed Drury, Susan Smith, Melissa Lee, Richard Silverberg, David Emberley, Jane White, Jacqui Abikoff, David Emond, Susan Wnuk, Tim Kerns, Karen Grzelak, Kirk Beattie, Mckenzie Harrington-Bacote, Alida Millham, Shanna Saunders, Rich Crocker, Sally Minkow, Justin Slattery, Barbara Normandin, Dr. Jean Petterson, Jeff Hayes, Astha Joshi, Deacon Russ Morey, Margaret Labrecque, Robert Lucas
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 June 2015 07:33
To The Daily Sun,
This letter is in response to Robert Joseph Jr.'s letter in Wednesday's Sun.
Mr. Joseph, after reading your letter in its entirety I have to say that, on the face of it, it sounds logical even, though to me it appears to be driven more by emotion rather than reality.
Your solution to the funding problems you have outlined is nothing new. I've been hearing that as a solution to New Hampshire's funding problems for decades, yet here we are in 2015 and the state is still solvent, still able to provide services, though maybe not to the level that will satisfy you.
Your solution, a sales and/or income tax, has been used in many other states to solve funding problems. All kinds of claims for problems these taxes will solve have been made, running from, "It will lower the property tax/school tax burdens being faced by our residents," to "We'll be able to adequately fund all kinds of programs our residents need," to "These will allow us to reduce taxes in other areas" as well as many others along those lines.
The only problem I have found with these promises is that every single one was false. In every state that has imposed such taxes to solve perceived funding problems none of the benefits that were promised appeared, at least not for very long. Every single time the flood of those new revenues ended up being used for purposes other than for those used to promote the new taxes and the original problems remained.
One problem I have with broad-based taxes, specifically income taxes, is that it is far too easy to jack them up to almost confiscatory levels. We've certainly seen that, even here in the Northeast. The other problem is that income tax revenues are volatile, again as many states have found out to their dismay. When the economy goes into recession, so do income tax revenues.
While sales taxes may appear to be a more viable alternative, they can adversely affect retail sales when it becomes less advantageous to shop across the border, meaning in a state like New Hampshire, than staying home and shopping there. This was aptly illustrated when Connecticut raised its sales taxes to 6.25 percent (and for some items 7 percent) and people started crossing the border into Massachusetts to shop because the sales tax there was only 5 percent. Connecticut didn't collect nearly as much in tax revenue as projected.
Increasing or adding new taxes to raise more revenue is a short term means of increasing revenue, but in the long run it doesn't raise as much as proponents believe they will. If you really want to see an increase in state revenues the best solution is to do everything possible to expand the state's economy. That always does more to expand tax revenues than slapping yet another tax (or taxes) upon the public and is far less onerous and burdensome. That's where our state government should be focusing its efforts.
I can say I might support a sales and/or income tax, but only under these three conditions:
All such revenues would be mandated by the New Hampshire Constitution to specific purposes and any of those revenues being allocated to the municipalities would not be under the control of the Legislature, governor, or any state agency. This would prevent the use of such funds to extort municipalities into performing certain actions or instituting programs that aren't in the best interests of their residents, keeping the state out of local spending issues. All such funds would be "no strings attached."
The tax rates could not be changed without a supermajority (two-thirds or four-fifths) vote of the House and Senate, and such increases not to go into effect until the biennium following such a vote, requiring another amendment to the state Constitution.
The Business Enterprise Tax and Business Profits Tax would be repealed and could not be reinstituted in any form unless the income/sales tax were repealed, also defined by an amendment to the state Constitution.
Unless those conditions were part of such a tax scheme, there's no way we should ever consider it, period. Since it is unlikely that those conditions would ever be met, in my opinion, there's no way I would even condone such taxes. (Yes, that's why I laid out those conditions above as I'm pretty sure they would never make it through the Legislature as constitutional amendments, and hence, never be on a the state ballot to the voters decide.)
Government should always be held in check by making sure it does not have the funding it always believes it should have. (It always wants more). It is one of the only ways to make sure it doesn't expand beyond the bounds of common sense or to become so big and inertia-laden that it can no longer perform the functions it is supposed to in an efficient and effective manner.
