Flanagan: A Legislative Agenda Republicans Can Be Proud Of

Every two years,  the people of New Hampshire turns their attention to the new legislature and its majority party.  What policy initiatives and campaign promises will likely  be carried forward as part of the legislative agenda of that majority party?

Many of us campaigned on the simple, overarching goal of making New Hampshire an even better place to live, work, raise a family, and do business. But achieving  this goal requires careful work in a multitude of complex policy areas.

In December, the House Republican Caucus gathered for the purpose of discussing problems facing NH and to set goals on how to best address these problems through good legislation.. This collaborative discussion allowed the caucus members to voice their thoughts, suggestions, and proposals based on the concerns they’ve heard from their constituents.

Through this discussion, the Republican Caucus developed an agenda  that covers several distinct policy areas, carefully prioritized in order to develop common sense  legislation that will address each of these areas.

The Republican Majority intends to produce and support a fiscally responsible, balanced state budget without new taxes or fees. It will be a budget  based on realistic revenue estimates, without any bonding or accounting gimmicks, and will not downshift costs to property taxpayers or raid dedicated funds.

We are committed to improving our state’s business climate by reducing and reforming our business taxes, which remain among the highest in the nation, and reducing burdensome regulations. We will promote policies to retain existing businesses and help them grow, as well as attract new businesses, thus helping our private sector create new and better paying jobs.

We will work to find efficiencies throughout state government that will save taxpayer dollars, while working to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. We will fight to increase accountability and transparency of all state agencies, programs, and departments to ensure they are good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

We are committed to reducing our public employee pension system’s $4.6 billion unfunded liability and reform the system in a way that protects current retirees, taxpayers, and ensures we have  a solvent retirement system for future generations.

New Hampshire’s Rainy Day fund has a balance of just $9.3 million, which is not enough to run our state government for more than 2 days. House Republicans will continue to identify ways to increase the fund balance, which, in turn,  will bolster our State’s financial security and credit rating.

We will work to increase local control of education curriculum and testing, and promote policies that increase parental involvement in their children’s education. We will also continue to support policies that promote school choice and maintain funding for charter schools.

We are committed to controlling the cost of higher education by working with our university and community college system to ensure that  taxpayer dollars are applied in a manner that directly affects the quality and affordability of education for in-state students. A well educated workforce will help attract new industry and help New Hampshire retain its college graduates and young professionals.

New Hampshire’s high energy costs hurt family budgets, increase the costs of goods and services, and impede economic growth.  We intend to support legislation that eliminates unnecessary mandates that increase the cost of energy production, and work with local communities and utilities to find the best way to increase the supply and delivery of low cost energy options.

House Republicans are also proud to fight for preserving and increasing personal rights and liberties, and reducing government overreach. We will ensure that the 2nd amendment rights of our citizens are not infringed upon, we  will strive to preserve and protect the integrity of our elections and increase privacy protections for all citizens.

We are committed to supporting health care policies rooted in free market principles that will increase freedom in health care decisions and lower insurance premiums for individuals and businesses.  We will take steps to end our involvement in Obamacare Medicaid Expansion and continue to find ways to enable the best health care access possible without unnecessary or unfunded state and federal mandates.

We believe this agenda accurately reflects many of the positions that Republicans campaigned on throughout 2014.   We have listened to our constituents and they have expressed what they believe should be our priorities over the next two years.   We look forward continued input from the people who sent us to the State House  as we work to apply common sense, fiscally responsible solutions to our State’s evolving needs.

Chandler: Rebuilding New Hampshire’s Rainy Day Fund Should be a Priority

by House Republican Leader Rep. Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett)

New Hampshire’s Rainy Day Fund – sometimes called the Revenue Stabilization Account  – was drained of $80 million by the Democrat controlled legislature to maintain or increase spending levels, rather than making spending cuts, during the recent recession.

