Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I turned 39 (2014)

Monday, October 22, 2007

NH Governor John Lynch - Another Corporate Elite Pol! - ENEMY of the Mentally Ill!

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http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/33000.html
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New Hampshire Governor John Lynch
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Governor Lynch is another big government politician who only serves his Corporate Elite masters, not the People! Governor Lynch has raised "Sin Taxes" on the sale of cigarettes, implemented a new $30 scratch ticket, and now, 10/22/2007, has raised the NH Turnpike Tolls on working class individuals and families. Governor Lynch talks a good game for the "Have-Nots", but he does NOT walk the walk in his INEQUITABLE fiscal policies.

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Jonathan A. Melle
30 Hanover Street
Apartment # 209
Manchester, NH 03101-2227
Telephone: (603) 232-5538
Cell Phone: (603) 289-0739
Jonathan_A_Melle@yahoo.com
jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Honorable John Lynch
Governor of the State of New Hampshire
Office of the Governor
The New Hampshire State House Building
107 North Main Street
Room 208 - 214
Concord, New Hampshire 03301-4990

Dear Governor Lynch:

Yesterday, (Friday, October 19th, 2007), morning, my dad and I stopped by your office and spoke with the receptionist. I saw you walking by in the hallway and I said, “Hello, Governor Lynch.” You stopped and said “hello.” I introduced you to my dad, Bob Melle of Amherst, New Hampshire. My dad said that he met you at a philharmonic musical event. I then told you what I told your receptionist, which was that I think you are doing an excellent job as Governor, the state government is in good condition, but that I did not agree with your decision to raise the tolls.

You, Governor Lynch, replied to me that you did not like raising the tolls, but it needed to be done. Then you talked to my dad about the philharmonic musical event. After my dad and I departed your company, we had a conversation about you. I told my dad that he looks like a Governor. My dad replied to me that you, Governor Lynch, were thinner than him. I replied to my dad that you, Governor Lynch, are also a lot wealthier than him, which brought me back to the reason why I believe you are WRONG to raise the tolls.

You, Governor Lynch, are a Millionaire! You are in the top 10% of Americans for wealth, which means that you are part of the “Corporate Elite.” You do NOT have any understanding of what it means to be either a poor single person, such as myself, who is in the bottom 10% of Americans for income—I am a “Have-Not”, or a middle class person, such as my dad, who just about breaks even at the end of every month. Your public policies for taxes are REGRESSIVE!

While I have voted for you twice, and will probably support you again next year, I do not connect with you as an advocate for the poor and middle class. While you support and have initiated progressive programs, your funding sources for these programs are from the very people they are serving. You should NOT have instituted a $30 State Lottery Ticket—as the State Lottery is a means for the state government to subsidize tax incentives for already wealthy businesses, not to fund public education and the like.

You see, Governor Lynch, while I am poor, I am also very intelligent! I hold a Master of Public Administration from The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a Bachelor of Arts Degree, cum laude, from Siena College in Loudonville, NY, an Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Army with commendations from U.S. President George W. Bush, whom I do not support politically, for saving lives as a Soldier in Germany, for which the President ordered me a hearing one city block from The White House on July 19th, 2004, so I may receive a Veterans pension, which is still under review in Washington, D.C. today.

I understand the many facets of governance, and have followed your work, supported your campaigns for governor, listened to you speak, and shaken your hand once in early-January 2006 in The Palace Theater in Manchester, and again yesterday at The State House. I also watched and listened to you on WMUR-TV, including a recent political show with Scott Spradling on “Close Up”. When you raised the tolls this past month, I became upset with you, as governor, because, once again, you are raising revenues regressively.

I asked my dad, Bob, if a Millionaire like you, Governor Lynch, understands how financially hard it is for working class people to pay more money in tolls all so they can earn +$8 per hour? My dad responded to me that of course you, Governor Lynch, understand financial constraints, including for working class individuals and families. My dad then told me that past Governors, such as Republican Governor Craig Benson, may have left you no choice and set you up to take the fall on raising the tolls.

My opinion of you, Governor Lynch, is that you know how to run the state government better than anyone else I have followed in politics. However, while you talk a good game for the working class individuals and families who pay much of the public’s bills, you don’t walk the walk in your tax policies. The State Lottery, Turnpike Tolls, “Sin taxes”, and the like, have all been increased at your administration’s request. These are all means to raise public revenues against the financial interests of the working class, who are also the same people you have helped through state programs you have both supported and initiated. My take is that you are two-out-of-three in my favor: The State Government is solid, State Programs are there for the working class, BUT the working class is paying more and more of the public’s tax bills due to your public policies.

It was nice to meet you again, Governor Lynch. I hope you become an U.S. Senator and then a future U.S. President someday. If I ever became a future politician in Concord or Washington, D.C., I would hire you to work for me so that the state or nation would be ran well like you are running the State of New Hampshire today.

Best regards,
Jonathan A. Melle
Veteran

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State of New Hampshire
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
107 North Main Street, State House, Room 208
Concord, NH 03301
Telephone (603) 271-2121
www.nh.gov/governor
governorlynch@nh.gov
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“Seal of the State of NH”
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JOHN H. LYNCH
Governor

November 5, 2007

Jonathan Melle
30 Hanover Street
Apartment # 209
Manchester, NH 03101

Dear Jonathan:

Thank you for contacting the Office of Governor John H. Lynch with your concerns about tolls in New Hampshire.

Governor Lynch is committed to safe and high-quality roads and bridges for New Hampshire residents. He is also committed to making sure the Department of Transportation is well managed, and its budget stretched as far as possible. That is why this year, he changed the department’s leadership and directed the new commissioner to straighten out the agency’s books.

The Department of Transportation has two main funds, the Highway Fund and the Turnpike fund. Gas taxes and certain motor vehicle fees pay for the Highway Fund, and its revenues are used to fund repairs on most state roads and bridges, as well as to assist local communities in their road projects. Gov. Lynch has asked the Transportation Commissioner to conduct a wider review of that fund, including the decades-long practice of using that fund to support certain activities of other state agencies such as the Departments of Safety & Justice.

Highway TOLLS support the Turnpike Fund, and the revenue from those tolls is used only to support the Turnpike System, which is comprised of the Blue Star and Spaulding Turnpikes in the Seacoast and the Central Turnpike (portions known as the Everett) in Southern New Hampshire.

Major repair work on the Turnpike System has been delayed for decades. For example, in 1992, state officials asked the Transportation Department to make deteriorating bridges on the Spaulding Turnpike last two years longer. 15-years-later, those “temporary” fixes – including wooden supports and nets to catch falling concrete – are still in place.

While no bridge in this state remains open that is unsafe for travel, there are now 14 bridges on the Turnpike System – from those on the Spaulding, to the Merrill’s Marauders Bridge on the Everett, to the Exit 14 bridges on the Central Turnpike – that the federal government has identified in urgent need of repair or replacement. In addition to its bridges, the Spaulding Turnpike in the Seacoast is a 1957 road incapable of dealing with the demands of New Hampshire’s 2007 economy and it needs to be widened.

These projects have been delayed repeatedly over the years, and those delays have only added to the expense. While TOLL revenues are essentially the same (about $82 million a year system-wide), construction prices have increased by about 45% in just the last 2 years. Putting off dealing with this issue only created a bigger and more expensive problem.

The current TOLL revenue is already committed to pay back bonds for work that has already happened on the Turnpike’s System. There is not sufficient funding available to do anything but the most basic maintenance work.

Governor Lynch understands and shares your concerns about increasing TOLLS. But after careful study, he believes that not acting now to fix the roads and bridges on the turnpike system would be irresponsible.

That is why he has supported – as did a bipartisan majority of the Executive Council – Transportation Commissioner Chuck O’Leary’s proposal for a TOLL increase, the first increase in TOLLS since 1989. The TOLL increase3 will allow the state to issue bonds to pay for the repairs and/or replacement of those 14-red-listed bridges and to widen the Spaulding Turnpike.

In addition, Gov. Lynch has asked the Department to review new discounting strategies – including the possibility of a volume discount for E-Z Pass users – to lessen the impact on consumers.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with the Governor’s office. Please do not hesitate to contact our office with your ideas or if we can be of assistance.

Sincerely,
/signed/
Benjamin A. Logan
Special Assistant for Citizen Services

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10/22/2007

The following profile of Governor Lynch is found on NH.gov/governor.

About New Hampshire Governor John Lynch

Inaugurated to a second term on January 4, 2007, Governor John Lynch is continuing to bring a spirit of bipartisan cooperation to the State House and working to make real progress on the issues important to New Hampshire families – improving education, keeping the economy strong, reducing health care costs, ensuring public safety and protecting the environment.

Gov. Lynch is working on initiatives to increase New Hampshire’s graduation rate to direct more state education aid to the communities that need it most; to expand the number of children with access to health insurance; to make health care more affordable and accessible; to protect children from sexual predators; to preserve New Hampshire’s environment; and to strengthen New Hampshire’s economy.

In his first term Gov. Lynch kept his promise to bring Democrats, Republicans and Independents together to address New Hampshire’s major challenges. He joined with bipartisan coalitions of legislators to pass legislation to stabilize health care costs for small businesses; to eliminate a projected $300 million budget deficit and add $50 million to the Rainy Day Fund; and to create one of the toughest and most comprehensive laws in the country to protect children from sexual predators.

Gov. Lynch’s commitment to putting the interests of people first is an extension of his work as a business and community leader.

As the President and CEO of Knoll, Inc., a national furniture manufacturer, he transformed a company losing $50 million a year into one making a profit of nearly $240 million. Under his leadership, Knoll created new jobs, gave factory workers annual bonuses, established a scholarship program for the children of employees, created retirement plans for employees who didn’t have any, and gave workers stock in the company.

Gov. Lynch has also served as chair of the University System Board of Trustees, where he worked to keep tuition increases to a minimum; as director of Admissions at the Harvard Business School, where he made ethics one of the criteria for admissions; and as president of the Lynch Group, a business-consulting firm in Manchester.

Long a community leader, John Lynch served on the board of Catholic Medical Center in Manchester and on the board of the Capitol Center for the Arts. He is the past president of the UNH alumni association, and a longtime coach of youth soccer, hockey, softball and baseball.

Gov. Lynch was born in Waltham, Massachusetts on November 25, 1952, the fifth of William and Margaret Lynch’s six children and attended the local public schools. His mother was an elementary school teacher and his father ran a local Boys’ Club.

Working his way through college, Gov. Lynch earned his undergraduate degree from the University of New Hampshire in 1974. He also holds an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

He and his wife of 29 years, Susan, live in Hopkinton, and have three children, Jacqueline, a college student, Julia, a high school senior, and Hayden, an eighth grader.

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John & Susan Lynch

NH's Governor & First Lady

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About Dr. Susan E. Lynch

Dr. Susan Lynch is a pediatrician who works as a pediatric lipid specialist at the Cholesterol Treatment Center at Concord Hospital in Concord, NH.

As New Hampshire’s first lady, Susan continues her work to draw more attention to the problem of childhood obesity, and to encourage healthy eating habits and regular exercise for New Hampshire’s children. In addition to speaking across the state about ways to prevent childhood obesity, Susan serves as the spokesperson for the physical activity program “Walk NH,” which is designed to teach children ages 6 to 12 how to have fun getting in shape. Any child can participate by pledging to walk the equivalent of either the length – 190 miles – or the width – 70 miles – of New Hampshire. Children can do it on their own or in teams with friends and family members. The miles add up by walking to school, taking a hike, or just strolling around the neighborhood over the course of several months. Recently the program has expanded to encourage adults to participate.

Susan is also working to improve access to preventative health care for children, to reduce underage drinking, and to promote New Hampshire arts and artists. She also works to promote literacy and serves as a Reading Ambassador through her participation in the Scholastic Read program.

She is the honorary chair of the Governor’s Arts Awards, and the honorary chair of March of Dimes Walk America in New Hampshire.

Susan is involved with the national programs Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition. She has been active in her community serving as a trustee on the Northeast Cholesterol Foundation, the Concord Community Music School Board, the NH Division of Children, Youth and Families Advisory Board, Concord Hospital’s Healthy Beginnings Endowment Advisory Board and the Today’s Parent TV Show Board. She has also been an active volunteer in the local public schools.

Susan was born and raised in Saugus, Massachusetts, graduating from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts with a B.A. in Biologic Science in 1976 and a M.D. from the University of Massachusetts in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1986. Completing her pediatric internship at Tufts-New England Medical Center’s Floating Hospital in Boston, she finished her pediatric residency at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, NH. Susan practiced general pediatrics at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinic in Concord before going on to complete the lipid training programs at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and through the National Lipid Association. Her professional memberships include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the NH Medical Society, the NH Pediatric Society, the National Lipid Association and Northeast Lipid Association. She is board certified in Pediatrics.

In 2006, the New Hampshire Pediatric Society named Susan the Public Citizen of the Year. She was also awarded the Champion for Children Award by the New Hampshire School Administrator Association.

Susan met her husband, John, when they worked together at Friendly Ice Cream as teenagers. They have been married for 29 years and are the parents of three children, Jacqueline, Julia, and Hayden.

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From: info@lynchcommittee.com
To: jonathan_a_melle@yahoo.com
Re: A Special Invitation from Governor and Dorothy Peterson
Date: Tuesday, 23 October, 2007
Honorary Chairs Governor and Mrs. Walter Peterson invite you to join Governor John H. Lynch and Dr. Susan E. Lynch to celebrate The Governor and First Lady's Fall Harvest Dinner on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at the Event Center at CR Sparks, Bedford NH, Cocktails at 6:30 - Buffet Dinner at 7:30, $75 per person, Call 603.228.6000 for tickets
http://www.lynchcommittee.com/
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the Hippo, October 25-31, 2007 - Weekly Quality of Life Index/Summary -

"We are all Merrimackians now"

On Monday, October 22, 2007, the tolls for your standard car traveling through the Hooksett and Bedford (NH) tollbooths jumped from 75-cents to $1. That is an extra $130 per year for drivers who make a round trip through the booths for work. Or, should you be so unlucky as to live just south of Exit 12 off the Everett Turnpike and work just north of Interstate 89, and extra $260 per year. (If you work 5 days a week and never get days off. Perhaps now is the time to ask for some days off.) At least the constant toll battlers in Merrimack didn't see an increase in their tolls.

QOL score: -1

Comments: Yeah, yeah, nice roads and safe bridges. But that extra 50-cents is the better part of the price of a cup of coffee at many a gas station. On the other hand, at least we are not Hampton (NH), whose main toll went from $1 to $1.50.

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The New Hampshire Union Leader – Manchester Edition
Tuesday, October 30, 2007 – Vol. 144, No. 183, 44 pages, 50-cents
Letters – Page A9

“A primary dilemma”

What will be the date of the New Hampshire presidential primary? This is the question Secretary of State William Gardner hears each day. Our secretary of state is inundated with requests for inside information, but his lips are sealed.

Unfortunately we are running out of time and NH is being boxed in. The filing period ends on Friday, November 2, 2007. The ballots must be delivered to the city and town clerks. Let us say the printing and delivery to the municipalities can occur by November 12th, 2007. Federal law states that there must be 30 days before the election for absentee ballots. On this schedule the first Tuesday, Secretary of State Bill Gardner would prefer the traditional voting day, would be Tuesday, December 18, 2007. The next two Tuesdays are holidays, leaving January 8, 2008, a possibility. But a number of members and priests from Orthodox churches have advised the secretary that January 7th and 8th is their Christmas and they would prefer the election not interfere with their holy day.

So, when will the primary be? Fortunately for us it is being decided by a conscientious, dedicated and honorable public servant, Bill Gardner. Can you imagine the chaos if the decision would be made by a governmental committee or worse, the Legislature?

-NH State Representative Robert H. Rowe, Amherst/Milford, NH

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Publisher's Note: Odd state out
By Jody Reese, the Hippo, Manchester, NH

Soon New Hampshire may be one of the only states in this region to not offer legalized gambling.

Maine is on its way to approve slot machines and Massachusetts is looking to open several casinos, including one north of Boston.

Maine and Massachusetts are part of a national trend for states to use gambling to pay for education and other state-funded programs that taxpayers seem weary to further support. This is nothing new. Almost every state in the country has a lottery. States also tax cigarettes and alcohol at higher rates than other goods. These sin taxes, as they are called, are a tacit acknowledgment that these products aren’t all that good for you and if you want them you’ll have to pay a little more and that money will be used to keep taxes lower or offer more government programs.

The same is true for legalized gambling. Governments have come to the conclusion that people are going to gamble, so why not offer it in a safe, legal way that gives government some of the profit. In New Hampshire, we already allow gambling on horse and dog racing at several tracks around the state, as well as a whole host of lottery products. Opponents argue that gambling ends up costing states more in social services costs that arise from people spending too much gambling. That’s been the line of gambling opponents here in New Hampshire. But if Maine and Massachusetts go forward with their gambling plans, opponents have a hard sell ahead of them. If New Hampshire were the only state in the region to not offer gambling, then it would likely see its residents cross the state border to gamble in Maine and Massachusetts, just as residents from those states cross over into New Hampshire to take advantage of no state sales tax and lower alcohol and tobacco prices. We would see money leaving New Hampshire. In the end, it’s not a question of morals or theorized social costs, but of cold hard cash.

At this point, New Hampshire doesn’t have much of choice. If we’re the only state in the region not to offer legalized gambling then we’ll lose millions to our neighbors. It would be like all of a sudden we didn’t sell alcohol any more. People would just cross the border to buy it. Offering legalized gambling in New Hampshire isn’t a moral questions anymore, it’s a question of revenue.

Do we as a state so oppose gambling that we are going to let Maine and Massachusetts take millions from our residents for their government programs?

That sounds foolish. Banning gambling here will only drive it out of state.

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2/17/2007

Talk about perverse incentives! Just move to New Hampshire from Massachusetts and watch the NH state government make Massachusetts state politics look rational, which would be the biggest illusion of all time. I have annotated the NH Governor's state budget proposal below my letter.

Time for explanation, but the only one who does not need a response to these perversities of state government is Dan Bosley. So, for the rest of you who could stand to learn a thing or two about why respective State Houses really upset me, please read on.

First, of the $10.2 billion two-year state budget covering the current term of the current NH Governor, about $3.5 billion in state revenues will be raised by state taxpayers. That leaves about $6.7 billion in revenues coming from other sources, most notably the federal government. Second, just like the Massachusetts Governor and state Legislature, the NH Governor and state Legislature uses perverse incentives to plan around its own state financial liabilities (or fiscal obligations). Third, just like Massachusetts state government, NH state government receives a lot of federal funds for public schools, roads and bridges, healthcare, social service programs, and the like. Fourth, just like Massachusetts state government, NH state government is mandated to appropriate a lot of that federal money to the state's political subdivisions, or counties, cities and towns. Fifth, just like Massachusetts state government, NH state government then uses perverse incentives instead of rational incentives when transferring the federally funded, state administered money to the counties, cities and towns. To illustrate, the NH state government would rationally give its counties, cities and town $1 out of every $3 federal dollars in order to have opitmally running public schools, roads and bridges, healthcare, social service programs, and the like. However, state politicians, including the NH Governor, then get greedy with all of the billions of dollars of federal monies, and perversely find ways to complement the federal funds with their state funds, and in reality give its counties, cities and towns $0.50 out of every $3 federal dollars.

Sixth, like Massachusetts, NH state government does not give a single care about a baby in need, a malnourished 8 year old public school student, a homeless man, or an uninsured elderly resident on a fixed-income. If the respective state governments actually gave a damn about the common man & woman & child, they would find ways to spend as much money as possible on public services that would make their respective states more livable. Seventh, the method NH and Massachusetts uses to reduce their liabilities to public services is from an economics term called "COMPLEMENTING." To illustrate, in my personal life, if I have 10 good friends who help me in one way or another, and I view them perversely instead of rationally, I am going to complement my income against their income. For friend one, I am going to do my laundry at her house and save money. For friend two, I am going to eat a couple meals a week at his house and save money. For friend three, I am going to dump all of my personal problems on her and save mental health money. For friend four, I am going (if I had kids) dump my children at his house and save money on day care. For friend five, I am going to go the bars and drink, and cry poverty, and have him pick up most of the tab. For friend six, I am going to borrow his clothes and save money. For friend seven, I am going to borrow money without ever wanting to pay her back, and save money. For friend eight, I am going to borrow his car once and a while and save money. For friend nine, I am going to watch my TV shows with her and save money on not having buy cable. For friend ten, I am going to borrow her vacuum, lawn mower, and take her old furniture and other resources, and save money. Well folks, that is exactly the perverse behavior of state governments on complementing their economic resources with the federal funds they receive. What would my perverse incentive be? To make 10 more friends (in addition to my 10 current friends) and "play them all" in order to complement my income for their income. What is the state's perverse incentive? To keep cutting away at funding public education, roads and bridges, social service programs, healthcare, and the like in order for the state to limit its financial liabilities and receive more and more federal funds for their substandard public services.

Eighth, public lotteries and the expansion of gaming or privatized gambling operations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In Massachusetts, you have North Adams state Representative Dan Bosley who fully supports public gambling, but fully opposes private gambling. Why? The answer is because Bosley wants the state to collect as much "regressive taxation" public gambling money as it is able to at record breaking higher levels each fiscal year. Bosley knows that expanded privatized gambling would be rational, but would perversely harm the Massachusetts State Government's public gambling revenues. Therefore, as intelligent as Bosley is on public policies, he is going to use perverse incentives to expand only the Massachusetts State Lottery at the expense of the common good of the entire Massachusetts economy where such rational benefits as job creation, new revenues for local economies, and less money leaving the commonwealth and flowing into Connecticut's private gambling establishments.

Ninth, as for NH Governor John Lynch's proposed $30 scratch ticket, he is, once again, using perverse incentives via regressive taxation in order to raise state revenues to complement federal funds for NH's substandard public services. I would bet that if Dan Bosley was a state Representative in NH instead of Massachusetts, he would vote in the favor of the $30 dollar scratch ticket! Tenth, all of the complementations of state revenues to federal funds are perversities in our nations political system. By proposing a $30 scratch ticket, NH Governor John Lynch is saying that he is going to find regressive means to raise state revenues in order to complement federal dollars for public services. Lynch is going to harm the poor, who mostly play the lottery, while providing substandard social services that were meant for the poor, while the state gets rich.

In conclusion, NH Governor John Lynch, like Massachusetts state Representative Dan Bosley, use perverse incentives instead of rational ones, in order to benefit the state government at the expense of the public services that our public tax dollars are meant to be funding at an optimal level.

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

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News Items from the Union Leader from February 15th, 2007:

NH Governor John Lynch proposed a $10.2 billion budget package that increases overall spending over the next two years by 9 percent, and spending of state general funds by 15 percent. The NH state government adds $17 million to its rainy day fund, bring its balance to $80 million.

Here is how NH Governor Lynch will INEQUITABLY raise revenues on state taxpayers:

(a) a net cut in forecasted public education dollars, which the NH state Supreme Court has recurringly ruled unconstitutional

(b) another tax increase on tobacco products

(c) a fee increase on annually registering one's car

(d) state government downsizing of state agencies and bureaucrats

(e)a new record breaking NH state lottery $30 scratch ticket, or better stated a veiled system of "regressive taxation."

...And the list goes on and on.

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Civil unions license available by Dec. 10
November 25, 2007

CONCORD, N.H. --Same-sex couples seeking civil unions will be able to obtain licenses at New Hampshire town and city halls on beginning Dec. 10.

Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan said the final steps for civil unions are falling into place for couples who want to get them as soon as they go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1.

"As far as we're concerned, everything is on schedule," Scanlan said.

He said worksheets for clerks to use while issuing licenses are being printed this week. They're similar to forms for marriage licenses -- except with the words "bride" and "groom" deleted. A final computer systems check is scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 8.

Information from: New Hampshire Union Leader, http://www.unionleader.com

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Iowa's primacy pays off in dollars and influence
By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff | November 25, 2007

WASHINGTON - Iowa, whose first-in-the-nation caucus is vital for politicians who want to be president, has reaped a windfall of federal spending in recent years, collecting billions of dollars in subsidies for ethanol production and a disproportionate share of federal funding, according to a review of government records.

Although it ranks 30th among the states in population, Iowa was slated to receive the seventh-highest amount of earmarked money - $37 million - in a congressional appropriations bill passed earlier this month. President Bush vetoed the bill on the grounds that it was filled with wasteful spending. Separately, Iowa has been awarded $50 million in taxpayer funds for a controversial project called Earthpark, an indoor rain forest to be constructed in the middle of the farm belt, contingent on collecting an identical amount in local funds.

Meanwhile, a new study on ethanol production by the Cato Institute says that Iowa gets a $2 billion benefit annually as a result of subsidies and trade barriers for the fuel, which is made from corn, Iowa's largest crop.

Critics say the subsidies are wasteful be cause it takes too much energy to create ethanol and that there won't be enough of the gas substitute to reduce dependence on foreign oil. But most of the presidential candidates have pledged during their campaigns in Iowa that they will maintain and even increase the subsidies.

"There are sacrosanct Iowa-oriented policies . . . because of presidential politics," said Stephen Ellis, vice president of the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense, which studies earmarks.

"Anybody who wants to be in the White House has got to have an extensive familiarity with Iowa, which helps it get more attention and funding."

By contrast, New Hampshire, which has joined Iowa in fighting to maintain its early status in the presidential selection process, has not fared nearly as well. New Hampshire, which is 41st in population, ranked 39th in earmarks in the recent appropriations bill, even though the state's senior senator, Judd Gregg, is a member of the appropriations committee and thus in a strong position to designate more funds for the Granite State.

Indeed, when all federal spending is tallied, Iowa got back $1.10 in federal funds for every tax dollar it sent to Washington in 2005. By comparison, New Hampshire got back only 71 cents per dollar, according to the study by the Taxpayer Foundation, a nonpartisan group that analyzes federal spending.

Iowa's success is a result of a combination of factors. The state's two senators have used their seniority on key committees to win support for earmarked projects such as Earthpark. Analysts say that Iowa's first-caucus status has been crucial in winning support for ethanol subsidies because so many presidential candidates back the idea. At the same time, many presidential candidates are eager to embrace projects suggested by Iowa politicians in order to win favor in the state.

Iowa's success in winning federal dollars is playing a role in decisions by other states to advance their own primaries, in some cases challenging Iowa's and New Hampshire's positions at the head of the pack. Some critics wonder whether Iowa's determination to hold the first caucus stems as much from a devotion to federal dollars as it does to the stated ideal of small-state retail politics. Now, other states want a piece of the power - and a bigger piece of the pie. Political leaders in Michigan, for instance, have scheduled an earlier primary, in part, to focus more attention on legislation affecting the auto industry.

John McCain of Arizona, a Republican presidential candidate, is one of a handful of senators who refuses to request earmarked funds and opposes ethanol subsidies. He recently began running an ad in New Hampshire that touts his "guts to stand up to wasteful government spending."

The ad cites examples of wasted funds in Alaska, Montana, and New York. But the ad is not running in Iowa and it does not mention earmarked projects that go to the state. Still, McCain's opposition to earmarks and ethanol subsidies is well known in the state and may help explain why he is at 4 percent in Iowa in a recent CBS/New York Times poll.

Senator Charles Grassley, the highest-ranking Republican in Iowa, bristled at McCain's characterization that earmarked funds are a result of a wasteful and corrupt system. He also defended the ethanol subsidies.

"My constituents would say to me, 'We pay taxes. Why are you going to let these other senators get all the money?' People come to us and they want these things," Grassley said in an interview, calling his advocacy of the funds "ethical and legal."

Grassley also is the prime backer of the $50 million grant for Earthpark project, which critics have dubbed "Earthpork." It is slated to be built near Pella, a town of about 10,000 people located about 45 miles from the capital of Des Moines.

McCain has been critical of the project, saying in Iowa earlier this year, "Do you think that even the people of Iowa would think that we need an indoor rain forest in Iowa?" Separately, McCain reiterated his opposition to ethanol subsidies in a speech earlier this month.

Ethanol production is subsidized by US taxpayers at a rate of 51 cents per gallon; it is also protected by trade barriers and other measures. Stephen Slivinski, a scholar at the Cato Institute who believes the subsidies are wasteful, completed a study which found that Iowa farmers and refiners get a $2 billion annual benefit from the subsidies and trade barriers. He said Iowa gets about one-third of the nation's ethanol subsidies because of the size of the state's corn crop and refining capacity.

"It shows you how you can create an entire industry based on a date in the political calendar," Slivinski said, referring to the caucuses.

"It is hard to believe the ethanol industry would exist in its current form without the favoritism showered on it by Congress."

Grassley acknowledged that the huge growth in subsidies for ethanol is helped by Iowa's first-caucus status, noting that most presidential candidates back the program. He defended the subsidies on environmental and national defense grounds.

Iowa's influence was also evident in the spending bill vetoed by Bush. The bill was written by a powerful Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding on projects related to the federal departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, Education, and related agencies. The bill gave Iowa $37 million worth of earmarked projects, more than all but six states. The projects included $300,000 for an art exhibit in Des Moines, another $300,000 for an art exhibit in Davenport, and millions of dollars for a variety of health and education programs.

Iowa's success in the subcommittee is due partly to the fact that one of its senators is its chairman. Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, did not respond to a request for comment on earmarks and related projects.

"It is terribly easy to put earmarks [in a bill] if you are a member of the committee," Grassley said. "It is almost like you don't even need to try."

Bush, in vetoing the bill, accused Congress of "acting like a teenager with a new credit card." Nonetheless, Bush remains an enthusiastic supporter of ethanol subsidies, which he vowed to continue when he campaigned in Iowa.

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"NH foreclosure hotline set up"
CONCORD - People worried about losing their homes in subprime mortgage loan crisis can call the Banking Department.

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"NH foreclosure hotline set up"
By TOM FAHEY
State House Bureau Chief
6-December-2007


CONCORD – The state has set up a new hotline for consumers who face foreclosure on subprime mortgage loans they used to buy their homes.

Gov. John Lynch and Banking Commissioner Peter Hildreth announced the hotline, along with new requirements on mortgage companies aimed at slowing foreclosures on the low-interest loans.

The Banking Department set up a special phone number, 1-800-437-5991, to handle calls from consumers who either face foreclosure or are worried about their loans. Department staff will handle the calls during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Hildreth also ordered all New Hampshire-licensed mortgage companies to assign a specific person to handle calls from his office and from consumers.

Sub-prime mortgages were written at interest rates below the prevailing market rates, but they included a schedule of rate hikes in future years. The low-cost money initially helped consumers afford to buy a home, but also inflated home prices as demand for houses remained high.

The loose regulation around sub-prime lending allowed some mortgage brokers to earn fees and commissions by bending the rules to get unqualified buyers into a home.

Now that the rates on those mortgages are rising, some families find they cannot afford the payments. As the number of foreclosures rises, major Wall Street firms and investors have taken billions of dollars in losses. The foreclosures also are slowing the real estate market and dragging down home prices not only in New Hampshire, but in most of the U.S.

President Bush and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson are scheduled to discuss a program today that will freeze rates on some subprime loans for as long as five years.

Hildreth and U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., said estimates are that sub-prime problems will force 4,300 New Hampshire homeowners go into foreclosure by the end of 2009.

Lynch said, "The increasing number of foreclosures, caused in part by questionable loan practices, is hurting many of our families." He said the hotline and designated contacts for each licensed lender, "will make it easier for consumers to work with their mortgage companies to find solutions."

Part of Hildreth's order requires mortgage lenders and brokers to be clearer about standards for subprime loans and the risks that borrowers assume by taking them.

Hildreth continues to hold consumer outreach sessions around the state to help worried homeowners. The next session is at the Senior Center in Lebanon on Dec. 13 from 4 to 8 p.m. Borrowers are asked to bring loan documents and other paperwork with them to the sessions, or to any consultation they schedule at the Banking Department offices in Concord.

Lynch signed a bill this year meant to protect homeowners from foreclosure rescue scams, where borrowers sign transfer papers thinking they are saving their home only to find out they have signed it or their equity away.

The bill includes fines, jail time and repayment of equity to homeowners the companies victimize.

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"Subprime rate freeze in works"
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Under deal, interest rates would be held for five years in effort to combat foreclosures.

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"The FairPoint deal: Promises and assumptions"
Editorial - The NH Union Leader
Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007

VERIZON, New Hampshire's dominant phone company, has no interest in providing landline phone service to the New Hampshire market. Little FairPoint Communications of Charlotte, N.C., does. It would seem that New Hampshire customers would automatically benefit if Verizon sells its northern New England business to FairPoint, as it wants to do. And yet, upon close inspection the agreement the two businesses have reached looks too excessively risky for both FairPoint and the customers it hopes to serve.

As a regulated public utility, Verizon cannot sell its phone business without the approval of the state Public Utilities Commission. Verizon must prove that any sale would be in the public interest.

At first glance, this sale appears to meet that test. The unions that oppose the sale (because they fear a loss of jobs and wages under FairPoint management) have falsely implied that it will halt the expansion of broadband Internet service in New Hampshire. On the contrary, the only hope for expanded broadband is a sale. Verizon has zero interest in adding rural DSL service or more fiberoptic cable.

But as the PUC's consumer advocate discovered, FairPoint probably cannot meet its stated goals for broadband expansion. Its plan is based on assumptions it cannot back up.

The same goes for FairPoint's financing. The cost and structure of this deal are, at best, highly risky. At worst, they're a disaster waiting to happen.

The consumers will not be well served by forcing Verizon to continue operating a business it has no interest operating. But consumers will also be poorly served if an underfinanced company pays too much for a declining business, then cannot meet its service requirements and has to raise rates to cover its immense debt payments.

