Opinion: Right-Sizing the Federal Government

By Mark Fernald

Washington is trapped in an endless fiscal debate.  Republicans argue that the Federal government is too big.  Democrats argue that revenues are too low.  The fight is over money, but the larger debate is over the size and scope of the government.

Before we line up on one side or the other, we should look at recent history.Over the past forty years, federal spending has averaged a little over 20% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

When the economy has been strong, federal spending as a percentage of GDP has dipped below 20%.  When the economy has been weaker, that figure has been several points higher.During the same forty years, federal revenues have averaged about 18% of GDP.  As a result, the federal government was in deficit for all but three of those years.

This fluctuation is to be expected.  When times are tough, spending increases for safety net programs, such as Medicaid, food stamps, and unemployment benefits.  The opposite happens when the economy booms, such as in the 1990s. Continue reading

Capital Comments: Gov. Hassan unveils budget Feb. 14

Capital Comments from State Senator Bob Odell

The long wait to learn what Governor Maggie Hassan is putting into her budget will end on Thursday.  Promptly at 10 o’clock in the morning, she will be introduced into Representatives Hall and with little ceremony will be introduced again for the purpose of making her budget address.

This happens in New Hampshire every two years.  And the Governor’s address sets the framework for the work the House and Senate will do before passing a two year budget in June for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. Continue reading

Capital Comments: Briefings give budget writers plenty to ponder

Senator Bob OdellCapital Comments from State Senator Bob Odell

One newspaper’s front page headline on Tuesday read, “For NH budget writers, it’s doom and gloom.”

The article was about a long day of briefings for House and Senate Finance and Ways and Means Committee members. Every two years the House and Senate invite in economic experts and analysts to put things in perspective as the budget writing process is beginning.

I remind my colleagues that the Governor will take the first step next month when she announces her budget plan in an address to a joint session of the legislature. That address will set out her spending plans that will tell us her policy goals. And she will explain her predictions on revenue for the next two years beginning on July 1.

Here is some of the news legislators heard.

First, economic growth is anemic. It is taking us longer to recover from the recession which officially ended months ago. And New Hampshire for the first time in memory is recovering more slowly than other states in New England except for Rhode Island. New England is also recovering more slowly than the rest of the country. That’s not good. Continue reading

Capital Comments: Hassan sworn in as governor, sets out priorities

Capital Comments from State Senator Bob Odell

Inaugurations of New Hampshire governors are always exciting and each one ties us to our long history of democracy as a state and nation.

Governor Maggie Hassan, a former State Senate colleague of mine for four years, is the second woman to be governor of New Hampshire and the first Democrat to replace another Democrat since the 19th century. Last Thursday, she was also the first woman sworn in by a female Supreme Court Chief Justice. Continue reading

Capital Comments: Senator Bradgon announces committee assignments

Capital Comments from State Senator Bob Odell

Organization Day, held on the first Wednesday in December in election years, is the opportunity for the new Senate and House to meet for the first time.  It is an occasion for legislators to share a special day with family and friends. Continue reading

Capital Comments: N.H. biennial budget process underway

Capital Comments from State Senator Bob Odell

The sparring over the size of the state’s next biennial budget began last week.  Over three days, agency heads offered their wish lists for appropriations for the two year budget cycle that begins on July 1.

Presentations at the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2014-15 Operating Budget Hearing, one of several steps in the budget process, gave department heads a chance to tell their stories publicly for the first time.  They will have plenty of other opportunities down the road.

The agency heads were providing the Governor, legislators and the public with what they think the costs will be to run the current programs in each department for the next two years. Their “maintenance” budgets do not take into consideration any new programs or activities … they simply keep programs as they are.

What does that get you?  Adding up all agency requests, if approved and they won’t be, there would be additional spending of $3.3 billion over the next two years, an increase of 26 percent over current spending levels. Continue reading

Capital Comments: N.H. Medicaid and the new healthcare law

Capital Comments from State Senator Bob Odell

A constituent that I hear from periodically wants me to introduce a bill to nullify the new federal health care plan.  He writes, “Obama Care must be nullified within our state to eliminate the vast, new, unconstitutional powers over health care …”

In the days following the election, some legislators, government officials, stakeholders like insurance companies and health care providers and the media are focusing on the implications for New Hampshire of the Affordable Care Act, which even the President has said is appropriate to call Obama Care.   About 100 of them turned out last week at the Department of Health and Human Services headquarters to be briefed on the part of the new law dealing with Medicaid.