Under the 2012-2013 Republican budget, New Hampshire was left with a surplus. While most of the money in the surplus was used to help fund the 2014-2015 budget, there is about $15 million left over. The debate in the legislature this year has been whether or not we should spend some of it, or save all of it.

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Op-Ed: Birdsell & Sanborn: It’s a job gap, not a wage gap

By Representative Regina Birdsell (R – Hampstead) & Representative Laurie Sanborn (R – Bedford)

As women and as Human Resources professionals, we believe the national and state-wide Democrat agenda surrounding Paycheck Equity is unnecessary and misleading.

It is against the law to pay women differently than men based on their gender.  This law has been in effect for over 50 years, under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and also under New Hampshire’s own Equal Pay legislation going back to 1947.

We would know personally, because we have over 40 years of combined experience overseeing Human Resources, recruitment and compensation activities in New Hampshire companies.  We take these laws very seriously and have not seen wage discrimination in our professional careers.  Employers know – not only is it against the law, but it also is bad policy when you are trying to attract and retain the very best employees for an organization.

We have learned there have been very little complaints in New Hampshire.  In fact, there have been no charges under our state Equal Pay statute over the last 20 years.  The NH Labor Department knows of only three investigations, all of which were dismissed when employers showed legitimate reasons for disparity in pay between employees.  The Attorney General’s office and the Human Rights Commission haven’t tracked complaints or violations under the law, but knew of only two cases ever being opened when asked.

Bills such as HB1188 and SB207, currently in the state legislature, do little to fix a real problem or help women; instead they advance the notion that the workplace is hostile to women and reinforce the idea that women are in need of protection.

The Democrat talking point – as heard from President Obama, Governor Hassan, Speaker Norelli and Senate Minority Leader Larsen – is that women are paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.  These statistics represent an average of ALL men and women in ALL full-time jobs across the country. Making such a broad brush statement without understanding the basis behind it shows how some don’t want to discuss the facts and instead are looking to create a false hysteria.

There have been countless reports and studies to prove this position.  For example, according to a survey done by Payscale in May 2013, the survey find the so-called wage gap nearly evaporates when you control for occupation and experience.  It finds “women are not starting off behind their male counterparts, so much as they’re choosing different jobs.”  It also finds that women are more likely to negotiate, so the popular belief that women don’t know how to ask for a raise is false.  When they compare men and women who have the same education, the same management responsibilities, and similar employers with similar number of employees, the wage gap disappears.  They found the gap isn’t between men and women doing the same job so much as the different choices people make in their career paths.

Women have earned the majority of bachelor degrees for the last few years.  They are well positioned to benefit from a growing professional service economy, and working moms are already the breadwinners in 40% of households with kids.  However, if women continue to go into healthcare rather than manufacturing, human resources rather than engineering, we will continue to see the job gap, not the wage gap.  It is a personal decision women make for themselves.

Fabricating a crisis in order to enact additional laws and regulations on our state’s employers is not solving any problems.  Instead, doing so continues to make our state less friendly, especially to the small businesses that make up our state, and who are overwhelmingly already complying with existing law.

Op-Ed: Sanborn: Working to cut red tape

By Rep. Laurie Sanborn (R-Bedford)

So many of us ran for public office with a primary goal of improving jobs and the economy in our state, and we know you can only be pro-jobs if you are pro-business.

That’s why I created in January 2011, and now chair, the House Business Caucus, a nonpartisan group of like-minded legislators who are entirely focused on evaluating and supporting legislation that promotes job creation and expansion of the economic base through strong business growth and success.

Sometimes it’s not just the laws that need reforming. It’s also been a priority of the House Business Caucus to improve the interactions and relationship between businesses and state government. We’ve done this in several ways, including passing legislation that requires warnings before fines for minor paperwork infractions, reduces time to receive permits, and by taking steps to modernize communications and payments.

In 2014, the House Business Caucus will continue to meet regularly to discuss bills that have a direct business impact, and then provide information and make recommendations to the entire body on voting days. We remain focused on reducing excessive regulations and red tape wherever possible, making our state’s taxes and fees more competitive, and encouraging a friendly, welcoming approach to all employers, from all levels of government.