FairPoint might be able to successfully operate Verizon's northern New England business. But any such purchase should come with a more solid business plan than FairPoint is offering, and probably should cost significantly less than FairPoint is paying.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

Fairpoint failed in their attempt at the CLEC business. Why should we believe they will be any more sucessful in this endeavor. They ran that business into the ground and they can certainly run this one into the ground also. Good luck the the consumers...
- JCQ, Manchester

Jeff is pretty much dead on target in regard to TV/Internet comment... Government has already messed this up,, this is just a continuation of the same bad policies/rules and regs but an outdated government agency.
- Tim, Derry

It doesn't matter what happened in Texas, each deal is different. This deal is not good for the consumer. For those who say the government shouldn't be involved, well if the government wasn't involve we would all still be renting phones from AT&T and be paying through the roof for poor phone service. DSL is outdated technology, who in their right mind would invest in DSL lines. If you find anyone send them my way, I have a 2400 baud modem I'd like to sell them. In a few years landlines will be outdated, they already are in most large cities. I haven't had or needed a landline in the past 8 years.
- Jeff Comeau, Manchester NH

Jeff: perhaps you should re-read my comment. I did not say that Windstream was a GTE spinoff. You said exactly what I said: GTE sold their northeast Texas service to Valor, which in turn sold to Windstream. You are exactly correct about government creating these problems.
- Kevin, Lancaster

If this deal which Verizon would still own 60% were to occur this would perhaps be one of the slickest transactions in history.
- Eric, Nashua

Newsflash to Kevin from Lancaster: Windstream was a spinoff from 'AllTel', not GTE. (GTE was actually the incumbant carrier in these regions, and was 'merged' into Verizon several years ago..). Also, a simple Wikipedia search reveals this 'spinoff' was just completed last year, and but another year removed from the 'Valor' spinoff that occured previously.....Moral of the stories here are (a) Windstream was NOT a creation from the ILEC in this region, and operates simply as a CLEC (IE not subject to government regulation the way Verizon is here), meaning they have much more freedom, and a lot less responsibility, to operate as an 'entertainment' company, versus a public utility; (b) a company that is sold/spunoff year to year doesn't give the impression of stability, and most importantly(c) 6 months/1 year of service is HARDLY enough time to measure a supposed "improvement" of service.....seems to me they dodge any sort of service metrics/standards by offering themselves up for sale on an annual basis. Generally, I agree with you that governments should be kept a thousand miles away from any industry. They tend to have a habit of screwing things up royally. However, in this case, and what you're missing, is that the government is what created this situation in the first place. By opening up the local phone network to supposed competition in 1996, they have created havoc in the industry, depressed any sort of innovation/investment in the network by the remaining RBOCs, and have kept the stock prices down ever since (ask any stock broker their recommendation when it comes to Telcos for the past 10 years)...Bottom line is the conditions of this sale are completely different from the Windstream example you've cited, and is akin to comparing apples to oranges. As far as the tone of this editorial, I have to disagree with the UL's assumption that Verizon does not want to provide landline services here in Northern NE. They DO want the business, had already started deploying fiber in the southern areas of NH, and would happily stay here if they were allowed to compete head to head with the cable companies for TV/Internet services, since voice service is a dinosaur, and no longer profitable. What they DON'T want is to be shaken down by every town/county/state government for the 'privelage' of spending millions to upgrade the network.
- Jeff, Derry

I went through a similar transition in Texas. GTE was the traditional telephone company, but they were part of larger company that had no interest in expanding local service. DSL? Forget it! They wanted to sell off their small and medium markets to concentrate on large cities. A small regional startup telco (Valor) was created to purchase the local lines, and they did a lot to expand broadband and improve service, because it was their *only* business. Their success lead to them being purchased by another regional telco (Windstream), and services have improved even more. Keep the government out of it: let companies sell their services to customers, and either succeed or fail.
- Kevin, Lancaster

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MANCHESTER DAILY EXPRESS, Friday, December 14, 2007, Page 12

“Fighting Verizon/Fairpoint with pure facts” By Todd Bedard, Guest Columnist, The writer is a Manchester resident who is part of a grassroots effort opposed to the Verizon/Fairpoint deal.

Recently you may have read a guest column from Walter Leach, executive vice president of Fairpoint. In it, he explains why Manchester residents will benefit from the pending sale of Verizon to Fairpoint. You may have also noticed that Fairpoint has been ramping up its “advertising” and editorials in all available media forms throughout New England.

My question to you, and the question you should be asking yourself is: If this deal is so good for everyone, why do we have to be told about it over and over?

Think back to the mergers and sales in New England the past 20 years…from Ma Bell to New England Telephone to NYNEX to Bell Atlantic to Verizon. Does anyone remember the sort of acrimony and public outcry that they see now? Have you ever read so many editorials in against either of those previous sales? Do you remember any print ads, or CEOs explaining to you that everything is going to be all right?

No, because it was accepted that the companies that were taking over were better companies and they would somehow, someway move New Hampshire forward. Ma Bell built the phone system, New England Telephone and NYNEX brought us the beginnings of digitally switched offices, which supported a young Internet. Bell Atlantic introduced DSL technology when nothing other than dial-up was available. Today, Verizon brings us a new and exciting fiber technology called FiOS that not only allows fast Internet but also television options.

What does Fairpoint want to do for us? They want to expand an already antiquated copper technology. They will do NOTHING for populated areas like southern New Hampshire that already have access to DSL. Approximately 50,000 people in the northern and farther reaches of the state will have access to slow speed DSL. For the rest of us, there is nothing.

Do not be fooled by Fairpoint saying that they will offer IPTV as an alternative to cable. IPTV can only work 3/4 of a mile from the central office. In Manchester, that means that the central office located on Concord Street could only prove IPTV as far as the Verizon Wireless Arena. After that, you are out of luck.

Fairpoint also talks about bringing high-paying jobs to the region, but they fail to mention that they plan to have a very conservative 4 percent voluntary force reduction that they will not be rehired. So at best, those 250 jobs in NH will magically disappear only after four years, although more realistic numbers show current Verizon employees retiring or leaving at a much higher 7-8 percent rate.

All while this is happening, Comcast will still be raising their rates every year, and over-charging for real high speed broadband because they know they will be the only game in town.

Lastly, but I think most importantly, it is important to note that Fairpoint is NOT a telephone company. They are a holding company that specializes in buying small rural phone companies. Their main goal is to make as much money with as little effort as possible so they can pay their investors a very high dividend. This is in stark contrast to most telephone companies, which re-invest a significant percentage of capital back into the network.

You know that this whole deal smells funny. When a used car salesman tells you that a 10-year-old clunker is just the thing you need, you should be wary. Walter Leach and every other executive at Fairpoint are just like those used car salesmen, and you should be wary.

If you want more information please visit www.verizonfairpoint.com.

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"Poll: NH leaders turn bearish"
By BENJAMIN KEPPLE
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
12/13/2007

MANCHESTER – Confidence among New Hampshire business leaders is down sharply, with expectations about the state's future economic conditions at their lowest point in four years, a new survey has revealed.

The survey, from the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association and RKM Research and Communications Inc., found 38 percent of business leaders expect New Hampshire's economic conditions to worsen in 2008, while 29 percent felt they would stay the same and 25 percent thought things would improve. The study's Index of Economic Conditions fell to 39, down sharply from 53.9 last year and 49.5 in 2005. A reading below 50 is bearish.

"This indicates that pessimism about New Hampshire's economic conditions in 2008 is widespread and is common among businesses of all sizes," wrote R. Kelly Myers, an RKM principal and its director of communications research, in the study.

The study also found New Hampshire companies have less optimistic views about their future revenues, although they remain slightly bullish; 36 percent of the firms surveyed expect revenues to increase in 2008, while 35 percent expect revenues to be about the same as this year. 25 percent expected lower revenues. That resulted in the study's Index of Future Revenues falling to 53.3, compared to 67.5 last year and 76.5 in 2005.

But businesses in the state remained willing to spend on capital expenditures; 34 percent of businesses expected to increase capital purchases in 2008, while 47 percent expected to spend about the same as they did this year.

The study also found high energy costs have emerged as a major challenge facing the state's businesses; 22 percent of the surveyed firms said high energy costs were their biggest problem, compared to 14 percent last year. Poor economic conditions was the No. 1 answer, at 23 percent, while the high cost of health insurance was the No. 3 answer, at 14 percent.

Additionally, 99 percent of firms in the state rated high energy costs either a major or minor concern, with 79 percent saying it was a major worry.

The study also said 39 percent of firms would support an expansion of legalized gambling as a way to raise revenue for education, up from 36 percent in the prior year.

Support for a sales tax rose to 32 percent, up from 25 percent, while support for a personal income tax rose to 16 percent compared to 7 percent.

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The NH Union Leader - Editorial
"Economic worries: Choose the right remedy"
12/13/2007

UNDERSTANDABLY, the economy has re-emerged as a top issue in New Hampshire and nationally. Some polls show it being the No. 1 issue on people's minds. Voters who want their next President to make decisions that will improve economic growth and job creation, however, mustn't be lured into a false sense of hope.

A new survey by the Business and Industry Association found that 25 percent of New Hampshire business owners expect their revenues to decline next year. That's up from 11 percent last year. It's one of many signs that economic growth ought to be a big concern.

How do voters make sure they support candidates -- for the White House and other offices -- who will improve the economic climate, not worsen it? They can back ones who support proven methods of economic stimulation.

Presidents don't control the economy. But their actions can help or hurt it. One proven method for helping it is to keep taxes low. A candidate who pledges to help struggling Americans by raising taxes to finance an ever larger Washington bureaucracy is really pledging to slow economic growth.

The United States has the second-highest corporate tax rate among member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Our 35 percent rate is 10 percent higher than the average rate in Europe, according to the Tax Foundation.

High corporate and individual tax rates reduce jobs and economic growth, and America's rates are higher than they should be. These high rates finance a bloated government that inefficiently spends money that otherwise would go to creating more jobs. Trimming federal spending can help.

And then there are regulations. "It's no exagerration to say that entrepreneurs are being crushed by regulatory costs," Forbes magazine reported in July. The federal register is almost 75,000 pages long, and complying with those regulations costs Americans more than $1 trillion a year. Trim that burden, and watch the economy improve.

Washington cannot tax and spend America into prosperty. Americans need the government to reduce its interference in the economy, not increase it. Higher taxes and more government will only weigh the economy down, slowing growth and hindering job creation.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

Do you mean we should support economic stimulus programs like the REPUBLICAN INTEREST EXPENSE PORK PROGRAM? Do you think it is great for the economy to have three almost equal in size sectors of the federal budget; social programs, military programs, and wasting our hard earned tax money on interest on the REPUBLICAN FEDERAL DEBT? Democrats support "Paygo", which helps to bind Congress to a balanced budget trend. Tax rates should be set to equal expenditure. The only - ONLY - way to reduce tax rates is to lower spending, and the lowered spending should come first, rather than to rely upon the promises of Republicans who haven't kept them once in power. Bill Clinton had us on a surplus trend. Republicans came in, long before 9/11, advocating a reversal of that trend. Shame on the UL for supporting the ultra-pinko-liberal-commieREPUBLICAN INTEREST PORK PROGRAM. And no, that program is not good for the economy, or the tax payer. It's a gimmick. Period.
- Bob Jean, Northwood, NH

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The NH Union Leader
"State House Dome: New year brings new school funding fight"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief
12/16/2007

Another year in the Legislature, another school-funding constitutional amendment battle.

Three bills have been filed in the Senate to get the ball rolling this session.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Foster filed one. He said he can't see how the state can manage efficiently without one. Minority Leader Ted Gatsas and Sen. Joe Kenney also filed amendments.

Foster said his bill is much like the one that fell one vote short of Senate passage in June. That version left it up to the Legislature to define minimum education standards, set funding levels and target school aid, "provided that every school district receives a reasonable share of the state funds."

Gov. John Lynch said last week that targeting funds is the only fair way to administer state aid.

Amendment language is still up in the air. Simple placement of a comma can change entire meanings, let alone insertion of a seemingly innocuous word like "reasonable." Foster and Gatsas have been working on common language to shape a bill that would pass with room to spare.

"Ideally, we'll get some large super-majority of the Senate. ... It's important to have that to give it some momentum," Foster said.

The first Senate vote last year, taken in April, passed an amendment by a 15-9 margin, exactly the three-fifths majority it needed in the Senate. Language in that version said the state would cover a minimum of 50 percent of education costs. The House axed that provision, but still it could only muster 108 votes, with 253 against. The Senate effort to revive an amendment failed in June.

Gatsas said he hopes both parties can get together on a single version this year.

"I think it's important that we find a method that allows us to target," he said. "It's clear we need one, it's clearly the right thing for the state and the right thing for education in New Hampshire."

Kenney's bill would return the state to the kind of school funding it had before Supreme Court Claremont rulings put the state on the spot. School districts would raise most of their money through local property taxes and the state would help those that need an extra hand.

"It would take the courts out of it," Kenney said. "Most communities did not have a problem pre-Claremont, just the communities that bought the lawsuits."

What happens in the House if the Senate passes something? After stomping on the amendment in June, the House tried to drive a stake through its heart by voting for "indefinite postponement," meant to block a return of the issue until 2009.

Speaker of the House Terie Norelli said House rules state that if a bill is "substantially similar" to one that was killed or indefinitely postponed, it takes a two-thirds vote for it to come up again.

"It doesn't matter whether it is new legislation or something that comes from the Senate, we are still bound by the 'substantially similar' language," she said.

If Foster and Gatsas get together and bring enough of their colleagues, Norelli and her staff will have an interesting call to make.

SCHOOL SPENDING
A common estimate has been that a committee on education costs will call for an extra $400 million in state spending. That would bring state aid to about half of total education spending in the state. The estimate might be off.

Senate President Sylvia Larsen, who is on the committee, said last week, "I don't think there will be a request for huge sums of money immediately."

So, $400 million?

"I don't predict it will be," she said. "I think the committee is looking to spend the state's money wisely."

OUTFOXED
Forget the idea of a presidential debate sponsored by the state Republican Party. GOP chairman Fergus Cullen lost a game of debate chicken with WMUR and ABC this month.

Cullen wanted a GOP debate on the Fox network on Sunday, Jan. 6. WMUR and ABC were locked into Saturday, Jan. 5, to host Democrats and Republicans in back-to-back debates. Cullen had to convince candidates to either withdraw from the MUR event, or debate on two out of five days between Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. MUR had the edge. A Sunday night debate would not give enough damage-control time to candidates who exhibit symptoms of foot-in-mouth disease on national TV.

Cullen threw in the towel last week, saying of the MUR debates, "I suspect they will be the last of the traditional debates with all the candidates."

He still plans a GOP brunch at the Hampshire Hills facility in Milford on Jan. 6, and wants to organize some kind of town-hall forum for candidates able to attend.

UNWELCOME
The Division of Motor Vehicles office in Merrimack might be moving. Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli would like to see it go south to the state Welcome Center at Exit 6 in Nashua.

Retail strip owners don't exactly welcome the DMV, Safety Commissioner John Barthelmes told the Executive Council last week.

With all the traffic they generate, they take up too much parking and leave other retail tenants scrambling for spaces. The DMV is also having trouble renewing its lease in Lebanon.

SEEING THE RESULTS
All the bad St. Patrick's Day jokes and good-natured political barbs did some good this month. Lobbyist Jim Demers hosted the sixth annual holiday party at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth, funded with money raised at his annual St. Patrick's Day breakfast roast.

Donations helped to buy a couple of rolling computer fun centers with HDTV screens that allow kids to play games at their beds, and to hire a magician.

Professional firefighters deputized the young patients as members of the CHaD fire department, Demers said.

Parents benefit, too, with $5,000 in gasoline cards to ease the cost of constant round trips visiting their sick children.

Among big names at the party were Gov. Lynch and his wife Dr. Susan Lynch, Sen. Bob Clegg and Rep. Sharon Nordgren.

CONFLICTING REPORTS
The Center for Responsible Lending takes issue with a report on payday lending out of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that was cited here last week.

The Fed report said the rate of bounced checks rose after payday lending was banned in Georgia and North Carolina.

The CRL cites a recent University of North Carolina study that found payday borrowers found other options when payday shops closed, "such as working out delayed payments with creditors; borrowing from family, friends, or employers; dipping into savings; or delaying a purchase for a short period of time."

Expect more conflicting reports as lawmakers draw closer to a vote on a payday lending regulation bill next month.

HEALTH CAMPAIGN HAT TRICK
The Divided We Fail campaign on health care and financial security has done something usually left to Mom and apple pie: it got the endorsement of the state's two congressmen, the Executive Council and the entire New Hampshire Senate.

AARP New Hampshire state director Kelly Clark said, "The longer we wait, the harder it will be to fix these problems. Access to affordable, quality health care and life-long financial security are not Democratic or Republican issues, they are American issues."

The pledge each official signed was to work in a bipartisan way, "to make access to affordable, quality health care and life-long financial security top domestic priorities," she said.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire for Health Care has released its analysis of health plans from each of the presidential candidates from each party.

It does not rank the plans, but lays out summaries of them as a guide to voters, NHHC director John Thyng said.

The group, part of SEIU's Americans for Health Care project, mailed the guides to 70,000 New Hampshire voters who have pledged to make health care access the issue on which they will judge candidates.

The report is also at NHHC's Web site, www.nhforhealthcare.org.

Tom Fahey is the State House bureau chief for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.

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"N.H. plant stuns city with news of layoffs: Short notice rattles workers, governor"
By Sarah Schweitzer, (Boston) Globe Staff, December 24, 2007

CLAREMONT, N.H. - Clutching trowels and hammers against their plaster-speckled sweatshirts, workers filed out of the Customized Structures Inc. plant Friday afternoon for the last time, some 24 hours after they had been called into the cafeteria and informed that the company was closing down, four days before Christmas.

"Merry Christmas, huh?" Paul Boardman, 42, a five-year employee, called out to colleagues lingering outside the building - reluctant, it seemed, to leave.

In this long-struggling city of 13,000 on the border of Vermont, a job at Customized Structures, once New England's second-largest modular homes manufacturer, was a plum gig. While tough times had hit the housing industry, the company, which was purchased in 2003 by Watermill Group, based in Lexington, Mass., was afloat. At least, that was the impression employees said the company had given its 122 workers until the stunning news of closure.

"We came here and gave a good honest effort. And where did it get us?" said Dennis Rogenski, 53, who worked in transportation and installation. "Now we're left scrambling."

"I'm trying to look at this as an opportunity," said Brandon Elam, an eight-year employee. "But it's snakes in the grass. What else can you say?

Watermill, a six-partner private equi ty firm that buys and restructures companies, originally had planned to give no severance pay. But after an 11 a.m. conference call with Governor John Lynch and other state officials Thursday morning, Watermill officials relented.

Watermill managing partner Steven Karol called the governor shortly after 1 p.m. and said the company had decided to offer two weeks pay to the workers, Lynch and Watermill officials said.

Federal law requires that companies give workers 60 days notice, or comparable severance pay, in cases of a plant closing or mass layoff.

Lynch said Karol told him Watermill was concerned that refusing to offer severance pay would create a public relations nightmare and force the company to incur further legal bills.

Karol, 53, who owns property on Beacon Hill's Louisburg Square and Cape Cod, was traveling out of the country and not available for comment, said Nancy Sterling, a company spokeswoman. Sterling denied that Karol had discussed Watermill's image and legal costs with the governor.

Tim Eburne, 63, another Watermill partner, said in a telephone interview that Karol personally put up the $200,000 required for the severance pay. That sum brought Karol's personal investment in the firm to $1.2 million in 2007, Eburne said. The company had been struggling since 2006 with the downturn in the housing market. Watermill had hoped that with Karol's investment and others in the company in 2007, the following year would be better, Eburne said.

"But that string ran out unfortunately a little while ago, and we were forced to close it down and send everyone home," Eburne said.

Eburne said the company did not initially offer severance pay because it was out of money. Company officials opted not to give 60 days notice because the firm had been scrambling to find a buyer; at Thanksgiving, the company had several possible buyers and did not want to scare them away with news of layoffs, he said.

He said anger directed at Watermill is natural, but misplaced.

"I can understand anybody being laid off at this time of year being upset," Eburne said. "We had great employees there. We think we have done the very best that we can by them. Steve, myself, and all the other partners are devastated by this. But unfortunately this is not a Watermill problem; it's not an investment problem. This is the market for housing - it's just in a bad place."

But state officials say the company flagrantly violated the law. New Hampshire's attorney general is seeking a court order to freeze the assets of Customized Structures so the proceeds can be distributed to workers as severance pay. The federal law also levies up to $30,000 in civil penalties against a company in violation of the act.

"The ethical thing, the moral thing, and the legal thing would have been for Watermill to follow the federal act," said Lynch, a Democrat who headed a consulting firm and was chief executive of a national furniture company prior to his election in 2004. "We should all be outraged by this type of corporate behavior."

Lynch visited the company's headquarters Friday to speak to the workers and advise of them of available state aid.

Watermill listed the plant's closure date as Dec. 25 in documents filed with state, the governor said. Watermill officials said on Saturday that most workers had their last work day Friday. Some employees will end work on Dec. 28 and a few may work into January.

For Claremont, the loss of Customized Structures hits hard. The city, a mill hub that spearheaded a landmark lawsuit that a decade ago successfully changed the funding of schools in poor towns, had counted the company as one of its prime employers.

"This is a setback," said Guy Santagate, the city manager. "There is no denying that."

He said that had the company provided at least 60 days severance or warning, the city would have been able to absorb more of the laid-off workers. A water bottling plant is opening in the fall and will provide 50 jobs, with possibly 50 more by 2009, and several long-shuttered mills are poised to reopen next year as homes to a restaurant, The Common Man, and a computer networking and consulting company, Santagate said.

Since Customized Structure's founding in 1985, the city has provided it with aid in the hope of keeping it in Claremont. Even after Watermill acquired it in 2003, the city gave the company low-interest loans of $500,000, which the the firm repaid, Santagate said. The company also received a $175,000 job creation grant from the state in 2005.

But Watermill officials said the state has not done enough to assist the company. Watermill officials said Customized Structures will only be resurrected if the state agrees to match any investment Watermill makes in the company, dollar for dollar. "If the governor wants to save jobs, we are happy to work cooperatively," Eburne said.

Lynch responded, "The only entity with a responsibility here is Watermill. The law places the responsibility with Watermill. The issue here is making sure the workers get the severance they are entitled to. They haven't, and they are suffering."

On Friday, few workers held out hope of a reprieve for Customized Structures. As they said their goodbyes and wished one another good luck, many faulted Watermill for the bitter surprise of the layoffs because they said the firm failed to communicate its economic woes to them. "People had no idea it was this bad," said Ralph Farnsworth, 46, a father of four, whose 23-year-old son is serving in Iraq. "It's a letdown because we thought everything was going to be all right."

Around town this weekend the mood was discernibly bleak. Chris Bryant, 37, a painter said that he has almost taken a job with Customized Structures three months ago. "Boy, am I glad I didn't," he said.

"It's just another blow to another struggling town," said Lynn Frank, 40, an electrician.

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THE NEW HAMPSHIRE SUNDAY NEWS - UNION LEADER
"The public betrayed: A party benefits at your expense"
Sunday, Dec. 23, 2007

On July 18, Democratic Gov. John Lynch signed an unconstitutional law passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature to give the state's two main political parties a competitive advantage at the polls and a financial windfall. Who says? Secretary of State Bill Gardner, a Democrat, and the most trusted man in New Hampshire politics.

"It's a terrible issue," Gardner said in an interview last week. "It's wrong."

Senate Bill 98, introduced by Sen. Peter Burling, D-Cornish, directed the state to sell only to the chair of each political party "a" list of the name, street address, mailing address, town or city, gender, year of birth, voter history, and party affiliation, if any, of every registered voter in the state."

Democratic Party spokesman Pia Carusone said the bill was introduced so the parties could get voter lists with correct mailing addresses. But why include "gender, year of birth, voter history, and party affiliation," then?

"Once you could buy it in one place, then you have 800,000-plus names with dates of birth and other things that you could get with just the push of a button," Gardner said.

What's unconstitutional about that? Article 11 of the New Hampshire Constitution states, "Every inhabitant of the state, having the proper qualifications, has equal right to be elected into office."

But the law forbids the state from selling this enhanced voter list to anyone other than the chairs of a political party that received at least 4 percent of the vote in the last election. Candidates running as independents or in a third party were denied access to this enhanced voter list -- which we all paid to create.

"The difference in this issue is that the Burling bill said that we would provide only to the two legal parties in the state additional information that others can't buy, which includes gender and age and voting history," Gardner said. "The voting history is available at the local level. Anybody can go in and ask to see that checklist. If you put the work into it, you can see a copy of that list that has the names checked off and see who actually voted. But you can't buy that at the state level if you're not one of the two party chairs. It's kind of an abuse of power, this whole thing. It's not what our elections are about, that everyone has an equal playing field."

To make it worse, the Democratic Party is profiting from the list that cost the state and local government millions of dollars to make. The bill directed the state to sell the list for peanuts when the party knew it was worth tens of thousands. The party has sold the list to at least five presidential candidates for $65,000 each, and to private companies doing political work. And the party was negotiating to sell the list while the law was being written.

"Now we know that they'd actually sold this stuff and made these agreements before this," Gardner said.

"Here we had a bill that said we had to give this out even though everybody in the state pitched in to make this, and then to have it sold for a profit!"

In November, Judge Carol Ann Conboy struck down the law for precisely the reason Gardner cited. It gave the top two parties an unconstitutional electoral advantage. But in the four months the law was in place, the Democratic Party made hundreds of thousands of dollars from the public's list. State Republican Party Chairman Fergus Cullen refused to sell the list, saying, as Gardner has, that it is wrong to do so.

Gardner says there's even more to the scandal. He said when the Libertarian Party challenged the law in court, the Democratic Party misled the judge by asserting factual claims that were not true.

"It will all come out what happened here," he said.

It should. The public needs to know the lengths to which the state Democratic Party will go -- including misleading a judge and violating the constitution -- to win elections in this state.

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Reader's COMMENTS

While I do not believe such information such as age and voting records should be available to anyone because of privacy concerns, this has been available well before the Sec. of State's office released them this year. All you have to do to find someone's approximate age is go to www.411.com
- Bill Siroty, Amherst, NH

I would think the basic voter registration information would be available to ALL the political parties, not just the big guys. I'm not sure what Burling had in mind when he put the 4% rule in place. Exactly who was he trying to "stiff" and why? The Libertarians? At the very least, I am delighted that Fergus Cullen had the foresight to keep us Republicans out of the line of fire on this issue. Go, Fergus !!
- Larry Gillis, Rye

Why does the NH Democratic party have to give the money back to the state? The real question is why did any of the democratic candidates buy the list for $65,000.00 and the republicans sell it for $450.00. Once again the Union Leader and most of you "political pundits" miss the point. The point is simply the democrats give the $65,000.00 to the NH democratic party to slaughter republicans in local elections, elect democrats in local towns and cities so they can control and maintain their power base, which is very very smart. Buckley continues to play chess while the republicans play checkers. The selling of the "voter list" is nothing more than a laundering scheme to get the state party tons of money to run negative mailers on republicans, fund a well oiled democratic negative machine against republicans and well oiled machine to elect democrats, which in turns results in wiping out good republican candidates at the lower levels and in essence stops them from rising up to higher offices at a later time. You guys are missing the picture as you always do. It's a laundering scheme, nothing more and nothing less. Think how much more effective the $65,000.00 could have been spent on news media buys. There are lists from mailing houses all over this state that could have been purchased for nothing. Spectrum Monthly does mailings and has updated lists from years and years of elections. They know who voted in the last four statewide primary political races and the democrats have mailing companies just as good. This is a laundering scheme! That's it.
- joekelly, manchester

This whole thing is blatantly wrong. What is going on in this state. The UL should pursue this story with vigor and bring it to the forefront of the news; until every citizen at every level is informed, discussing and debating the competence of our elected representation.
- Les Silver, Manchester

Oh and I suppose starting an illegal war in Iraq on false pretenses makes Bush and the Republicans innocent? How many have died because of THIS misleading of people? Get off your high horse Mr. Holdgate. It's not helping anything.
- Tom MacGregor, Hooksett, NH

The bill went into effect on July 18, 2007. Have the Democrats sold the list since then? It seems like the Presidential campaigns have been going on much longer than that and probably bought the list before the middle of July. I realize this is a partisan newspaper, but was the research done to figure out when they sold the list?
- Tim, Manchester

This is frightening and a total abuse of power. I hope someone steps up and sues the democratic party for all the money received and Peter Burling gets sent packing. This is exactly why people are sick of politicians and these people need to be sent a message...
- Kyle, Bedford

Ummmm, what are you surprised about? The Democratic Party promotes child-killing in the womb. Their despicable, horrific, and very tragic pro-abortion agenda implies they will stoop to any low to gain more and more raw power. Can anyone be really surprised that a Party which promotes the ultimatie child abuse would "mislead a judge and violate the Constitution"? That's peanuts compared to their repulsive agenda. Love them both: Stop Abortion.
- Ed Holdgate, Sandown, NH

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New Hampshire Union Leader – Manchester Edition – “New Hampshire” Section, Page A2, Thursday, December 27, 2007

“State [of NH] dragged feet on Medicaid decision”

* State [of NH] admitted violation: Three disabled plaintiffs waited up to nine months for a decision on eligibility; the HHS is required by law to make the determination within 90 days.

By Tom Fahey
State House Bureau Chief

CONCORD – The state has settled a federal class-action suit brought by three disabled Medicaid clients who waited up to nine months for a decision on whether they qualified for benefits.

The state admitted it had violated its own rules after the suit was filed in February. The disabled plaintiffs alleged the delay meant they had to go without needed medical benefits, including prescriptions and medical treatments. That forced them to use money for rent, food and utilities on medical costs.

Federal law requires the state Department of Health and Human Services to determine within 90 days whether a person is eligible for Medicaid. The three plaintiffs in the HHS case had waited 273 days, 188 days and 170 days for a decision.

“This outcome is a victory for all disabled New Hampshire residents who need help,” Ben Martell, lead counsel for the NHLA, said in announcing the settlement. He said the agreement, approved by the court on December 21, “allows us to make sure that the delay problem is really fixed.” The New Hampshire Disabilities Rights Center, which provides legal services to the disabled, also represented the three plaintiffs.

Nancy Rollins, director of the DHHS division for community-based care services, said the department has added staff, increased pay rates to some agencies and changed computer systems to help speed decisions in the future.

“We came to the conclusion that we were indeed not meeting our time frames, and rather than continue in court for a significant period of time, we wanted to put our energies into addressing the issue and redirect resources toward fixing the problems,” Rollins said.

She said part of the agreement calls for better communications with applicants.

“We were not doing a particularly good job of letting people know what their status was,” she said.

Under the settlement, the state has six months to have in place a process that will provide decisions within 90 days, or explain what unusual circumstances forced a delay. It will report to the court and the plaintiffs’ lawyers on its progress.

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THE BOSTON GLOBE, 12/29/2007

CONCORD, N.H.

Funeral today for soldier, 19, killed in Iraq
Family and friends are saying goodbye to a New Hampshire soldier who died this month in Iraq. Funeral services for Army Private First Class Juctin McDaniel, 19, are scheduled today in Concord. McDaniel died Dec. 17 in Baghdad of injuries that were not combat related, according to the Department of Defense. He was a graduate of Merrimack Valley High School and had enlisted in February. McDaniel, who was married, also leaves his parents, sisters, a brother, and a niece. (AP)

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EAST KINGSTON, N.H.

15 firefighters resign after chief is fired
The Fire Department is in turmoil after the town dismissed the chief and more than a dozen firefighters quit in protest. Chief Alan Mazur said he was let go Thursday. Selectman Richard Poelaert said Mazur did not complete the first-responder medical training required by his contract. As word of Mazur's dismissal spread through the department, all but seven of the town's 22 firefighters resigned in protest, including the assistant and deputy fire chief. The firefighters who quit say they'll stop working Dec. 31, which is Mazur's last day. Mazur has served in the Fire Department for 24 years and spent the past 11 as chief. As chief, he is the department's only full-time employee. (AP)

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N.H. same-sex unions: promise and reality
The Associated Press

2:32 AM CST, January 2, 2008

THE LAW'S PROMISE: New Hampshire's new civil unions law says gay couples are entitled to "all the rights and subject to all the obligations and responsibilities provided for in state law" as married heterosexual couples.

THE REALITY: Civil unions are recognized by only a handful of states. And more than 1,100 federal laws don't recognize them, which creates legal inequities both within New Hampshire and outside its borders. A gay couple won't pay state taxes for transferring property to each other, for example, but federal law treats them as single and may subject the transfer to federal gift taxes.

WHAT TO DO: Get legal advice before entering a civil union. To avoid problems when traveling, carry legal documents granting each other the power to make decisions if one becomes incapacitated. Ask employers if health and pension coverage applies, and check out the federal tax implications if the answer is yes.

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"Pension system in N.H. still needs fixing"
By Norma Love, Associated Press, January 4, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. - The state's underfunded state pension system is getting healthier, but solutions have to be found to provide annual cost-of-living increases and healthcare subsidies for retirees, lawmakers have been told.

Former state Senate president William Bartlett and economist Lisa Shapiro told the House Finance Committee yesterday that legislative efforts last year to shore up the $6 billion pension system appear to be working.

But they said that serious, costly issues must be dealt with soon or taxpayers will pay for the Legislature's inaction.

Bartlett chaired a special commission that just released a report on the pension system. Shapiro headed a subpanel dealing with the sticky issues of how to fund cost-of-living allowances and healthcare.

Shapiro said the state and local governments could face a 50 percent increase in their contribution rate in the next biennium if lawmakers don't rein in a subsidy given to retirees toward their health insurance premiums.

Shapiro pointed out that only half the 20,000 retirees are eligible for the subsidy, which costs about $50 million per year. Police and firefighters hired after 2000 aren't eligible, and teachers have to retire by July to qualify, she said.

Currently, local governments get about $375 per retired worker who qualifies for a subsidy toward the cost of the premium. The benefit isn't available in all communities. The cost drops once the retired worker qualifies for Medicare.

Until last year, the town or school district was reimbursed for subsidizing the retirees' health insurance cost. Though reimbursement stopped, the subsidy remains in place.

The commission recommends that lawmakers freeze annual 8 percent increases in the subsidy starting in 2010 and move $250 million set aside for benefits into the main pension fund. Shapiro said those accounting changes will dramatically soften the increase in contribution rates.

She said the state should create a new trust fund that workers can pay into so they have money for their healthcare premiums when they retire. The workers can negotiate with their employers whether the employers also contribute.

