Hudson - Litchfield News 6 - February 18, 2011
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by Stephen Stepanek Albert Einstein famously defined insanity as doing the same thing
over and over again and expecting different results. That’s why many members of the House Ways and Means committee were disappointed to hear the Governor’s budget address on Tuesday, in which Governor Lynch once again laid out a projection for state revenues that vastly exceeds what even his own state agencies believe the state will collect from existing taxes and fees. His revenue figures are over $290 million more than Ways and Means estimates the state will receive, and vastly exceed even his own agencies’ estimates. Over-inflated revenue numbers have been a recurring problem for the Governor. The last two budgets he has projected and the Democratic legislature has passed include spending plans that so heavily overstated revenues that they had to come back and fix the giant deficits in the middle of the term. In fact, the last budget was off by over 12 percent the amount that they expected to come to the state in taxes. Undeterred by his past errors, Governor Lynch has again submitted a budget that overestimates revenues. One would think that in light of his previous mistakes, he would have taken a more cautious view of how much the state should expect to get to pay for state services.
Clearly, the reason why the Governor has
chosen this path is to avoid making the tough decisions to balance the budget by reining in
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In My Opinion... 8 2 8 9 2 3 5 7 8 2
4 3 4 9 Letters to our Editor Continued from page 5
Amy C. Sousa, Candidate for Hudson School Board
As a candidate for the Hudson School Board, I am expected to join the
chorus of candidates who believe in quality education but want to cut every last penny out of the schools’ budget, as though one isn’t related to the other. I find myself unable to write such a letter of political expediency when I know that our community’s future is best served by a strong educational system.
Instead, I write for the silent majority. I write for those who know that education isn’t the cause of recession; rather, education alleviates the impact of recession. Education increases lifetime earnings and life expectancy, and it reduces unemployment. If we want to protect our children against the hardships of a lagging economy, we should invest in education, not demolish it. • The Drop Out Task Force reports that in the 2008-2009 academic year, 12.9 percent of Hudson’s students exited high school early—without a diploma. As a college professor, I want to see more of those students in my classroom instead of hanging out at the mall.
• Technology is a critical aspect of our economy. The only way to ensure that current technologies are accessible to all students, regardless of income, is to make them readily available through public education.
• Art and music are essential to education and humanity. They calm the senses, express our deepest beliefs, and inspire thought. Discontinuing
these programs would deny the next-generation access to the benefits given to each of us.
• Special education is indeed special because it helps children with disabilities build skills and become productive adults. It is also cost- effective. Studies have shown that the earlier learning challenges are addressed, the less likely those challenges will develop into lifelong problems and lead to greater expenditures.
• Hudson educators deserve to be fairly compensated for their dedication and success; yet, the NH Department of Education reports the average pay for a teacher in Londonderry is $6,000 more than in Hudson. We don’t need to break the bank to give our children the education they
deserve. The National Endowment for the Arts has a grant for planning a center for the arts. The $250,000 award is not enough to build the proposed center at Alvirne, but it could get us one step closer. Apple Computer’s Education Grants provide funding for schools to incorporate technology and creative teaching techniques into curricula. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $19.9 million in discretionary grants to help special education personnel improve results for children with disabilities; Hudson received zero dollars of this money.
Unfunded mandates are only unfunded if we allow them to be. Let’s sheath our budget-battling sabers, roll up our sleeves, and make education work for our children. I would appreciate your vote for Hudson School Board on March 8.
Amy C. Sousa - Hudson
by Stephen Stepanek Note: Stephen Stepanek of Amherst is the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. It’s Time for Reality in State Budget
spending that has exploded in the past four years. Sadly, he has abdicated the task of passing a responsible budget and handed that duty to the House Republicans. Luckily for New Hampshire taxpayers, we are prepared to do the job. For nearly six weeks after being sworn into office, the House
Ways and Means Committee worked diligently to get reliable revenue figures that we know were based in fact, not in pie-in-the- sky optimism. We knew it would be critical not to have a repeat of past budget and we focused intently on giving realistic figures, not unrealistic numbers that allowed for more spending. This process resulted in over 80 straw votes to accept revenue figures, the vast majority of which were unanimous and bipartisan. In fact, when we had members vote against our estimates, it was usually from individuals who wanted to revise the numbers down, not up. This was a very professional and disciplined process that resulted in a work product that ignored political expediency and focused on accountability. Then, something amazing happened. Based upon guidance from House Speaker William O’Brien, the House did something unheard of. Instead of simply tossing out revenue estimates as in years past, we put some teeth in our commitment to hold the line on state spending. Furthermore, we have made clear that there will be no more tax and fee increases on the working families and employers across the state.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed a resolution affirming that the figures the Ways and Means Committee developed would remain the absolute maximum that the House budget would spend this year, while including the rollback of eight taxes and fees from the past four years. While many New Hampshire citizens might expect that
government should operate by determining how much the state has to spend and then allocating the money, that’s just not how business has been done in Concord. Lately, we’ve seen spending decided first and then figuring how to inflate revenues or add more taxes and fees to pay for more government. This year, with this House Republican majority, business as usual will change. This year, we will live within our means and agree that we won’t spend what we don’t have. There is no more room for accounting gimmicks or passing the buck to our children and grandchildren. This year, the responsible budget writers have taken control.
While we certainly would have preferred to work with Patricia & James Flynn
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Governor Lynch on this matter, it’s hard to consider him an ally after his budget proposal signaled that he simply hasn’t learned his lesson from his prior missteps in over-inflating revenue figures. We simply can’t repeat the same actions and think that the result will be different this time. It’s time for a new direction in the State House. Republican leaders will lead New Hampshire back from the fiscal irresponsibility and protect the taxpayers of the state. The consequences of our current path are simply too dire to continue any longer.
In My Opinion is strictly an OP-ED column that stands on the opinion of one writer, Stephen Ste- panek, as opposed to a newspaper reporter who does not provide an opinion, but reports the facts. This column, in many instances, is a counterpoint to published stories and does not reflect the un- biased reporting policy of the Hudson~Litchfield News or the opinion of the management, adver- tisers, and ownership of Area News Group.
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