We hope that employers will provide us the input and feedback we need to ensure New Hampshire is the best state in the nation to pursue private sector economic opportunities. And, while we seek to improve the climate for all businesses, we also like to fill a void for the smaller employers and family businesses, which need to be heard equally. They represent a substantial part of our state’s economy and sometimes don’t have the same lobbying presence as the larger companies.

For more information or to sign up for email updates and invitations to events, see www.ProBusinessNH.com, or email me directly at RepSanborn@gmail.com. I hope to hear from you!

Rep. Laurie Sanborn: NH House Democrats plan to raise taxes, increase regulations

Democratic House Speaker Norelli’s plans for growing the economy, as stated in her column in the Jan. 5 New Hampshire Sunday News, involve more taxpayer-funded spending, more regulations and costs imposed on New Hampshire employers, higher taxes and unnecessary expansion of government and its intrusion into our daily lives.

Republicans have a different way to grow the New Hampshire economy, encourage job creation and keep youth in our state. And it doesn’t involve you paying more taxes. (more…)

Op-Ed: Sanborn: NH House Democrats plan to raise taxes, increase regulations

By: Rep. Laurie Sanborn (R-Bedford)
Democratic House Speaker Norelli’s plans for growing the economy, as stated in her column in the Jan. 5 New Hampshire Sunday News, involve more taxpayer-funded spending, more regulations and costs imposed on New Hampshire employers, higher taxes and unnecessary expansion of government and its intrusion into our daily lives.
Republicans have a different way to grow the New Hampshire economy, encourage job creation and keep youth in our state. And it doesn’t involve you paying more taxes.

At the top of Speaker Norelli’s list is expanding Obamacare in our state, and she will impose it on the Legislature again, right away, this Wednesday. You may remember that the option of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act was left up to the states by the U.S. Supreme Court, and nearly half of the states in the nation have rejected it.

Those that have accepted it have seen their costs skyrocket well beyond projections. An academic study by an MIT economist showed that participants in expanded Medicaid dramatically increase utilization of expensive emergency rooms, while health outcomes don’t improve.
To expand Medicaid under Obamacare now, knowing that cuts to Medicaid reimbursements have already repeatedly been on the table, puts our state in precarious financial position — now and especially in three years when the federal government forces us to pay 10 percent. Since this is estimated at $40 million per year but will undoubtedly be more, the government will need to raise significant additional taxes on New Hampshire residents and businesses. This will not help our economy.
The Speaker also states her goals of increasing the minimum wage and increasing restrictions on the hiring decisions of employers. Raising the minimum wage will have a major and disproportionate impact on small businesses, the backbone of New Hampshire’s economy. This will have the effect of reducing hiring and growth, not increasing it. Since the minimum wage is generally paid to young workers, this will hurt, not help, those who are looking for entry-level jobs the most.
The Speaker also wants to use every penny of the $15 million surplus from last year, instead of shoring up our woefully small state rainy day fund. If our “crystal ball” revenue projections for some reason don’t pan out, or if we have a major catastrophe in our state, how will we pay our bills and take care of people who really need our help?
House Republicans have a different approach. We believe that now is certainly not the time to be raising taxes or expanding Obamacare. Instead, we will focus on making the economy better and health insurance more affordable for all people. We can do this by offering more choices for customers, fewer mandates, and fewer barriers.Many of the people who would be covered with Medicaid under Obamacare are already eligible for heavily subsidized insurance through the federal exchange.

New Hampshire House Republicans will continue our efforts to ensure that everyone has excellent employment opportunities by fostering a vibrant business climate — one that eliminates excessive and unnecessary regulation, encourages responsible business success, makes us more attractive than other states and protects taxpayers by reducing wasteful spending.
We know that when we do this, we grow the economy, can pay for necessary government services and help those most in need without raising taxes.