If the medical subsidy isn't restructured, the state could be liable for $130 million in the next biennium, Shapiro said. The cost to local governments would be $180 million in that two years.

"It's got to change; it has to go to a system that's more robust and treats healthcare subsidies separate from a pension," she said. "It can't all be on the employer."

The commission also recommends limiting money in a special account for cost-of-living increases to existing retirees and establishing a new account for such increases for future retirees that they fund with higher contributions.

The commission also recommends capping increases for the current retirees at 2.5 percent of the median income for each group, with a $500 minimum to protect lower-income pensioners. That means retirees in the higher salary ranges would have their increases capped at 2.5 percent of the median salary.

The fund pays pensions for retired police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public workers. The plan is funded at 63 percent of its long-term liabilities, short by about $2.6 billion on its annuity fund alone. There are also multimillion dollar problems in funding health insurance subsidies, cost of living increases, and state retirees' health insurance.

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"N.H. official seeks to move Highway Patrol to State Police"
By David Tirrell-Wysocki, Associated Press, January 10, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. - Safety Commissioner John Barthelmes is asking permission to move state Highway Patrol officers from the Division of Motor Vehicles to the State Police.

Both divisions are under the supervision of Barthelmes, but the move would require the approval of Governor John Lynch and the Executive Council.

Virginia Beecher, DMV director, opposes the move, and a state lawmaker promised to file legislation to reverse the transfer if it is approved and current Highway Enforcement duties are ignored.

Beecher's office referred calls yesterday to Barthelmes.

Barthelmes said the consolidation would save money and provide flexibility that will improve safety.

The 80 Highway Patrol officers wear uniforms and drive vehicles similar to State Police. Their primary duties include commercial vehicle enforcement, regulation of motor vehicle dealers, and investigation of identify theft and title fraud.

If the governor and council approve the proposal, Barthelmes said, the new State Police Bureau of Driver and Vehicle Regulation will provide all the services Highway Patrol officers now perform. "It does not make sense to have two similarly qualified police forces within the Department of Safety, but administered under the direction of two different divisions," Barthelmes said yesterday.

Barthelmes said he will present the request at the Jan. 16 Governor and Council meeting and ask that it be made effective Feb. 1.

State Representative Sherman Packard, Republican of Londonderry, said that when the two forces were combined once before, highway truck inspections and other highway enforcement officer duties suffered.

"I'm just very concerned the same thing is going to happen again," Packard said.

Packard agreed that the transfer might save money, "but if the work doesn't get done, then the money-saving part is not right."

The troopers and Highway Patrol officers are represented by separate unions, which have squabbled over website names, fund-raising, personal slights, and accusations of interference in investigations.

Barthelmes said that the officers would continue to be represented by their respective unions and that their current salaries would be maintained. Highway Patrol ranks and titles, however, would be adjusted to coincide with those doing similar work in the State Police, he said.

"If approved, the transfer of these personnel to State Police will relieve the DMV of the responsibility of operating its own police force" and allow it to focus on customer service, he said.

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"Gov tells group it will help protect quality of life in NH"
January 18, 2008

CONCORD, N.H.—Gov. John Lynch kicked off the work of a new Climate Change Policy Task Force on Friday by telling group members he is looking to them to help protect the state's way of life.

The Task Force is charged with developing a Climate Change Action Plan for New Hampshire by next September.

Lynch said climate change is a serious issue that affects the health of the state's residents, economy and environment. He said a national policy is needed, but there is much that can be done in the state to increase energy independence and protect the environment.

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NH Union Leader newspaper

Text of Gov. Lynch's state of the state speech

Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008

Concord – The prepared text of Gov. John Lynch's January 23, 2008, state of the state address to the Legislature:

Madam Speaker, Madam President, Mr. Chief Justice, honorable members of the Governor's Council, the Judiciary, the House and Senate, my fellow citizens of New Hampshire:

I am proud to come before you today to report on the state of our great state.

Before I begin, let me introduce my wife and our exceptional first lady, Susan. I can never thank her enough for her support.

Let me also recognize Senate Republican Leader Ted Gatsas and House Republican Leader Mike Whalley.

We must also be mindful of those who are not with us today – in particular the brave men and women serving in our military. Let us thank them for their service.

For the past year, the eyes of the nation have been on New Hampshire and our first-in-the-nation primary. And – despite the attempts of some – New Hampshire was first. And because of our engaged citizens, our record-breaking turnout, and our willingness to let the people decide – New Hampshire should and will remain the first primary in the nation.

The primary is always a chance to showcase New Hampshire, and we showed the nation why New Hampshire is the greatest state in the greatest country in the world.

The nation saw a place where people put partisanship to one side to solve problems and make progress.

The nation saw a place of breathtaking natural beauty, and a people committed to preserving it. A healthy state, and a people working to expand access to health care. A state focused on building a strong economy, and a people who make that economic growth possible.

The nation saw a place with great schools, and a people working to give every child a good education. A fiscally responsible state, and a people who demand and receive accountability from their leaders. A state that has acted to end discrimination, and a people who treat their neighbors with dignity and respect.

We showed the nation a place where all people, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, are finding common ground to tackle long-standing problems and make a difference in the lives of our citizens.

We face many challenges. But we are a strong state, with a solid foundation upon which to build. We must keep working to make New Hampshire a place of opportunity for all of our citizens. A state where every child gets the chance for a good education, where more of our citizens can afford health care, where families feel secure, and where hard work is recognized and rewarded.

This is the future we are building together for New Hampshire.

Our state needs a strong economy to grow and thrive, and our people want and deserve the security of good jobs.

Many of our families are struggling to heat their homes, and to stretch their budgets to cover the rising costs of gasoline and food. Our families are watching the foreclosure crisis grow and the stock market decline, and worry the slowing national economy may soon affect their own jobs.

In Claremont, I met a man who saw the company where he had worked for 23 years shut its doors almost over night. He took pride in his work, and had trouble imagining what he would do next.

Our rapid response team is working to help him and other workers who have lost their jobs. They are providing job training, counseling and one-on-one assistance to help people find new work. Our economic development team is working to help existing businesses grow, and attract new jobs to the state. And when companies abruptly shut down, ignoring laws that require them to give their workers notice and severance, we stepped in. Here in New Hampshire, we stand up for our workers.

New Hampshire is better prepared for this national economic downturn than much of the country. Economists predict that New Hampshire will continue to lead the region in economic growth and our unemployment rate remains well below the national average.

We are better positioned because of our strong and educated workforce, the diversity of our economy, our tax structure, and also because we’ve worked together to make sound investments in our future.

Because companies that innovate create jobs, we created the research and development tax credit. Because we know workers need new skills to compete in the global economy, we reinstated the Job Training Fund. And in just two months, we’re already training 237 workers. And because we wanted to make New Hampshire more competitive, we cut the insurance premium tax. Now Acadia Insurance has moved from Maine to New Hampshire.

We’ve been working to transform the North Country from a paper-based economy to one that is more diverse. But, recent events -- the closure of Groveton Paperboard, the pulp mill in Berlin, and now Wausau Paper -- make clear the need for more dramatic action.

Coos County is struggling. Average wages are significantly lower than the rest of the state; the unemployment rate, even before the latest mill closure, is much higher; and its economic growth is expected to significantly lag behind the rest of New Hampshire. In Groveton and Berlin, I’ve met workers whose families have lived in the North Country for generations. They love their homes and their communities, but they worry they will have to move to find good work. Many of their children don’t see their futures in the North Country.

This is not just a North Country issue. It is a New Hampshire issue. We all care about the North Country. That is why we cannot, and will not, just stand by.

That is why today I am proposing a new tax credit to encourage businesses to create good-paying jobs in Coos County.

A business that creates a good-paying job in Coos County – a job that pays at least twice the minimum wage – will receive a $1,000 credit against its business taxes for each of the next five years. Most new businesses would pay no business taxes for their first five years. Existing businesses would get the same credit for every new job they create.

This credit will help companies overcome some of the unique barriers that exist in bringing jobs to Coos County. Please join me in making sure Coos County not only survives, but thrives.

Some of the nation’s current economic problems can be traced to abuses in mortgage lending. And across New Hampshire, families are coping with losing the homes they dreamed of for years.

Last year, we passed a law to prevent people from taking advantage of families facing foreclosure. Now, we need to make sure the people who are developing mortgage agreements are responsible, follow national standards, and recognize their obligation to consumers. We should act this year to license mortgage originators and protect consumers from future abuses.

The declining national economy is also affecting our state budget.

Because of our work together in the past three years to restore New Hampshire to a solid financial footing, we are in better shape than most states. We ended the last biennium with a surplus. And together, we built up our Rainy Day Fund from just $17 million when I took office to a record $89 million today.

For the first six months of the fiscal year, revenues came in almost exactly as we estimated. But since we passed the budget in June, the mortgage crisis has grown, the stock market has dropped, and oil prices have increased more than 50 percent. And we are beginning to see the impact of that national downturn in state revenues.

Barring an emergency, I will not support any bills that require additional spending this year.

In addition, I’ve been meeting with major agency heads to develop contingency plans. I expect to come to the Fiscal Committee shortly with a proposal to ensure that we end this biennium with a balanced budget.

One of the major cost drivers in our current budget was the dramatic increase in retirement costs. The state’s share of retirement costs is now $219 million, a 45 percent increase from the last biennium.

Our firefighters, police officers, teachers, municipal and state employees serve our citizens with distinction and dedication. We have a fundamental responsibility to them to ensure the long-term stability of the retirement system.

Unfortunately, decisions made as far back as the 1980s – about accounting methods, special accounts and investments – pushed problems in the retirement system down the road. What started as minor problems grew into major ones.

Last year, we began fixing the Retirement System, and that law has already improved the system’s finances. We also created a commission of financial experts, employers and employees who have presented a series of thoughtful recommendations. Those recommendations should be the foundation for further reform.

State government, local governments and employees all have a stake in this issue, and solving it will require continued compromise on all our parts. We should not leave this challenge to others. We must all work together to fix our retirement system and ensure that our public employees have the secure retirements they’ve earned.

We in New Hampshire have long prided ourselves on the quality of our roads. People always knew when they had crossed the border into New Hampshire, just by the feel of the road. We recognize the importance of well-maintained roads and bridges to our economy and public safety.

But New Hampshire hasn’t been keeping its commitment to maintaining roads – ignoring real problems on our turnpike system, letting the highway plan grow out of control, and neglecting real fiscal responsibility in both the highway and turnpike systems.

For example, in 1992, turnpike workers added wooden supports to aging bridges on the Spaulding Turnpike in order to extend their useful lives another two years. Fifteen years later, those bridges still have not been repaired. Starting this spring, they will be.

We have returned fiscal responsibility to the turnpike fund; already its bond rating has improved. We will be repairing red-listed bridges across the Turnpike System and expanding the Spaulding Turnpike.

We are also returning financial responsibility to the highway fund. For too many years, New Hampshire made false promises to communities, adding projects to the highway plan without any way to pay for those projects. The plan grew from a 10-year plan to a 35-year plan.

Last week, we submitted a realistic 10-year plan to the Legislature. This plan returns honesty and fiscal responsibility to the process, and meets critical needs. It allows us to repair the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth; widen Interstate 93; complete the Southern leg of the Conway Bypass; complete the Granite Street exit in Manchester; and repair 89 red-listed bridges.

Together, we can make sure our citizens are once again proud of their roads.

All parents dream of better lives for their children, and they know that education is the key to making those dreams come true. An educated workforce is also the key to our state’s future.

To keep New Hampshire a national leader, we must give all of our children the very best education possible, including helping more of our young people go on to higher education.

And that’s what we’re doing. We doubled a University System scholarship program to give the neediest New Hampshire students two years free tuition. And to help families save on tuition costs, we expanded Project Running Start, which allows high school students to earn college credits right at their own schools.

We’ve expanded early learning programs. We increased alternative learning programs to help more of your young people graduate from high school. And we raised the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18, sending a powerful message to our young people that we will not give up on them; and we won’t let them give up on themselves.

And we met our responsibility to define an adequate education. An education that begins with kindergarten.

Education is all about opportunity. The opportunity we provide all our children to have better lives and better futures. Right now, not every child in New Hampshire has an equal opportunity for a quality education. Children in wealthier communities have more opportunities than children in other communities.

I appreciate the work of the costing commission this legislature created last year, but it is working under the constraints of Supreme Court decisions. Those constraints are preventing us from putting in place the best possible education plan.

We do have a responsibility to ensure all our children have an opportunity for a quality education. But it is not good policy to send the same base amount of education aid to every school district before we help the schools that really need it. Yet that is what the Supreme Court has said we must do. That type of approach does not reduce the inequity that exists between schools. It only widens disparities and maintains the status quo.

I believe we must pass a constitutional amendment to allow us to direct more aid to communities with greater needs. Now we must come together to develop an amendment that lets us do the right thing for our kids. And we must not let unreasonable demands or partisan politics interfere with that goal.

I also believe that, after 10 years, the best chance for us to move forward on education funding is to give the people a say. Whether you are for or against an amendment, let the people vote.

Let’s give all our children, no matter where they live, the opportunity for a good education and a better life.

Here in New Hampshire, we cherish the brilliant colors of our foliage, the beauty of our mountains, forests and waterways. That is why we have acted together to protect them. Passing groundbreaking legislation to reduce mercury emissions; banning the burning of toxic construction and demolition debris; and funding the Land and Community Heritage and Investment Program.

We passed the Renewable Energy Act to stabilize energy prices, protect our environment and bring good jobs to New Hampshire. Now we must develop a transmission system – working with the federal government and the rest of New England – to ensure that the North Country can sell renewable power across the region.

Left unchecked, global climate change will dramatically change our environment in New Hampshire. That’s why I’ve created a Climate Change Task Force to develop a comprehensive strategy for continuing to address this critical issue.

In addition, New Hampshire has joined nine other states, stretching from Maine to Delaware, to develop the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, a leading cause of climate change.

We must work together to develop the best possible legislation for New Hampshire. But we must also make sure New Hampshire does not get left behind. The rest of the Northeast is already implementing RGGI. According to the University of New Hampshire, if we do not join RGGI, New Hampshire will see higher costs and job losses.

By joining RGGI, and investing its proceeds in energy efficiency, New Hampshire ratepayers will save money and our state will add jobs. That’s why we must join together to pass the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative this year.

We are working to keep New Hampshire one of the safest states in the nation. We’ve put more state troopers on the road, and more prosecutors in the Department of Justice. We’ve cracked down on identity theft. We are merging the state police and highway patrol to improve public safety and government efficiency. And we now have one of the toughest laws in the nation to protect our children from sexual predators.

We must keep working to make our families secure and to ensure our laws keep up with today’s criminals, especially when it comes to the safety of our children.

With technology we can sit in our living rooms and pay our bills or keep in touch with friends and family with just a couple of clicks. Unfortunately, technology also makes it easier for criminals to sneak into our homes.

Parents must take the lead in monitoring their children on the Internet. But they need help. That is why in December, the Attorney General and I joined together with bipartisan members of the legislature to propose the Online Child Safety Act.

The Online Child Safety Act modernizes our laws to protect our children from the threats of the 21st century. It increases penalties for enticing children over the Internet; toughens laws on repeat offenders; and requires convicted sex offenders to register their email addresses and online identities.

We will not allow sexual predators to hide in the shadows of cyberspace. Together, we must act to keep our children safe online.

New Hampshire remains one of the healthiest states in the nation. But we must keep working to make sure our families have the quality care they deserve, and health insurance they can afford.

We’ve been working together to meet both of those goals. We made it possible for parents to keep their children on their health insurance until age 26 and strengthened our Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Through the Citizens Health Initiative, we are working to make New Hampshire a center of health care innovation. We are working to make more information about health care costs available; to expand the use of electronic medical records; and to make New Hampshire the first state where all our providers can prescribe medications electronically.

Today, I ask you to join with me to take the next step.

To put health care in reach for more people, we must work to make it more affordable. We must increase the use of technology and make sure doctors are coordinating patient care. We must focus on helping people stay healthy, and on them taking responsibility for keeping themselves healthy.

Large corporations recognize that this is the future of health care. They are already working with their insurers to bring that type of innovation and focus on wellness to their health care plans. We can bring this same type of innovation and potential for cost savings to small businesses and their workers.

I ask you to join with me to create New Hampshire HealthFirst, which would require insurance companies to offer a wellness insurance plan to small businesses.

Rhode Island passed similar legislation last year. It reports a savings to small businesses of more than 15 percent when compared to similar coverage available in the market.

Many of our small businesses are struggling to keep providing health insurance to their workers. HealthFirst will offer our small businesses a new, more affordable choice for good health insurance coverage. It will help stabilize health insurance costs for our small businesses, and make it possible for more of our businesses to continue offering insurance to their workers.

Let’s continue to lead the way in health care innovation. Let us look to the future and begin changing how our health care system works. Let’s pass this bill and help more of our small businesses and their workers afford health insurance.

One of the messages we heard loud and clear during the primary this year is that our people want leaders who work together to get things done. They don’t care about what’s a Democratic issue or a Republican issue; they care about the issues that affect their lives. They don’t care who wins that day’s partisan war of words; they care about whether we are making their lives better.

That’s what we’ve been doing here in New Hampshire. And that’s what we will keep on doing. Let us keep working together to find common ground. Let us come together to strengthen our economy; to protect our kids; to expand access to health care. Let us come together to build a better, brighter future for all our citizens here in New Hampshire.

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NH State House
What cost adequacy? Try $3,456
By MELANIE ASMAR, Concord, NH, Monitor staff
February 01, 2008

Two-and-a-half years after the latest group of school districts sued the state over inequitable education funding, the cost of an adequate education may come down to a number that's only slightly higher than past calculations. A group of lawmakers charged with putting a price tag on an adequate education released a report of its findings yesterday, calculating the per-student cost at $3,456.

By comparison, the state distributed $3,311 in 2002, according to the Department of Education.

The report, which is a draft, also recommends the state direct extra aid to schools with low-income, special education and non-English-speaking students. The group is expected to vote today on whether to submit the report to the full Legislature. Senate Education Chairwoman Iris Estabrook said she's already begun work on a bill that would turn the group's recommendations into law.

Meanwhile, other lawmakers have crafted a constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the sole authority to determine the level of state education aid. The group, on the other hand, was commissioned as part of lawmakers' response to the latest Supreme Court decision, which directed the state to define an adequate education and pay for it.

Through a spokesman, Gov. John Lynch said that while he appreciates the group's work, he believes the high court's decision stifled lawmakers' abilities to craft "the best possible education plan."

Colin Manning, Lynch's press secretary, said the governor disagrees with sending the same amount of base aid - in this case, $3,456 - to all schools "before we help the schools that really need it." A Lynch-backed constitutional amendment that would have let the state do that failed last year.

Here's a closer look at the group's recommendations:

• Send each school base aid of $3,456 per student. That amount includes the cost of teachers, principals and other school staff, as well as the costs of technology and transportation.

The teacher salary the group used to calculate the aid amount was $47,267 - the average pay for a third-year teacher with a bachelor's degree, including the cost of one-third of his or her benefits. The group used the state standard ratio of one teacher for every 30 students for grades three through 12.

Members also factored in $315 per student in transportation costs and $75 in technology costs.

• Send an extra $675 per student for each student learning English. Again, the group based the amount on the cost of teachers, using a ratio of one teacher for every 70 English-language learners.

• Send an extra $1,789 for each special education student being taught in a regular classroom with modifications. The amount is based on a ratio of one teacher with a master's degree to 30 students.

• Send an extra $3,610 for each special education student being taught in a self-contained classroom. The amount is based on a ratio of one teacher with a master's degree to 10 students.

The group decided to fund special education in two ways to avoid directing too much money to students with milder disabilities and too little money to students with more severe disabilities.

But there's some question as to whether that's legal under federal law. Estabrook said lawmakers will research it and if it's not legal, will likely recommend averaging the two aid amounts.

• Send up to twice the amount of base aid to schools with a high number of low-income students. The group ran out of time before it could set specific parameters. It recommends calculating a school's poverty based on the number of its students eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunch.

• Require schools to spend the money they receive to help low-income students on programs picked from a state-approved list. The group's recommendations include preschool programs, full-day kindergarten classes, parental involvement programs and dropout prevention programs.

• Distribute state aid to schools - not school districts - to better target funds.

• Use $1.6 million from the Kindergarten Construction Aid account to lease portable classrooms for the 11 school districts that don't currently have public kindergarten. Require districts to submit plans to start kindergarten programs by September 2008 and to start them by September 2009.

The group will meet today at 10 a.m. in room 100 of the State House. It's expected to vote later today.

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Re: New Hampshire Governor John Lynch screws over the poor!

2/20/2008, By Jonathan Melle

Governor Lynch, who is officially a “Democrat”, is really a de facto “Republican” on fiscal issues. He has raised many regressive taxes and fees during his tenure (“Sin” taxes on cigarettes, lottery, auto registration, tolls). His decision to implement and administer a $30 lottery scratch ticket was his NADIR; it was an abomination and completely reprehensible! Governor Lynch is the worst kind of politician because he talks out of both sides of his mouth on economic issues. He absolutely loves to point his finger at unethical businesses that unfairly burden the poor and working class, but then he increases taxes and fees on these very same poor and working class people.

Governor John Lynch is all about his own political image. He doesn’t really care about local governments, or the long-term needs of businesses to have a well-educated working class with affordable housing with affordable property tax rates. So long as the state’s fiscal books are balanced, and he receives praise for a well-run administration, then John Lynch’s selfish goals are met while everyone else goes without.

That is not leadership! Governor Lynch is like a banker or financial manager who looks at people and their communities as numbers on a spreadsheet. The investment is in the bank or institution instead of the people and their businesses. Life does not work that way unless one is part of the Corporate Elite or self-deluded.

To illustrate, when Governor Lynch raised the tolls on the state’s turnpike last year, he inequitably raised state revenues on the working class. Two working parents will pay the state an average of $300 more per year in 2008 than in 2007 or 2006 just so they may commute to work to pay their taxes and other bills. “The John Lynch way” is to screw the poor and middle class while falsely claiming to represent them as Governor. DISGUSTING!

Governor John Lynch does not want the state to fund public education because ALL of his fiscal policies are regressive taxation revenue schemes. He takes the federal dollars for education and complements them to the state’s diverse, regressive tax base to keep taxes lower for the wealthiest state residents and their corporate interest. Governor Lynch doesn’t care about the poor and working class!

I believe that if Governor Lynch had his way, the poor and working class would not own homes in the first place. Governor Lynch’s financial “leadership” for the state’s many “have-nots” would be to “regulate the poor” like Henry F. Potter’s character in the 1946 classic movie “It is a Wonderful Life”. Old New Hampshire would become Governor Lynch’s “New Littershire” like George Bailey’s nightmarish Pottersville. Poor and working people would be completely “regulated” by way of perverse incentives.

What an impostor! I would rather have someone lie to my face than neatly put me on his chessboard. The whole idea of America is that all citizens are entitled to enjoy Liberty, not be “regulated” by economic hitmen running big business and government.

The system was one that at first profited off of Slavery, and now Corporations. America has always been governed by the “Iron Rule of Oligarchy”, which means that the elites have enjoyed all of the power and money, while the masses have served their economic interests. The whole idea of democracy and Liberty was for the majority to place a check on the powerful, and for the elite to balance the common man’s passions of the day with the power and light of reason.

The masses agree to the inequitable economic system in return for having a voice in the political system. What Governor John Lynch is doing to the masses is LYING to us by saying he is a Democrat for NH’s middle class families, while all the while screwing these same group of people with regressive tax and fee hikes in his fiscal policies. Governor Lynch is really running the economic system like a Republican and has deceitfully deflected the diverse voices of the majority to uncheck the elite’s agenda. I do NOT respect Governor Lynch’s duplicity.

In conclusion, Governor John Lynch lacks SOCIAL JUSTICE!

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THE MODEL PUBLIC SERVANTS
The power of the majority or have-nots is their social choices. The power of the elite is their economic choices. For example, a Mayor cannot influence the corporate elite to invest in her city, but she can influence her city to fight crime, lower teen pregnancy rates, focus on school, provide incentives for small businesses, and come together for the common good of shared causes. While conversely, a Governor cannot directly influence people and their communities, he can influence his fellow elites to provide economic resources to ensure productive social programs for more profitable private and public societal outcomes.
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New Hampshire Union Leader, Op-Ed, "Another View", Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"A Constitutional Amendment Won’t Fix School Funding" By Scott F. Johnson

Constitutional Amendment to target aid? Been there, done that.

Another year, another constitutional amendment. The proposed amendments this year are really just like all the other ones. The only purpose for them is to reduce or limit the amount of money the state has to pay for education. The proposed amendments and claims that they provide "flexibility" are really just code for continuing to stick it to local communities, as it will be local communities that are again left to pick up the tab for state educational costs.

Voting for a constitutional amendment is akin to voting for increased local property taxes. Education costs are not going to go down at the local level. The main educational costs are staff and benefits and complying with state standards. These costs will continue to rise unless the state does something to address them.

The governor [John Lynch] has all but guaranteed that local taxes will increase next year in most communities by refusing to provide any new state revenue for education. He is now beyond saying "no broadbased tax" to saying "no new revenue." He might as well say "hope you enjoy your local property tax increase," because when you limit state funds for education, you just increase the amounts that local communities have to pay. The costs themselves don’t go away, or get reduced. Local communities pay for them with local property taxes.

The justifications for the amendment this time are pretty much the same old justifications that have been used over the years with the exception that the governor has now tied together the need for an amendment with his edict of no new revenue. That approach at least shows the amendment’s true colors. The amendment is not really about helping communities that need it. It is about funding education without any new revenue sources or taxes.

The reason provided by the governor for his no new revenue & amendment stance is the sluggish economy and bad housing market, which have resulted in lower revenue from the real estate transfer tax (a tax buyers and sellers pay when a house sells). However, what he doesn’t take into account is the impact that local property taxes have on home sales and on keeping a home once you buy it.

Local property taxes in many communities amount to a second mortgage payment or more. Local property taxes affect the sales prices of homes and limit the amount of home that people can afford to buy. Local property taxes are also cited as a factor in foreclosures. High property taxes seem to have inhibited home sales in affluent New Hampshire communities like Hopkinton (Gov. Lynch’s hometown) and Bow.

It seems to me that a good way to jump start the economy and the housing market in New Hampshire would be to support initiatives that would lower local property taxes instead of constitutionalizing the status quo.

Claiming that the amendment will solve our education funding and property tax problems by allowing the state to send money to communities that "need it" and not to those who "don’t need it" is just hyperbole. The state has tried targeted aid and it doesn’t work. The state used targeted aid prior to the Claremont cases under the Augenblick formula and its failures led to the Claremont lawsuits being filed.

One of the biggest problems with the Augenblick approach was that the amounts that were targeted were never enough to make a difference in poor communities. The same thing will happen with these proposed amendments. The state adequacy commission has proposed that adequacy costs $3,400 per student. A figure that coincidentally is about the same figure that has been in place for the last seven or eight years and that would allow the state to fund adequacy without any new state revenue.

We all know that state education funding has not worked for the last seven or eight years using these low adequacy figures. The costs of education have only increased over that time. For example, the average cost per pupil in New Hampshire is well over $10,000.

Using these low figures as the base amount, even if you were able to send less money to half of New Hampshire’s communities under an amendment, the amount of increase to the other half would be minimal. Prior targeted aid proposals by the governor and others prove this to be true. The amounts that they propose to send to communities that "need it" are not enough to make a difference.

A constitutional amendment won’t solve our problems. It will just make them more difficult to fix.

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Attorney Scott F. Johnson of Concord is co-counsel for the Claremont Coalition, the municipalities that originally sued the state over education funding.
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By Jonathan Melle—2/20/2008—My Questions—

Doesn’t the state (like its 49 counterparts) annually receive billions of federal dollars for public education? (Yes). Then what is the state doing with ALL of this money?

The state should pay for salaries & other compensation benefits, plus administrative obligations. The local taxpayer should pay for all other expenses. What exact expenses are the obligations of the local taxpayers?

What does the state pay to the local governments for public education now? What is the state currently spending on public education overall?

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St. Paul's school in Concord, N.H., is a top college preparatory academy. (Cheryl Senter for The Boston Globe) 2/25/2008
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"Blacks threatened at N.H. school: Students receive anonymous letters"
By Peter Schworm, Boston Globe Staff, February 25, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. - Security remains tight on the tree-lined campus of St. Paul's School as police continued to investigate threatening letters mailed last week to most of the prep school's black students, an apparent hate crime that has unsettled the elite institution.

Concord police and school security are methodically patrolling the campus of the private boarding school in a show of heightened vigilance following the receipt of the anonymous letters, which St. Paul's rector denounced as threatening hate mail. The identical letters, which were sent to most, if not all, of the approximately 40 black students at St. Paul's, included each student's photo from the campus facebook and the words "bang bang get out of here," students said.

This weekend, students continued their normal routines, walking across well-kept courtyards to grab coffee and breakfast at a campus cafe. But some acknowledged they are uneasy over the threats given previous outbursts of violence on college campuses, including the recent shootings at Northern Illinois University, in which a former student killed five students and wounded 16 others before killing himself.

Two students left St. Paul's temporarily after receiving the letters, which the head of the school described as an attack on the community.

The increased patrols are scheduled to continue until spring break begins next week, said a school spokeswoman, Jana Brown. Law enforcement and school officials are treating the mailed threats as genuine, she said.

"We are taking the matter with the utmost seriousness," Brown said. "But our students are being well cared for and supported by the St. Paul's community, and we have full confidence in the efforts of the Concord police detectives heading up the investigation."

St. Paul's, a top college preparatory school whose graduates often go on to the Ivy League and other upper-tier colleges, has 524 students in grades 9-12, 34 percent of whom are members of minority groups. Eight percent are African-American, according to the school's fact sheet. Fourteen percent are Asian, and 6 percent are Latino.

In the past decade, St. Paul's expanded its financial aid program to attract more lower-income applicants. More than one-third of students receive assistance, with an average award of more than $28,000, to help defray the school's $43,000 annual cost.

St. Paul's, which is affiliated with the Episcopal Church, requires all students to live on campus. Its 2,000 acres of woodlands, fields, and ponds, about 1 1/2 miles from downtown Concord, has a classic, collegiate feel. Notable graduates include publisher William Randolph Hearst, cartoonist Garry Trudeau, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, and Senator John F. Kerry.

State and federal law enforcement officials, as well as the US Postal Service, are investigating, police said. The letters were first reported Thursday in The New York Times.

Only black students received the letters, which were addressed by name and arrived in students' post office boxes Tuesday, Brown said. The letters were sent from nearby Manchester, N.H. The photos were from a yearly student directory widely available on campus, students said.

Many students yesterday said that although they suspected the letters were a hoax, they were still relieved by the additional security measures.

"Most people think it's just a prank, but I guess you never know for sure," said a female student, who declined to give her name because school officials had instructed students not to speak to the media. "I'm glad they're out here, just in case."

Police yesterday declined to comment on the progress of the investigation, citing the ongoing nature of the probe. On a regional tip line website, Concord authorities are asking for the public's assistance with the crime, which they said is "being taken very seriously and is being vigorously investigated."

In a letter to parents, which was also posted on the school's website, William R. Matthews Jr., the head of the school, said several students told their advisers about the letters shortly after receiving them. The school notified parents, then postponed assignments and called an all-school assembly Tuesday evening to explain the investigation and increased campus security.

"It appears, at this time, that students of color were the target of these threatening communications," Matthews wrote. "The faculty, staff, and I are deeply saddened by this affront to our community. It is an outrage, and while only some were threatened directly, we all have been wounded by this. I shared with your children this evening that, unfortunately, there is hatred in our world. Some of that hatred arrived on our doorstep today. I am confident, however, that the loving and supportive qualities of this community are stronger than that hatred, and will prevail."

Students interviewed Saturday agreed, saying there was no racial tension on campus and that the incident had brought many students closer together. Some criticized the media for not respecting students' privacy during a difficult time, and said the incident was isolated and not newsworthy.

"The mood has been really supportive," Brown said. "It's a very close-knit community."

In downtown Concord Saturday, some residents noted that the threats were part of an alarming trend in schools. In the past few days, a Concord High School custodian was jailed after allegedly threatening to blow up the school, and a high school student in Manchester was jailed for allegedly threatening a Columbine-type shooting. In Massachusetts, four Mashpee High School students face felony charges for making false bomb threats earlier this month, and a former Marshfield High School student was recently sentenced to nine months in prison for plotting an assault at the school. "Schools aren't as safe as they used to be," said Concord resident Janice Neal, 46.

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February 26, 2008

Manchester Daily Express
49 Hollis Street
Manchester, NH 03101

&

Letters – NH Union Leader
Post Office Box 9555
Manchester, NH 03108

Re: Governor Lynch’s inequitable fiscal policies hurt the poor

To the Editor:

Between last year’s excessive $10.3 billion state budget and this year’s $50 million in budget cuts due to the poorly performing economy, the constant thematic storyline is Governor John Lynch’s inequitable fiscal policies that hurt the poor.

I am a Veteran, but I only receive public assistance from the State of NH and the Social Security Administration, which includes Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicaid & Food Stamps. On July 19, 2004, I attended a VA hearing that President Bush ordered for me one city block from The White House because I protected innocent lives at the cost of my own interests as a Soldier in the U.S. Army. To this day, the VA only mocks me with terrible and disparaging medical opinions that have since been rebuked by a professional clinician.

What are my thanks for serving my nation honorably, receiving regards from our president, protecting innocent lives at the cost of my own interests, and being a Veteran? I will tell you what I get in return: Having a millionaire, elitist Governor who raises revenues and cuts services on the backs of the poor!

While Governor John Lynch favorably does not choose the VA’s cruel path of directly insulting me for my disabilities, instead he impersonally and indirectly mocks me (and other poor people like me) by his inequitable fiscal policies of regressive taxation via (a) the expansion of the state lottery with its new $30 scratch ticket, (b) increases in the cigarette tax and auto registration fees, and now (c) $22 million in nominal (not actual) reductions in the state’s Health & Human Services (HHS) Department budget.