HHS Commissioner Nick Toumpas introduced the program explaining that while the U.S. Supreme found the new law constitutional, the federal government cannot force states to increase the number of people on Medicaid, the program that provides services to indigent people.  Commissioner Toumpas said policy makers, the legislature and the Governor need to determine whether or not we will expand the number of people on our Medicaid rolls.

After support for public schools, Medicaid is the next largest spending line in the budget.  To serve about 120,000 Medicaid eligible New Hampshire residents, the state spends $600 million annually that is matched by another $600 million from the federal government. Continue reading

State Representative-elect Linda Tanner thanks voters

Letter to the Editor

I would like to thank the people of Cornish, Croydon, Grantham, Plainfield, Newport, Sunapee, Springfield, and Unity in District 9 Floterial.  Thanks to all who supported me, hosted signs, sent donations and, most of all, voted for me as your State Representative. I look forward to serving all the people of my district as well as the people of New Hampshire to restore balance and common sense to our House of Representatives.  As a citizen legislator, I will keep your interests at heart and I will work hard to represent you and our communities to solve N.H. issues.

Linda Tanner, Georges Mills, N.H.
State Representative Elect
District 9 Sullivan County

2012 Election brings dramatic changes to Concord

Capital Comments from State Senator Bob Odell

The voters spoke last week and brought dramatic changes to Concord.

Most attention was focused on the election of a new Governor, former State Senator Maggie Hassan, and the reversal of a three to one Republican majority in the House to a 222 to 178 Democrat majority.  There is much less attention on the changes in the makeup of the State Senate.

Broadly speaking, the Republicans retained a narrow majority of 13 to 11 but that is down from 19 to 5.  Given the wholesale GOP losses in House contests, it is surprising only one Republican incumbent, Jim Luther (Hollis), lost.  And he lost to Peggy Gilmour, also of Hollis, who he defeated two years ago.

The 24 newly elected Senators will be sworn in by Governor Lynch on December 5 as required by the state constitution.  There are 14 Senators who were re-elected last week and three who are returning after being out one term having been defeated two years ago.  And there will be seven new members with four of them moving from the House to the Senate including David Pierce (Lebanon).

In 2006, history was made when the New Hampshire Senate became the first state legislative body in the country to have women make up a majority of its membership.  There were 13 women Senators between 2006 and 2010.  There will be nine women in the new Senate.

Republicans and Democrats moved quickly to choose their respective leaders.  Senator Sylvia Larsen (Concord) is the senior Senator in terms of service with ten terms and she was chosen by her Democrat caucus to lead the Senate Democrats.  Senator Peter Bragdon (Milford) was selected to lead the Republicans and with their majority he will be formally elected Senate President for a second term when the Senators gather on December 5. Continue reading

How did Sunape vote in 2012?

Barack Obama and Joe Biden captured New Hampshire’s four electoral college votes in a winning presidential campaign. Obama took each N.H. county, as well. In Sunapee, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan received 1,075 votes. Obama-Biden, 916.

View the Sunapee ballot numbers: General Election Results 2012

Turnout in Sunapee  was at 84.6%: 2,041 ballots cast of 2,411 registered voters. In the 2008, the General Election turnout was 77%.

Democrat Maggie Hassan is the N.H. Governor-elect. She won in Sunapee with 1006 votes against Republican Ovide Lamontagne, 948.

Ann McLane Kuster (D) will be the next Congressional representative for District 2. The Sunapee vote: Kuster, 844. Charlie Bass, 1,047.

Executive Councilor Ray Burton (R) won in District 1. In Sunapee, Burton received 1379 votes, challenger Beth Funicella (D), 626.

State Senator Bob Odell (R-Lempster) won the District 8 race against challenger Ckristopher Wallenstein (D-Bennington). In Sunapee: Odell, 1,378. Wallenstein, 545.

Republicans appears to have held on to the Senate in New Hampshire:  13-11.  A re-count will occur in District 9 where Democrat Lee Nyquist lost to Republican Andy Sanborn by less than 200 votes.

The New Hampshire House swung blue and will include two Democrats from Sunapee, Sue Gottling and Linda Tanner. Democrats won a 221 to 178 majority with one race still undecided, NHPR reports.

