My Pledge

I pledge to be fiscally responsible, protective of individual rights, attentive to local needs, supportive of families, and responsive to constituents.

Contributions may be made
c/o Andrew Robertson fiscal agent - PO Box 498 - Northwood, NH 03261 or online at ACT BLUE.

FB: Maureen Mann-NH House of Representatives Contact: mmann@metrocast.net.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why Turn Down Federal Money ?

Thought this editorial in the Keene Sentinel might be of interest.
By Martha Fuller Clark | Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 9:46 am
 New Hampshire has historically seen a significantly smaller amount of your federal tax dollars returned to us in the form of services than we send to Washington, D.C. The right-wing taxfoundation.org has conducted the most comprehensive and rigorous research in this field and found decades of this state consistently funding projects in the South and in the Mountain West region.
So it was with shock that, after a week away, I returned home to work on the ever-growing pile of papers related to my work as a New Hampshire senator and found that my Republican colleagues evidently believe that D.C. does a better job of deciding how to spend our tax dollars than we do.
One of the first documents I turned to was a packet of requests to the House-Senate Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee to accept federal monies coming back to New Hampshire in the form of funding for a number of programs. This is typically a routine matter — the money is ours after all — but for reasons best known to them, members of the committee refused to accept at this time about $9 million for significant state programs. It appears that they are willing to risk losing that money to South Carolina or Alaska or New Mexico in an attempt to short-circuit the budget process and undermine a governor they couldn’t beat at the polls.
The items include, for example, 20 suits of protective gear or the new pumper truck that our tax federal tax dollars were going to pay for the Department of Safety. Implausibly, Senate President Chuck Morse has said we need to consider declining these funds lest the state have to pay for insurance for the truck, or to pay to fill its gas tank. I wonder what rationale drives rejecting funds to hire a full-time drug crimes investigator at a time when heroin abuse is at an all time high.
This is not the only manifestation of the N.H. GOP’s desire to let D.C. keep more of our money. Rep. Neal Kurk, chairman of the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee, has expressed an unwillingness to fund the state contribution to the Medicaid expansion plan a bipartisan coalition of senators crafted last year. The state’s contribution, approximately 5 percent of the total cost of keeping coverage in place for 35,000 households that are now insured, is required under federal statute to continue this coverage and amounts to about $65 million. We have already reached fully half of those making less than $16,000 a year who are eligible. This demonstrates a willingness to consider putting the lives and health of our citizens at risk and turning their back on our most needy citizens. Perhaps Rep. Kurk can identify which states he’d like those funds to go so these families can consider relocating.
I find it hard to believe that New Hampshire’s Republicans, so vocal in their defense of states rights and local control, are now willing to let Washington, D.C., send millions of our tax dollars south and west to build schools and roads and fund first responders. Hopefully, moving forward, more reasonable voices will prevail in Concord.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Catastrophic Cuts to DHHS: Part Two



Many of the proposed cuts to DHHS are ‘penny wise and pound foolish’. Here is why:

Federal Funds: A great many DHHS programs receive matching federal grants. If we defund or underfund programs below certain standards that federal money is lost. [This is our money, paid by NH residents and businesses with their federal taxes. Currently NH receives less than $1 in federal funds for every dollar paid in federal taxes. Compare that to Mississippi and New Mexico which get back more than $3.]

Downshifting: Costs will be downshifted to our communities in two ways. According to NH law, certain social services must be provided locally. If the state does not contribute to these services the costs fall on the local taxpayer. 

Many people never consider the county portion of their property tax bill.  Cuts in state funding overall, and particularly to the county nursing home, means towns will pick up the slack or the services now provided by the county will be eliminated.

One Republican member of the committee commented when asked about county costs: I think most of the county delegations members will [vote for the cuts], they are not the ones that have to raise the money, it is cities and towns that will. ... and county budgets are such small portions of the overall tax bill they’re thinking no one will notice...when I say most I mean Republican members as this is how it will be sold to them.”

