With the June 2020 filing period just ended, I’m announcing that I am running for re-election as a New Hampshire State Representative. I filed in Hillsborough 27 this year, a change from the floterial district in which I ran in 2016 and served from 2018 until present. It was a tough decision to change my district. I have loved the towns of the ‘float’, but the rule of thumb if you want to continue to do the work in Concord is to run in the smallest district you have a good chance of winning. When not one, but two seats opened up from incumbents in Hollis, I felt it was time for me to officially make my move to run for an open seat in my home town. To all of the wonderful people of Milford, Mont Vernon and New Boston, know that I am still going to be working hard and doing the right thing for all Granite Staters, whether your town is on my name plate or not.
Thank you for your kindness and support in letting me into your homes, your meetings and your town events, so I was able to get to know the character of each community in the district. I hope you feel you know what the democratic majority’s goals were for this biennium, because our priorities were simple: increase the % of funding back to towns and schools to bring property tax relief; maintain a balanced budget that is sensible and responsible while supporting the community services that keep New Hampshire competitive and strong for all who live here. Maintain the solvency of our financial rating while bringing economic stability to families and businesses, an even more worthy goal in uncertain times.
We delivered on that promise with over 138 million dollars in additional state funding to communities and school budgets (nearly 5 million of that went to the 4 towns of Hillsborough 40); and while our GOP colleagues keep pretending we tried to raise taxes and were doing crazy stuff with the budget, we simply worked on a different set of priorities, but the budget was pretty much level at around 12 billion. No big whoop!
Then, in early spring, the long-anticipated pandemic hit New Hampshire and our society and economy came to a screeching halt. This health crisis will have an impact on revenues well into 2021; and even with the 1.25 billion in CARES Act funding (which can only be used for COVID19 related expense reimbursements, employment security and business loan funding) current projections show a shortfall in state income that will mean a lot of hard and cooperative work by the next House, Senate and Governor’s office.
We tried for some stretch goals too, because we are the party of ideas. We passed a bill for paid family leave, an idea that is working in lots of states as a way to balance out the loss of security many workers have experienced as businesses find ways to lower their costs by cutting benefits. As NH labor works harder for their pay, benefits are often just out of reach due to part time hours, or how much it costs to buy and then use them. The data show that everyone needs time off at some point because of illness. So we passed HB712 in the House and the Senate, but this bill, along with 56 other valuable bills, was vetoed by the Governor. The GOP also spun this as an income tax. Yes, it would be paid for by a combination of payroll deduction and employer contribution, but it was a benefit we were adding that would make workers a little less insecure. This is a good illustration of those who are working to solve real problems and those who have no interest in learning about the actual problems people are facing.
I hope you will listen to the folks who have worked so hard to keep you informed about what we were working on, and not pay all that much mind to the folks who misrepresent our efforts in order to scare you into changing your vote. We are pretty responsible about paying for whatever we want to pass and we don’t give unpaid for tax cuts that end up generating higher property taxes. So I’d say your best option is to keep the steady budget people in office! I can say also report that watching the House leadership, the budget people and the efforts of the Senate and the Executive Council during the past two years, I am proud to report that they are all dedicated to doing the people’s business and they have the competence to meet the state’s challenges without fear-mongering or misleading voters.
As I attended the June 11th House Session at the Wildcat Arena at UNH, aka the Whittemore Arena, it really struck me how important it is that voters understand that they are not just voting for parties anymore. They are choosing between those trying to do the work of governing and those who believe breaking what we have is OK. When we tried to pass a bill for renter’s relief, only 4 Republicans voted in favor. We couldn’t pass the Consent Calendar (which is by design, the things we all agree should pass) or the 10 year Transportation Plan. When government is grinding to a halt for no reason but spite, its time to look beyond party loyalty and think about your loyalty to making sure the state is well-run. In a time of great change, when so many things need attention, we can do without the breakers being in charge.
Right now, families are faced with significant challenges. Having children home means feeling a measure of security because you have them with you, under your wing so-to-speak. But, with that surety comes the unusual burden of not being able to concentrate on your ‘home-based’ job, while juggling the extra job of being both parent and teacher. Stress is high and harder still because we cannot even hang out with our friends and family. We’re seeking balance, but that too, takes time!
A clear understanding of what’s expected of us and how we’re going to manage, or how our leaders plan to respond to the ongoing state of the economy and the virus would be an improvement. But along with all that is unclear, the business of managing the state continues apace.
I serve on the Science, Technology & Energy Committee. My goal of becoming a trusted and credible member of that committee in my first term has been met. I had the opportunity to work on some ambitious projects that came out of legislation I helped the House pass and I have continued online since the pandemic ‘stay at home’ orders to help New Hampshire realize the ability to combine & use energy data from all sectors of electric generation, including distributed energy like solar, wind, hydro and storage. With my background as a software program manager, I have been able to aid communication across different interest groups on the Public Utilities’ Commission docket (DE19-197); we are working with the states’ major utilities to define an innovative platform of API’s that will help make our grid modernization efforts a reality.
The best way to explain this project is to say that in an information age, New Hampshire had no easy way to look at our energy information in one place. It’s like needing an iPhone and only having rotary dial! With this insight, we will be able to gain efficiencies, save ratepayers money, conduct advanced energy planning, provide the PUC with real insight into rate setting and its effects, allow for clean-energy market innovation and finally support the modernization of the deregulated distribution utilities.
When you vote for people who care about the work, you get results.
I hope you will consider supporting me and my wonderful Democratic colleagues this cycle and beyond. There’s so much important work to be done. If you are like me you want to stop playing politics and support people who are capable of making hard decisions and solving the many problems that continue to keep our system broken.