Kat’s Priorities for New Hampshire
Passing Responsible State Budgets
- In years past, Concord has opted to reduce dedicated funds, like the Alcohol fund from its mandated minimum, by half in order to claim to be cutting taxes. The bottom line here is they are cutting revenue. These funds are used for prevention and treatment of substance abuse and the cuts are done without regard for the impacts to local treatment programs. Why lower this revenue stream with the opiod crisis at its peak?
- Then there was the decision to renege on state contributions toward public employee retirement funds from 35% to zero. Cutting state budgets may sound good, but it downshifts fixed costs to local taxes. This is not fiscal responsibility, its voodoo economics and its time we stopped accepting rhetoric in place of sound budgeting practices. Democrats tax and spend, just like Republicans do, because that is the job. You get more for your money when Democrats control government. Our position is to create stable, incremental progress. Just as has been the tradition for the history of our state.
- Responsible governance is not ‘live for today’ and disregard tomorrow. In fact, the best argument for a representative government is that we are worrying about the long term and as a result, you don’t have to! Government is guilty of ignoring the future in favor of immediate power, quick profits and the next election cycle. We need to elect independent leaders who will commit to fixing this broken system. I’m a democrat because I believe in progress. But I am a citizen of my town and my state, first.
Funding Public Education
- Under a popular Governor, there has been a strong anti-pubic school push in the state. Governor Sununu and his Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut are in favor of using our tax dollars to fund vouchers for private schools, religious schools and home schooling; they push unproven Learn Everywhere programs that remove local control of accreditation and standards, while dismissing the Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) program that already allowed for credit for extracurricular education within school guidelines. School budgets are already insufficient to fund simple school supplies and the ConVal decision in the summer of 2018 proved yet again, that New Hampshire (the state) has a constitutional obligation to educate its people, not the property tax payer. Although legislators passed a budget to reinstate over 138 million dollars to towns and schools in the 2019-2020 biennium budget (over the governor’s veto and objections), the ability to address public school adequacy funding is going to take a sustained effort to solve. These monies were based upon need, so the town of Hollis did not receive as much as some property tax poor towns. But, as of 2019, the ratio of school funding is approximately 75% property taxes, 25% state funding. The state has already eliminated the building fund that supported 50% towards building maintenance and improvements and zeroed out state contribution (formerly 35%) to the State Employee Retirement Func. Without a partner in the state, most towns cannot afford to keep their building and grounds in repair. Are we really ready to stop funding public education to save a few bucks?This is penny-wise, pound foolish governance.
- This theft of dollars away from public education is another example of the downshifting of state obligations to local taxpayers. Breaking our schools serves no one and creates a hit to local economies already stretched thin. The worst economic hits to undermining public schools are to jobs, new businesses and property values. Each subsequent budget suffers from the pressure to freeze hires, question any improvement and makes community service on school boards and administrations, a chore for the wonderful people who care so much about educating our kids. This is by design; it doesn’t have to be this way.
- We lose the best and brightest teachers and students as we weaken the public school system and we lose our long term investment in our town’s best asset. Strong schools are essential to our economy and our communities. Property values in the town of Hollis (and Brookline) are deeply tied to the success of our schools. If state government does not support public schools, they are handicapping our children’s future. ‘School Choice’ is a slogan designed to mask a sinister effort to derail New Hampshire’s universal commitment to educate kids, sound reasonable. The reasonable position is to stop the march away from putting communities first, and figure out how to solve the problems we face. Reality over ideology. Recent article on the topic of how we don’t pay for education. http://indepthnh.org/2020/08/16/is-the-pledge-deadeducation-funding-needs-more-options/
Adopting sound Fiscal Management
- To manage money well, you first have to identify goals and priorities. When Republican’s lead in Concord (and in Washington) they use ‘the red queen effect’ to stay in power. They make everyone run as fast as they can, just to stay in place. By threatening working programs and eliminating budget items without justification, they halt economic momentum and create chaos no business would ever permit. Cutting decisions are made not on merit, but on ideology. This approach in New Hampshire boils down to breaking what is working and then telling everyone its broken, while they run to be put back in charge.
- Community leaders spend their time fighting Concord in hearings where we should be debating progress, not loss of ground.
- Teachers, police, social workers, fire fighters, environmentalists and community-based agencies are all testifying regularly in order to prevent the loss of essential New Hampshire services. Why are we fighting each other? We can maintain a lean budget without eliminating essential services in our communities. I see Democratic budgets as better for the long-term welfare of the state. We have to get wise to pledge politics because it is actually designed to take us away from good fiscal management and fast-track us on a race to the bottom. You really don’t save if your house falls down around you.