Well, I rely on NH’s HHS’ public assistance programs for my survival and subsistence. Moreover, Governor Lynch is cutting $7 million in payments to hospitals for Medicaid patients. I want to know how I am going to be impacted by Governor John Lynch’s continual inequitable fiscal policies and now budget cuts against the interests of poor people like me.

Sincerely,
Jonathan A. Melle

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Manchester Daily Express, Monday, February 25, 2008, Page 9

“State News Briefs” –– “[John] Lynch sharpens budget axe: Governor wins approval for $50 million in cuts”

Concord, NH (AP) – [NH] Governor John Lynch won legislative approval Friday [, February 22, 2008,] for $50 million in cuts to this year’s state budget and warned he will be back soon with cuts to next year’s spending.

“The national economic situation continues to be volatile and we must continue to monitor revenues carefully,” Lynch told the legislative Fiscal Committee.

[John] Lynch also is seeking another $3 million in cuts from this year’s budget from the courts and Legislature. Lynch said legislation is needed for those cuts.
The cuts include freezes on most hiring, equipment purchases and out-of-state travel paid with general tax revenue. The hiring freeze does not apply to direct care, custodial care or law enforcement positions.

The cuts do not include layoffs, [John] Lynch said.

The Health & Human Services Department–the state’s largest agency–provided almost half the savings with $22 million in reductions. The biggest cut was $7 million in payments to hospitals for Medicaid patients.

Health & Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas said he asked the hospitals to get back to him with their ideas on how to implement the reductions. The plan must be sensitive to northern New Hampshire hospitals which would have a harder time absorbing across-the-board reductions, he said.

The department uses state money to get matching federal funding so the total impact on the agency’s budget is much larger.

The loss of federal funding and the hospital payment cuts drew the most attention from the committee members who helped write the budget.

“It is a difficult reduction to make. I acknowledge that,” Toumpas said.
[State] Senator Bob Odell, R-Lempster, said the hospitals have only 4-months to absorb a sizable cut.

“Then we want the hospitals to provide services to Medicaid patients,” he said. “There must be some other way to deal with this.”

“No matter which group it impacts, it is going to be a real challenge,” Toumpas replied.

[John] Lynch told the committee he will be back soon with another round of cuts to next year’s budget.

[John] Lynch and Democrats defended the $10.3 billion, two-year budget they approved eight months ago. What has happened since was unforeseen at the time, they said.

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"Retirement reform protested"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader
March 11, 2008

CONCORD – Unions representing the spectrum of public workers launched a fight against a retirement system reform bill working its way through the House yesterday.

Teachers, firefighters, police, state and municipal workers filled the Legislative Office Building lobby to urge lawmakers to slow down reform of the $6 billion New Hampshire Retirement System, which last summer stood $2.7 million short of its long-term obligations. They've joined in what they call the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition.

Workers and retirees see the House plan in House Bill 1645 as an attack on the system that will split the workforce with two tiers of benefits, and will pass an unfair share of cost onto employees. Among the changes in the bill are a cut in the amount of late career compensation that can be used to calculate a retiree's pension. Things like accumulated sick pay, vacation time and severance would not count toward pension benefits.

Those who helped shape the plan say it makes small changes meant to keep the state on track toward funding the pension plan, cost-of-living increases and a health insurance subsidy plan.

Mark MacKenzie, president of the state's AFL-CIO chapter, said: "We're saying slow down and think about this process, then come up with something that makes sense for the workers of New Hampshire."

David Lang, president of the N.H. Professional Firefighters Association, said the bill makes too many changes at once in a system that should be cautiously adjusted.

"We're asking both the House and Senate not to strike the general alarm," he said.

State Employees Association President Gary Smith said the coalition "believes retirement is a shared employee and employer responsibility, and must be done in a responsible manner."

Some argued that changing benefits for public workers who join the system after this summer will split the workforce into separate groups.

Rep. Ken Hawkins, R-Bedford, said the system already has split workers into two tiers over health insurance.

Police and firefighters hired after July 2000 get no health subsidy; neither do state workers who came on after July 2004 and teachers who retire after July 2008.

He said the bill, "continues to help protect current retirees, and protect the fund for future retirees so they will get what they are promised," he said.

A first stab at reform last year put an extra $204 million into the pension trust. HB 1645 would add another $245 million, bringing the fund from 63 percent to 67 percent funding, Hawkins said.

Investment returns, averaged over five years, should mean an additional $200 million for the system this year, he said, now that the state ended the practice of putting excess earnings toward health subsidies.

Hawkins said the state is now on a path to fully fund the system over 30 years, easing the shock property taxpayers might feel if they had to fund the full $2.7 billion all at once.

Some workers and retirees blame the Legislature for the current situation, saying that 15 years ago it adopted questionable accounting practices that discounted what employers -- town and state governments as well as school districts -- should have been paying into the system.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

Your article is inaccurate. Specifically, it states: "Among the changes in the bill are a cut in the amount of late career compensation that can be used to calculate a retiree's pension. Things like accumulated sick pay, vacation time and severance would not count toward pension benefits."
House Bill 1645 does not change the current treatment of accumulated sick pay, vacation time and severance pay. Such amounts are currently counted in computing pension benefits and under the provisions of HB 1645 will continue to be counted.
- Bill Spead, Brentwood

Thomas from Manchester, instead of complaining about what others are protecting...how about you join them. Seek employment as a police officer, firefighter, teacher, highway worker or other state employee, and make a difference! Because of problems you seem to be having with your pension plan, I see no need to take it out on others who want to protect their own? Without such a reward at the end, nobody would do 1/2 of these jobs. There's more money to made in the private sector. The Dover Chief has brought much of this attention to the NHRS. I think he's the one to blame, and the city of Dover for allowing it to happen in the 1st place!
- Joe S., Manchester

Most public employees understand that something needs to be done to maintain the system in a solvent manner however, many have worked in the public sector for decades at marginal wages with the promise of a modest retirement. Take the clerk making $30K that has 25 years in the system. Under todays rules, she would retire at 60 with 12.5K a year. Add vacation and sick time and you enhance the value to approximately 14.5K. No other method exists that would allow this employee a chance to enhance their retirement. Only Police and Fire have that opportunity. In fact, many employees work multiple jobs in the public sector and none of that does anything to the final calculations. Now take away the Health subsidy and make this employee buy her own insurance and what does she have left. You do the math.
Personally, I am a Vietnam Vet, not no longer elegible to seek medical assistance, cause they changed the rules. I have worked for years without taking vacation or sick time because I was told that this would enhance my retirement. I work four public sector jobs, but only one counts, and have 28 years in the system, but can not retire, predominately because the legislature has done nothing but put little bandages on a gashing wound, and now the patient is almost dead.
My guess is public employees will be lining up for public assistance the way this is headed.
- Randy Blodgett, Keene

At least some/ all of you have a job. Try being college educated and hold 3 degrees and not have or be able to find a decent, career related job to save your life.

I'm 25-30 years from retirement and I'm already spending my retirement money by not funding either of my IRAs over the last 3-4 years...'fun' is not a word I'd use to describe my situation. I'm not the worst off but I'm far from well off.
- Dave, Manchester

Thomas, I don't recall anywhere in this article that the state workers were asking for more and more and more. They are asking for the changes to be gradual to the system.
- Brad, Auburn,NH

Once again the state will stick to the teachers! It's bad enough that the teachers aren't paid enough, now the state is going to take away a prime benefit, the health care in their retirement, which is why some stay to teach the twenty or so years. Loyalty just doesn't exist.
- Richard, Manchester

Boy do I feel like a sucker!, the State sure duped one over on me. Someone pulled a fast one on alot of workers. The Retirement system a little over a year ago opened up the doors for employees to invest additional money into the system to "buy time" towards retirement. What a great system it is, strong, why not have your money grow securely at 9% a year? Shortly there after the system starts putting out information that there is a long term crisis and now we are talking about reform. I can't help but feel the push for us to invest in the system was to save the day for now and worry about those people's money years later by probably duping some other persons. Ignorance on my part is no excuse but either way my perception is I feel wronged and I am left with a sleezey impression of the State system. Glad I am not there any longer. I will be trying to get my money back out, at least the $25k of my savings invested and leave the other ten yrs of vested time. I understand if everyone did the same it would only add to the crisis but we were deceived, in my opinion. The only reason I stayed there for ten years (vestment) was for the fantastic healthcare benefits and supposed rock solid retirement system????
- Bob, Concord

Reform, yes. The retirement system of the public employees is out of control. For evidence, the recently retired police chief of Dover, NH. But our do nothing, governor is nowhere to be seen. When are the citizens of NH going to wake up and ask what gov Lynch does with his time. While the employees of Verizon in NH get screwed, sold out, taken over by a company that has "no" retirement system; the overpaid, underworded, public employees want more and more and more.
- Thomas, Manchester, NH
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"Lynch briefs panel on HealthFirst"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader
March 11, 2008

CONCORD – Gov. John Lynch said yesterday his plan to require health insurers to offer a basic, low-cost health plan will help ease the costs of health insurance for small business owners.

He told the Senate Commerce Committee his New Hampshire HealthFirst plan "is aimed at giving small business access to the same types of innovations that large employers, including state government, are using."

The coverage would cost a maximum 10 percent of the state median, which under the last census would mean a bill of $5,750 per worker. It would emphasize prevention, better care management and better use of health care services.

"This plan is focused on the patient and on keeping the patient healthy. That translates into getter, more cost-effective care," Lynch said. The plan would stabilize costs "and make it possible for our small businesses to continue offering health insurance to their workers."

A committee directed by Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny would design the plan, in consultation with the insurance industry. Sevigny supported the plan. He said that waste accounts for roughly 30 percent of health care spending, and HealthFirst could go a long way to reducing that cost.

Any company that covers 1,000 lives in the state would have to offer the HealthFirst plan.

While some spokesmen for small business praised the idea, insurance industry lobbyists said they want a stronger hand in designing the plan. They also want to set the price after, not before, coverage and other details are finalized.

Some questioned how long the plan would be affordable, since health care costs rise more quickly than median wages to which the price is pegged.

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesman Mark Vattis said his company already has a plan designed along the lines and price range of HealthFirst.

Paul Spiess, co-chairman of the Citizens Health Initiative, defended capping the plan's price at the median, saying it "recognizes that the insurance premium must have a justifiable relationship to the cost of labor." He said the overall program is "not revolutionary ... It's evolutionary."

New Hampshire Women's Lobby, N.H. Voices for Health and the Early Learning Coalition all back the plan.

The Business and Industry Association and the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce spoke against it.

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"Health providers oppose records bill"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader
March 11, 2008

A bill that would give patients specific privacy rights in electronic medical records is drawing opposition from hospitals and health providers.

The bill due for a vote tomorrow tries to balance privacy concerns against the move to electronic medical records, which the health industry says will increase health care quality and lower costs.

Sponsored by Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, and privacy advocate Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, HB 1587 would allow individuals to block access to their medical records, and to inspect them to see who's been snooping in their files. It would also allow a patient to block the transfer of a medical file to his or her doctor, and prevent its use in marketing or fundraising efforts.

The health outfits are concerned that the restrictions exceed federal privacy laws, and will discourage large and small practices from moving ahead with the kind of electronic medical record-keeping that was a priority for Gov. John Lynch's Citizens Health Initiative.

Lynch wrote in January in support of the bill, saying "HB 1587 recognizes that maintaining confidentiality is paramount in the move to electronic medical records." But the bill went through eight subcommittee sessions since then, and built in more privacy protections as it went along. It won an 11-8 endorsement in a committee vote.

Paul Spiess, chair of Lynch's Citizens Health Initiative, said he thinks the bill is a strong one that will protect patients. If privacy is not protected, he said, patients themselves will protest.

"It's critically important that the health care industry adopts electronic technology, electronic prescription, medical records and the ability to transfer that information," he said. "If we're going to move in that direction, we have to have privacy laws that reflect challenges today, not the challenges of a pre-electronic world ten years ago. This legislation intended to move down that path."

Besides hospitals and doctors, the Business and Industry Association, the insurance industry, nursing homes, even the state's dentists, oppose the bill. They argue it will slow the move to electronic records, and exceeds federal privacy laws.

Rosenwald defends it, saying, "It's a good bill and it strikes a good balance between individual privacy and institutional needs." She said federal privacy restrictions were passed as a minimum, not a maximum protection. She warns that Google and Microsoft are developing medical records software that will not be subject to federal privacy laws. That would give the pharmaceutical industry a free hand in reviewing records, she said. It would also make easier the new crime of medical identity theft, where someone steals information to get health coverage that can ruin the integrity of an individual's medical records.

Kathleen Bizarro, executive vice president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, said mandates and restrictions in the bill, "essentially put a halt to the development of electronic medical records." Janet Monahan of the New Hampshire Medical Society said, "no small office is going to put out money for records system if they think the rules are going to change."

The BIA's Adrienne Rupp said that beside the records issue, "the bill will contribute to more confusion among providers, less information being shared among providers and contribute to the greater possibility of errors occurring." Rosenwald argues that the bill restores power to patients.

"Current law tips the balance of power to the provider, not the individual. In New Hampshire, we are unique in that the information in your medical records is deemed to be your personal property. We're lucky enough to actually own our records, but we don't have an effective mechanism to control access to it. This bill provides that," she said.

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Reader's COMMENTS

No matter how many stakeholders line up against consumers in your state capitol, if New Hampshire patients do not trust that their privacy is being protected, you know that they will simply opt out one way or the other, and there is nothing that can be done to stop them. To proceed with plans that ignore patient privacy rights will only create expensive and dangerous computerized junk that nobody will trust - setting back progress for decades.

New Hampshire, there is no choice. You must give your citizens what they want. To do otherwise in a democracy is tyranny. Trust cannot be mandated. Darrell Pruitt
- Darrell Pruitt, Fort Worth, Texas

I agree with Brian. This is not about patient privacy but about some hospitals and other medical professionals that want to use the info in the records to make money. I suspect the major objection is the statement ...prevent its use in marketing or fundraising efforts."
- Doug Hogue, Merrimack

Blocking this bill is self-interested nonsense. EMR (electronic medical records) programs and a laptop can be obtained cheaply but most physicians are cheap to spend money on their practices so don't want to have any extra expense or have to do anything to protect patients unless the MD is paid to do so. Same goes for hospital administrators with a business or medical background.

The measures in this bill give individuals RIGHTS over their own private life and their bodies. Support this bill and if your local legislator, physician, and hospital does not, then you know they are more interested in their own finances (or power with the health care establishment in the case of the legislator) than they are in you.
- Nurse in NH, Manchester NH

I don't buy the arguments by the opponents of the privacy protections.

My doctor operates a small office. It's only he and his wife. He uses electronic medical records. There are no privacy worries as he doesn't share his patients' records with anyone without written authorization of the patient. The computer containing the medical records is not connected to the internet.

When I'm in his office, he has a computer screen facing me so I can see everything he's doing with my records. I review my records with him. It's quite simple to protect patients' medical records and doesn't cost a dime to do so. The opponents of HB 1587 want to make money on your private medical information and don't want you to know that.
- Brian, N. Sutton
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"Seeking a new high: Lottery Commission wants more"
NH Union Leader - Editorial
Wednesday, Mar. 26, 2008

THE New Hampshire Lottery Commission wants you to lose more money. A lot more. Citing falling lottery revenue, commission members on Monday pressed for new games of chance that would, by their very novelty, lure more Granite Staters to lose more money to the state.

"We're not talking about what makes good social policy," Commissioner Paul Holloway said. "We are talking about the need to responsibly increase lottery revenue."

Granite Staters should appreciate Commissioner Holloway's tacit admission that we can either make good social policy or increase lottery revenue, but not do both. And as long as commissioners are confessing, they should also admit that it is not so simple to "responsibly increase lottery revenue."

A state lottery is at best a supplemental source of revenue, for exactly the reasons that have prompted the Lottery Commission to beg lawmakers for bigger, flashier games.

Lottery revenue is highly volatile. It rises and falls with the economy more so than other forms of taxation, and so it is far less dependable. Adding to that volatility is what Lottery Commission Executive Director Rick Wisler calls "jackpot fatigue." Players grow accustomed to big jackpots, then hold their money until huge jackpots are at stake, putting the state in a never-ending search for new ways to pump up jackpots.

Also, as players get bored with existing games, states have to find ever more exciting and stimulating ways to entice people to play. And that, of course, is where the games can cross into bad social policy.

The responsible thing to do is to realize that gambling revenue always falls during an economic slowdown, and adjust the state budget accordingly. The state should not attempt to balance the budget during this economic slump by searching for new ways to bedazzle struggling Granite Staters into risking money they cannot afford to lose.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

I am one of the thousands of NH residents that travels two or three times a year to Connecticut to have a little fun and maybe a nice meal. I would just as soon spend those same dollars in NH. Rockingham Park or Hampton Beach would be perfect locations .
- Frank B, Pembroke

instead of arguing about gambling in the statehouse we should let the people in each county decide if they want a casino in their county.
Each county could vote in Nov wheather they want one or not. Each county would be allowed one Casino. if the vote passes then the license fee would be devide up 50% for the state 25% for the county and 25% for the towns and cities in that county. That could solve some of the fears that Concord would take all the money and spend it foolishly.
After the Casino is up and operating The taxes and fees could use the same formula for the money collected.50 25 25.
As a state we really need to finish this once and for all so lets get this on the nov ballots and if the will of the people in each county want a casino then the goverment in Concord should not stand in the way.
- Howard Stone, Lebanon

It's funny how gambling is frowned upon until the state can make money on it. If not then private casino's would be everywhere.

In the end the only ones to benefit from this will be government. Our taxes will still increase as it finds new ways to spend it's new found revenue on every scheme it can think of. The poeples money is free money, and free money is rarely spent wisely. I doubt casino's will turn out to be the blessing we will be told it will be in the end.
- Deb, Derry

If I remember correctly Mr. John Gallus introduced a casino bill for the Northern part of NH but it got voted down. Now our Lottery Commisioner is complaining about lottery revenue. Is there something wrong with this picture. I for one think it would be nice to have a casino up in this area and I also think we could handle any of the problems. But than us folks in the North Country know that we are the forgotten people when it comes to our representatives in Concord.
- Dan, Columbia

So what? Lotteries and casinos are VOLUNTARY.

What's better, people filling the state funds out of their own decision to do so?

Or forcibly holding people down and taking it from them via taxes?

I know which the Democrat party prefers.
- Mike R., Bedford

When was the last time some one in NH won a major powerball jack pot? I don't think it has ever happened. The odds are terrible and stacked against you. It's always the other states that are winning these major jackpots. Even the megabucks jackpot holds little hope of winning even a free ticket. I personally have stopped playing because of exactly this. Call it jackpot fatigue or what ever. I feel that in this lousy economic times I need to be spending what little extra money I have on needs rather than dreams. If the state needs more money for their lousy budget bookkeeping practices. Then maybe it's about time they got off their so called moral values high horse and allowed casinos. That just might stop NH residents from traveling to other states to deposit their money into their casino vaults
- Brian, Lancaster

I believe it is past the time that NH let in casino's. I go to Ct once in a while. I am not a major gambler but once in a while enjoy the slots and cards. Do you stop selling alchahol because some people can't handle it. It is about time to make EVERYONE accountable for themselves. I am tired of trying to "protect" the so called addicts. Look, done right you can merge this with tourism and NH could really make out. I would rather try my hand on the tables and let NH make some money then just turning over my money for taxes without any chance of gain. And I believe that NH really needs to look at there scratch card payouts. I NEVER buy cards in NH. I always purchase them in Mass.
- Jim, Manchester

Lottery, a tax on people who are really bad at math.
- jeff, goffstown

The state needs to review its lotto revenue. I have been in retail sector for many years and I have watched as the 'Lotto person' comes in fills the machines with scratch tickets and the lotto machine and then is off to the next location. Time spent, about 15-20 minutes depending the store sales. The question is what are we paying these people to load the machines and do the reports?? Seems to me they get paid an awful lot just to do a job I could do myself as a retailer. NH does not need more flashier scratch cards or other ways to bedazzle people for them to loose money, we need a better way of providing revenue that can go straight to education without first paying off the payouts and only having a fraction of money left to go to education. More or new taxes are not the answer! We are always rated 'Best place to live or visit", lets work to advertise NH more to tourism so that revenue can be used to help our shortfalls and trim our state budget.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"State revenues said to fall far short of budget needs"
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter, NH Union Leader, 3/29/2008

Concord – With state revenues "deteriorating," state government is on track to end the current fiscal year and two-year budget cycle in worse financial shape than previously predicted, according to a new report.

"In each of the last four months, state revenues have fallen further and further behind the amount needed for the state budget," says conservative researcher and commentator Charlie Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy.

Arlinghaus, who authored the policy report released this week, said yesterday that at the current rate of growing monthly tax revenue shortfalls, "revenues will end the year at least $91 million behind the budget and even higher if business taxes also deteriorate. The two-year budget shortfall will be between $205 million and $250 million." The fiscal year ends on June 30, 2008, and the two-year budget cycle ends on June 30, 2009.

"My goal here is to define the problem," Arlinghaus said. "There are a bunch of different solutions. Some people will want to cut spending and some will want to raise taxes and some will want to do both."

Arlinghaus, a former state Republican Party executive director, said his findings are apolitical, based only on the "black and white" of monthly tax revenues.

"I'm not talking about why there is a problem, but it is true that I've been saying for a while that there is a problem," he said. "At least since last May, I've been saying that the revenue estimates were too optimistic."

Gov. John Lynch is working under a current assumption that the revenue shortfall through June 30 of this year will be $50 million, although "he has said that New Hampshire is not immune to the economic downturn that the national economy is experiencing," said his spokesman, Colin Manning.

"We've seen that reflected in state revenue already and the governor has taken steps to address that," Manning said.

Manning said the governor went before the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee last month and won approval for $50 million in savings, including cuts at the department level and freezes in hiring, out-of-state travel and equipment purchases.

Realizing the revenue picture is fluid, Manning said Lynch "continues to watch revenue very closely and will continue meeting with agency heads to find ways to reduce spending and to develop a financial plan for the next fiscal year." Tax increases, said Manning, "are not his focus right now."

Arlinghaus said Lynch's $50 million shortfall estimate for the current fiscal year was based on a January report by state department heads. He said the department heads reported then that, depending on the economic situation, the June 30, 2009 shortfall could range from $147 million to $200 million.

"Based on current revenue trends, the estimate of a $200 million shortfall is optimistic," Arlinghaus said. "Over the last three months, state tax revenues have continued to deteriorate, making the goal of holding revenue losses to $43 million in the first year of the budget almost impossible."

Arlinghaus said without any mitigating factors the shortfall could be as high as $296 million by June 30, 2009. However, he said that uncertainty surrounding revenue from business taxes, insurance taxes and Medicaid enhancement lead him to conclude that the revenue shortfall "will be between $205 million and $258 million."

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Reader's COMMENTS:

And yet, Republicans seem determined as ever to let Lynch walk into a third term. Fool us once, shame on him, fool us twice, shame on us.
- Tony, Manchester

I would like answers to the following questions. How do you propose to pay for State services? Do you want bridges to fall? Do you want children to be uneducated? Do you want any State services? Do you want police and firemen to show up when you are in danger?

How do you propose that the 6th wealthiest state in the USA pay for this?

Do you think you can just move here and get everything for nothing?

Either pay up or live in a continuously degrading infrastructure, non-global competitive school system, poorly managed government, crisis to crisis, no-tax pledge NH. There is no free lunch as any Republican will gladly tell you.
- Dan, Belmont

A continued assault on the people of New Hampshire? Now that's laughable. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that gained population in the last census. That same trend has been noted for many years.

Continued assault? Not in my mind. I come from The Lakes Region and well remember what life was like growing up in the late 60's. Life now is incredibly different and better in New Hampshire.

Along with that change comes the need to pay for what you want. Since so many people are so terrified of a broad-based tax, the money has to come from somewhere for both state and local government. If not from a sales or income taxes, then it comes from other types of broad based taxes (for the state) and property taxes (for the locallities).

You can jump up and down and shout "Republican this" or "Democrat that" all day long but there are bills that have to be paid in order to fund state government. And state, and local, governments are not immune to inflation. So the bottom line, in my mind is this...you can complain and grouse all you want...but if you want change...if you want somethign done...then get out from behind your computer and participate in the process. Complaining without the willingness to work to change something is just whining...whcih doesn't change anything.

Peace
- Joel, Nashua

There is nothing more irritating than when someone in a blatant attempt to avoid responsibility will point to some other situation as justification for their own bad judgment. Clearly events on a national level do not absolve the State of NH from conducting fiscally responsible financial business. There is no excuse for a potential $ 200M plus shortfall. None. Where is the leadership from the NH Republican Party? Can we only complain when the Democrats video tape our events or do other underhanded election year tactics? Someone from the State Republican party should be out front every single day and attacking the Democrats for their lunacy. Yes I said attacking. Someone has to have a backbone. Someone has to stand up and in the legacy of our founding fathers forge a lucid, articulate and meaningful rebuttal to the continued assault that the NH Democratic Party is waging on the people of the State of NH.
- Timothy Moore, Gilmanton, NH

It's pretty standard political fare for state politicians to take the credit when the state economy is doing well, and pass the buck to Washington when the economy is not doing well. Lynch has done both of these; however, this does not serve the people of New Hampshire well. Lynch and the Democrats must take responsibility for what they can control, and that is the massive amount of new spending they have authorized. Their irresponsible fiscal stewardship has put the state in this situation, and we all know what they will do next. The question is: what will the people of New Hampshire do next?
- Tom, Campton

We need to stop spending. The State, the Feds, the counties -- all of them. John Stephen, while on the stump across the first CD, often cites an old adage from the Mel Thomson days, "low taxes are a result of low spending." (Or something like that.) And that couldn't be more true. It just so difficult for most politicians -- especially Lynch and other liberals (but not exclusively Democrats) -- to understand that.
- Dave Tosatti, Stratham

This is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Lynch and his Democratic minions have set the state up for this mess with a gigantic increase in spending, higher fees, higher tolls, etc. Lynch should be voted out in November and the legislature needs to return to being fiscally conservative with a republican majority. If the Democrats are allowed to stay in then New Hampshire is headed for even higher taxes and fees. Vote the Democrats out!
- Bob Hoskins, Derry

There goes that bogus republican 17% number again.

The actuall increase was much less, under 11%, nearly all of which was in statutory items the state is already obligated to. Obligated under prior republican leadership, I might add.

What makes it look like such a large jump is the fact that in the past money was left out of "the budget" and quietly approved under the radar. The democrats have ended this practice. So ... under the Dems we have what most people here claim to want - more honest government - and they're getting beat up for it {sigh}.

The actual discretionary change was about 3%. Less than the inflation rate. This went to horrible liberal purposes like LCHIP and the Healthy Kids program.

Ohhhh, those liberals! Truth-in-budgeting! LCHIP! Ending the Developmentally Disabled waiting list! Who knows what they'll come up with next!!! Stop them , quick!!
- tom, Candia

Of course tax increases are not his focus right now. There is an election coming up. Wait until after the November election. Tax increases will certainly be "in his focus" if he gets reelected.
- dave, bow

Bank lending was pushed to low income and unqualified borrowers by Democrat amendments to the Bank Lending Laws passed by Congress. They did not want the poor folks left out. Look at the results. Lending to people that could not afford a mortgage and now they are defaulting. Big Surprise there!!!

As for budget woes, passing a 17.5% budget increase on bogus numbers and higher fees and taxes on cigarettes was irresponsible. Even my fifth grader could tell that if cigarette prices went that much higher, sales would go down and out of state customers wouldn't buy them here. Therefor the projected revenues would be short.

When we had budget shortfalls under Republican control, belts were tightened and results were made. These liberals will pass more fee increases, mor tax increases, and head us to a path for a sales & income tax in the guise of lower property taxes.

This is all politics folks. Mr Lynch and his nanny Democrats passed an irresponsible budget Knowing it would lead to this. Now thay will paint him as a budget cutter for the election, and once re-elected, they will come after you and your wallets once again.

Vote them out in November and lets see if we can save our State from these socialists.
- Mark, Candia

Mr. Tarr and Mr. Klindinst are conveniently forgetting that the national economic picture is caused in part by irresponsible lending by large financial institutions rarely led by "liberals," an astoundingly expensive war that's draining our resources, both financial and human; oil prices on the rise as an administration routinely makes allies into bystanders or even enemies. Of course these national events affect NH's economy!
A falling real estate market means lower real estate transfer taxes; a tight economy means people may not spend as much on liquor or cigarettes, two of NH's important revenue streams; a falling stock market cuts our revenue on the interest and dividends taxes. In the meantime, children must be educated, bridges repaired, state services delivered. We've been in budget shortfalls before, under completely Republican administrations ... on what did you blame those situations, Mr. Tarr and Mr. Klindinst?
- Janet, Manchester

Keep the Liberals in office and it will be more taxes which they have announced by calling for an end to the "Tax Pledge" for no broad based taxes
- Ken Klindinst, Warner

Well now, NH the blue state of affairs. Now government points to the national economy to put blame there, but I think they should turn around, look at the mirror and point the finger there. Lets see if I get the understanding of this. A 17.5% increase in the budget (Gov. Lynch says 3%), thousands of dollars to lobbist fees, state department budget increases etc, etc. Will someone get out the vote and elect people to represent us who is fiscally responsible with NH taxpayers money??
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"State revenues continue to come up short of plan"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, April 2, 2008

CONCORD – State revenues fell short by $35.4 million last month, opening a total budget hole of $47 million for the year, according to a state accounting report.

Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon said she thinks the state will end the fiscal year close to $75 million below what was planned in the budget that passed last June. Long-term projections have been that the state faces a shortage of $150 million by June 2009.

Gov. John Lynch had expected the state to end this fiscal year with a shortfall of $50 million. He's ordered a freeze on hiring, travel and equipment purchases and asked agency heads to find other savings.

Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said the governor is "committed to ending the biennium with a balanced budget." He pointed out that the economy is also dragging across the country.

"Obviously the national downturn is having an effect here, and I think that's what we're seeing," Manning said.

The biggest dip last month was in business taxes, which until now have consistently produced revenues above the budget plan. The combined business profits and business enterprise taxes came up short $25 million for the month of March, which annually is the largest single month of business tax collections. They were also $21 million below last year's receipts. Insurance premium taxes, tobacco taxes, real estate transfer taxes and lottery sales also fell short last month.

So far this year, the state has collected $1.7 billion from all tax sources.

Republicans have said since the day the budget passed that its revenue estimates were too high.

House GOP leaders said yesterday they worry about how the trend will play out in the long run.

Rep. David Hess, R-Hooksett, deputy minority leader, said, "What's really surprising to me is almost every big revenue source is down below plan. That's unusual - It indicates a much broader, wider revenue problem than might have been thought."

He said the state's problems may be "a reflection of the economic downturn." Rep. Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, said ailing revenues will be debated in two weeks, when Republicans try to pass a revised revenue estimate in the House.

In the past, lawmakers hoped other taxes would help to offset those that were coming up short.

"When everything is down, there's nothing to hope for," Chandler said.
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Staff reporter Garry Rayno contributed to this story.
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"Lynch: NH economy in better shape than most states"
By BENJAMIN KEPPLE, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
April 5, 2008

MANCHESTER – New Hampshire's economic situation, although weaker than it once was, remains stronger than the economies of other states, Gov. John Lynch has said.

Lynch discussed the economy and other matters on a visit to Dynamic Network Services Inc., an Internet services company located on Elm Street, yesterday afternoon. Although Lynch said he had seen many in-state businesses doing quite well despite the economy, the economic situation had become weaker.

"The economy is clearly softening and New Hampshire isn't immune from national trends, but we are doing better than most states," Lynch said.

Lynch, who also paid a visit to Parkside Middle School and the Made in New Hampshire Try it and Buy It Expo yesterday, discussed various new or proposed laws that he said would help the state's economy.

These included the recently-passed research and development tax credit for businesses, a cut in the insurance premium tax that already has attracted a major insurer to the state, and a law that requires renewable-energy sources to power a quarter of the state's electricity use by 2025.

He also talked up the proposed New Hampshire HealthFirst initiative, that would provide a low-cost insurance package to small firms emphasizing preventive and "wellness" care.

"Rhode Island introduced a similar plan, and they've found the price is 15 to 20 percent less than traditional plans," Lynch said.

Lynch also said he would push for widening I-93 once legal challenges to the expansion are cleared up.

"It's important for productivity; it's important for public safety," Lynch said. "I do consider it a priority and we're going to work aggressively on expanding I-93."

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Reader's COMMENTS:

But Deborah, what role would you have government play?

Surely you must realize that here on the Free Stater Republican blog there is no role for government, unions or, especially, Democratic governors to play. The free market will solve our problems! Just let corporations be free of regulation!

Soon Mexico and China will have almost all our jobs, then the situation will stabilize, just wait and see. Then we'll be competitive again. Competing for bread, that is.

Oh, and Governor, by all means support the expansion of I-93! I can't *wait* for southern NH to look just like Chelmsford. Shoot, why not just pave everything over?
- tom, candia

That's like saying "Well, we're going broke but not as fast as our neighbors".
Pretty sad when we compare ourselves to other States in order to make us feel better..
- Bill, Tuftonboro

The governor thinks that NH is doing better than most states, perhaps so. But in reality one of our biggest employers are constently sending our jobs overseas or beyond our borders. This needs to stop, or we will be one of the critical states of unemployed, and forcloseers, and abanded properties. The company i work for in the last 5 yrs. has shipped 5 departmenst to Mexico, and again this week has sent another one. But yet I see them hit the newpaper saying they are bringing 50 new jobs, to the community, this is true, but what about the 300 jobs lost? And yet we will give corporate america another tax break, hmm, sounds like corpotate america wins again. And our tax breaks comes in a few pennies of a rebate check from our so called president. Gotta laugh, cause if I dont I will cry. This state needs to look at reality before we loose every thing.
- Deborah Bradford, Allenstown

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"State House Dome: Age of adulthood elusive under NH law"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, April 6, 2008

It's hard to tell from state laws when a person becomes a responsible adult.

People can't drink alcohol until they're 21, but they can marry at 18 (age 13 in some cases). They can drop out of school now at 16, but that will be changing to 18. They can be sent to an adult jail at 17 and ride a bike without a helmet at 16. They still need a seatbelt until 18, though.