We have numerous examples of what happens when revenue sources are expanded without tight restrictions on those revenues: More taxes, higher spending, and nothing to show for any of it other than bigger and less effective government.
Dale Channing Eddy
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 June 2015 07:23
To The Daily Sun,
Since the inception of Got Lunch! Laconia in 2011, the Lakes Region Healthcare Nursery Guild has given amazing support to the program and thus the children of Laconia. They were one of our earliest financial supporters understanding the great need to fill the gap when children lose the school lunch program for the summer.
This year it will cost Got Lunch! Laconia $120 to feed one child lunch for the entire summer and the Nursery Guild's donation alone will provide healthy lunch fixings for 30 children! We and the 30 children we feed can thank the kind and caring people of the LRGH Nursery Guild. We cannot express how much it means to us when we receive donations from non-profits, businesses and individuals.
Rev. Paula Gile
Advisory Board Member
GOT LUNCH! Laconia
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 June 2015 07:19
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest dismissed it as a procedural snafu, and it was — but not in the way he meant.
The "it" was the stunning June 12 vote last week in the House of Representatives that wrecked that high-balling freight train called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. TPP is the global trade scam that was being railroaded through Congress, carrying an unbelievably odious load of freight that would give more power to Big Pharma, Wall Street, Walmart, Big Oil frackers, Silicon Valley monopolists, agribusiness giants, climate change deniers, job exporters, exploiters of labor and other multinational corporate elites.
None other than President Obama was running this locomotive, and GOP congressional leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner were the chief freight handlers. With the full corporate establishment onboard the TPP, its passage was a done deal. Except for one unforeseen obstacle: you. And you. And you. In other words, the American people!
The more you learned about what the TPP is carrying, the more you realized what a raw deal it is for your democratic rights, your jobs, income, health, environment, food, etc. — so the more involved you got in the StopTheTPP.org movement. "You The People" rose up in nearly every congressional district, and even though the national media didn't notice you, Congress did. Thus, the done deal derailed — to the shock of Corporados and their politicos, nearly 70 percent of the House voted with the people against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Of course Obama & Co. are trying to put their railroad job back on track, but that'll be a heavy lift. The wreck of the TPP was not due to a glitch in legislative procedure, but to the establishment's procedural miscalculation that we Americans will just sit still as it autocratically uses secrecy and lies to snatch away our democratic sovereignty.
The contrived wisdom foisted on us by the acolytes of the Holy Corporate Order is that ordinary folks can't stop the Powers That Be from enthroning both an economic oligarchy and political plutocracy over us. But as a friend of mine puts it: "Those who say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
Indeed, the power elites on Wall Street, in Washington and up in the corporate suites got a major comeuppance when the U.S. House rejected their TPP scheme last Friday. The Trans-Pacific Partnership masqueraded as a free trade agreement, but of the 30 chapters of this thousand-page document, only six deal with trade — the other 24 add up to a book of anti-democratic horrors, further rigging the system to enrich the global corporate elite, while ensuring ever-widening inequities for the rest of us.
Yet, the elites got a comeuppance because ... well, because the grassroots literally came up. Such smart, savvy and scrappy public interest champions as Lori Wallach of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch and Larry Cohen of the Communications Workers of America dug out the details of TPP's secret power play and went to the countryside to alert regular Americans. They and many, many others strategized, organized and mobilized, creating a mass coalition to oppose the entrenchment of what would be a global corporate kleptocracy. This was building beneath the radar of the clueless establishment media, which continue to assert that opposition to the TPP is coming from labor unions. Labor has certainly been key, but it is hardly alone, for environmental groups, small businesses, mayors, state officials, religious leaders, family farm advocates and a wide array of other grassroots activists have enlisted in the crucial democratic cause.
What we have here is something big, something important for the long run: The beginning of a cohesive, comprehensive movement to restore a forward-looking people's politics based on the egalitarian principle that we're all in this together.