Former state Rep. Sue Gottling (D-Sunapee) won the District 2 race in Sullivan County defeating Spec Bowers (R-Sunapee), 57-43%. The Sunapee vote: Gottling, 1138. Bowers, 798.  The two-town district includes Croydon, where Gottling and Bowers split the vote, 205-205.

In the eight-town floterial District 9 in Sullivan County, challenger Linda Tanner (D-Sunapee) defeated incumbent Thomas Howard (R-Croydon), 54-46%. Sunapee gave Tanner 896 votes, Howard, 951. The district total: Tanner, 5,525. Howard, 4,759.

County Treasurer Michael Sanders (R) defeated Jim McClammer (D), 9,683 to 9,550. Sunapee gave Sanders 1,071 votes, McClammer, 684.

Also, on the ballot in uncontested races were: Sheriff Mike Prozzo, County Attorney Marc Hathaway,  Register of Deeds Sharron King and Register of Probate Diane Davis.

Democrat Jeff Barrett retained the County Commissioner seat in the 1st District in a race against challenger Donald Clarke (R), 10,431 to 9,073. In Sunapee, Barrett, 744. Clarke, 1,027.

Ethel Jarvis (D) took the Sullivan County Commissioner seat in the 3rd District with 9,902 votes against John Callum (R), 9,484. Sunapee count: Jarvis, 746. Callum, 1,036.

Visit the NH Secretary of State for county results.

Voters in New Hampshire rejected changing the State Constitution as measures failed to get the needed two-thirds approval.

Question 1, the income tax question, sought to disallow the General Court from imposing any new taxes or fees on personal income. Question 2 would have given the legislature concurrent rule making powers for the state’s court system.

The vote in Sunapee on Question 1, Yes 1012, No 796 and on Question 2, Yes 873, No 891.

Sunapee Dems Gottling and Tanner win N.H. House seats

Sunapee, N.H. – 84.6% of Sunapee’s registered voters cast ballots in this year’s General Election on November 6. The local vote counts are available via the town website (homepage) or you can download them here (PDF 279 kb): Sunapee General Election Results 2012

In Sullivan County House District 2 (Sunapee-Croydon), Sue Gottling (D-Sunapee) defeated one-term incumbent Spec Bowers (R-Sunapee). The vote count: 1,343 to 1,003, 57% to 43%, according to NHPR published results. Gottling won Sunapee (1,138 to 798) and split the Croydon vote (205 to 205).

In Sullivan County House District 9 (Plainfield, Grantham, Croydon, Cornish, Newport, Unity, Springfield and Sunapee) Linda Tanner (D-Sunapee) defeated one-term incumbent Tom Howard (R-Croydon). The vote count: 5,525 to 4,759, 54% to 46%. (Unity confirmed Wednesday morning for SunapeeNews.com the District 9 vote count in Unity, the last town in the eight-town district to report, and it showed Tanner edging out Howard, 349 to 323.)

It’s Election Day! Vote!

Vote

It’s November 6th, It’s Election Day! GOTV efforts are underway and candidates and campaigns are in the last push to encourage voter turn-out.

Sunapee voters go to the Sherburne Gym, Route 11, to cast their ballots. The poll hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

On the ballot are candidates for federal, state and county offices, from president to county commissioners, as well as two controversial constitutional amendment questions.

For voting sites across the state visit the Secretary of State website: poll locations and hours.

If you’d like to preview your ballot, visit the SOS website for towns using Accuvote ballots and paper ballots. Sunapee voters can visit the Town Clerk website for voter and election information.

Constitutional Questions

At the bottom of the ballot this year, voters will find constitutional amendment questions including one about taxation, the other about legislative power and the judiciary. Telegraph staff writer David Brooks provides a summary for voters. Visit: http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/statenewengland/982439-469/a-quick-guide-to-those-constitutional-amendment.html

Voter ID and Registration

New Hampshire poll workers will be asking voters for identification. But you can vote without it by signing a “challenged voter affidavit.” It declares the voter is “duly qualified” to vote in the town.

Valid forms of voter ID include a driver’s license, non-driver’s photo ID, student or military ID, government ID, U.S. passport (even if expired), and any other ID acceptable by the supervisor of the checklist, the moderator or the clerk.

