To the editor:
After reading Susan Carroll’s letter (Aug. 13) concerning the New Hampshire Legislature’s accomplishments, I can agree with her on two things: Vote with caution, and read the record carefully.
Good government has given way to an ideological agenda in the current New Hampshire Legislature. Ms. Carroll’s letter is a perfect illustration of why Kay Galloway, Harlan Cheney, Jean Sanders, and Victoria Czaia and others fed up with the current Republican leadership are running for state office.
First, let’s correct a few misconceptions. The Republicans did not “inherit” an $800 million deficit from the Democrats: That deficit had been growing for 20 years, under mostly Republican leadership, according to the nonpartisan New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies. The Democrats were in control for only four years, during a recession that caused state revenues to fall and many citizens to lose their jobs. The Democratic leadership did not want to cut basic social services just when people needed them most |services that help New Hampshire’s middle class families, as well as its most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, disabled, and unemployed.
The ideologues in the current Legislature are doing just that. They balanced the state budget in part by slashing assistance to towns: money that helps pay for schools, police and firefighters. No citizen of New Hampshire pays lower taxes as a result. In fact, most of us have to pay more in local taxes.
Our legislative leaders gave a big boost to Big Tobacco by cutting the ci
garette tax, which helps fund the state’s share of Medicaid and discourages smoking. The Legislature then proceeded to slash health care spending, resulting in the loss of 6,500 middle-class jobs and the closure of hospitals and medical facilities in underserved areas. The Republican majority also cut the higher education budget. New Hampshire now has the most expensive state college tuition in the nation — and middle-class students and their families are burdened with higher loan repayment costs.
As a result, New Hampshire’s business climate has suffered. In the past year, New Hampshire’s ranking plummeted from No. 10 to No. 34 in the “Top States To Do Business” report by CNBC. Our workforce ranking dropped from 40 to 44, and our education ranking slid from 7 to 8. Our ratings for infrastructure and transportation also fell — all because of the Legislature’s cuts in spending on education, transportation, job retraining programs, and other vital services.
As for Ms. Carroll’s views on marriage and other personal issues, all I can say is that being a New Hampshire Republican traditionally means championing individual freedoms — in religious practice, in marriage, in the bedroom, and in the doctor’s office, among other things. House Speaker Bill O’Brien and his cronies want to intrude their ideology into some of the most private areas of our lives. I am happy to say that most New Hampshire voters do not agree with them.