The House and Senate are trying to decide how old a "child" is when it comes to pornography. Right now, the law sets the age of a child victim at 16.

The House has passed two bills that say most sex crime victims, including those used in pornography, under 18 are children. Those are in the Senate's hands now. The Senate passed the Online Child Safety Act, now in the House, that leaves the current age in place.

Something's got to give, said House Criminal Justice and Public Safety chairman Rep. William Knowles.

"We have to make up our minds one way or the other. We can't have it both ways," he said last week. "That gives defense attorneys a picnic."

Federal laws on sexual offenders define a child as being under age 18. The House bills match that, for the most part. But even there, state language on rape in the bill distinguishes between victims under 16 and 18.

A bill on a sexual offender registry matches federal law with a clear line for victims under age 18.

State criminal laws say that only those under age 17 are considered as part of the juvenile-justice system. That means 17-year-olds go to adult jails rather than juvenile detention.

Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, chairman of the Children and Family Law Committee, said the ages in state law "are all over the place. ... There have been attempts in past years to come to grips with this, but it hasn't been clarified and it is confusing."

A bill to move 17-year-olds back to juvenile justice this year failed after it passed one House vote but was blocked in the Finance Committee.

With conflicting fiscal impacts in hand, Gile said, the House decided to hold off and wait for better information. She sides with raising the age, saying "there is a lot of research that says children should have benefit of being in the juvenile system until age 18."

Laws on legal guardians and estates define a minor as being under 18. Laws on marriage allow 18-year-olds to marry without parental permission. A move failed in 2006 to change state law that actually lets boys of 14 and girls of 13 marry, if parents and a judge approve. The change would have required both to be 16, the general age of consent for sexual activity.

Associate Attorney General Ann Rice acknowledged it's tough to draw a bright line between adulthood and childhood. "Everyone's trying to figure out what these people are," she said.

HOME SCHOOLING DEBATE: Home schoolers will be back in Concord on April 15, ready to argue against a change in law that would require parents to notify a school official before they pull a child from school, then file an annual reminder.

The bill also requires a one-time filing of a curriculum and teaching plan. Subject areas in the plan are already in state law. Sponsors argue the process will help schools keep track of kids who fall through the cracks between home and public schooling systems, and will help parents realize they're taking on a big job.

Nearly 200 people, including parents and children, turned out in protest last week, ready to speak against the bill. As happens at most crowded public hearings, elected officials took up most of the time before the committee had to recess. Most still in the hall after two hours of testimony raised their hands to indicate they'd be back for a second hearing.

Conservative lawmakers lined up with the parents against the bill, which passed the Senate on a partisan 14-10 vote.

Republican Rep. Paul Ingbretson called the requirement "an enormous burden."

Rep. Daniel Itse, R-Fremont, said the bill is "highly disturbing. ... Parents have a natural right to educate their children. It's not the job of the state to look back and see whether they are educating their children properly."

Critics argued that the bill gives no one clear authority to review or reject the plans, so the whole exercise is pointless.

Sen. Iris Estabrook saw it differently. "If filing a one-time curriculum plan is too burdensome, how can a parent be up to the job of home schooling?" she asked.

Co-sponsor Emma Rous said lawmakers are not trying to get between parents and their children. "We are interested in the safety and well-being of all students," she said.

FOOD STAMP DEMAND: With word that the demand for food stamps is climbing, one might assume the demand is highest in the North Country, hit hard by repeated mill closings and a lack of new jobs.

Wrong. In fact, Health and Human Services Department figures show the offices in Berlin and Salem saw the slowest increase in demand, both at 7 percent, between February 2006 and 2008. The steepest increase among the state's 12 HHS offices was in Keene, at nearly 26 percent, followed by Laconia, at 24 percent, and Littleton, at 22 percent. In terms of numbers of applications, Laconia is up by 490 over the two years, Keene by 464 and Littleton by 176.

The state's two largest cities saw widely different numbers. The Manchester office received 6,235 applications, up 687 or 12 percent from 2006. Nashua took in 3,638, up 323 or 10 percent.

Statewide, HHS reports demand for food stamps was up almost 14 percent over the two years. The only dip in any office was in Salem last year, when applications fell off by a total of 10.

CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS: Stuck choosing between the Josiah Bartlett Center and Gov. John Lynch on budget numbers?

The latest Bartlett Center study, by its director, former GOP state chairman Charlie Arlinghaus, predicts a $91 million shortfall in state revenues by June. Lynch had predicted in February there would be a $50 million shortfall. When March revenues came in low, Lynch's new Commissioner of Administrative Services, Linda Hodgdon, on Monday said the hole could be $75 million deep by June. Until last month, she was Lynch's budget director.

Revenue Administration Commissioner Phil Blatsos said he's not running for the bomb shelter yet.

He said audits of taxpayers now in the pipeline could produce some healthy returns this month, but noted that business taxes are not the only thing to consider.

"We're seeing some good trends for April" revenues, he said, adding that if they hold through the month, Lynch's original estimate is likely to be pretty accurate.

As for next fiscal year, Lynch's estimate is $150 million of red ink. Arlinghaus thinks it will be between $200 million and $250 million.

COMMUTER RAIL PUSH: State senators can expect a visit from the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce as part of its push to get commuter rail restored between Concord and Lowell, Mass., and on to Boston.

HB 1404, up for a Senate hearing this week, sets a $75 million liability cap on rail operations, and requires the N.H. Rail Transit Authority to obtain insurance policies in that amount to cover service by both Amtrak and the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.

GMCC said it "strongly supports this measure as it is a critical step in moving the rail project forward."

STAFF CHANGE: U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes' office announced that his district director, state Rep. Mary Beth Walz, is leaving her post at the end of this week "to pursue other opportunities."

Deputy district director Jane Berlin Pauley and chief of staff Matt Robison will handle her duties until a replacement is named.

OFF BY A FEW THOUSAND MILES: Grant Bosse, one of four GOP candidates for Congress in Hodes' district, might want to give the folks at Freedom Watch a call. The conservative watchdog group praised him for signing its "Anti-Earmark Pledge," but they identified him as a candidate in Oregon's 5th Congressional District. His name was spelled right. That counts.

GLOBAL WARMING & HEALTH: It might sound like an environmental issue, but the Health and Human Services Department will tie global warming to its annual observance of National Public Health Week.

"The messages are: be prepared, travel differently, eat differently, green your work, and green your home," an announcement by HHS said last week. Commissioner Nick Toumpas and public health director Mary Ann Cooney plan to go into detail tomorrow at HHS headquarters.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief for the N.H. Union Leader and N.H. Sunday News.
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Reader's COMMENTS:

C'mon Len from Milford...... How can you homeschool kids if you don't have a plan? This is a resonable requirement. And it not just to remind parents that they're taking on a big job. Think about it! Children need a well-rounded education to prepare them for life. The plan insures that they get taught the subjects to provide this in the depth needed.
- Brian, Farmington

re: Len

Homeschoolers don't need a diploma, GED or other certification. They can just print one if they decide that they'd like one. The quality of a diploma varies widely from district to district which is why colleges look at things like test scores, recommendations, college courses in addition to coursework.
- Michael, Merrimack

Leave it to the Democrats to insist that parents who decide to home school their own children must file a teaching plan for no other reason than to remind the parents that they are taking on a big job.

In light of the 14-10 partisan line vote, any reasonably minded person can see that this is the precisely the kind of issue tha defines Republican and Democrat philosophy. Clearly, Democrats favor big intrusive, over-the-top regulations, on decent, hard working famillies and will stop at nothing to push for it. To think that the Democrats are are doing all they can, using all their resources and power to legislate the breach the privacy of the family so that "they" know what you are teaching your children is nothing less than disgusting.

You realize what the next step is, don't you? The government is going to tell you what you can teach your kids and what you can't. You'll either go with the government's program or your child will not receive a diploma, GED, or other certification from the State. Wait and see. You want further proof? Follow the money. Look at how much money the labor unions (teachers and school administrators) are giving to these democrat politicians. Where do you think these marching orders are coming from?
Did you know that the head of the Department of Education has endorsed Hillary Clinton? Do you have any idea what her plans are for our children?

We need to throw these arrogant, big government politicians out of office at the next election.
- Len, Milford, NH

I agree Jaime. Of course there is going to be a progression to adulthood. I don't think there should be a specific age where you move from child to adult on all issues. 16 is fine for driving. It's not okay to be a porn star at 16. The parental notification bill tried to include an adult in the process of a girl under 18 getting an abortion. If my child is 16 or 17 they could choose to be in pornography and I would have no say? Unbelievable.
- Connie, Claremont

16 year olds can currently make (child)pornography in the state of NH??? I thought we were tough on sexual predators here. I also thought this was the Governor's big issue. I certianly hope the Guv is working to change this!!
- Jaime, Epsom

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"Lynch restates his support for the Pledge"
(The Boston Globe Online), April 11, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. --To some, a comment Governor John Lynch made this week sounded like he was wavering on his pledge to veto any general sales or income tax for New Hampshire.

But Lynch says, make no mistake, he's sticking to his pledge.

Wednesday, Lynch was asked if a looming budget deficit has changed his mind about tax increases or new taxes. He said he's going to be looking at everything. A group called the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition said Lynch was opening the door to new taxes.

Lynch said critics misinterpreted his comment. He said he was talking about working with state department heads to find ways to find more savings and boost revenue.

--

Information from: New Hampshire Union Leader, www.unionleader.com

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Charles Arlinghaus: "Thinking about the rainy day fund on a rainy day"
By CHARLES M. ARLINGHAUS, Op-Ed, The NH Union Leader
April 30, 2008

THE SIZE of New Hampshire's financial problem will hurt the state's rainy day fund, our financial ratings, and cause lasting problems for the next budget as well. The state's budget shortfall is the worst in the recent history of the state and among the worst in the country. Restoring fiscal stability to the state budget will take more than a quick fix.

In early April, state agency heads testified that the budget shortfall on the revenue side for the two-year budget will be between $220 million and $260 million. This is based on a shortfall in the first year, ending in June, of only $75 million.

Since the recession of the early 1990s, revenues have come in well ahead of forecasts. The one exception was 2002 to 2003. A budget problem that year was attributed to exaggerated revenue estimates. At the end of the budget, revenues were $67 million (about 2 percent) below budget. The budget shortfalls of the early 1990s recessions were also around 2 percent.

The current cautious estimate of department heads would create a shortfall of around 6 percent of revenue. This isn't just three times as high as other recent deficits in our history, it's also one of the highest in the country.

A majority of states have a positive fiscal outlook. Of the 23 states that face shortfalls for the 2009 fiscal year, most expect only a small shortfall. The 2009 portion of New Hampshire's deficit is expected to be between 7 and 9 percent of revenue. Only six states are facing shortfalls higher than 6 percent.

The first place New Hampshire will turn is the rainy day fund. The revenue stabilization, or rainy day, fund exists to smooth out the ups and downs of New Hampshire's revenues. In theory, deposits are made in good economic times so that a sudden drop in revenue doesn't become a problem.

The problem with any reserve fund is that it becomes a temptation to politicians. Over three budgets from 1999-2003, the state depleted 90 percent of its reserves, dropping from $188 million to a paltry $17 million. As a direct result, the state's bond ratings were lowered.

When Craig Benson became governor, he made it a priority to build the reserves back up. He even issued the first budget veto in decades, based partly on the issue. Unfortunately, politics threatened his efforts.

By law, a surplus at the end of the two-year budget is deposited into the rainy day fund. Benson left an $82 million surplus, which should have been deposited. However, after Benson left office, the Legislature suspended the rainy day fund law and kept the surplus available to spend in the next budget. Public pressure, including from this column, ultimately forced legislators to deposit about 60 percent of the surplus into the rainy day fund, but they kept $30 million to balance the next budget.

Two years later, a Legislature from a different party took the same action. The lawmakers suspended the rainy day fund law again and kept the money to balance increased spending. The remaining $30 million of the Benson surplus and an additional $50 million should have been saved, but only $20 million, or about 25 percent, did. There should be $150 million in the rainy day fund, but there's only $89 million.

In addition to the $89 million balance, Gov. John Lynch has set aside an additional $33 million that was not used to balance the budget. The combined $122 million reserve is available but should be used with a good dose of caution.

Generally, recurring state expenditures should be supported by recurring revenues. One-time transfers from the state's reserves don't recur and will not be available next year. The spending they support must be identified, and it too should not recur.

If $120 million in one-time revenue is used to plug a hole in the current budget, that same $120 million hole will reappear in the next budget. Planning for a solution should begin today, but it needs to be a long-term solution and not just a pass-through to the next budget process.

The April revenue numbers coming out this week will be much better than March's were. They need to be so the problem doesn't get any worse. Already the problem is about twice as large as the state's available reserves.

The largest budget shortfall in recent history will create pressure on revenue and on taxes. The state's reserve accounts are a stopgap measure, not a permanent solution to the problem.

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Charles M. Arlinghaus is president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Concord.
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Readers' COMMENTS:

Now is the time for expanded gambling across the state. Lets let the voters decide not the goverment in Nov. My proposal would be each county would be allowed 1 casino. The taxes and fees would be split up 50% to the state 25% to the county and 25% to the towns and cities in the county. If you dont want the Casino then dont vote for it. Let the public decide not the goverment in Concord.
- Howard Stone, lebanon

The tax & spend liberals in charge will be "cutting" the budget to try to balance it this year to make them look like budget cutters. NH Voters, who put these socilaist in power will forget that they were the ones who passed the 17% increase in the first place.
After they retain or gain their power, they will deplete any "rainy" day fund and then tell us they need more revenues. If they have enough majority, they will pass an income tax or sales tax, or both, Lynch will veto it and"keep" his "pledge".......but we will still have an income or sales tax.

This is Massachusetts North folks. They got in and now we pay, pay, pay...............
- Mark, Candia

The Senate had a chance to demonstrate fiscal sanity but chose to put back needed reforms to the state employee pension system thus costing NH taxpayers millions in years to come. Don't hold your breath, this state seems unable to control spending at any level.
- mike, hooksett

I find it amazing that this Legislature was able to "Miraculously" find revenues when they wanted to fund their “Special” items when they were writing the State Budget. As I recall the leadership was called creative and ingenious at the time. We all know what those terms mean in political speak and should have been more outraged at the time.
Now everyone can see what those terms mean and yet all the focus is on making the Governor look good at “Saving the State from Ruin” and overlooks the fact that he is the one who put us here, with the help of his Legislative Leadership.
Of course we in Laconia felt some of the creative and ingenious methods that were used to find the additional funding, Property taxpayers through their counties. Revenues continue to fall short at the county level, which is mostly from the Medicaid/Medicare reimbursements for the Nursing Homes and Elderly Care.
How much Federal Money was left on the table because the State doesn’t want to fully fund its real commitments in favor of funding and over-funding their pet projects? I still believe that there are some in the Legislature that see this as a good thing because “maybe we will get a sales or income tax” to fix this. I don’t understand how anyone can look favorably on a broad-based tax and think that the same people that spend tax dollars beyond their means will allow this new tax money reduce our property taxes at the municipal level.
We in Laconia have a Tax Spending Cap. I always thought that conservatives should elect people to control our tax dollars in a conservative way but there are not enough people elected that can be trusted to follow through. I for one do see some weakness in the tax cap and, as City Councilor have been doing my best to look out for the taxpayers. I can’t afford the unnecessary increases in my tax bill and figure others can’t either. What we need is a tax cap for the State and County levels.
- Greg Knytych, Ward 1 Councilor, Laconia, NH

To suggest that NH voters have to elect people (governor, senators, House members) who understand that we must not increase spending 17.5% for the 2-year state budget is an understatement!
We need a spending cap for the state just as folks are doing with Tax/Spending Caps in their cities.
And, ask the Teflon governor - who now looks like he's a hero for reducing spending (that he created!) why 34% of our highway/bridges revenue is being used to cover other expenses?
When we pay for vehicle registrations and gas tax we expect that the revenue will be spent on our roads and bridges.
What is happening in Concord now will not change without new leadership in all branches of government.
Niel Young
Laconia
- Niel Young, Laconia

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"John the Baptist: Get those sinners!"
The NH Union Leader - Editorial
Monday, May 5, 2008

CIGARETTE-SMOKING poker players beware. Gov. John Lynch has decided to balance the state budget on the backs of you sinners.

Facing a budget shortfall that grows by the week, Gov. Lynch surprised no one by proposing on Thursday to raise taxes on cigarette smokers and wine drinkers, and announcing his support for a hefty tax on poker players.

Instead of making possibly painful spending cuts, or spreading the tax-hike pain evenly and taking the heat for it, Lynch has yet again targeted small groups of people who engage in what might be termed morally questionable behavior €" smoking, drinking and gambling.

Lynch, the most popular guy in school, is sticking it to the unpopular kids. Which is one reason he became so well-liked in the first place. You don't get popular by making a majority of people unhappy. You do it by giving most people what they want and making a small, politically powerless group pay for it.

That is how Gov. Lynch operates, we now know. We also know that the governor continues to assert that the state's budget problem is the result of a drop in revenues even though state data show otherwise.

Total state revenues so far this fiscal year are about $40 million lower than projections. But they are $75.8 million higher than last year. The problem isn't the revenue, it's the budget, which contained unrealistic revenue projections €" just as many Republican leaders predicted last summer.

The obvious solution is to cut spending. But Gov. Lynch still insists, despite the numbers, that the state hasn't enough revenue, so he is raising taxes. Again.

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Readers' COMMENTS:

We should tax those who use the stuff. Like say you have three kids in the school system. You should pay three times as much as someone that doesn't have any kids in the schools system. And I love the STUPIDITY tax that Rick from Henniker speaks of. And we should start with the STUPIDITY of anyone that voted the democrats in. After all, this is exactly what they wanted.

Then Jason from Londonderry sticks his head in the sand and makes like its just the natural increase in costs that require more taxes. Jason, it is the increased spending that increases taxes.

Heather from Nashua sees nothing wrong with these taxes - because it ain't her paying them. But it is a guarantee that you heather participate in something that costs others and that you would cry foul over if it required you to pay more for it - like say - parks or parades or pickles.

ANd Jeff from Manchester - I hope that was a joke. The Mass people won;t just come up here to buy there gas, they'll move here. Then you'll have a million Jason's from londonderyy who have make pretend that its just the costs of things going up.

And why when we talk about the costs of things going up do we never talk about the cost of taxes going up. It is amazing to see how willing people fork over their money to the government and worse - force others to do it.
- John II, Manchester

Is the Union Leader aware we have borrowed a TRILLION dollars for the war they so love, Bush's Unpatriotic War? Where is the whining over that? Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Smokers are addicts, they'll gladly pay. The poker tax is prelude to gambling at Rockingham, a great idea. You got me on the wine....
- Bob Franks, Nashua

I think they should double the amount of the proposed "sin" taxes and cut the gas tax. If gas is 30 or 40 cents cheaper per gallon all the Massachusetts people will come up buy some gas and pick up a carton of cigarettes, maybe a bottle of wine.
- Jeff Comeau, Manchester

Jason, you are being intentionally obtuse? Have you ever sat down with even a portion of the budget and itemized it? I haven't, but am confident that if I did, I would find a myriad of opportunities to save/curtail spending.

Also--Jim's comment had nothing to do with how much we spend on education and everything to do with how we spend on education.

Government program addicts are overtaking the NH budget, and the depressing part is that these same people equate government programs and welfare and socialized everything to some grotesque version of Quality of Life or Civilization. And it doesn't matter if they are from MA, NH, VT, or wherever--somewhere along the way they were taught to believe that self-sufficiency, small government, self-reliability, personal freedom and fiscal sanity are mutually exclusive from sound policies, solid educational systems, safe infrastructure and the like.
- JB, NB, NH

Jason, I really wish you and others who do not think we have a "spending problem" would wake up. Our State government needs to be run as you or I would run a home. Have a budget, stick to it, and cut, cut, cut when you overextend. Also, have the "emergency" fund that you do not touch to "meet" expenses. That is not what it is for. No matter what we spend as a state, it must start with the $ available and a rationale to adress the needs of the state. These bozo's in Concord have been doing it backwards on purpose to get everything they could not have when money was tightly controlled(if I were cycnical I would say it is on purpose to finally push through a broadbased tax...).

The correct approach needs to always start with the account balance. "We have x amt. to spend", now use it on the NEEDS of the state, then funnel through what may be left into various wants.
These democrats in Concord have been using blank checks to get everything they want now, but when the checkbook doesn't balance and money is no longer there for the "needs" they decide the MUST raise taxes.
- Brian G., Manchester NH

Until all the ill=qualified democrats who were voted in last time get voted out we're going to have this problem. Because Governor Photo-op doesn't do anything but follow the leader - which he is NOT. He has made darn sure any decision made in this state during his tenure was made by someone else.
But, if they are going to play the game of selective taxation, I think that all NH residents who are single and who don't have children ought to be banding together and demanding the we be excluded from being taxed for the 1 billion education bill coming down the pike. After all, it isn't OUR problem.
- sandy, thornton

Jim, are you advocating not paying for schools at all? If you are not, then the funding has to come from somewhere, whether it's the state or your beautiful town of Croydon. Either way, costs will increase over time and revenues will need to be raised to cover them.

There's no magic formula or evil hidden agenda here. Costs increase and revenue has to pay for them. New Hampshire has fewer revenue sources than any other state, so the options are very limited.
- Jason, Londonderry

Jason, you really don't understand where the massive waste in government spending is?

I have two words for you: Educational Adequacy.

These words haunt taxpayers and will continue to do so until the Legislature grows a spine and tells the court what to do with its unconstitutional mandate, or we have an income tax. By electing fiscal conservatives in November, we can avoid Option B.
- Jim Peschke, Croydon, NH

Let's see. We tax tobacco and wine. People will buy less and revenues will not increase or even fall . So then to pay for the short fall they will have to find other places for the money. HMMMMM where will it come from I wonder? Can you say Broadbased Tax kiddies, sure I knew you could.
- Brian, Wakefield, NH

I don't see anything wrong with taxing the heck out of gambling and cigarettes. Our healthcare system wastes money everyday on people who smoke and know it's bad for them, which makes our premiums higher. Our welfare system suffers everyday because people spend the monthly check they receive on scratch tickets instead of food for their children. Who bails these people out? The rest of us who have good health habits and have our priorities straight.

Maybe a higher tax on these types of items will make people think twice about whether they can afford that pack of cigarettes or a meal for their child...and if not, the rest of us will suffer anyways.
- Heather Arvanitis, Nashua

Some of the folks adding comments here decry the spending. Not me...the spending is a known animal...John Lynch is trying to be all things to all people...the natural course that follows is, of course, spending...Only an election will remedy that...and not necessarily with Republicans...as some of them tend to be RINO's, unless they can be fiscally restrained.
- Rick Olson, Manchester

Paul from Derry makes a valid point. But there is a flaw in that rationale. If all smokers and drinkers give up even a portion of these items, the revnue would come in even shorter. So my question is , "Where do you think they will THEN get the money?"

It will be a sales/income tax, raise the property tax, or raise the fees on vehicle registrations, and any other "fee" they can get to. They will certainly not consider CUTTING spending.
- Marc, Raymond

The state has become addicted to these taxes. The politicians will claim that higher taxes will reduce smoking or gambling. Not necessarilly the case as people will be less inclined to travel to NH to buy these items or services, thus it will appear that smoking declined. If these revenues do in fact decline and the spending is kept static or even increased as we have seen recently, then revenues will need to be found somewhere else which means either property taxes will have to go up or worse, a broadbase tax will be imposed. The state has become more addicted to these type of taxes and thus more dependent. When these revenues decline, where will they turn to next?
- Kyle, Bedford

Taxing discretionary spending?

HA!

You mean taxing a very small subclass of discretionary spending based on who lacks political clout.

If you're going to make that claim you need to tax everything but basic food, shelter, clothing, and such and consider that latte, fancy meals, silk shirts, and so on are not basic.
- Bob, Wilton

So what exactly is the state supposed to do? If they increase any revenue stream by 1 cent there are massive cries of socialism and daily editorials about how we're becoming Mass North. I have asked this many times and never received a response, where is the massive waste in government spending? The state provides almost no assistance and what assistance it does provide is generally considered very efficient. We are woefully behind in possible savings from technology, but that requires an initial capital investment that - wait for it - would need to be paid for by state revenue.

Costs for everything increase over time and it's not always because of incompetent bureaucrats. If the UL and its cronies don't want broad-based taxes (I agree by the way), then they need to accept that other costs will have to increase. You can't have it both ways no matter how juvenile you act.
- Jason, Londonderry

Taxing the items that the Gov. has proposed is called taxing discretionary spending which is a whole lot better than taxing those items that individuals or families need to live which is what we seem to love to do. Don't give us the old baloney that this hurts minorities, the poor or the elderly more. These are things that one can do without. Very simple! Personally, it would be an easy decision for me...give up these items and provide the necessities for my family.
- Paul, Derry, NH

I dont think it is the spending stupid! I think it is the way the stupid spend, wasting money on tobacco, alcohol and gambling.
- John, Raymond

They key to dealing with Lynch - assuming he is reelected - is to remove the Democratic majority in the legislature. Lynch must be forced again to deal with a strong Republican majority that will hold his feet to the fire and prevent him from doing what he's been doing: increasing spending and raising taxes/fees/tolls.

So be sure to vote Republican and tell your family and friends to do the same. We must remove the Democrats from the majority at all costs. If not then get ready for a sales and/or income tax because that is where they are trying to take us.
- Bob Hoskins, Derry

So the Democrats pass a 17% of the budget and attempt to balance it on bogus numbers with sin taxes and fee increases. Now the revenues come up short and they are trying to balance the shortfall the same way. Good thinking. Now you smokers and drinkers need to do your part and smoke and drink more.

I wonder, which "class" of people these new taxes and fees impact the most.........HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Oh yeah, now I remember, the people these socialist claim to be trying to help.

As we become more and more Taxachusetts-North, how much is it going to take before the voters wise up and vote these socialist out? And will the next legislature cut spending with all these new revenue sources producing? I think not.

Sad, very sad. CUT THE SPENDING!!
- Mark, Candia

Lynch and Guinta are facing the exact same problem at the exact same time. Their respective governments are spending more than they take in. Yet their approaches to solving it are completely opposite.

This is an interesting experiment. Citizens can see firsthand which jurisdiction enjoys more prosperity. May the best man win.
- Steve, Manch

Gov Smiley at it again, I am neither a smoker or a drinker, or polka player, but once again, he fails to take a stand, Oh by the way, I thought gambling was ilegal.
- Bill Knightly, Gilford

There shouldn't be anything surprising about this since it's a well known fact that most elected Democrat's are afflicked with a generic disorder that provents them from dealing with reality, causes uncontrollable trembling at the mere thought of cutting government expenses and great euphoria at the thought of raising taxes. The sad part of this, is when that even in troubled econmic times, they are unable to contol these urges. Seems as though we're taxing the wrong people. Imagine the tax revenues that wold be generated if they had to pay a "Stupidity Tax" everytime they decide to add additonal burdens to the already over burdend tax payer.
- Rick Schlosser, Henniker, NH

Yep...John Lynch is a bigot. He is going after smokers, drinkers and gamblers, alright...I personally do not fall into any of the above three categories, however, I am concerned because I am a fat person.

There exist two specific groups of people that society has found socially acceptable to discriminate against: Smokers and Fat People. Yes, age has taken its toll on me in the form of these extra pounds...So here I sit quietly by...watching for some form of fat tax...

As the old political saying goes...John Lynch and his cronies never came across a tax they didn't love.
- Rick Olson, Manchester

The deficit NH faces is exactly what the people asked for when they voted. Look what has happened in the short time the Democrats have taken control. If the Republicans cannot re-gain their stronghold this time around they are weaker than weak. LOL. So long New Hmapshire.
- John II, Manchester

The deficit NH faces is exactly what the people asked for when they voted. Look what has happened in the short time the Democrats have taken control. If the Republicans cannot re-gain their stronghold this time around they are weaker than weak. LOL. So long New Hmapshire.
- John II, Manchester

Revenues next year will be down too. It's spending STUPID. Smokers and other "unpopular" people will find new ways to beat the tax, while Lynch brags about how he balanced the budget. What an idiot.
- Chris, Merrimack

When the Democrats took over the legislature and governor they were so giddy with new power that they went amok. Their spending spree added $500 million and they "planned to pay" for it with unreasonable revenue projections. This was all known and predicted a year ago.

Now reality is setting in and they are scrambling to explain it away. There is no revenue shortfall of any magnitude. It is a spending problem.

Oh, and the old pay as you go NH is gone. Now, we borrow to pay for the overspending, $60 million so far and another $80 million not far away. When will that bill come due?
- John Bachman, Amherst

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Charles M. Arlinghaus: "Holding back the governor's tax hikes"
By CHARLES M. ARLINGHAUS, NH Union Leader, Op-Ed, May 14, 2008

NOT EVERYTHING that happens in Concord is bad. This week, the Legislature is poised to start backing away from bad ideas on cigarettes and wine that would hurt businesses in the grocery industry.

In 2005, the governor and Legislature raised the tobacco tax. That was followed by an additional hike in 2007 that left cigarette taxes twice as high as their pre-2005 level.

Because New Hampshire's tax has always been lower than that in neighboring states, grocers on every border and in tourist areas have benefited from significant cross-border sales. Massachusetts residents drive north for cheaper cigarettes and also buy gas, wine, liquor and other collateral items. In all, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of New Hampshire sales go out of state.

Whenever Massachusetts raises its price, our sales go up. When we raise our price, sales go down. The stores suffer collateral damage from the loss not just of profitable cigarettes, but of beer, wine and other groceries as well.

The latest rounds of tax hikes have caused cigarette sales to drop dramatically. New Hampshire stores have seen sales decline from 191 million packs to around 155 million.

New Hampshire stores have had to absorb lost sales of more than $100 million on one of their more profitable items. You don't have to have much business sense to know that's not good for the bottom line.

With Massachusetts considering raising its cigarette tax by $1 per pack, businesses are poised to get back some of what they lost and restore a portion of those sales.

The governor had proposed raising New Hampshire's tax for a third time in his four years in office. (Give him credit for consistency.) But instead, Rep. Dan Eaton, D-Stoddard, a former store owner, put forth a particularly clever compromise that could well stave off the tax hike. His plan, about to pass the House, suspends the tax hike if sales in the first quarter of the fiscal year show the expected growth from the cross-border sales boom. I would have killed the increase outright, but this is a creative compromise.

The other revenue-raising plan came from the misunderstood "wine discount."

In New Hampshire, the state government buys all wines and spirits. Spirits are sold only at a small number of government-run liquor stores. Since 1978, wine has been sold not just at the government store, but also by grocers. This has increased sales and makes wine available at more than 10 times as many locations as spirits.

Grocers are part of only a small piece of the operation. The state pays a wholesale price for wine and then sets a retail shelf price for its stores at something like 65 percent higher, depending on the product. Grocers are not allowed to purchase wine wholesale. To promote additional sales, the state will sell to other retailers at 20 percent less than the retail shelf price, still significantly higher than the state's wholesale cost. Grocers also pay a little more if they don't pick it up at the state's warehouse in Nashua.

The grocer's retail price cannot be more than the price the state is charging down the street. The state's own retail markup may be 65 percent, but the grocer can't mark up to cover his costs by more than the 20 percent discount.

The governor wanted to reduce the grocers' wholesale discount to 10 percent. A partial compromise reduces the discount, but only for grocers with combined purchases of $350,000 or more. This isn't as generous as it seems.

If a store sold 90 percent of its stock, $350,000 wholesale might produce $390,000 of sales. The $40,000 would have to pay for rent, electricity, labor, insurance and delivery of the wine to the store. Anything left over would be profit. An entrepreneur who wanted to open a second location couldn't or his sales might be too high and he'd lose the discount.

The state pricing structure shouldn't discourage economic growth. Worse, by treating larger chains differently, we're attacking the profit centers. While the government-run stores saw wine growth of about 3 percent in 2007, chains experienced 7 percent sales growth. Attacking the growth area of your business is an unusual strategy.

The House did the right thing in semi-rejecting a tax hike. Representatives should address the wine problem, too. In a weak economy, it doesn't help to punish businesses just because you spent yourself into a hole.

-
Charles M. Arlinghaus is president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Concord.
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Readers' COMMENTS:

I wonder..... Is Mr. Eaton up for election this year??? And once re-elected, these Democrats in charge will just suspend that part of the bill and keep the tax raised and spend the new revenue before we have it.

Don't fall for it Folks, vote them OUT in November. Lets get spending control back in Concord.
- Mark, Candia

I can't for the life of me figure out who is more damaging to the taxpayer: Governor Lynch, the NH legislature, or the Derry town government, who have spent their way into an utter quagmire over the past 10 years.

Toss in the housing mess, a weak dollar, a hint of recession, outrageous public safety contracts which have become sinecures for life, and presto, we have NH today - teetering on the brink of economic collapse.
- Burt, Derry

John Lynch is one of the worst tax and spend liberals I've ever seen. If he thought he could get away with a sales and income tax he would put one in without hesitation.

When are people going to wake up and see this guy for what he is? It's like he's pulled the wool over everybody's eyes and they think he's some nice guy that can be trusted.

He certainly can't.

He's already raised spending more than 17% and he'll try for more if he's reelected. At the very least we must remove the Democratic majority in November. Lynch must be constrained by a republican majority again before he does even more damage to the state.
- Bob Hoskins, Derry

Tax hikes, high markup cost on goods and other things will just drive sales down and people out of the state for better services and products. We are going in the wrong direction since 2006. To compete with other states and have a good source of revenue, we must have a strong economy to allow New Hampshire to continue to expand and grow. This will ensure a stable job market and a vibrant business sector. That is the true NH Advantage. Let's not destroy what took generations to build.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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mid-May, 2008 (Boston Herald)-

CONCORD, N.H. - House budget writers propose delaying a 25 cent cigarette tax hike to see if a pending tax hike in neighboring Massachusetts will drive smokers to New Hampshire despite high gas prices.

If New Hampshire doesn’t get $50 million from cigarette sales between July 1 and Oct. 1, the state’s $1.08 tax will go up a quarter.