Same-day registration is allowed with proof of age, domicile and citizenship. A driver’s license, passport or birth certificate is normally acceptable proof.

For more information, visit the N.H. Secretary of State.

Linda Tanner seeks House seat in District 9 – Sullivan County, N.H.

Sunapee resident Linda Tanner is a candidate for state representative in Sullivan County’s District 9, a floterial district that includes eight New Hampshire towns: Plainfield, Grantham, Croydon, Cornish, Newport, Unity, Springfield and Sunapee.  Tanner is the Democrat on the ballot and lives in the village of Georges Mills.  She is running against one-term incumbent Tom Howard (R-Croydon). SunapeeNews.com asked both candidates in the District 9 race for voter information.

By Linda Tanner

Website: www.lindatanner2012.com
Email: electltanner@gmail.com

I graduated from a small teachers’ college in Pennsylvania and was drawn to New Hampshire because of its natural beauty and recreational opportunities. I ended up staying, coaching and teaching health, health occupations, and physical education for 35 years at Kearsarge Regional High School. I stayed because I fell in love with the New Hampshire culture of rugged individualism, frugality, community, school, and state pride, concern for the common good, and the protection of individual and civil rights.

I appreciate the way democracy is citizen based in this State and want to be your citizen legislator.

Over the past few years, I have become concerned with the radical legislation being considered and passed in our State House along with the lack of civility and consensus.  I feel I need to be part of the solution, not sit on the sidelines and hope for common sense to prevail.

I’m running to restore balance, common sense, and to work for solutions for New Hampshire not create more problems by promoting legislation from a national agenda.  I will vote to represent my constituents.

I will:

  • Promote economic growth by giving incentives for hiring and keeping jobs in N.H.
  • Vote for equal and adequate public education as well as funding for the State university and college system based on reasonable, ear marked revenues.
  • Vote for affordable health care and women’s access to reproductive health services.
  • Vote to support our workers, police, firefighters, public employees, first responders, and teachers.
  • Be vigilant in protecting our lakes, forests, and our precious environment.

Sue Gottling asks for your vote in N.H. House race

In the House race for District 2 in New Hampshire’s Sullivan County,  Sunapee and Croydon, former state Rep. Sue Gottling (D-Sunapee) is running against one-term incumbent Spec Bowers (R-Sunapee). SunapeeNews.com asked both candidates for voter information. Election Day is November 6, 2012.

By Sue Gottling

My name is Sue Gottling and I am running for State Representative in District 2, Sunapee and Croydon. Having served in the N.H. House from 2006 to 2010, I believe voters are ready for a return to cooperation and common sense.

Here is why I ask for YOUR vote in this important election.

First: The best legislation emerges when all sides work together. During my time in the House, I worked cooperatively with Republicans, including Senator Odell and Representative Kidder, sponsoring bills, serving on committees and chairing the Land Use Commission.

Second: I paid attention to my town by attending most Selectboard meetings for four years and sponsoring bills for the Board and constituents.

Third: As a member of the Resources Committee, I expedited help from DES [Department of Environmental Services] and DRED [Department of Resources and Economic Development] when crucial local issues arose.

Fourth: As an educator, I know the value of quality public education. I oppose the bills that threaten public education: 50% reduction of state support for our University system, making Kindergarten optional, removing vital curriculum components from state standards, and raiding the UNIQUE fund, the last vestige of state scholarships for college students.

New Hampshire does not need to be the only state that provides no money for scholarships, ranks last in financial support for higher education, and continues the highest rate of student loan debt for graduates. If employers come to N.H. because of our educated work force, then the present legislature is shortsighted and hypocritical when it claims its focus is Jobs.

Finally, I would never insult our small business entrepreneurs and skilled workers by attempting to take away their licenses. The prime sponsor of these bills was my opponent who took advantage of his narrow election to pursue an ideological agenda. My responsibility is to the whole community and to act in its best interest.

Kearsarge/Sunapee LWV will hold candidates forum

Kearsarge/Sunapee Region, N.H. – The League of Women Voters of Kearsarge/Sunapee will be holding a candidate forum on Tuesday, October 30 at 7 p.m. in New London. The forum will be include state senate and state representative races for the towns of Newbury, New London, Sunapee and Wilmot. The public is encouraged to attend.  Location: Whipple Hall, corner of Main Street and Seaman’s Road, next to the town green. Election Day is November 6, 2012.

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