Building a Future-Focused Economy
- Forward-facing programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI nets NH income and helps us achieve energy efficiency goals) are win-win. If we pull out of RGGI we are required to continue paying our share, but we no longer receive any benefit in terms of the millions of dollars in rebate credits we receive each year. The agreement was designed to prevent chaotic decision-making and allow New Hampshire to afford annual energy efficiency investments. However, laws were put in place forcing pennies back to every ratepayer, rather than using the money from RGGI to invest in lowering our demand (which would help lower electricity rates for everyone). So while our neighboring RGGI state partners are leaping ahead with clean energy investments, New Hampshire is squandering its rebate money to no effect. This year, SB122 passed the House and Senate to change the law back to its original intent, put the money in a fund that allows New Hampshire to use it where it is needed to fund efficiency projects. The Governor vetoed this smart change for ideological reasons, even though you voted to put saner people in charge of taking action where it is reasonable, to address climate change. People who favor corporate cronyism over settled science should not be at the controls in this critical time. Science has a better track record of predicting outcomes. With so many real threats, its no time to swap science for spin. Better leaders mean a better path forward and better outcomes in the long run.
Gaining the Benefits of Clean Energy
- Clean energy moves us into a new economy and helps us with lowered emission goals. Our fossil-fuel dependence will cost us far more than any investments in clean technologies today – because it is very hard to budget for increasing weather disasters – but we will all be required to endure them and pay for them. I support clean energy being used for the applications to which they are best suited. I’m opposed to closing New England’s remaining nuclear power plants and converting them to gas because it means a significant uptick in regional emissions and an increased dependence on fossil fuels imported from out of state. Reliable, clean base-load power is important and until battery storage technology can reliably help us harness the power of renewables, we should preserve clean plants, not convert them to those that emit greenhouse gases.
Strengthening Healthcare System
- New Hampshire has come a long way on healthcare since the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2010. Our legislature worked in a bi-partisan way to figure out a plan that would help insure an additional 50,000 Granite Staters via Medicaid. Although the law is still in place, the recent federal elimination of the law’s mandate and elimination of funds to help keep costs down, is estimated to increase New Hampshire premiums as much as 60% in the coming years. The number of people likely to lose insurance is 45,000. So we have another example of one-step-forward, two-steps-back; thank you partisan politics! But regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong, we pay the price. Its easy to trash the other guy’s plan, but breaking a system with no plan to replace it, is irresponsible. Gutting a working program in order to prop up a false narrative, is craven, harmful and incredibly costly; in America we’re at the point where we pay for everything twice. Once to make it happen, and once to break it and try to reinvent the wheel to make it happen again, with a different party taking credit! But perhaps the highest cost of all is to the health & security of the working families who get hit with the bills from all this bickering. I have heard what my colleagues are arguing and I agree with them that offering working families greater affordability and security is the right path. We are not here to break the systems people rely on for their well-being. We’re here to improve on what we have in place.
Pushing Family-Friendy Policies
- Maybe its my business background or my pragmatic nature, but I’m in favor of solving the actual problems in our state. One of those problems is our aging population. The demographics of New Hampshire are graying and our inability to attract young families to locate here and assume the jobs of the future will increasingly leave us unable to meet workforce and elder care demands. That is why the needs of workers and families should be a a higher priority. Out of state bills like ‘Right to Work’ are threatening to weaken the concept of collective bargaining and safety in the workplace. It is not about saving workers from the horror of union dues. It is about weakening a union’s ability to fight back when big companies want to take advantage of employees and increase profits by cutting employee benefits. Unions contribute to a healthy economy by protecting the rights of individuals. Healthy union states have higher wages even for non-union jobs. Competitive wages drive businesses and promote job growth, or as my husband who had his own company says, ‘You can save a lot of money in business if you close the doors, but it just doesn’t have the desired effect.’
- It’s time we worked on 21st century family issues like paid family leave policies and realistic day care options that contribute to the overall health of our communities. Helping families balance their obligations to work and family with full-day kindergarten and/after school programs also support the reality of the two-parents-working household. A living wage promotes greater security, higher productivity and drives demand. As we continue to cut the benefits of workers and refuse to pass a living minimum wage, we deny the many benefits of a reasonably compensated workforce that was the norm when we were coming up in the wage-earner economy.
Stopping ‘Pay to Play’ Politics
- Probably the biggest driver of ineffective laws is the effect of money on our legislatures. In recent years, even New Hampshire’s legislature has been infiltrated by outside groups writing the bills they want us to pass and taking us further from a New Hampshire agenda. Groups like American’s For Prosperity are spending large amounts of money to push national bills that serve their sponsors (Koch Industries). Koch also finances ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) an organization founded to design bills that are introduced in many states at once – to change the legal landscape on everything from ‘School Choice’, to ‘Stand your Ground’, to ‘Right to Work’. They also have their own publications that are distributed to the mailboxes of legislators across the country like ‘The Heartland Institute’ that gives lawmakers cover for pretending there is still conflicting opinion on the science we were all agreed upon 30 years ago, that the planet is warming.