Pay Now or Pay Later:  Dismantling the Sununu Youth Center means youth with serious mental health and behavior problems will not get the help they need. Cutting mental health services at the state and community level means our fellow citizens will be denied services.  We can fund these programs now or we can pay the cost  of more prisoners later at a higher cost.

Unintended Consequences: Veterans are affected long term not just by cuts to the veterans home but by cuts to nursing homes, homeless shelters, mental health services, Meals on Wheels and similar services.

WMUR http://www.wmur.com/politics/180-million-cut-could-cause-39000-to-lose-access-to-health-care/31836582  

NHPR http://nhpr.org/p…/nh-house-budget-writers-slash-hhs-funding

Union Leader http://www.unionleader.com/arti…/20150317/NEWS0621/150319093

Nashua Telegram http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/opinion/commentary/1059720-474/nashua-cuts-wont-eliminate-problems.html

NH Labor News http://nhlabornews.com/2015/03/senator-pierce-condemns-setback-to-womens-health/

Nashua Telegraph  http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/opinion/commentary/1059492-474/nashua-state-funding-is-critical-to-shelter.html
 
Conway Sun http://www.conwaydailysun.com/newsx/local-news/119753-state-funds-sought-for-mental-health-the-disabled-and-domestic-violence



NH Challenge http://www.nhchallenge.net/article.asp?ID=282


 



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Catastrophic Cuts to DHHS: Part One



Despite an improving economy, strong state revenues and low unemployment, the majority of the Finance committee of the NH House has proposed $180 million in cuts from current spending levels to the Department of Health and Human Services.  Cuts include $28 million in services to the mentally ill [while we hear “we don’t need gun control, we need more funding for mental health”], $26 million to nursing homes [despite NH facing a “silver tsunami”], $2 million and the proposed 25 beds to the state veterans’ home [thanks for your service],  and $30 million to services to the developmentally disabled.  This is the budget approved by a bipartisan vote in the Republican controlled Senate and Democratically controlled NH House in 2013.

What does all this mean to specific DHHS services and programs?  

The committee majority voted to discontinue funding for Medicaid expansion, which would leave 39,000 newly insured without health care.  Federal funding covers 100 percent of this program for the first three years and 90 percent thereafter.  The rate of NH uninsured at hospitals and health care providers has gone down, more people are accessing preventative and primary care, and health care jobs have increased. This decision also violates the MET agreement and could lead to additional lawsuits.

They voted to cut funding for Meals on Wheels, emergency shelters, homeless shelters, the veterans’ home, prescriptions drug benefits, Service Link, developmental disabilities, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, people with acquired brain disorder, county government,  Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center, nursing homes and mental health services.  

They proposed increases in fees for licensing child care providers and sought to remove oversight from DHHS.  Thy proposed higher taxes and fees to Nursing homes, already cut by $26 million, and added another million dollars in new fees for places like Hospice care centers.


According to Finance Division III Chair Neal Kurk, “The Finance Committee is not proposing these cuts lightly,”  but they are needed to balance the budget. Opponents argue that the cuts are “aggressive,” that the actions will “devastate the Medicaid program,” and that these cuts suggest that the state is in an economic crisis, when it’s not.

I am not arguing that no efficiencies can be made in DHHS. But the Republicans on Finance are not looking for efficiencies. They are not voting to fund the state,  lower property taxes, or care for our citizens. They are voting so they can say: “We cut spending” no matter the consequences to the people of NH. 

See next posting for some links on this  topic.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Potential Cuts to the Departments of Safety and Motor Vehicles



Since my recent post on DOT cuts was so long, thought I would keep this one short.

Cuts to the Department of Safety will result in the loss of  ten troopers (NH is already short 40), cuts to service to any towns under 3000 people (about 1/3 of all NH towns),  reduction of three people in the state crime lab (delay and loss of cases due to long processing time and lack of speedy trial), and no replacement of equipment  (20 cruisers were lost in 45 days due to drivers crashing into them this winter).  