(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 Thursday, 18 June 2015 07:15
The New Hampshire Senate has passed a thoughtful, conservative, and compassionate budget. This $11.3 billion budget will fund state government for the next two years. The Senate budget spent more than the House, but less than the governor. By approving this budget, our Senate colleagues took an important step to grow New Hampshire's economy and provide vital services to those most in need.
The first step in building a responsible budget is figuring out how much money we have to spend. Estimating state revenues more than two years into the future is always uncertain, and it is prudent that we be conservative in our estimates. If we're too optimistic about the rate of growth in our economy, revenues will fall short and force deep cuts to state programs. We saw how painful this mistake was in 2010 when rosy revenue estimates failed to materialize, forcing a special session to cover a budget deficit. The estimates on which we based this budget project conservative 2 percent annual growth over the next two years in state General Fund revenues.
The governor's budget planned on an additional $129 million in tax and fee increases, on everything from small businesses to cigarettes to car registrations. The Senate budget removed those tax and fee increases. We found a way to build the budget without adding an unnecessary financial burden on our hardworking citizens.
This budget lowers the Business Profits Tax for the first time in 20 years, and cuts the Business Enterprise Tax paid by our small businesses for the first time ever. Tax rates will go down for businesses that employ 95 percent of New Hampshire's private sector workforce, leaving entrepreneurs with more money to reinvest in their workforce. This modest reduction will serve as a beacon that after four years of anemic economic growth, the Granite State is again open for business.
We're also proud that this budget more than doubles the state's Rainy Day Fund to $21 million. Rebuilding our fiscal reserves helps our bond rating and provides a cushion against an unexpected economic downturn.
Ultimately, budgets are about priorities, and you can tell the Senate's priorities from the programs and services we chose to fund. A top priority was restoring funding for programs aimed at those most in need.
Within the Department of Health and Human Services, we were able to fully fund developmental disabilities and the waitlist, fully fund Meals and Wheels, and restore funding for emergency shelters and ServiceLink.
We also spent $22.9 million for existing and new mental health programs including the 10-bed crisis unit at New Hampshire Hospital.
We restored Governor Hassan's cut to nursing homes and home health care providers and provided a 3 percent rate increase to home health providers (e.g., visiting nurses, Granite State Independent Living, etc.) — the first increase since 2006.
Faced with a growing crisis of substance abuse, we were also able to stand up the alcohol fund by dedicating proceeds ($6.7 million) from the Liquor Commission for the first time in over a decade. This fund was created in 2001 by then Senator Ned Gordon who recognized the importance of funding prevention, treatment, and recovery services. (The original request for funding was approximately $17 million. The governor cut the funding to $9.6 million and the House cut the funding to $3.4 million.) Including the alcohol fund appropriation, we increased spending on drug and alcohol programs across state government to $42.1 million.
The Senate budget also commits to education at all levels. It lifts the cap on state adequacy grants, providing an additional $4 million to local schools, and increases state support for Charter School students. It increases the state's investment in the Community College System, triggering a two-year freeze on tuition, and increases funding for the University System ($11 million more than FY14/15).
The Senate budget prioritizes road and bridge construction by targeting more money to municipal construction projects, increasing state aid from $60 million to $70 million over the biennium. By restructuring our Highway Fund debt through a federal pilot program, we're able to use more money on highway construction and maintenance, and less on interest payments.
We've restructured our public safety programs to ensure sustainable funding, without raiding the Highway Fund. By dedicating funds for Homeland Security, adding positions and overtime at the Department of Corrections, funding the Department of Safety Detective Bureau, and increasing pay for courthouse security, we are meeting the Legislature's commitment to protecting the public.
There are things missing from this budget, most notably the state employee pay raise and the NH Health Protection Plan. With respect to the pay raise, we anticipate this will be discussed during final budget negotiations in the next two weeks. With respect to NHHPP, we will consider this important program outside the budget process (just like we did in the last budget).
The Senate passed a fiscally responsible budget that meets New Hampshire's needs and helps spark the New Hampshire economy and I am proud to support it.
(Meredith Republican Jeanie Forrester represents District 2 in the New Hampshire Senate.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 June 2015 20:41