- We can protect New Hampshire from outside influence through our campaign finance laws. But make no mistake that the influence of outside lobbyists gums up our local decisions here in the granite state and further aggravates the artificial income gap that pushes more middle and working class families into financial distress as the slightest provocation (can you say…pandemic economy?).
Fighting to Revive Our Democracy
- Long established checks and balances have come under unprecedented attack in recent years. I believe we need to elect people who understand how to revive our democracy and who are not beholden to outside groups. Getting the money out of our elections is a good start. But we must also act in good faith in Concord in order to restore trust in government, from the bottom up. We need honesty, integrity and a willingness to learn what works and what ails us, in order to find better solutions. Its not good enough to play politics-as-usual. We deserve better.
- I helped design and deliver training around the state in 2014 on how to pass a warrant article on the issue of Getting the Money out of Politics. That state effort of regular people committed to having New Hampshire become the 17th state to pass a bill agreeing that Citizens United in 2010 (that decided Corporations are people), coupled with Buckley v. Valeo in 1976 (Money equals Speech) had opened the flood gates to corruption in our politics.
- The warrant article effort went well – 70 in the first round – but that only gave us the backing to approach the NH Senate and work the issue from there. In the preceding years, all 6 of them, various versions of the bill stating simply that New Hampshire agrees that money is taking its toll and we are in favor of overturning these negative decisions, cannot get through the process without being killed at some point. Isn’t that strange?
Starting from today, not yesterday
- I want to say a word about the future. When we spend our time focused on taking policies backwards, there’s an opportunity cost. We lose the chance to make good decisions for the next generation, today. And I ran when I realized that NH was focused, far too often, on missing out on today’s opportunities, by focusing on relitigating the past.
- John and I have 4 grown children between us and 9 grandchildren ranging from college-age to just walking (Paige, Aaron, Tyler, CJ, Reagan, KJ, Taylor, Makenna & Hannah), we recently had our first great grandchild, and so it goes! My husband served as a US air force captain for 8 years flying F111’s and both his parents served in WWII. My dad was a WWII and Korean War veteran with 20 years of service in the U.S. Navy. All my dad’s brothers (5) served, and one of his older brothers, Frankie, was killed in action.
- John’s two eldest children served as Air Force officers and both raised families in the military, moving every few years. We understand US values, US history and what it means to serve. We are concerned with the regressive movement that has coopted our political system, undermining the values for which our families have served.
- We’re witnessing the erosion of long-tested American principles that strengthen democratic liberty and the happiness that comes of protected personal freedoms. There’s a kind of perversion of these principles into something that serves the few and denigrates those who traditionally earned our praise. This embrace of idol worship over decency and compassion for our fellow-man is not without consequence in our history and toll on our place in the world.
- Seeing current legislatures around the nation presenting bill after bill to prevent women’s legal right to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions is incredibly disappointing. It’s a stab at modernity, ignoring the facts that access to birth control and sex education lower abortion rates and contribute to a first-world medical system. This doesn’t mean we don’t have individuals who do not agree with or believe in the termination of a pregnancy under any circumstances; those Americans are free to have that opinion. But, what Roe v. Wade understood was that the legal precedent was one that had to cover the rights of the people who would be effected by the law, not sought to control the bodies of others.
- This constant assault on women’s rights to make their own decisions on such personal matters is ideological; it betrays a regressive longing to put women back in their place and re-litigate settled law. The founders designed the separation of church and state with good reason and yet there is a major push to redefine the US as nation governed by the religious right. Many of these fundamentalist religious leaders have shown themselves to fall far short of what they preach for the rest of us, so my position is the American position: religious freedom is our right, that means imposing your religious views on anyone else, is unAmerican. Women, who already head up 2/3rd’s of American households as single parents, can be trusted to make their own economic, life, and healthcare decisions.
- We’re having a similar regression on racial justice as well. Hate crimes are up. Bullying the other is up. Police brutality toward people of color has taken center stage in too many encounters that end in the death of unarmed citizens. People who have felt part of this great nation for decades are being victimized because of how they look. This turning of our culture away from accepting new citizens is also unAmerican. We are a nation of immigrants unless we are Native American.
- Its easy to sew seeds of hate. But hatred can never leads to a world in which we can be proud of our legacy. This intolerance is also taking away the greatness of our reputation in the world, as the indispensable nation. The country that led by example and coveted rule of law. The one that showed others how Democracy could work, without corruption and inside dealing.
- We cannot create a bright future if we keep entrusting decisions to those whose only vision is of a past that is gone. Or to those who seek personal gain in a system designed to get in its own way. The future may be scary, but electing representatives with good judgment, good sense and personal integrity can set us on a course that helps our kids feel more secure about the world we are leaving them. I believe it is our duty to set an example, tackle the real issues, and stop playing politics with peoples lives.
- I am not expecting to change the world by serving as your state representative. But I do expect to sponsor and help pass laws for New Hampshire that help you and your family love the place you live. I am committed to supporting common-sense, stability and reliability in a time of too much chaos.
- I hope I can count on your support.