My Position on NH Issues
This will be the most important legislative issue of 2021. School funding is my top priority.
In 1997 the State Supreme Court ruled that the State, not local school districts, must pay the cost of an “adequate” education. In 2019 the Contoocook Valley Regional School District sued the State for not meeting this obligation. While the cost to educate a student is about $19,000 per year, the state pays on average only $3,700 *. The State Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on September 24, 2020, and most likely issue its ruling in 2021.
If the Court rules that the State must pay more, it will be the job of the House and Senate to devise a new aid formula and a way to pay for additional aid. With my work experience I am well prepared to participate in the crafting of a new plan.
In 2019 Democrats passed a permanent change to the school funding formula that increased Plymouth’s Adequacy Aid by $400,000. An Adequacy Aid supplement that applies to only the 2020-2021 school year gave Plymouth an additional $275,000. But, without legislative action in 2021, that $275,000 supplemental aid will expire. See my school funding action plan.
The town of Plymouth also receive special one-time municipal aid of $84,000 for each of the two years.
* Average of FY20 Adequacy grants plus Catastrophic Aid.
A Living Wage
We should adopt a state minimum wage, and set a course toward $15/hour.
The minimum wage in NH is the federal rate of $7.25/hr. The 2020 minimum wage is $12.75 in Massachusetts, $12.00 in Maine and Connecticut, $11.80 statewide in New York, $10.96 in Vermont, and $10.50 in Rode Island.
It's time to set a state minimum with a phase-in to reach $15.00 in a few years. Everyone deserves a living wage. If we want to attract young workers to NH, we need wages that are competitive with neighboring states.
Property Tax Relief
The State needs to pay its share.
New Hampshire spends more than three billion dollars a year to educate children in public schools. 73% of that expense is borne by local property tax payers. No other state in the nation askes their home owners to pay so much. High property taxes also hurt local businesses.
The biggest tax in New Hampshire is the local property tax. The value of a person’s home is not a measure of that person's ability to pay. Property taxes made sense in the 1700's when large landowners were the wealthiest citizens, but today it is simply an arbitrary, capricious and very unfair tax. Without a plan to provide more education funding from the state, local property taxes will continue to rise.
Property tax reduction is part of my school funding plan.
University System Funding
Quality programs will attract more students, and graduates will have better career prospects. Great faculty, great programs and great students will attract new businesses to the state. Increasing funding for the University System (Plymouth State, Keene State and UNH) is one of my priorities.
In 2019 I testified in support of additional funding, and Democrats increased funding from $81 million to $86.5 million for 2019-2020 and $87.5 million for 2020-2021, but NH still ranks last in state per student funding for public colleges. I will continue to advocate for a return to the 2009 pre-recession level of $100 million.
Property Tax Relief for Low Income Homeowners
Many retirees living on a fixed income find themselves spending 10% or more of their income on property taxes. Seniors should not be forced to sell their homes because they can’t afford the property taxes.
See my plan for information about the current rebate program for low income homeowners.
Public Schools should be Gun Free Zones
Students deserve to feel safe in schools, and adults should do everything possible to keep them safe. New Hampshire allows any adult who legally owns a firearm to bring that weapon onto the grounds of public schools. All types of weapons are allowed. Only three states do not have a Gun-Free School Zone law, Hawaii, Wyoming and New Hampshire.
The Governor vetoed a very reasonable bill in 2019. It made exceptions for a gun within the car of someone dropping off or picking up a student, and for personnel authorized by the school board to have a gun.
I will again support this bill in 2021.
Putting People before Corporate Profits
Corporate ventures like the Northern Pass spend thousands of dollars on lobbyist. The people don't have lobbyists, but they do have elected representatives.
I will always evaluate proposals by finding the answers to "who will benefit" and "who will be harmed."
Assistance navigating State bureaucracy
As a state employee for 30 years I know how to find information and the right contact person. I can't make decisions for state agencies, but I can find someone who will help you. I will do this for all the residents of my district.
Fiscal Agent: Frances Taylor, PO Box Q, Holderness NH 03245