The state’s grocers and convenience stores had told the Finance Committee they could sell more packs without a tax hike. Massachusetts is considering raising its $1.51 per pack tax by $1. Massachusetts also has a 5 percent sales tax that New Hampshire retailers say makes that state’s total price unattractive compared with New Hampshire’s prices.

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Article published May 23, 2008

"Employee health forms set to bite the dust"

Those pesky little health forms that small businesses must have their workers fill out so their insurer can assess health risks could be a thing of the past, if Senate Bill 468, a bill the Senate passed Wednesday, is signed into law as expected by Gov. John Lynch.

The forms – which some critics have called intrusive – was a vestige of that period between 2003 and 2005, when lawmakers temporarily ended community rating for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. During that time, insurers could charge higher rates to small businesses with employees who had higher health risks – which is why the forms were required. The Legislature brought back a modified version of community rating in 2005, letting insurers take age and occupation, but not employee health, into account in setting premiums.

Still, the forms remained. That’s because lawmakers created a small business reinsurance pool that would cover risky employees. So while insurers couldn’t raise their premiums for groups that would file a lot of claims, they really weren’t taking a risk. Those claims would be passed on to the pool.

However, said Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-Durham, this pool benefited some insurers more than others. Small insurers didn’t have the underwriting capability to fully take advantage of the pool. Others did away with the forms as a selling point, since employers and employees both hated them. That primarily left Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the only company large enough to primarily benefit from a pool that everybody had to pay into. So on Wednesday, the Senate voted to eliminate the pool altogether. (This small-group pool should not be confused with the high-risk pool for individuals, which was slightly modified by the bill, but left intact.)

Smaller insurers, said Hanson, could just buy catastrophic reinsurance that would pay for the catastrophic claims after they happened.

“Why should we spend precious health-care dollars on medical underwriting when we don’t need to?” she asked.

She also thought that insurers would manage the health care of high-risk individuals better if they couldn’t pass on their claims to somebody else.

But opponents, like Sen. Bob Clegg, R-Hudson, said that this would mean that insurers swallow more risk in covering small groups that would obviously generate a lot of claims. And those claims would drive up the price of insurance, or make it even less likely that they will enter the market. This, he argued, would hurt small businesses, not help them.

If Governor Lynch signs the measure, the forms will be history after June 30. – BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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"Tax, borrow, spend: Lynch's budget plan"
Sunday, May. 25, 2008 - NH Union Leader - Editorial

GOV. JOHN LYNCH was supposed to be a kinder, gentler Craig Benson. He'd be the millionaire former business executive who balanced the state budget without raising taxes, but also without angering state employees by slashing jobs or upsetting the apple cart too much.

Oops.

During four years in office, Gov. Lynch has shown that he has no interest in cutting taxes, but lots of interest in raising them to pay for increased state spending.

The governor cannot hide behind the excuse that he had to raise taxes because the economy is bad. He raised taxes his first year in office -- when the state budget was in surplus. In 2005, he proposed and got a 28-cents per pack cigarette tax increase. Last year, he got another 28-cents increase. This year he proposed a 25-cents per pack hike. That's three cigarette tax hikes in four years.

Last year the governor proposed -- and got -- tax increases totaling more than $100 million. They helped pay for the largest general fund budget increase in 20 years -- 17.5 percent.

Unfortunately, they didn't pay for all of it. The hole in the state budget exceeds $200 million and is growing. To fill it, the governor is raising taxes again. He's pushed a new tax on charity poker, another cigarette tax hike, and raising the discount offered to wine dealers through the state liquor stores.

His enthusiasm for tax hikes has encouraged the Democrat-controlled Legislature to go for even more. In fact, the very first bill passed in the House after the governor's State of the State address in January was a new tax on animal vaccines.

This new revenue is not enough to cover the massive spending increases approved last year. So the governor has recommended borrowing money to pay for $80 million in school construction aid that always had been paid with cash from the general fund.

Tax and spend? Gov. Lynch says, "OK!" Borrow and spend? "OK to that, too!"

This is not what the people of New Hampshire expected from the former furniture company CEO who famously made tough decisions to turn around a failing business.

The people expected the governor to make the same type of hard-nosed decisions he made then. Instead, he sold out to the Democratic Party's host of special interest groups that directly benefit from increased government spending. And as a direct result we've seen our state budget and taxes grow at irresponsible and unaffordable rates. What a disappointment.

--

Readers' COMMENTS:

Hey DFM I know little or nothing about Allen. I am a native New Hampshire person who has lived in Maine about 9 months because my wife, a minister, was transferred to Maine. I have more than 55 years of living in New Hampshire, do you? I have lived through an entire lifetime of Republic control of New Hampshire's legislature and senate and have seen them put in place policies that encourage people from out of state to come here to live for cheap taxes and seen these same clowns by up our land, change our Yankee lives and price us out of our own towns. Where exactly are you from? Do you remember that nut Republic Mel Thompson wanting nuclear weapons for New Hampshire's national guard and trying to sell out our tiny seacoast and Great Bay to Aristotle Onasis for a refinery? Don't ever talk to me about what a great job Republics have done for New Hampshire, they had complete control for more than a hundred years.
- Tom, Dover-Foxcroft, Me.

Maybe there is still time to veto that Payday loan law because the way Nanny Lynch is running things, these organizations will be the only ones willing to lend the state of NH money. This is not a my party is better than your party debate because both parties are guilty of the same thing. We need to vote in Libertarians who pledge for small government and low taxes. People who want big government and high taxes can move to some other state and enjoy the government taking money out of their pockets.
- Kyle, Bedford

To Neil Young,

I overlooked the borrowing element in this editorial, Neil, when I responded to it below. I thought the Governor was paying for the spending, I overlooked the change in policy.

I would not have made those comments.
- Bob Jean, Northwood, NH

Hey Tom, hows your senate candidate Allen doing? I heard he was brought to the woodshed this past week.

Please keep your anti military rhetoric to yourself because i doubt a person like you has ever served. On another note your typical anti bush rhetoric is getting old.

Talk about a deficit, you should just look at your own state. Maine has a huge deficit despite having every tax under the sun.
- DFM, Salem, NH

And I am sure all you socialist Democrats will fail to mention that when you LOWER taxes, revenues to the government increase. Can any of you explain how we had balanced budgets and lower taxes under Republican Control and we have this mess under Democrat Control???

They won't even take responsibility for their own budget. The just blame Bush for everything from the economy (which has fallen since they took control of Congress) to Katrina and the Tsunamis. Thats how they got in to power. They blamed Bush, the liberal media backed them, and they won without ever telling what they would do. And the worst part of it was that most Americans fell for it.

They got us into this mess, are we going to vote them in again? Painfully, I think the voters of this state will keep them in power and we will have their beloved income or sales tax by the end of 2009. If they really have their way, I'm sure we will have both.

Taxachusetts North is here folks, and you voted for it.
- Mark, Candia

A few points you won't find in this opinion piece:
1) Only one state taxesa smaller percentage of its citizens income than NH with Gov. John Lynch and a Democratic legislature. That state is Alaska, which gets more than half if its money from oil royalties.
2) Only one other state has a lower debt per citizen than NH with Gov. John Lynch and a Democratic legislature.
3) More than half of the state's money goes back to the towns and counties. If that money is cut, property taxes go up. Is this what the opinionist wants for NH property taxpayers?
- Rep. Michael Marsh, Greenland

The next generation of republicans are those who serve the people and their state. Who uphold the values that matter most. Who are devoted leaders that will insist on positive changes the people of NH want and require without a burden of taxation. In these elections of 2008, it is the people of NH that come first and it is their choice that will decide the fate of NH for the next two years. Not those with favoritism or partisanism.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

To Bob Jean: Lynch making the tough choices??
Lynch and courage in the same sentence?
How about Lynch and the Deomcrats created the deficit by spending money we do not have?
Who in their right mind agrees with a 17.5% increase in the 2-year spending plan?
They knew better, Bob!
Or did they know what they were doing - getting us closer to that state income tax?
And, don't hink that we haven't noticed that Bush, Republicans, and DEMOCRATS have been on a spending sree, too!
Niel Young
Laconia
bnyoung@metrocast.net
- Niel Young, Laconia

"Borrow, tax, and spend" is the Republican economic strategy, and the Union Leader loves everything Republican. How could they not love it if Lynch brought it to New Hampshire? Can you spell "hypocrisy?" Probably not if you only have a $3500 education.
- Bill, Londonderry

I'm sure that all you Republic lovers will soon be writing about the Bush and Reagan administrations being the two biggest deficit spending administrations in all of history and how fiscally reckless and irresponsible they were and are, right? I'm sure that you will all make note and decry the national debt almost doubling to more than 9 trillion dollars in just seven years of George Bush and the Republics, right? And I'm sure you all will curse the cost of living and the price of energy since Cheney's Energy task force sold out America to the big corporations, right? And in anger, I'm sure you all will say how much Bush betrayed America and her fighting men and women for his friend's financial welfare on this Memorial Day weekend, right? I thought not.
- Tom, Dover-Foxcroft, Me.

Hang on New Hampshire, income/sales tax is coming! Unfortunately we did it to ourselves. Only way to right this ship is to vote the dems out of office in November.
- Doug, Overland Park, KS

The solution is simple. Increased revenues from voluntary taxation! Get those racetrack slots in place and or those casino's on the Me, Ma, Vt borders.

Greg Barrett
65 W Merrimack St
Manchester, NH
- Greg Barrett, Manchester

Governor Lynch is making the tough choices. Its a very hard choice to raise the amount of revenue that is spent, and too many politicians don't. Paying for spending is not easy, and this editorial proves it. It's one of the hard choices, the tough choices, and John Lynch has the courage to make that choice.

If only the Democrats and Republicans in Washington had Governor Lynch's courage when it comes to paying for government expenditure in a way that does not cause significant and material waste of our hard earned tax money on interest on the government debt deficits cause.

Governor Lynch should receive credit for doing everything possible to avoid a deficit.

If only George Bush had followed Governor Lynch's lead!
- Bob Jean, Northwood, NH 03261

Lynch is a fraud. The kinder, gentler Benson has driven the State into a ditch. And now he wants to borrow? When you are in a hole, stop digging.

His poor choices greatly contrast with the sincerity of Benson. He did absolutely nothing he campaigned on, and many things he didn't campaign on. If you want to know what a man will do in the future, look at his past.

We can't afford another Lynch term, he must be defeated.
- Steve, Manch

Just a painful reminder that we can't balance the budget without "angering" the special interests. If it takes a not-so-kind-and-gentle man like Craig Benson to balance the budget and keep taxes down, lets find some more Craig Bensons.

If we don't, we'll end up with a "kinder and gentler" socialist republic.
- Jim Peschke, Croydon, NH

Well duh! Benson was the best thing that ever happened to this state and Lynch is the worst. We're seeing what happens when you put a tax-and-spend Democrat in the governor's office and then give him a Democratic legislature.

Spending is all that these guys know how to do. But you haven't seen anything yet. If the Dems keep control of the legislature, they will eventually try to phase in an income tax and then we'll see some REAL spending happen!
- Bob Hoskins, Derry

Oops indeed! I want Craig back.... I want his surplus not Lynch's deficit.

Throw the bums out in '08!!!!!!!

VOTE REPUBLICAN if you care about NH.
- Sue, Manchester

Actually, this is exactly what the people of New Hampshire expected. Both the poepl who voted for him and against him. This is exactly what they asked for. I hope we're all happy now.
- John II, Manchester

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-
Date: Saturday, 31 May, 2008
From: "New Hampshire for Health Care"
To: Jonathan Melle; &, (Subject): Here's your monthly newsletter
-

-
Gov. Lynch Signs NH Health First
-

On May 19th, surrounded by health care advocates and some Health Care Voter small business owners and their families, Gov. John Lynch signed NH Health First into law. "This legislation will help keep health insurance within reach of our families," Gov. Lynch said. The new law, sponsored by Health Care Voter Sen. Kathy Sgambati, will provide more affordable alternatives to health insurance for NH small businesses. It focuses on reducing premiums through better prevention and is based on legislation that was passed in Rhode Island through the work of our sister organization RI for Health Care.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our state's economy and a critical link in our health care system. Most people in New Hampshire get their health insurance through their jobs," Gov. Lynch said. "Too many small businesses are facing decisions about severely limiting coverage or dropping coverage all together. That is a decision no small business should be faced with, and one that could be devastating to workers."

"HealthFirst will offer our small businesses a new, more affordable choice for good health insurance coverage. It will help stabilize health insurance costs for our small businesses, and make it possible for more of our businesses to continue offering insurance to their workers," Gov. Lynch said.

"We need to continue to bring innovation into the health care industry to stabilize costs and keep quality care within the reach of more people," Gov. Lynch said. "HealthFirst is an important step forward in those efforts."

HealthFirst received strong bi-partisan support in the legislature. It passed the House 259-93, and passed in the Senate on a 21-3 vote.

Health Care Voters Stand Strong On SB312

Health Care Voters have been working hard to expand Health Care coverage in New Hampshire and get Senate Bill 312 passed into law. SB312 requires insurance companies to once again cover bariatric surgery to reduce morbid obesity when dieting and exercise alone have failed. This potentially life saving surgery has been shown to reduce heart disease, cancer and cure type 2 diabetes in 80% of patients. The bill looked doomed when a House committee overwhelmingly recommended that it be sent to interim study (effectively killing it in an election year), but Health Care Voters didn't give up.

Health Care Voters took immediate action online and on the phones and generated over 500 emails to House members encouraging them to overturn the committee's recommendation and support the bill. Health Care Voter and State Representative Lee Quandt led the floor fight, and the House defeated the committee recommendation to send the bill to study by a 179-167 margin. The bill was then passed by the House 209-139. Insurance company lobbyists are still trying to ensure that profits trump doctors' orders and are doing everything in their power to get Gov. John Lynch to veto the bill.

--

Ask Gov. Lynch to sign SB 312! Reduce ailments connected to obesity!

Obesity is one of the deadliest and fastest growing epidemics in our country and is a leading cause of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that obesity has an annual cost of $117 billion and was associated with a 37 percent increase in per capita annual medical expenses. The National Institute of Health has established very conservative guidelines for treatment of obesity that recommends bariatric surgery for patients after dieting, exercise and nutrition counseling have been proven ineffective and doctors generally agree that for the morbidly obese, bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment.

Up until 3 1/2 years ago this lifesaving surgery option was covered by most insurance plans in our state, after other treatment options had failed. Unfortunately, Anthem and other highly profitable insurance companies have since refused to pay for potentially lifesaving bariatric surgeries that can result in huge cost savings and cure Type 2 diabetes in over 80 percent of patients. (see April 20, 2008- 60 Minutes report on CBS) These companies are putting short term record profits ahead of reducing long term costs from chronic disease and the health of the people they insure.

As a result, a bipartisan group of NH legislators have passed SB 312 to "require each insurer that issues or renews a policy providing benefits for medical or hospital expenses to extend coverage for the diseases and ailments caused by obesity and morbid obesity and treatment for such, including bariatric surgery, when prescribed by a physician. Such treatment standards may include, but not be limited to, pre-operative psychological screening and counseling, behavior modification, weight loss, exercise regimens, nutritional counseling, and post-operative follow-up, overview, and counseling of dietary, exercise, and lifestyle changes."

SB 312 passed in the State Senate overwhelmingly, and thanks to emails and calls from Health Care Voters like you a successful floor fight was led by Rep. Lee Quandt and SB312 was passed by the House. Lobbyists from Anthem and other big profitable insurance companies are working hard to convince Governor Lynch to kill this potentially lifesaving bill that restores a legitimate treatment option to New Hampshire families. Please stand up and make your voice heard that we expect insurance companies to cover these doctor prescribed treatments that are part of the National Institute of Health's clinical guidelines.

Tell me more: www.healthsecurityaction.com/campaign/SB312_Lynch/explanation

Talking Points

Please vote for passage on SB 312 / Coverage for Obesity and Morbid Obesity treatments

As a Health Care Voter, I support controlling costs by providing care that is cost-efficient and medically effective.

We all pay more for health care coverage when others have chronic diseases or ailments that drive up costs, such as expenses associated with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases and ailments connected to obesity.
By providing resources, treatments and, if necessary, surgery, the bill intends to lower health care costs by circumventing the development or prolongation of these diseases.

Bariatric surgery can cure Type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of cancer

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Subject: SB312 will ensure access to a lifesaving procedure

Everyone is made differently, and our digestive systems are no different. For millions of Americans, severe obesity is not a choice, but a deadly disease that causes Type II diabetes, cancer, and inhibits quality of life. With access to a procedure called bariatric bypass surgery, these health risks can be avoided. When there's no hope left of losing weight through regular means due to how a person is made, we need to ensure access to these live saving surgeries. Please sign SB312 into law.

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"NH on the brink: Gov. Lynch has failed to lead"
The NH Union Leader, Sunday, Jun. 1, 2008

CRAIG BENSON may have had a tin ear and a shortage of PR skills, but considering what has happened to New Hampshire's fiscal fortunes since he left the Corner Office, we wonder whether voters are having second thoughts about turning him out after a single term.

Incumbent Gov. John Lynch edged out Benson in 2004 in part due to the unpopularity of President Bush and a profligate Republican Congress that was as shameless in its spending as were the Democrats. Lynch also boasted of his own private-sector business skills. They couldn't match those of Benson, who founded and built a hugely successful high-tech firm. But Lynch's pleasant personality, coupled with his savvy in taking the Pledge against broadbased taxes, were enough to beat out Benson, who became the first governor in modern memory to be denied a second consecutive term.

Lynch was relatively harmless in his own first term, but that has proven deceptive. Once in office, he campaigned successfully for liberal fellow Democrats who have turned the Legislature, in their own first term of control, into a big-spending, big-government operation that would put even Massachusetts to shame.

Lynch has not so much led them as followed them meekly. Siding with them on all manner of social issues (gay civil unions, ultra-liberal pro-abortion laws), he has gladly turned over the keys to spending restraint.

The big-increase budget he crafted was enlarged even further by his Legislature.

It was soon in serious deficit trouble, despite Lynch's denials, and even with the tax hikes he is now desperately trying to enact, it looks to put New Hampshire into real fiscal peril for this biennium.

All this after Gov. Benson, seeing the need for fiscal restraint, had cut spending and left Lynch and crew with a sizeable surplus.

And we haven't even mentioned Lynch's abysmal leadership failure on the crucial issue of allowing the people a vote on restoring the state constitution to keep courts and lawyers out of school funding.

This month brings the filing period for state offices. Republicans, independents, indeed all voters who care about the New Hampshire Advantage, had better hope that someone with some proven budgetary skills and discipline steps forward to challenge the Lynch regime before it is too late.

--

Readers' COMMENTS:

Bob Hoskins - President Bush has nothing to do with this. The leftists keep bringing him up because, well, what else are they going to talk about? They certainly can't defend Lynch, the Dem legislature or the Dem Congress. Simple fact: Lynch and the rest of the Dems have been a disaster for New Hampshire and the country. If you like the way things have gone since 2006, then vote Democrat - me, I'll be voting with the sane people.
- Tom, Campton

When did we start associating how "Good" a Politician is/was with how much they "Did".

Beyond keeping the roads in decent shape and providing the most basic services to enable people and businesses to function I believe that our Politicians should do NOTHING.

Except for the day to day operation of these State these busybodies should stop stirring up trouble and pandering to some special interest group.....just because they're "Special"

I would be perfectly happy if they were to NOT pass ANY Legislation next year.

Politicians need to start recognizing that we don't need more laws....we have enough already thank you very much.

Stop meddling in our lives.

Give me a candidate that promises NOT to change life in New Hampshire and I'll vote for him/her.

If he or she were to commit to REPEALING some of the nonsense busybody code on the books then heck, I'll get out there and campaign for them
- JP, Warner

We are in the problems we are in because of the officials we elected into office lots of old crownies and it is time for them to go all the good old boys and their relatives too. One govenor after another has given teachers raise after raise and also the state has been adding officer after officer that we all pay for so that all the people you hired for doing such a good job at running NH into the ground. I have long concidered NH to be just a suburb of Mass now it is true LOL
- Daryl, Manchester

I dislike how the leftists here bring Bush into this. What does Bush have to do with John Lynch's spending?

Lynch and his democrats in concord are out of control with their spending/tax hikes/fees/tolls. The only solution to this is to replace them with fiscally conservative republicans.

That's it, folks. Vote for fiscally conservative republicans or get ready for an income/sales tax. Those are your choices in November.
- Bob Hoskins, Derry

Just remember, Democrats live of government and build constituents from growing it. As long as you elect them to office, you will grow the size (state, municipal employees) and cost (payroll, pensions, benefits, programs) and lose more freedoms as they chip away at your values and freedoms in the name of safety or the children. PROVEN - just look south.
- mike, hooksett

To Rich in Hudson, He signed the civil unions bill and we pay the legal bills that were before the bill was signed and after the bill was signed.

In short, had the governer been the "fiscal conservative" they paint him to be, he would have vetoed the 17% increase in spending and went with a budget increase tied to inflation. While revenues come far short of their fantasyland projections, they are up from before by approx 2-3%. Had we passed a spending increase around that number, we would actually be sitting pretty good in the "economic downturn" that is all Bush & the Republicans fault even though the Democrats have held Congress for 2 years now. You remember Congress, the ones that actually CONTROL the spending and the budget......

Truth is that the Democrats have been in control for 2 years and have done absolutely NOTHING but pass blame and raise taxes and fees. They are more useless then the Republicans that did not control their spending when they had the chance.
- Mark, Candia

Rep. Marsh your one to talk about a deficit. As a ways and means member it was you who gave us an 17.5% inflated budget.

Keep throwing stones rep. Hopefully the residents of Greenland have taken notice.
- DFM, Salem, NH

@Niel Young, "Have you noticed the lack of Republican candidates for state offices this November?" Maybe in some parts of the state. I believe we will see a number of republicans running for state office here in Manchester and NH's south tier. I know I am one who will be going to place my name on the ballot. I will not buckle to lawyers or the courts when they try and tell the state to fund adequate education. How about they tell me what adequate funding means to them then we can discuss how to create it statewide. Time to get New Hampshire back on track. Otherwise we will derail all that NH stands for and have nothing to show future generations.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Benson was a lowlife who was deliberately offensive to even members of his own party. He deserved to be ousted, but its too bad it wasn't by another Republican. Lynch is a swell guy who got along with everyone until this term, when he started rubber stamping the lunatic Leftist social nonsense and DIZZYING spending bills of the Democrat legislature. Now *that* is why we're in the precarious fiscal position we're in now.
- Michael, Manhcester

Since when does Lynch have a 74% Approval rating? He got 20 % of Republicans in 2006. After 2 toll hikes as well as tax and fee increases, you can kiss that 20 % goodbye. That would put Lynch in the 55% range.Enough to win again, but weakened.
- Chris, Merrimack

Can someone explain to me how civil unions and the existing abortion laws increase spending in NH as indicated by this editorial, and are the Governers fault? Once I read these obvious hot button topics misplaced in a referendum on the govs performance, I know the author/paper has an agenda that needs to be pursued (Dem=Bad).
- Rich, Hudson

Haaaaaahahaahahaa!

I knew that day would come when the UL would preach the Gospel according to Craig. You have got to be kidding (or drunk).

Benson did NOTHING as governor. He did not govern. He did not lead. He hid in his castle in Rye.

NH has NEVER been on solid fiscal ground. The NH Way is to get someone else to pay for it, heaven forbid it's citizens actually pay their share
- Art, Portsmouth

Benson left no such surplus, the surplus he boasted was estimated and projected on paper only and did not take into account a looming recession, a tanking dollar, hyper inflation, and falling revenues.

In fact Benson left us with an 18 million deficit in the state insurance fund. Anyone can put a surplus on paper but it doesn’t make it a reality. I can take a piece of paper and project out my salary for the next 30 years and guess what, I’m a millionaire. Of course that only works out for me if I don’t account for groceries, taxes, mortgage, gas, electricity, heating oil, clothing, car payments, and anything else that comes along. If I do that am I really a millionaire? Of course not I’m still a working class dog living week to week. My point is you can make anything look good on paper but it’s the reality that counts.

The reality is that Benson is a liar and Lynch inherited a deficit along with a recession. Lynch has slashed budgets from Salem to Littleton to balance the budget to make up the difference and that’s what a responsible governor does, he deals with the issue instead of hiding it from public view.
- Jim, Raymond NH

Probably our bleak future was caused by the old man in the mountains falling down as well!
Those liberals cant do anything right can they.
- John, Raymond

Henry- Your post makes no sense in relation to the article.
We had a tidy surplus when Benson was in office- that's no lie.
We now have a deficit with Lynch in office- that's no lie.
Big government and wasteful spending has put us in the hole- that's no lie.
I could care less about approval ratings. No one has asked me or anyone else I know what we think of Lynch, so how can that be right?
He is not a leader- he's a follower as stated.
Benson was a leader and did good things for this state, but because there were those who wanted to spend, spend, spend- they threw him under the bus.
I hope they are happy.
Subscription rates have fallen with many papers as more people read the paper online.
When will people learn that there is no 1 person who determines how money is SPENT.
HOWEVER, 1 person can say no to bigger government and frivilous spending by using the veto stamp.
I'd just like to thank Lynch for sending NH right into the toilet for the gay marriage issue.
Maybe we should just change the name of the state to North Massachusetts.
- Pauline, Franklin

Fiscal answer: NH is the 6th wealthiest state. Want to keep NH the beautiful place it is? Tax income over $100,000.
- Seth, Berlin

I would love to vote for Mr. Benson if he ever ran again. He did good by this state, and delivered a healthy surplus by keeping spending down. Four years later we're looking at a $200 million hole. Thanks, Mr. Lynch. A lot.
- Keith M., Manchester

So I guess now the NH finanicial mess is now Bush's fault too. Talk about spin, JRS in Sunapee makes me dizzy. What planet do you live on? Mr. Collins in Hudson, perhpas you are unaware, Craig Benson left this state in excellant financial health, which was spent as soon as the new crew came to town...
- Bob Letourneau, Derry

The frothing-at-the-mouth Bush-haters on this message board can continue to sputter but cannot escape the fact that Governor Benson left us with an $82 million surplus and now we are looking at a Lynch-Democrat generated $200+ million deficit. That isn't because of Bush. It has nothing to do with Iraq or even energy prices - it has to do with a whopping 17.5% increase in our state budget that was given to us by Democrats in Concord and signed by Governor Lynch. Governor Benson would have pulled out the big VETO stamp on that monstrosity as he did for what appears now to be a frugal budget compared with the big spending Democrat version. You rant about big spenders in Washington. They aren't the ones that are sending New Hampshire into the tank. That is being done at a rapid pace by Democrats in our own House and Senate and they are taking Governor Lynch along for the ride. You wanted a nice guy in that job and you got your wish. He'll smile nicely at you while he signs big budgets, civil unions, and a repeal of parental rights. Don't you feel better now? So much better than that mean, nasty Governor Benson. Right.
- Mark, Amherst

Why when a local politician is criticized do liberals, like you JRS, shift attention to the President's failures? What does the Iraq war have to do with Concord's increased spending and lack of a school funding solution? Complain about tax breaks for oil companies, I suggest you ask your friends in Europe how much fuel costs over there. While I was not in love with Benson, I think a governor should be given at least 4 years. Lynch has had his 4 years and what does he have to show for it? Much like with the oil companies, the laws of supply and demand relate to politics as well, we demand strong effective leadership and the supply is running low these days.
- Chris, Salem

Holy Cow JRS in Sunapee! What happened? The editorial is about the Governor of NH!

You had better calm down before you have a stroke.

Take a deep breath now and relax. There is going to come a time in the very near future when we are all going to look back on the 8 years under GW and call them the "Good Ole Days". And if Obama gets control of the White House and Congress, we are all doomed!

Save that venom, you're going to need it!
- Pete, Keene

Laughable are Henry Collins' comments. Collins accuses the UL of telling lies and then turns around and spins and misleads using factoid snippets of his own. Here's a newsflash for you, Henry...Any governor who has done next to nothing in his first term will definately garner high approval ratings, whether Repub or Dem. The implication that Lynch is the greatest thing since sliced bread falls flat. What a joke! you imply that the NH House and Senate have been working on the education amendment issue for 84 years? talk about lies.
- Rick Olson, Manchester

Integrity...Perhaps you could take a page out of the Governor's book. Benson had none, Clegg, Letorneau, Packard, Gastas, and the rest of the lot never had it. Lynch was left with a legacy off Steve Merrill / Mel Thompson mess. Replacing department heads is the only way to control spending. Look at the DMV palace in Concord that was built under Benson, aptly named the Merrill building, is half empty and is about as citizen unfriendly as Possible thanks to Mr. Garlow, Ms Beecher, and King Flynn. DOT, DOC, and ADMIN are all under new leadership and will eventually make their services affordable. Lets get rid of the rest of the trash and then the house will be in order. Oh yeah and read Fosters.
- Jack, Rumney

The UL openly supports George Bush who is the biggest budget buster of all time. The GOP created Medicare solution alone will cost us 10 trillion. Your war of choice will cost us 2 trillion with the interest we owe. "Proven budgetary skills", ha ha ha ha ha ha.

If the Democrats are "tax and spend liberals" then all I can say is at least that is the right order. The GOP spends and has no way to pay for their debt. I would prefer cutting taxes and services but Republicans know that the only thing they have going is the mantle of cutting taxes. When you cut services you lose votes.

Who should pay for all of GWB's debt if it is not us? We are borrowing money from China to pay for Iraq. The UL has jumped the shark.
- John R, Keene

Imputing income and sales taxes to increase revenue has never worked as a long term solution. I don't know why the democrats keep beating this drum. History has shown that low taxes will always spur growth and risk taking. Need examples on excessive tax structure? Just look to Maine (a welfare state) and Vermont (completely hopeless). And keep Bush bashing out of this argument please, it has nothing to do with New Hampshire.
- D Abbott, Overland Park, KS

Notice this article is unsigned, there’s a reason for that, people don’t sign things they know are untrue or misleading unless of course you’re Robert Novak then you have no shame.

Benson was as corrupt as they come and that’s why he was voted out. The budget is short because we are in a recession, revenue is down and costs have gone sky high at a very rapid pace. The state is going through what every household is going through a period of belt tightening at the lead edge of a bad recession. Lynch is doing what any responsible governor would do, he’s cutting budgets state wide. I’ve been to the schools and courthouses from Manchester to Littleton and they’re all saying the same thing “budget cuts” and they are heavy cuts.

It’s not the budget that’s the problem it’s the pace at witch costs have risen, revenue fell and the American dollar tanked all at the same time.

This issue lies solely in the hands of the White House and the Republican led congress who blew through 7 trillion dollars devaluing our currency and massively mismanaging our economy nation wide. Lynch is just the guy left to clean up the mess locally and he’s doing a fine job considering the size of the pile he was stuck with.

Where are all the articles about the out of control spending and corruption that Gregg, Sununu, and Bradley supported? Oh yea, I forgot nothing is ever a Republicans fault. The reality is that it’s not Lynch who has failed to lead its Bush, Gregg, Sununu, and Bradley we wouldn’t be in this mess if they had done their jobs. The bills for the last seven years worth of Republican spending and corruption are now coming due and NH much like every other state and household in the country is having some trouble making ends meet.
- Jim, Raymond NH

Democrats only know how to steal money from hard working citizens for their socialist nanny state programs. Just say No my fellow citizens of the great State of New Hampshire. Our representatives MUST abide by the same fiscal laws US THEIR RULERS abide by, i.e. living within our means.
- Mike, Concord

NH is broke because our democratic legislature and governor spent lots of money and made lots of promises that the taxpayers couldn't afford. That's what progressive socialist democrats do best is spend other people's money. The problem is the taxpayers don't have any more to spend. Our governor and legislature need to do what the citizens do, cut back, reduce spending, drop things unnecessary, take a very frugal view of the future and plan accordingly. Since the current occupants can't do that, we need to kick them out at the next opportunity.
- AJ, Windham

I think I get it JRS,

The 17+% increase in spending in one year that Lynch proposed and signed was actually due to Benson and Bush. The actual governor at the time had nothin to do with it.

Hey, do you think Lynch will propse any reductions in spending to make up for the huge deficit that his irresponsible predecessor left him or do you think he'll have to spend more again?
- John II, Manchester

The UL's coverage of the governor had been balanced and fair, as even Lynch himself would attest. It was only in his second term, when his true character was challenged that the opinion started to turn. He is not the moderate that he claimed.

Benson is a good man who got a raw deal. Even Clinton became governor again after being defeated in Arkansas. He is the only man with the gravitas to successfully take on Lynch and win. http://www.clintonlittlerock.com/archives.asp?aID=27&pagenum=1

Complete Democratic control of Concord cannot stand. We need him, and we need him now.
- Steve, Manch

The people of NH look to any governor to lead the citizenry regardless of political party. There is no denying that Governor Lynch had, or may still have, a very respectful approval rating but approval of the Governor by no means should be confused with whether or not the people of NH approve of the Democrat Party as a whole.

Do the majority of voters approve that the Democrat Party purposely overspent the budget by upwards of $200 million dollars which is causing an increase in taxes and fees at a time when gas and groceries are at an all time high while wages and employment are down?

Do the majority of voters approve that unborn snakes and rodents have greater legal protection than unborn humans? The Democrats are proud of this?

Do the majority of voters approve that the Democrat Party is attempting to pass piece after piece of bogus legislation that attacks and breaks down a community’s local control?

Do the majority of voters run their household budgets with a cardboard box, 3 cups, and a pea in which the operator shuffles the pea around under the cups and the victim of the con loses every time? The Democrats have turned the State's revenue and budget operations into a giant confidence game. Everything is there; the cardboard box, the cups, and the pea. Every time a newspaper reports that "nothing" is to be found under the cup-the liberals whine about how unfair it is to look under it.

By now, it is reasonable to accept that the Republican Party has learned its lesson and with new leadership would certainly lead us to a period of time by governing within the same thresholds that you and I would practice if we were put in charge of the peoples’ money and government; moral aptitude and fiscal discipline .