The Department of Motor Vehicles will see closure of some sub stations leading to much longer wait times for licenses and registrations.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Finance Committee Votes in Favor of $88 Million in Cuts to the DOT

The House Finance Committee under the chairmanship of Neal Kurk [R-Weare] voted today along Party lines to recommend Ought to Pass regarding the $88 million cuts to the DOT budget.
 
Kurk stated: “I personally am going to support additional revenue when this comes to the floor. I think that’s the only responsible thing to do. I will be supporting an increase in the gas tax, but on the floor. It can’t come out of the finance committee like that.”
 
According to the Monitor and other sources, however, several Republican House and Senate members have said they will not support that increase.
 
Locally, Senator Reagan has signed the Americans for Prosperity pledge promising to vote against any increase in taxes and fees. Representative Spillane was the prime sponsor of the repeal of the 4.2 cent increase in the gas tax/road toll which went into effect last July, and Representatives Hodgdon, Duarte and Tasker were co-sponsors.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cuts to the Department of Transportation



In the past week, the Republican majority of the Finance Committee of the NH House voted to approve two major changes to the DOT. First, they have taken an innocuous bill about changing a name or address on a drivers license, and replaced the original content with removal of the DOT from the state budget. Second, members of the committee have approved a cut of $88 million from that budget. This is a projected 42 percent cut in funding which includes a $4.8 million cut in winter maintenance. 


Cuts to the DOT budget mean a massive lose in federal funds coming to NH.  Most major DOT projects--Route 93, the Sarah Long Bridge in Portsmouth which carries nuclear waste from the Navy Yard, etc--are based on 80/20 funds [80% federal and 20% state].  This is money NH residents have paid in federal taxes which we get back in federal grants. Currently NH sees a return of about 77 cents on each dollar paid by NH residents. Without our part of the match we will see less return and there is a serious threat that projects in progress will stop.

Route 93 is a prime example. The federal and environmental permits for Route 93 expire in 2020. If the work is not completed by that date the project stops dead.  It will take years to acquire new permits and meanwhile our neighbors in VT, ME and MA have all budgeted for increased infrastructure spending.  When heavy duty contractors such as Pike and Continental leave NH we will not get them back until projects elsewhere are done. Meanwhile, residents, tourists and business drives will sit in construction for hours.

This is a state which claims to support business. Yet poor roads and construction on Route 93 are already creating a problem in attracting new business to NH. One of the first questions asked of those recruiting businesses to NH is when Route 93 will be completed. Studies show that what really attracts business is an educated workforce, dependable and adequate transportation infrastructure, and universal high speed internet access.  

According to an article in the March 19 Union Leader, $68 million of the cuts is mostly in personnel; half of DOT regular employees will be laid off. What the article does not explain is that over 60 percent of DOT employees are private contractors.  The people who build and reconstruct our highways, plow our roads, clear our ditches and cut brush along highways will be unemployed.  Some are small independents and some are huge contractor. Is this how we treat those who have worked long hours to ensure public safety during the enormous and frequent storms of this winter?”

Downshifting to our towns is another affect of the cuts.  The 4.2 cent increase in the road toll last July, combined with the current DOT budget, insured not only the completion of Route 93 but included increased funding for the six state highway betterment districts and additional funding to cities and towns. Those local costs will be downshifted to our communities which will result in more pot holes and less repair and reconstruction. We will also see closure of welcome centers and rest areas, limits and reductions in paving, closing of red-lined bridges or offers to communities to take some over. Good thing the repeal of the road toll, sponsored by our local reps, failed by such an overwhelming vote.

This is just one example of the “cut spending” mantra not being the solution, but the problem.

http://mobile.concordmonitor.com/home/16134371-108/dot-warns-lawmakers-budget-cut-would-mean-loss-of-321-employees Concord Monitor
http://mobile.concordmonitor.com/home/16134371-108/dot-warns-lawmakers-budget-cut-
would-mean-loss-of-321-employees Concord Monitor
http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150318/NEWS0621/150318983/1010/news06 Union Leader