The democrats promised us that change was coming and they were right, in the way that a raging bull changes the layout of a china shop. The change we have looked and hoped for has not yet been realized and in many instances, the conditions are far, far worse now than ever before. The people of NH are not better off today than they were when the Democrat Party took control of our government and so when people are asked whether or not they like Governor Lynch it should not in all cases be interpreted as “Gee, I love what the Democrats have done for us.”
- Len, Milford

In typical fashion, the liberal harpies are quick to blame others. The truth is that the legislative money committees have been run by big spenders with rose colored glasses. As soon as they took the helm, things started to tank. Despite hard times, a dollar more to go to Portsmouth and back, state employees now contributing to their health insurance, a 17% increase in the state budget, 200 million plus deficit, unfunded mandates, and more to register your car.
Despite being warned, liberals sang out more taxes will solve everything. Because of raised taxes, revenues are down, 50 million in cigarette revenue alone, gas tax is down for obvious reasons, rooms and meals too.
Where are the people who were quick to criticize Benson? Their silence speaks volumes. Taxes have to give them prosperity, its in their mantra. Churchill said, “For government to think it can tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and thinking he can lift himself up by the handle.” But with the rose- colored glasses on, everything will improve with more taxes, and somehow, its all Bush’s fault.
- Cliff Newton, Rochester nh

Sue has a point!
Some of us remember William Loeb and his front page editorials exposing the liberals nearly every day.
Tell it like it is: Lynch is popular because he shows up to every funeral and disaster site – BUT every governor should – Lynch is not a hero.
John Lynch the Teflon Governor has made his high numbers for popularity on everything but substance.
Republicans who did not like Benson’s style didn’t help him.
Then Lynch gets the support of a NH House that had RINOs and Democrats electing a Speaker of the House who was eager to work with Lynch – there’s one example.
We had Senate Pres. Tom Eaton who would speak against Lynch’s poor approach and his own colleagues did him in. Another example.
Then the ultimate slap in the face – with help from The NH UL promoting his every appearance – Lynch wins re-election and we get a Democrat controlled House & Senate – granted with a lot of help from the backlash of Pres. Bush who lost his way on spending – illegal immigration – no domestic drilling for oil, etc.
Have you noticed the lack of Republican candidates for state offices this November?
Niel Young
Laconia
bnyoung@metrocast.net
- Niel Young, Laconia

Hey Sue, instead of just patting the UL on the back how about the intellectual accuity to respond to JRS and Henry Collins actual literate responses to an illiterate editorial?
- Tom, Dover-Foxcroft, Me.

The last time we had a budget deficit was 1991 during a recession, when Republicans were in charge. It must have passed the notice of the Union Leader opinionist that we are in an economic downturn, and are just 1 of 40 states that has reported a budget deficit as a result. Readers who are a just a little more impartial understand that a budget created for normal economic times will not do well in bad times.

I applaud your campaign to extol the virtues of Craig Benson and hope you can convince him to run for Governor again. I think a rematch against Governor Lynch would be wonderful, not least for Democratic candidates further down the ticket.
- Rep. Michael Marsh, Greenland

Yeah, and look what else Benson failed to do. He refused to negotiate with state workers and they had to endure this term without a contract. Also, he refused to adequately fund the state's portion of the retirement fund. He also refused to adequately fund public education and the lawsuit continued. He also refused to adequately fund the entire state budget and that promoted more diversion of highway funds. I'll bet that most of his surplus (if that is what it is called) came from his refusals to do anything in a positive, constructive, and forward thinking way.
- Gary L. Kerr, Chichester

Wow finally an editorial we can be proud of.

Nackey is looking down on you smiling. All hope is not lost even if you DID endorse McCain. (yuck)
- Sue, Manchester

Don't you guys ever quit? We don't need "someone with some proven budgetary skills and discipline" we need a miracle worker - to undo the mayhem caused by a moron w/o any fiscal policies at all (except to fund an immoral war any way he could, at a cost of $12 billion/mo, and a human cost that's incalculable), while giving gargantuan tax breaks to oil companies w/quarterly profits dizzying even stockholders, and cutting health care and food stamp alotments to families of shell-shocked multiple-tour soldiers. (We used to call that slavery, but we call the lie something deliciously santitized, now.)
Fiscal irresponsibility has relegated every state in the nation and every city and town in every state to colossal shortfalls and equally catastrophic budget deficit spending. Wouldn't you love it if it were as simple as blaming NH's governor.

You guys should get out more, like our prez and veep in their respective bunkers, and the GOPs who have mindlessly stamped approval on Everything-Bush/Everything-Slant-jawed Baal. You'd find lots of dedicated civil servants trying to come up for air on any given day, slugging through hiring freezes that - though a particular shame -are agonizingly "fiscally responsible".
Would that the U-L were more editorially responsible - heck, inching closer to the mentality and values of New Hampshire people would be refreshing! You persistently blame victims: in this case - again! - elected people charged w/the responsibility of cleaning up the messes of irresponsible predecessors. That you persist in doing so argues you folks are under fiscal restraints, as well, requiring you tap into archives (pick any democratic governorship) for 'stock' griping, rather than send people out and about to talk w/real people in the real world - you know, like a real newspaper, with a real journalist or two?
- JRS, Sunapee

Tell me lies, tell me lies. Will there ever be Sunday editorial that doesn't bash Lynch? Your subscription rates are way down and he has a 74% approval rating. Where to start? President Bush was very popular in 2004 that's why he won re-election. Lynch won because Benson was a joke. Craig Benson's company is now bankrupt. The abortion laws are the same now as they were for the 84 years the Repulicans controlled state government. Judd Gregg used bonding to fix a budget he signed in 1991. The republicans failed to get a education amendment for 84 years. Are you kidding UL?
- Henry Collins, Hudson

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Golden opportunity: "Six Senate seats open up"
The NH Union Leader - Editorial

NEW HAMPSHIRE is losing a quarter of its state senators to retirement this year. That presents voters in several sections of the state with a golden opportunity to get spending in Concord under control.

Incumbency is a serious advantage at the ballot box. In Senate Districts 3, 5, 12, 13, 14 and 21 no sitting senator will stand in the way of any fresh-faced hopeful who wishes to make his or her mark on state politics.

Republican Joe Kenney of Wakefield is giving up his seat to run for governor. Republican Bob Clegg of Hudson is leaving his seat to run for Congress. On the Democratic side, Sens. Peter Burling of Cornish, Iris Estabrook of Durham and Joe Foster and Dave Gottesman of Nashua are stepping down.

Of the six leaving senators, only Kenney can really be called a conservative. The others have records of supporting higher spending or more regulations, often both. So in five of the six districts, voters have an excellent opportunity to elect a candidate more fiscally disciplined than the departing incumbent.

That's extremely important in this election. New Hampshire faces a serious budget shortfall next year, perhaps exceeding $200 million. The state desperately needs fiscally responsible legislators of either party. It needs lawmakers with the desire and the will to get spending under control.

The state needs senators and representatives in every district who fit that description. We point out these six Senate districts only because they present the best opportunity for newcomers.

The trick is, any newcomer who hopes to help control spending in Concord has to get into the race now. The filing deadline is June 13 -- next Friday.

If you're dedicated to keeping the New Hampshire Advantage alive by keeping state spending and taxes low, now's the time to consider a run for the Legislature. And if you live in one of the six Senate districts being vacated by their incumbents, there's no better time to run than this year.

-

Readers' COMMENTS:

This is a HUGE blessing for Nashua. Both our socialist senators will be gone. A chance for at least bringing in some moderates to undo the damage this Senate did to our state.
- Rich, Nashua

Drew,

Great questions!

I am running for the New Hampshire House which does have a big time commitment.

I am lucky to work a position which allows me to work 12 hour shifts, so full time employment is 3 days a week for me.

This would leave me able to be in Concord my 2-3 days a week as needed.

I am also prepared to leave full time employment and do 24 hours a week if that was needed while the house is in session. The loss of income is worth it to me to help lead the state forward on the right track.

Everyone should also realize that the New Hampshire House is a volunteer force receiving VERY limited compensation in the tune of $100 per year plus mileage reimbursement. That is why our House is generally made up of retirees.

Thank you for acknowledging the hard work that RN's everywhere perform. I would hope all would thank their nurse the next time they receive care from one.

The social issues that are important to me do not lead to increased spending. Ensuring that all are afforded the same rights regardless of the race, creed, gender or sexual orientation does not lead to increased spending.

We have many social programs in the state that could be preformed by the private market for less money. I think when possible they should be outsourced to the free market, with the government retaining oversight and quality control.

Bottom line, if it can be done by private industry cheaper and with the same results than it should be handled in that fashion.

Thank you for your questions,

Jeff Ballard RN
- Jeff Ballard, East Wakefield, NH

Jeff, while I wish you well I do have a few questions.

Are you planning to leave your full time job as an RN? If not, then how do you propose to meet your obligation as a state senator since being an RN is an extremely demanding job?

You say you are a Democat but running as a fiscal conservative. Won't your ideology on social issues force you to make un-fiscal conservative decisions (ie more spending)?

Good luck.
- Drew, Effingham, NH

Sure would be great to elect some people with common sense, something has been sorely lacking.

And perhaps our new Legislature would have enough sense to throw out the disgusting, and possibly unconstitutional shoreland protection law and revert to the old law which was quite adequate.
- Bill, Tuftonboro

Unfortunately to call Joe Kenney a "conservative" is to really stretch the definition of the word. Kenney's blind support (and siding with the Democrats) of the ridiculous speed limit legislation on Lake Winnepesaukee is indicative of his RINO tendencies. Kenney has no real solid support among conservative republicans, little name recognition out of his home district and as a public speaker leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately for our party. if we nominate Joe Kenney for the corner office we are conceding a third term to Governor Lynch.!
- Thomas Thorpe, Portsmouth, NH

Thank you to the Editor for such a well written piece!

I am Jeff Ballard and I am running for the New Hampshire House from Carroll County District 5 which is Brookfield, Wakefield and Effingham.

I am a Democrat who believes in fiscal responsibility.

I hope other young people will choose to get involved in NH politics as I have.

Running for the house is a large undertaking as I am learning, but one I know I am prepared for.

As an Emergency Department RN in Dover, NH I have seen first hand the struggles that many of you face having access to healthcare. This is something that I hope the NH Legislature can work with private industry to make more affordable for all.

I encourage you all to seek out the best candidates when voting. The days of voting a "Straight Ticket" should be gone. Get to know all of the candidates and choose the ones that are best aligned with your values and beliefs.

I know I am a good fit for the people of my district. In healthcare, and in the military where I have served for years, we have to constantly find ways to do "More with less". That is what I will bring to Concord.

I am not in any way for increasing spending unnecessarily, I am instead for ensuring responsible spending at all levels. If a program does not work, we should not be spending money on it.

I wish all of you luck in the general election and I truly wish the best and the brightest are elected in November regardless of your party affiliation!

Jeff Ballard RN

East Wakefield, NH

If anyone would like to learn more about running for the House, or how to get involved please contact me at:

jeffery.ballardRN@yahoo.com
- Jeff Ballard (D-East Wakefield), East Wakefield

A golden opportunity indeed. We have high gas prices, high food prices, high property taxes, heating our homes this winter will be a challenge for everyone(except the rich) and salaries that are going nowhere fast. Lets try to get people elected that will cut spending and bring some relief to the people of this state. We need politicians who will do what they give lip service to, not just say it and then not do it. It is about time the politicians of this state and country started being more financially responsible, the people who elect them have to be. Why can't they??
- Ruthie, Fremont

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Charles Arlinghaus: "Debunking highway spending myths"
By CHARLES M. ARLINGHAUS, NH Union Leader, June 4, 2008

ALL TOO OFTEN, what we think is true isn't. You may hear a theory from a politician or read one in the newspaper that sounds sensible, but it turns out the facts are quite different. Usually you can look it up for yourself and draw your own conclusion.

Recently, a friend of mine was worried about the effect of gas prices on the state budget. New Hampshire's gas tax is a flat 18 cents per gallon. According to the theory, high gas prices cause people to drive less, or to drive smaller cars and therefore use many fewer gallons of gas. The concern was that the highway trust fund would see a significant drop in revenue and no longer have the revenue to support its functions.

If true, the reduction would put significant pressure on the state budget. Fortunately, the state publishes monthly updates so we can keep track of revenue trends. Because the tax is a per-gallon fee that hasn't changed, revenues reflect gallons consumed.

After a 3 percent increase through May 2004 and a 2 percent increase the following year, gas tax receipts declined 2 percent in 2006 and were flat in 2007. This year revenues are up 6.6 percent, higher than in any year this decade. On a tax of 18 cents per gallon, we've collected $125.5 million so far this fiscal year. Gasoline consumption, after slowing down, is climbing faster than in any of the last eight years.

Maybe people are just now slowing down and the slump is about to hit. In fact, the opposite is true. For the first six months of this fiscal year, gas taxes were up about 5.5 percent. Over the last five months, consumption grew even more and was 8 percent higher than last year.

The jump in number partially reflects a strong ski season with out-of-state tourists buying gas. But even without the ski boost we're consuming much more gas than last year. In short, if you look up the data, you need have no fear about an imminent collapse of the highway trust fund.

A related superstition is that the state's roads and bridges are falling apart. According to this theory, a nickel and dime tax structure keeps us from taking care of our needs. Even if we take care of our immediate needs, long-term planning suffers and that's why our infrastructure is in such horrible shape. As an example, we were recently told that the 10-year highway plan would take 22 years to complete.

The problem with this theory is that things aren't all that bad. The highway plan is a victim of politics and illogical naming. Every project is added to the list to placate local officials and politicians pushing for their own projects. That way we can say "you're on the list" and then shake our heads when the department doesn't get around to it.

Are we having trouble keeping up with the demands of the system? In fact, New Hampshire does much better than most states.

There are about 3,700 state and municipal bridges in New Hampshire. Based on regular inspections, the state keeps a "red list" of bridges that need more frequent inspection and are first in line for repair. Only about 15 percent of the bridges are on this list.

Each year, some bridges will be repaired and removed from the list while older bridges might be added. According to the state Department of Transportation, in the decade from 1996-2005 an average of 43 bridges came off the list each year while only 30 went on. In 2005, 23 came off the list and nine were added. This is a record of which any other state would be envious.

By the way, the DOT achieved this record of accomplishment with one hand tied behind its back. Other departments siphon away millions of dollars from the highway trust fund each year. The share of highway money diverted from the DOT has increased to 62 percent. Even with a large majority of highway funds kept away from highway and bridge repair, the department is keeping up.

With more bridges approaching their retirement years, sort of like the baby boomers, increasing needs will be handled by a very sensible highway fund spending cap passed this year. Sponsored by a leading member of each party, the spending cap will be placed on the amount of money that can be diverted from the highway fund.

The next time you hear a worrisome theory, and there is no shortage of them these days, check out the facts for yourself. You might be surprised.
-
Charles M. Arlinghaus is president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Concord.
-
Readers' COMMENTS:

I am no expert but my hunch is people are staying closer to home when they vacation. Thus driving more within the state.

I second JB's post and would like to offer my services to Robert from Deerfield as well. Just as long as Robert understands that he has to follow our rules and eat what/where we tell him and his family to eat, drive what vehicle we tell him to drive, send his children to school we chose, which hospital and doctor we chose him to see, make sure he uses union labor in his business and only works with other union controlled companies, oh and has to pay any additional increases our services require based on our arbitrary claims. Robert, when do you want us to start?
- Kyle, Bedford

DFM, it's a good question. There was an uptick in january and february that suggests a lot of ski traffic but even without those months, we are well ahead of 2007. I don't have data by community so I can't say about border towns but gas isn't significantly cheaper on one side of the border so I wouldn't expect much. At any rate, there's been no change from 2007 or 2006 in that respect. Offhand, I'm not sure why people would be driving more this year but they are. I wonder if anyone else has a theory.
- Charlie, Canterbury

Hi Robert--Let's make a deal. Let's fire the government and cease all funding. Now let's take your tax money and give it to me. I'll protect you. Then we'll both have our way. You'll have someone protecting you from boogeymen and I'll be rid of my taxes. Win-win I'd say.
- JB, NB, NH

Once again the UL allows a certain poster to spread his all too common radical left wing rant.

Charlie i find it interesting that revenues from the gas tax have actually gone up, but it would be interesting to see if the amazing winter season (ski, and snowmobile) had a big impact on overall revenue growth. I would also be interesting to see how higher gas taxes in Mass influenced revenues from border communities.
- DFM, Salem, NH

Robert, I've seen a few of your Stalinist posts around, and it is true in your eyes that gov't is the only answer and the true caretaker of us all?! Your dems would never fabricate or embellish facts for expedient needs or votes right? I can only assume that you come from a lifestyle of gov't handouts and subsistence, because your absolute defense of it, regardless of the topic, is pure Red Party nonsense. Give it up
- Hank, Bedford

So, if I got this right, don't worry about problems reported here, they are false, everything is in fact just fine. Two things wrong with that. First is what is now known as the McClellan phenomenon, though it could be the O'Neil, or Kuo, or Shenseki, or Clarke phenomenon. People who report things that are just too convenient for their positions no longer have credibility. Second is that we have recently seen bridges fall down, poison in food, toys with lead, second hand smoke etc. The government is not protecting us as is its job. I think we should actually paint red lines down the middle of those red lined bridges and see how many people continue to drive over them.
- Robert, Deerfield

Not another dime for the "highway fund" until the legislature stops illegally diverting money from that account into other accounts.

Spend the highway money on highways! Not on other things!
- Bob Hoskins, Derry

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"Overspending: A bad school aid plan"
The New Hamshire Union Leader - Editorial
Wednesday, Jun. 11, 2008

GOV. JOHN LYNCH'S inability to stop legislative overspending is getting tiresome.

On Monday, Lynch allowed a terrible school funding bill, which he opposes, to become law without his signature. As usual, he waited until the very last moment to make a decision, and it was the wrong one.


Click for Editorials & Op-EdsThe school funding plan is bad for lots of reasons. The most obvious is that it spends $180 million the state doesn't have. Spending money the state doesn't have is becoming a Lynch specialty.

Last year Gov. Lynch signed a state budget that raised general fund spending by $475 million, even though the state didn't have the revenues needed to meet the increase. That budget is now estimated to end roughly $200 million in the red.

In addition to overspending, the new school funding law brings back donor towns and gives the same base amount of money to each district, rich or poor, regardless of the district's need. Lynch opposes both of those bad provisions. But he let the bill become law anyway.

We remember a certain governor who managed to prevent legislators from overspending. He simply promised to veto any bill that raised taxes or spending. He ended up having to veto a state budget. But the state didn't collapse. Instead, legislators realized he meant business, and they fell in line. Runaway spending stopped cold.

That governor's name was Craig Benson. He was defeated by a fresh-faced former executive named John Lynch who promised to be just as fiscally responsible. Unfortunately, Gov. Lynch hasn't lived up to that promise, and the result is the biggest state budget increase in two decades and a school aid plan that overspends to the point that it sets us up for an income tax.

We're pretty sure Benson would have vetoed, or at least threatened to veto, this awful school funding bill, as Lynch should have done. Benson would have found a way to keep legislators from spending money the state doesn't have. Gov. Lynch said he would do the same. He just hasn't commanded enough authority in Concord to make it happen.

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Readers' COMMENTS:

Clearly Lynch has abdicated his responsibilities to the Citizens of NH by not only allowing but ENCOURAGING all of this debt.

I would encourage each of you to call Lynch and demand he resign. His office # is 603-271-2121
- JP, Warner

Peter Sorrentino, Manchester is right -- Former governor Benson was just one step above a fraud. He failed to negotiate a contract with state workers, there were a number of scandals surrounding him all during the two years of his terror against the citizens of NH, and he was so bad that even the majority of republicans did not vote for him! He was not given the usual and customary two terms as governor and that included republican voters who turned to someone else rather than Benson as their leader.
- Gary L. Kerr, Chichester

I'm with Mike of Concord. I told all of my friends and relatives in NH that when they filled the state Government with Dumocrats this past election that they would spend spend spend, especially with a Govenor such as Lynch at the helm. As predicted this spineless Govenor sits back protecting his job does nothing while his polictical allies spend us into fiscal bankruptcy.
Time to do like Donald Trump this fall and say to the entire bunch "YOUR FIRED"
- Ian, Effingham

JB, It seems we agree more than we disagree. I too generally vote for the candidate that will be fiscally conservative. I too, am often thought to be libertarian by people who know my views, but I don’t think of myself as a republican. After the last 10 years is not clear to me that either party is any more likely than the other of reducing the size of government.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

Craig Benson was voted out because he do not make the people happy in Concord. But, he made the rest of the state happy. John Lynch makes Concord happy and make the rest of the state broke. Thanks John for spending us to the brink of income tax.
- Tom Brown Jr., Laconia, NH

To Jason in Londonderry & JB NB NH,
The truth hurts, so anytime one is pointed out liberals like you claim it's just a republican campaign piece or democrat bashing. People like Peter are merely stating fact and are not revisionist, it's true because the facts are all out there for everybody to see. Benson might have been (in your view) a jerk of a person but he didn't put NH in a financial position of going from a surplus to a deficit budget! No that happened on governor Lynch's watch. Governor Lynch could have vetoed this bill rather than just let it pass into law, but he didn't. Unfortunately, NH is getting the kind of government it deserves because it voted for it.
- Rob, Manchester

The Legislature is clearly bent on spending too much money. Only the governor can stop this from happening. That it hasn't h
append proves that IT MATTERS who holds the governor's seat.

Mr. Benson was liked more by citizens than by existing government officials who feather their own nests. Hopefully, he will s
ee the heartfelt sentiment in this newspaper and ultimately choose to take him on.
- Steve, Manch

From a Commentary written by Rep. Marsh and published in the UL on Oct 9, 2007.

Rep Marsh opens with the following:

"THE SKY IS falling! The sky is falling!
At least that's the message from Josiah Bartlett Center President Charles Arlinghaus in his New Hampshire Union Leader column last Wednesday. He alerts us to a "fiscal crisis worse than any the state has experienced." He says that in September the state was behind target for the six largest revenue sources, and on the basis of this single data point he forecasts that we could have a $247 million deficit over the next two years and calls for an immediate spending freeze and a quarter billion dollars in budget cuts."

and closes with this:.

"We need to be careful over the next several months, for sure. Our revenues will be close to our budget projection and a little belt-tightening down the road may be in order. But we also should not be overly pessimistic or alarmist.
Elected officials who take their responsibilities seriously need to ignore Arlinghaus' advice and be both moderate and deliberate in their actions. We should not be cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicaid, nursing homes, education, public safety and other necessary and important programs that serve the people of this state.
The proper course of action is to wait a few more months and watch tax revenues closely. If we see them deteriorating, then and only then do we need to consider taking action on spending."

Rep. Marsh would you like to revise this with a follow up commentary? Belt tightenning? HA, what a bunch of malarkey.
- Gavin G., Concord, NH

Rep. Marsh, local taxes are where they are because local politicians balance demands for more spending with demands for lower taxes. Having the state send them "free money" doesn't change this balance. The money goes directly into new programs, which locals don't have to justify because they can point the finger at Concord for raising taxes. Or, as Governor Sununu said more succinctly--You don't lower taxes by raising taxes!

Rep. Marsh, you know better. This is another big-government con job.
- Spike, Brentwood NH

Oh and Peter? I am what I would describe as a Yankee Republican. I feel that a government's responsibility to the people is to put itself out of business. I believe in fiscal responsibility, personal freedoms, religion as far from government as possible and more. Folks like you would probably call me a Libertarian, but I don't agree with everything that party offers either. So I vote for the best candidate regardless of party and I stay registered as a Republican in hopes that the party can be salvaged from the far right fanatics and religious nuts that hijacked it on a national level. If I had my way, I'd be voting for Bruce Keough for Governor of NH, but he regettably isn't running.
- JB, N-e-w B-o-s-t-o-n, NH

Mr Lynch probably supports this bill, but knows he would catch flack in an election year,and they probably didn't have the votes to override his veto if he used it (to make himself look like a leader). So he does not sign it, it becomes law, and he can say he didn't support it and , again, nobody understands or wants to hear that by not stamping a veto, he supported it.

As for Rep Marsh, where is this magical bank of $180 million??????? Oh, let me guess, fee increases, cigarette tax increases, but no tax increase??? I'm sure the Democrats put in this bill that towns MUST lower their taxes based on this state influx of monies.

People be aware, this is not about the money, it is about the POWER. The state has the POWER over your schools and will yield its POWER (after they win this election) by telling you how you will use this money in your schools. When you refuse, they will find ways to send some of your funding elsewhere, or withhold it until you comply with their demands.

Schools are now going to be run from Concord, because after all, they know better than towns folks do how to run your school. For those towns that voted against public kindergarten, what has happened. The nannies in Concord declared you to be wrong, so now you will have it whether you like it or not. You don't know better so they will TELL you what is better.
- Mark, Candia

I think it is convenient to blame the current legislature and governor just because they have a "D" after their name. The republicans had opportunities since the 60's to solve this problem and failed. Had the Augenblick Foundation Aid formula been fully funded, it is entirely possible that the Claremont decision would have gone against the plaintiffs. After Claremont, repulican legislatures had repeated opportunities to truly define an adequate educate, but instead felt that $3,300 could educate a child. We need to stop stopgaping and start long range problem solving.
- Terry, Manchester

JB –
Just what “facts” did I present? If you know what you’re talking about, maybe you would to actually put your name and town in your posts.

It sounds like you prefer a nice Governor who is a big spender over a Governor that you say was a “jerk”. I didn’t know Craig Benson personally and therefore did not make any personal comment. I do know the Union Leader wrote more editorials favoring the big spending republican legislature and not the fiscally conservative governor. Concord republicans didn’t like that Benson worked to cut spending on their republican bills, but it’s difficult for republicans to discredit a guy for being too fiscally conservative. So they discredited him for being a “jerk”, which you say he was. Nonetheless, I would prefer Benson to a big spender.

For people who have actually been watching, big spending republicans are nothing new. The Union Leader typically supports them, until they fall out of favor – for whatever reason. Be they “jerks” or unpopular due to many other reasons: war, critical former staff members, huge deficit, etc.

In any case, we get what the majority votes for – most of the time.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

This editorial would have been better if it just focussed Lynch's actions and not referenced Craig Benson. That guy was brutal. The actions of Lynch, on their own, are beyond comprehension. As a Governor, when a bill reaches your desk you do not like, veto it. Do not hide under the covers and say you do not like it and let it become law. Get a backbone and stand up to the liberals in your own party, like Rep. Marsh. Apparently in Marsh's mind, the State gets it's money from some other source than existing tax payers who will still face property taxes in addition to what ever broadbase taxes or fees he will happily support.
- Ted, Dover

Lynch has no idea how bad NH is hurting and he keeps spending. A sales/income tax is coming unless we fire him in November. In Lynch's wine and cheese circle of friends I'm sure the increased cost of gas and groceries is a punch line to a joke, but for most of us it is pushing our disposable income limits. How can most people (Dems and GOP) afford increased taxes or fees on cigarettes or wine or whatever else Lynch disguises as a tax "for our own good?" What is next, a cupcake tax? How much of this can we endure?
- Lee, Manchester

Rep. Marsh - if you think that $180 million is going to cut anyones property taxes "by a like amount" then you are really living on another planet. You also fail to mention how much of that money is bonded (borrowed) in order that you and other Democracts may spend it. And who has to pay off those bonds? Taxpayers of course. So this shell game of lower prop taxes + higher state taxes doesn't lower anyones taxes! Plus, this "education aid" is going to cities and towns to pay the principal on bonds they took out to pay for school buildings. So we are bonding payments on bonds! That's double the interest payment in case you were wondering. We are using one credit card to pay another. Is that what Democrats consider "fiscally responsible"? Yes, it is. What a joke. Vote Republican in November to stop this madness.
- Mark, Amherst

This state is quickly turning into Massachusetts north, and it's very discouraging, embarassing, and frustrating. I moved here to get away from the tax and spend liberal loons to the south of us.
- Jeffrey, Auburn

Rep. Marsh:

Did the bill include a requirement for towns to cut property taxes to match?

I didn't think so.

Can we hold you personally responsible when that doesn't happen?
- Bob, Wilton

Inability to STOP OVERSPENDING?? Give me a break!!! Our Governer is the king of deceitful overspending, by pulling whatever underhanded dirty political tricks he can come up with, up to & including holding the legislature HOSTAGE, BY LOCKING THEM IN THE CAPITOL BUILDING!!!! See the following article. http://www.theunionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Late-night+Legislature+drama+unfolds&articleId=a6d67d16-9a63-4216-a042-49f484503699 This news story was given so little attention, it practically was swept under the rug. Is this any way to run the state? Get out there & vote this Gov. out of office!!!!
- Lori MacKenzie, Effingham, NH

The Union Leader is right, Lynch absolutely should have vetoed the education costing bill. That would have allowed the state Supreme Court to come in, declare that the state failed to meet it's deadline to cost an "adequate education" by June 30, and determine the cost of an adequate education itself. Given the Union Leader's unwavering trust in the state judiciary, there is no doubt that the UL would find this to be the better alternative.

Thank you for showing us our new beacon of hope, the great Craig Benson. Where can I buy a "WWCBD?" bumper sticker?
- Dan, Manchester

"Gov. John Lynch's inability to stop legislative overspending is getting tiresome."

So are daily editorials that are written as campaign pieces for Republicans.
- Jason, Londonderry

Peter--just because you say it and like the way it sounds doesn't make it true. My recollection is quite clear that Benson was a solid governor but a jerk of a person. Further, I recall the UL sticking behind him until there was just too much slime to cover up anymore. Revisionism at its finest it would seem, but don't let that stop you from making up any more 'facts'.
- JB, NB, NH

Rep Marsh, as a ways and means member you were an author of the current ill failed (17.5% increase) budget that was signed which now has forced NH to borrow up to $100M to allow the do nothing gov to tout a smoke and mirrors "balanced budget." What do you have to say about your bnudget now? I can point out two articles you wrote saying that the budget would be met.

Thank you Rep Marsh for future higher taxes and "fees."
- DFM, Salem, NH

This is a symptom of a larger issue. The larger issue is a lack of respect for the effort of New Hampshire families to support their families in these challenging times. Instead of allowing families to decide how to spend their hard earned money the Dem's in Concord have decided that they should take our hard earned money and redistribute it as they want.
- Don, H

Would somebody please run against this guy. He has no idea what he is doing and he is quickly destroying our state. Lynch is a complete joke with no backbone. We need a change this November. Get out and vote to get this guy out of office before it is to late, although it may already be to late.
- Morgan, Manchester, NH

While Craig Benson was in office this newspaper wrote editorial after editorial bashing Benson. Benson was not liked by many Republicans in Concord due primarily to his fiscally conservative actions that often prevented them from enacting large Republican spending bills.

The fact that lemming media outlets like the Union Leader blindly followed fiscally liberal Republicans in bashing Benson prevented his re-election.

Its amazing that the Union Leader dares bring Benson's name up in this editorial.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

The state plans to send $180 million more in education aid to our cities and towns next biennium, so they can cut property taxes by a like amount, and the Union Leader thinks this is a bad thing? It's thinking like this that is pushing the NH GOP into disarray. No wonder they GOP can't field a full slate for the Senate this year.
- Rep. Michael Marsh, Greenland

Again Lynch is a spineless "wimp". Governor "sunshine" caves in on new spending and searches for Photo ops to make him look good.
- Chris, Merrimack

Times are tight and I'm sick and tired of Democrat polititions spending MY HARD EARNED MONEY with such callousness. This Novemeber, they all need to be FIRED! ENOUGH ALREADY!
- Mike, Concord

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Joseph D. Kenney, a New Hampshire state senator, officially filed to run for governor yesterday (6/11/2008) in Concord. "As governor, I would impose a spending limit on the state of New Hampshire," he said. "We need to take the money out of politics." (JIM COLE/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
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"State senator set to challenge N.H. governor in race: Only Republican to face incumbent"
By Norma Love, Associated Press, June 12, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. - State Senator Joseph D. Kenney entered the race for the Republican gubernatorial primary yesterday, attacking his probable opponent, Democratic incumbent John Lynch, as leading the state on a spending spree.

The three-term senator from Wakefield is the only Republican in the race to face Lynch in November. Lynch is expected to file for a third term today.

Kenney said he was tired of watching New Hampshire become more like Massachusetts. His campaign signs tout his motto: "Let's Keep New Hampshire New Hampshire."

"I want to stop the spending spree in Concord that is setting us up for an income or sales tax and has already increased over 30 taxes and fees on New Hampshire citizens," said Kenney, 47.

The senator is a Marine reserve lieutenant colonel. Before his election to the Senate, he served four terms in the House. He has supported Republican initiatives such as requiring photo identification to vote. He opposed raising the minimum wage, banning smoking in restaurants, and allowing video slots at the state's racetracks.

Kenney touted his pledge to be fiscally conservative by agreeing to abide by New Hampshire's voluntary campaign spending limit for governor of $625,000 in the primary and another $625,000 in the general election.

"As governor, I would impose a spending limit on the state of New Hampshire," he said. "We need to take the money out of politics."

Kenney criticized Lynch and Democratic lawmakers who pushed through a bill last week allowing the state to borrow up to $80 million over two years to balance the state budget. Kenney said he would have cut spending instead, such as state money for land conservation. The program should have its own funding source, he said.

On other issues, Kenney would privatize operation of New Hampshire's Cannon Mountain ski area. He would not support the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which Lynch planned to sign into law later yesterday. He would use the bully pulpit as governor to make the Veterans Administration Hospital in Manchester full service.

Kenney pledged to veto an income and sales tax, a pledge Lynch has also made.

Kenney insisted that no one is unbeatable, even the popular Lynch.

"I can't think of anyone better [to take on Lynch] than someone who's been a New Hampshire Marine," Kenney said.

Lynch, 55, of Hopkinton, first won office in 2004 by unseating an unpopular Republican governor, promising to bring civility and bipartisanship to state government. He easily beat a little-known state representative for a second term two years ago, when, unlike his first term, Lynch had a Democratic majority in the Senate, House, and on the Executive Council to work with. Lynch ran on an anti-broad-based tax platform and effectively squelched consideration of the taxes by his pledge to veto a sales or income tax.

Lynch tried but failed to persuade enough Democrats to support a constitutional amendment to allow the state to distribute most state school aid to the neediest towns. The Senate adopted amendments last year and again this year, but the House rejected them.

Lynch reluctantly allowed a new school aid system to become law without his signature this week, because it would not be fully implemented until 2012.

As successes, Lynch lists increasing the compulsory school attendance age to 18, expanding a children's health insurance program, expanding services to the disabled on a waiting list, and increasing the minimum wage for the first time in a decade. He also points to implementing a job training fund, a ban on burning toxic construction and demolition debris, a new law fostering development of renewable energy, funding a land conservation program, and maintaining a balanced budget.

Lynch backed three increases to the cigarette tax to pay for services. He also signed a civil union law granting the same privileges and responsibilities of marriage to gays.

Before his 2004 election, Lynch was president of a consulting firm, The Lynch Group, in Manchester. Before that, he had been admissions director of Harvard Business School and president and chief executive of Knoll Inc., a Pennsylvania furniture company.

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"NH cuts $30 million, extends freezes"
By Norma Love, Associated Press Writer, June 17, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. --New Hampshire is tightening its fiscal belt again.

Gov. John Lynch won approval from a special legislative committee Tuesday to cut $30 million from next year's state budget and to continue a freeze on buying most new equipment imposed earlier this year.

Lynch said he also will continue a a February order freezing most hiring and out-of-state travel. Lynch expects to save $8 million from the freezes. The purchasing freeze exempts fuel, food, drugs, medical supplies and other items needed in an emergency.

Lynch has proposed a series of measures over the past five months to deal with a possible $180 million revenue shortfall in the two-year $10.3 billion state budget. The state is expected to end this fiscal year in the black, but not next year.

Lynch said he expects the budget to be balanced, though he continues to monitor the state's tax receipts and has not ruled out more spending cuts if they are needed.

Taxes on business, tobacco and property sales are well below projections. Lawmakers are worried high gas prices will keep tourists from coming to the state this summer and fall.

Lynch acknowledged that some of the cuts are painful, particularly a $3.5 million reduction in funding for a new comprehensive cancer screening and detection program. Lynch had already won lawmakers' support in February to cut $1.7 million from this year's funding. Tuesday's cut reduced the program's $6 million funding for the two years to $750,000.

"My hope is they will use the money to expand screening," said Lynch.

Reaction from the American Cancer Society was swift.

"With the drastically reduced funding levels for both this year and next, the vital objectives of the New Hampshire Cancer Plan are on hold, while unfortunately the burden of cancer is not," said spokesman Peter Ames.

The state's largest agency -- the Department of Health and Human Services -- must cut the most -- about $15 million, including the cancer program funds. Cutting the agency's spending costs the state another $6 million in lost federal aid.

Other cuts include:

-- $1.2 million from the state prisons, mostly from psychiatric services.

-- $2.5 million spent on children placed in special programs by the court.

-- $1 million spent on severely disabled students.

-- $2.5 million in aid to the University System of New Hampshire. That is on top of a $2 million cut from this year's budget.

-- $1.3 million is reduced groundwater protection and landfill closure grants.

-- $1.5 million reduction in substance abuse services.

-- $1.1 million reduction in a subsidy for children's health insurance.

-- $300,000 from a work force housing pilot project.

In other steps taken to address the problem, Lynch ordered more than $50 million in cuts in February from the current year's budget.

This month, lawmakers also approved a one-year cut in a discount wine merchants get for buying from the state. They voted to increase the cigarette tax 25 cents per pack to $1.33.

The tax won't take effect if the state gets at least $50 million in revenues from the tax between July 1 and Oct. 1. The delay is to give grocers and convenience stores a chance to market New Hampshire's lower prices to other states, especially Massachusetts, which is considering raising its tax $1 to $2.51 per pack.

They also passed a poker tax.

They ordered the Pease Development Authority to repay about $10.5 million it has owed the state for many years.

Lawmakers also authorized Lynch to borrow up to $40 million of school construction aid in 2008 and up to $40 million in 2009 if the money is needed to ensure a balanced budget.

The House had at first rejected borrowing school aid money, but Lynch pressed hard and won its passage at a late-night special session earlier this month. Statehouse insiders say Lynch proposed laying off 400 workers and deeper budget cuts otherwise.

Republicans objected vehemently to the borrowing plan. They have argued for months that Lynch and Democrats ignored warnings last year that the budget was just too large. Republicans argued the state should instead cut spending.

Rep. Neal Kurk, a Weare Republican and member of the House Finance Committee, said he couldn't support Lynch's spending reduction order because, rather than make deeper cuts, it counts on borrowing $40 million next year to balance the budget. Kurk objected that would shift the problem to future lawmakers to solve.

"We're taking a baby step when we need to take a larger step," he said.

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Lynch: "$459m wish list will be whittled"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, 6/19/2008

CONCORD – Heads of state departments yesterday took the first steps toward winning approval for a wide range of construction projects, from classrooms and prisons to new roofs and sprinkler systems.

In all, requests total $459 million, but Gov. John Lynch said as he opened a hearing that they would be cut to between $80 million and $90 million, plus spending on higher education. The projects call for $339 million in state dollars, with federal, highway and other revenues making up the balance.

The state funds capital projects with state bonds, but limits their use to keep state debt within an acceptable balance against state revenues.

The hearings on the capital budget are meant to give Lynch a head start on setting priorities for the next Legislature. The list will be whittled by Aug. 1.

"We must be sure we remain fiscally responsible while making long-term investments in our future," Lynch said. Energy efficiency will be among the criteria for approvals, as well as each project's benefit to the public, he said.

The single largest request was the University System of New Hampshire, which laid out details of a six-year, $100 million request aimed at providing long-delayed maintenance and renovations at its three main campuses in Durham, Plymouth and Keene. The plan starts with $10 million in the first two years, then $30 million in 2012 and finally $70 million by 2015. The funds would be in addition to $70 million over the next four years that was approved in previous upkeep plans. Other major projects that state agencies propose include a 328-bed, $37 million state women's prison; $21 million for an asbestos removal project at the Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester; $23 million to renovate the Tobey School building at the state office complex in Concord; $16 million to redevelop the Hampton Beach State Park area; $12 million for a state office building in Berlin; $11.5 million for a health sciences building at the Nashua Community College in Nashua; $9 million for reconstruction of two liquor stores on Interstate 93 in Hooksett; $8 million for a district courthouse at Hampton/Exeter; $4.5 million on upgrades at Mittersill Ski Area, recently acquired as an addition to Cannon Mountain.

USNH Chancellor Stephen Reno said his request is part of "an urgent public policy priority" for the state's long-term economic health. The state will begin to experience a decline in the population of potential new students at the same time aging baby boomers begin to retire. Investment in the schools will help the state produce a new generation of qualified professionals who want to stay in New Hampshire.

The Community Technical College System has asked for $55 million in new construction and improvements over the next two years, including $4 million in security improvements at its seven campuses.

Corrections Commissioner William Wrenn said the department badly needs not only a replacement for the women's prison in Goffstown, but transition housing for male inmates who are nearing release. The state now has 92 halfway house beds, while 261 eligible inmates are on a wait list.

Wrenn has not settled on a prison construction site, but said the transition housing, with 64 beds each, ought to be built in the Seacoast and Keene areas.

Wrenn pushed off for two years, until the 2012-13 budget, a $29 million request for a Berlin state prison expansion and halfway house.

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Readers' COMMENTS:

Look closely at this little diddy from Gov. Lynch and his "fiscal conservative" tune.

I wonder how he would be if this were not an election year and his overspent budget wasn't in fiscal dis-array? This is election year posturing, nothing more. Once re-elected, (yes, NH Voters will be fooled yet again), this conversation will be over and all these spend & borrow projects will go forward. Here comes the income/sales tax!!

Imagine, if Lynch had held spending increases to under 5%, the revenues we have coming in would have given us a surplus. We would be the only state in the region with a balanced budget. (Balanced without borrowing like we are now).

I wonder if I can balance my household budget with my credit card and call it "balanced". ..... Just a thought.
- Mark, Candia

Regardless of all of Lynch's bluster and folderol, is the budget balanced? Until it is, we're on a single track cog railway to the poorhouse with the final stop at sales and income tax land.
- Burt, Derry

What funny is that not one these projects will benefit the everyday regular NH resident.

Talk about pet projects, and a lot more debt.

Welcome to NH, the land of the liquor stores and prisons.
- DFM, Salem, NH

Ya-all should have listened to Benson when he said that Lynch was not good for New Hampshire, I can't see where he has done any good for the state.
- John, Candia

I see alot of pork in this wish list. And with this transition housing being asked for, how about you think of the job market first and realize that even as these inmates come into this housing, the job market is not as it could be in NH. Even in Manchester as we speak, the city has fewer jobs for those inmates and many find themselves looking at Labor Ready just to get a paycheck. Many employers will not hire someone with a tarnished background, like the one I work at, if you have a history, the company will not hire you. We need to open our state to new business owners and new technology/eco freindly jobs so that these inmates have a stable future to restart their lives. Otherwise they might reoffend because there is nothing for them in the State of NH.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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Rep. Candace White Bouchard: "NH cannot afford to lose a third of its federal highway money"
By REP. CANDACE WHITE BOUCHARD, Op-Ed, NH Union Leader, 6/20/2008

OVER THE PAST year, New Hampshire has tackled many difficult challenges in regards to funding our state's highway infrastructure. Tolls have been increased to pay for critical bridge repairs and increased work on our state's toll roads. Approximately $2 billion in roads projects have been cut from the state's 10-year highway plan, and the Legislature recently passed legislation to begin to address the ongoing diversion of gas tax money from the state highway trust fund to non-transportation government agencies and projects.

Unfortunately, this progress could be completely undermined if Congress does not take action to address pending shortfalls in the federal highway trust fund. Currently, New Hampshire is slated to lose approximately $52 million in highway funding starting in October. This represents more than one-third of the federal funding New Hampshire was promised for 2009.

At a time when we are all working to keep our state's economy on track, an unexpected cut in federal highway funding would be a serious blow to New Hampshire. While many of us take our highway system for granted, maintaining and improving our system of roads and bridges is critical to the economy.

Not only do we rely on our highway system to get to work or get our children to school, but roads are an important component of our tourism industry -- as well as moving products in and out of our state. In fact, according to recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 60 percent of New Hampshire's products are shipped by truck over our roads.

In addition, unlike many government programs where the impact is hard to see or benefits are felt in foreign lands, money spent on roads puts people in the private sector to work in New Hampshire. We see the impact every day. Road builders, gravel operations, truck drivers, equipment operators, civil engineers, laborers, steel workers and many others rely directly or indirectly on money being spent to fix and improve our roads. In fact, experts estimate that more than 1,800 jobs will be lost in New Hampshire if federal highway funding is not restored.

Maintaining the amount of federal highway funding promised to New Hampshire is also vital to our ability to set priorities and determine a long-term plan for improving our roads. When money is promised and then not delivered, it not only undermines our ability to get projects out the door and put people to work, but it shifts a greater burden and cost into the future. What costs $200,000 to fix today could easily cost $1 million five years from now.

Although a bipartisan plan was put forward last month to address this problem, partisan fighting in the U.S. Senate derailed it. In the coming days, the U.S. Senate is expected to take up a new proposal aimed at restoring money to the federal highway fund and ensuring that New Hampshire receives the money it is promised to maintain our roads.

This time our congressional delegation should remember the importance of this issue to New Hampshire's economy. With time running out and October coming fast, let us hope that the interests of thousands of workers and small businesses in New Hampshire that depend on reliable federal highway funding outweigh partisan interests.
_

Rep. Candace White Bouchard, D-Concord, is chairman of the House Public Works and Highways Committee.

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Readers' COMMENTS:

I'm sure privatizing is what DFM would like but strangely enough, there is still the dream of democracy alive and well in New Hampshire. The government is in charge of things like roads, bridges, the military, education, fire protection, national security, retirement security and soon may take back the postal service and health care. These are things we have in common which become really ugly when motivated by profit. We pool our money to take advantage of shared efficiency and common use (often called taxes) to make the lives of all better. The federal government has been taken over by those who hate government. They want to drown it in a bath tub. They have appointed dopes to screw it up so that you will think it has to be defective. It is the most successful thing that Republicans have done since they know so many dopes it is easy. Same thing with military contractors in Iraq.
- Robert, Deerfield

More of the "sky is falling" mantra. Talk about scare tactics. Why not just privatize roads like the state of Pennslyvania. The majority in Concord through their radical social and fiscal agenda over the last 18 months have mirrored NH to look like our neighbors, so why not do the full monty and just privatize, after all the state of PA is controlled by Dems.
- DFM, Salem, NH

--------------------

June 25, 2008

"NH governor signs $2.3 billion, 10-year highway plan"

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Gov. John Lynch has signed a 10-year, $2.3 billion highway plan into law that cuts the current plan almost in half.

Lynch signed the bill Wednesday which cuts more than $2 billion in projects. He said the new plan is a realistic plan, not just a wish list of projects.

Lawmakers say they expect funding for even the pared down plan to fall short, but the plan will be reviewed every two years to make adjustments.

The plan also endorsed a major shift from new construction to projects to preserve the current system and fix troubled bridges.

The law takes effect in 60 days.

--------------------

"Lynch's cuts: Where's the outrage?"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, Sunday, June 22, 2008

The governor is reducing spending on social services, prisons and the university system, and yet no one is screaming bloody murder. What a difference party affiliation makes.

Remember when Gov. Craig Benson cut state spending to balance the budget? The Democrats portrayed him as a heartless beast. Every cut was to an "essential" service or program, or would cruelly hurt those who need state services the most, Democrats cried.

The truth was that Gov. Benson had to make some very tough choices. The state constitution requires a balanced budget, and the people were taxed enough. So Benson did the responsible thing and reduced spending, even on some emotionally charged items, like payments to hospitals.

With a revenue shortfall now estimated at $185 million, Gov. Lynch finds himself in a similar position. Unlike Benson, Lynch has raised taxes. In fact, he raised taxes by more than $100 million last year, even when there was no excuse to. This year he has used the projected revenue shortfall as an excuse to raise taxes again.

But even those tax hikes won't cover the excessive spending he approved last year. So he has to cut spending.

Our Concord Bureau Chief Tom Fahey reported last week: "Among the larger state cuts are $3.5 million to the Comprehensive Cancer Plan program; $1.5 million to the Governor's Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse; $4 million for education costs like catastrophic special education aid, court-ordered placements, transportation and consultants; $1.2 million in psychiatric services for the Department of Corrections; $1.3 million in environmental grants to communities, and $2.5 million to the university system.

"HHS cuts include $5.8 million that includes payments to hospitals, insurance for some children on Medicaid, and about $1.1 million in unused funding in the Healthy Kids program. In all, HHS and related agencies have been ordered to cut $14.8 million."

So Gov. Lynch is cutting state funding for the mentally ill, drug addicts, cancer victims, sick children, and university students. And nary a peep from the liberals. Boy, it sure pays to be a Democrat.

Notice, too, that Republicans are not assailing the governor for victimizing the needy and vulnerable. They weren't trained in the Ray Buckley School of Unfair Political Attacks. Instead, they've fairly criticized the governor for overspending in the first place.

Again, it sure pays to be a Democrat.

--

Readers' COMMENTS:

People, you need to be looking at the bigger picture. Ask yourselves, why would Lynch "cut" his own party's budget. Answer: He is trying to get re-elected. This is a way that the Democrats will run him as a "fiscal conservative" and NH voters will be fooled yet again. Voters have short memories and all this posturing will get him re-elected because no-one will take any of the liberals to task for the whopping budget increase they passed once in power. NO one will mention that 17% budget increase without the funding to cover it, no-one will mention the tax increases, the fee increases, the bonding to "balance" the budget.

NH Voters will vote these socialists right back into POWER, they will start the spending spree all over again, they will control your schools, pass many mandates on every facet of your lives, and then, when the elections start again, they will "cut" and "balance" to get re-elected yet again.

This is Massachusetts style politics, and there are now enough followers in the state to keep falling for it. Taxachusetts North is here.
- Mark, Candia

Paul, I apologize and agree with you. Both parties are guilty of incredible partisanship and I would welcome a viable third party.

DCE, the public face of the double standard that you mention begins and ends at William Loeb Drive.

JB (if that is your real name), huh? Besides, I'm more of a red evening gown kind of boy.
- Jason, Londonderry

Is (UL) ultra Liberals? Unsure such an entity exists, for those whining about cuts to social programs are the liberal supporters who helped elect Gov. Lynch just letting off some steam. The outrage should be over the lack of more meaningful reductions in the administrative costs (i.e. political hacks and failed social programs) that created the $185 million dollar deficit levied against the taxpaying citizens of New Hampshire. Clearly the introduction of charter schools funded on the publics dime was irresponsible considering there has been no equitable solution as how to pay for the public schools. But it's for the children. One truth remains unchanged and consistant all these years "RAISING TAXES DOES NOT CREATE NEW REVENUE, IN FACT IT STIFLES ECONOMIC GROWTH" “economics 101”
Jim
Brentwood
- Jim Johnson, Brentwood NH 03833

Does anyone know when the Governor plans on renaming the state to Newchussets??? Clearly that's the direction he's taking us. It won't be long before we have an income tax in this state!
- Bret, Epping

It is funny how everyone is up in arms about these cuts. I say cut away! NH citizens need to wake up and see that a lot of this money is going toward collecting enormous amounts of data on you that they then turn around and sell or use to create "statistical" reports that support their getting more money. Did you all know that they get a report every time you go to the hospital, whether for inpatient or ER care? They are working on expanding that to include every time you visit your primary care physician. They all talk about HIPPA and privacy rights, but they have a way around that with the legislature's assistance. DHHS is classified as a "health care provider" so they are exempt from all the rules. They sell your information to doctors and "researchers" all over. The same thing happens when you have a baby. They take all your medical information and transmit it to the state. What you see on the birth certificate is a tiny portion of what is collected. The cancer program is probably mainly composed of high paid statisticians that write reports and grant applications to pay for more of the same. Think about it..if you are healthy they would not need jobs! It's not about Dems or Repubs, it is about people being too lazy to manage their own lives and country. Quit sitting there like a zombie watching American Idol and see what the heck is going on in your government, while you still can.
- M&D, concord

Mike,

Please explain to me where the 7.5 trillion dollars worth of new jobs are that these tax cuts cost us. All I see every week is a new round of lay offs and plant closings. Obviously the tax cuts were not used to create jobs or produce much of anything because for that price there should be more jobs than people.

No envy here I’m doing just fine thanks for your concern, simply explaining the difference in simple terms for you, obviously you don’t get it. Sorry I can’t explain it any simpler than that so you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.
- Jim, Raymond NH

Benson was good for the state, he balanced where it needed to be balanced.
Lynch is and will be the worst we ever had, he has done nothing for us except cost more money. He needs to go back to Conn. and leave us alone. Benson warned us not to trust him.
- John, Candia

"There’s a difference between slashing budgets to make ends meet during hard economic times and slashing budgets so your wealthy friends can have more money. - Jim, Raymond NH"

Yes Jim, and we all know that those evil rich people (who you are envious of) would then just WASTE that new found wealth by creating jobs, investing in other businesses that create jobs, providing products that people need, etc., etc.
- Mike, Concord

Paul from Hampton--don't mind Jason--he may be obtuse, but he looks nice in his blue dress.
- JB, NB, NH

Frank: If the legislature hadn't gone on a spending binge to begin with, budget cuts wouldn't have been necessary. The legislature fudged the projected revenue numbers, knowing there was no way the state would see revenues like that. The governor let them get away with it.
CD from Henniker: Best check your history. Benson was not the CEO of Cabletron when the troubles began. He was 'retired' and was not part of Cabletron when it tanked and was split up.
James Moss of Albany, NY: As compared to the left-wing propaganda of the Boston Globe and New York Times? Get a grip.
*****
The point of the editorial was the double standard that's applied to the state Chief Executive depending upon which party he/she belongs to when it comes to budget cuts, not that the cuts were being made. Frankly, the cuts shouldn't have been necessary at all if the present governor had lived up to his campaign promises and kept spending and taxes in check.
- DCE, Gilford

The difference is that Lynch is preparing for an economy that will be stifled - Benson was not.
I may not agree with it but I get it.
I also think that people should start paying attention to methods of keeping people out of the prison system - it starts with early intervention. Teaching parents to raise their kids to be community participants is a huge difference than paying for a messed up convict that costs the state money year after year.
- joco, manchester,nh

Looking around this newspaper, all I see is right wing propaganda and tabloid trash. What is going on in NH? We let you people have the 1st primary? I don't think so, not in the future!

You may be fair minded in NH, but your state's most powerful newspaper is worst than Fox News, and so is your information. Can't let that ruin future elections.
- James Moss, Albany NY

Frank, It's obvious that you don't have a professional certification in reading comprehension. For someone who claims to be so smart, you post some silly stuff.
Jason, the article was about John Lynch, the NH governor, not national politics. You should read more, the UL has bashed Bush many times for his profligate spending ways
- Ron, manchester

Jason..Kindly re-read the last sentence of my comment. My comment on democrat hypocrisy was with specific reference to the article. My disdain and disgust for all politicians is non-partisan.
- Paul, Hampton, NH

OK,

He spends you complain, he slashes budgets you complain, it seems no matter what he does you’ll find a reason to complain.

The reason those of us that support him are not outraged is because we have a clear understanding of reality. When we are faced with hard economic times everyone suffers and the governor is doing what needs to be done while we work though the Bush recession. Our dollar is now worth 65 cents because of the 7.5 trillion dollar debt and Governor Lynch has had to make some hard choices because of it.

There’s a difference between slashing budgets to make ends meet during hard economic times and slashing budgets so your wealthy friends can have more money.
- Jim, Raymond NH

tell me your cutting special ed for children with autism and other issues these kids are equal to have there education to lynch it seems u dont care at all but your self, lets get him out of office put someone who cares for our kids he dont NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND remember that governor
- TIM, MANCHESTER

LYNCH u dont think about our kids in this state just his own if he has any what would happend if his family got sick so bad and needed to go to the hospital of course everything is paid by us tax payers im not surprised your not cutting education for our children to im not voting for you get a life LYNCH
- jim, manchester

So does the UL want smaller government with less spending or does it want higher taxes? Actually, it's obvious that what it really wants is to criticize anybody who doesn't have an "R" after their title.

Paul, you talk about Democratic hypocrisy but completely ignore any hypocrisy on the other end. Bush and the Republican party spent us into the largest deficit in history, one which my generation will struggle to pay for. Yet once the Democrats took over in 2006, Republicans suddenly became fiscal conservatives and blamed the Democrats for the spending (with the UL leading the charge).
- Jason, Londonderry

This is as empty and op-ed as could be written. Does this article actually complain that there is no complaining out of citizens the UL does not care about anyway? And all the little GOP sheep join this nonsense?

I think this information-less article can be IGNORED. Same goes for the UL sheep.
- Rob Smith, Nashua

I just read that story as a pro Republican piece. I noticed the writer pointed out that Bensen did not raise taxes but did cut the budget in his term. He then stated that Lynch raised taxes when not needed but now cut the budget. It appears that you skipped over the fact that if he had not raised taxes before we would have been a lot deeper in the hole this year. You completely forgot that for the first time we had true accounting in place and found out how far in the hole the highway funding was in this state. We also found out how a long time Republican controlled legislature had just taken money from different departments without ever really looking at the numbers. That shows in the fact we now know that the state employees retirement fund is facing a severe shortfall. It also shows when we see how much of the originally highway funds have been diverted to other places and we now had to delete many road projects. Maybe just maybe that was the reason behind him raising taxes last term.

He now has a better grip on what is coming in and going out for taxes and bills so now he has to do some serious cuts because the US and World economy is tanking. From the writers point of view I gather this never would have happened if we had a Republican in office. That also means I-93 would be under construction by now because as one Republican senator said "Just build it and figure where the money comes from later".
- Don Armstrong, Henniker

Hey Doug, I would wager that the several professional certifications I hold would make me considerably smarter than you. I also happen to be an independent. Perhaps you should move back to the deep woods in Maine where you can scream as loud as you want and no one will hear.
- Frank, Manchester

Nice that Lynch can now make cuts after having overdrawn this year's checkbook by $17 MILLION.

Complete fiscal irresponsibility--that's what John Lynch stands for.
- William Smith, Manchester, NH

Very interesting reading - those who support “Governor Credit Card” should remember that the NH UL has been “too good” to Lynch over the past 3 years.
Everything I was thinking has been said by all – except Frank and Mike (Manchester).
After targeting the spending at an increase of 17.5% - then “cutting” when the revenues are not there – and in the end balancing the budget with borrowing up to $100 million – that is not leadership.
If we do not change the leadership in the NH House and Senate as we need to in Washington this election – here in NH we will be hearing the case for an income tax or sales tax. From D.C. with the Dems in charge we try to tax ourselves and call it an energy plan – more individual tax increases – and continue to allow law-breaking people to enter our country ILLEGALLY taking our jobs and changing our culture dramatically.
Do not be silent!
Niel Young
Laconia
bnyoung@metrocast.net
- Niel Young, Laconia

Frank from Manchester you either cannot undestand the article or are willfully ignoring it. The article is how people like you would be screaming about dead babies and old people if a Republican did the same thing.
- David, Salem

Welcome to northern Massachusetts!

Seriously, it is funny, the guy cuts spending and gets bashed for not cutting the right spending. Yet it's the same areas that Gov. Benson wanted to cut and the UL supported him. Sounds like the kettle calling the pot black.

I wish Massachusetts could take New Hampshire's example and elect more members of the other party. There's nothing better than having other voices to hear. As a nation, we all need to get closer to the middle.
- Dave, Lowell, MA

Let's look at facts. Craig Benson was ousted from office after only two years, first Governor to have that happen in almost 100 years. Why? Well to start he surrounded himself with Cabletron croonies that had no business running our state after driving Cabletron into the financial ruin.
Enter John Lynch who has the highest ratings of any Governor currently in the country. On one hand, you complain about increasing the budget and then complain about the cuts. Anyone check if these cuts are from the initial increases you are whining about? Benson cut to the bone, and then some. Maybe Lynch is just cutting the fat? Or unfortunately in some cases the cost of inflation. Oh, inflation, Thanks "W".
- CD, Henniker

Mike and Frank, you're missing the point...perhaps intentionally?

The point is democratic hypocrisy! When Benson cut spending responsibly the hew and cry from democrats was deafening. When Lynch cuts spending the silence from democrats is deafening.

It's another example why I detest politicians of all stripes!
- Paul, Hampton, NH

Frank, I guess you missed the point of the story. It really wasn't about Lynch but more about the looney left who always scream bloody murder when any program is cut but haven't made a single noise about it when Lynch pulls out the knife.

You see if a conservative cuts spending it is always called mean spirited and we hear about the dead bodies piling up on the streets ect....

But, when Lynch does it we hear none of that. I am surprized they haven't come out and praised him for his "fiscal responsibility" and "Hard work for the people".

Get it?
- Brian, Laconia

You can't commend someone for cutting spending when their own over-inflated budget and unrealistic revenue projections are the main reasons that the cuts are needed. Yes, he spent too much. Yes, revenues are down. Accordingly, cuts are being made. The main point of the article is CLEARLY the lack of outrage being expressed by fellow Democrats, who would have been all over his case had he been a Republican. There is nothing hypocritical about the opinions expressed in this article whatsoever.
- DL, Nashua

Typical Union Leader. If he increases spending and taxes you will brand him as a tax and spend liberal. If he cuts spending responsibly then you wail and moan about that. I guess the kool aid drinkers will always find a reason to wail and moan.
- Mike, Manchester

Politicians always go for the vulnerable when cutting, never the obvious pork and waste. That way they hope the voters will become outraged and cause the money to be reinstated and also it does not focus the spotlight on legitimate areas that could be cut without any harm to the general operation of the State.
How they sleep is beyond me but I guess to be a poliitican is to be an amoral person. We can only hope they get their just desserts in the next life!!!!
- John Linville, Wolfeboro

Frank from Manchester: You are an ignorant partisan lacky....did you read the article, or are you that blind? Please move back to Massachusetts from where I suspect you are from.
- Doug, Dover

Benson wasn't the bad Governor that people said he was. Benson had earned a bad reputation as CEO of a company that underpaid and often mistreated it's employees. So when it came time for Governor Benson to make tough choices like every chief executive does, the NH liberal media had something to "chew on".
Governor "sunshine" Lynch on the other hand makes sure when there is flood is mug is on TV at the flood site helping people. When a factory closes, there is Lynch with another photo op. When elderly women break down on the side of the road, look there is Governor Lynch to save the day. This guy could dump toxic chemicals into the Merrimack River and still get a pass from most of the NH media.
I am glad the UL is holding Lynch's feet to the fire .I am also glad that many who post here aren't drinking the proverbial " kool aid" when it comes to Governor Lynch. Unfortunately many in NH still do.
- Chris, Merrimack

This is a classic example of tax and spend liberal democrats. The difference here is due to any lack of fiscal responsibility, the Democrats had to cut their outrageous spending on items traditionally linked to that party.
Where is the uproar from fellow Democrats now? This is not Massachusetts. Politicians in NH are accountable for their decision making "skills".
- Brian, nottingham

Once again the UL's only point here is to criticize Gov. Lynch even though he's doing what the UL would advocate, cutting spending. You can't have it both ways. Either commend him for cutting spending or condemn him for spending too much. Your own hypocracy gets in the way of your argument. You should just stick to bashing him because he's a Democrat and not a Republican; that's your only reason anyway.
- Frank, Manchester

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"Lynch take a stand? No, so insurance rates rise"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, July 17, 2008

GOV. JOHN LYNCH knows he should have vetoed Sen. Bob Clegg's bariatric surgery bill. He understands that health insurance mandates raise the cost of health insurance. That's why he has said he opposes them. And yet he let Clegg's mandate bill become law anyway.

Granite Staters should not be surprised that Lynch ducked yet another tough issue. That's how he has maintained such high approval ratings. It's pretty easy to be popular when you never make a decision that could offend others.


Click for Editorials & Op-EdsHowever, Granite Staters should be offended by this one. Clegg's bill requires that any health insurer doing business in New Hampshire cover weight-loss surgery, which can cost $10,000 or more. Clegg claims that the surgery saves insurers money in the long run. Maybe that's so, but insurers pay people big bucks to figure those things out, and they have concluded otherwise.

And besides, that isn't the issue. The issue is whether the state should pass laws forcing insurers to offer whatever services legislators -- for political reasons -- would prefer they offer. Lynch knows that the answer is no. He has acknowledged that mandates mean insurers cannot offer people low-cost plans that fit their individual needs. Mandates compel everyone to buy insurance that covers, say, weight loss surgery, even if they know they will never need that service.

He knew he should have vetoed this bill. But he didn't. He let it become law without his signature. That was a copout. The people should be upset that the governor knowingly let a bad bill that will raise their health insurance rates become law. They should be doubly upset that he did it the cowardly way, hoping to dodge responsibility for it.

--

Readers' COMMENTS:

Just another example of fat people taking over the country. Ever notice how ALL of the handicapped parking spaces are full these days? Half of these spaces are filled by people who's only "handicap" is being fat. Personal responsibility is now a completely foreign concept to most Americans. Gimme a pill to fix it! Staple my stomach for free! McDonald's needs to pay for making me fat! It's really sad what this country has turned into.
- Mark, Bow

My cobra payment is nearly $700 a month for just me- I can't afford it and I'm thinking of moving to Mass where a 1 person police is almost half. I guess its Live Health Insurance Free and die.
- Belinda, Peterborough

I read this and can only think my insurance already covers for weight loss, they reimburse me for a portion of a gym membership. This law is the Democrat answer to the idea of universal health care. People are fighting universal health care so we will mandate coverage so much that health insurance is no longer affordable and then government can take it over. Boy am I glad that my Wife's employer pays 100% of the health insurance premium!
- Rick, Manchester

Great job, I'm sure this will motivate a lot of overweight people to exercise and lose the weight. Not! Do you know how many people eat right through the bands or the staples and get fat all over again? The only way to keep healthy is exercise, period. The governor knows this but let this become law anyway. Shame on him. Live free or die is officially dead.
- Joe, Goffstown

Lynch, any other Dem or our new party of republicrats. Does it really matter what party any more I keep asking myself? Government just keeps on growing and injecting itself into our life and our pocketbooks. Decades of PC thinking like being obese as a disease are nothing less than bad decisions by our so called leadership of either party. But when the majority of people don't vote and those who do vote for gender or skin color over proven leadership abilities we should not be surprised at the leadership we receive.
- Deb, Derry

Nanny Lynch has no spine. He does not sign so he can truthfully say he did not favor something that might cause his electibility to be hit, after all, this is an election year. Yes, liberals actually believe that if he didn't sign it and let it become law, he didn't support it. (Sad)

Wait til the income tax or sales tax hits his desk. He wants to make sure that the Democrats (socialists) have enough majority to override his veto so he can say he kept his "pledge". (Don't think it can happen? wait til the election is over and see who is in power)

No we all pay because he couldn't veto his party.

Thanks Nanny Lynch.
- Mark, Nottingham

Yet another case of government "doing something" with little apparent plan or understanding of the effect.

For the record, I've had bariatric surgery. I paid for it myself. Having had the surgery, and with no complications in 6 years, I can't get individual medical insurance in NH any way but through the state's high risk pool.

The state's tinkering also results in limited availability and high prices for individual policies, which has been the case for all the 7 yesrs or so I've needed that.

The medical insurance sysem is seriously broken and government tinkering around the edges doesn't help.
- Bob, Wilton

The governor prevents bad bills from becoming law. A 2/3 majority is needed to override a veto, a high hurdle. Letting it become law is as bad as signing it. The responsibility is his as much as Clegg's.
- Steve, Manch

You may remember that this surgery has previously been covered by insurers in this state. They later decided to eliminate this coverage, but no savings in our health care premiums ever emerged. The health insurance industry has their own best interests in mind, not ours. This expanded coverage will not cause an increase in insurance premiums, and should in fact see a decline in health care costs over a life time.
- Sarah, Dover

This law makes me want to vomit. But bulimia is good for weight loss? I think I'm onto something...
- Steve, Manch

Thank you Bob Clegg and Governor Lynch for making it even harder for me to ever be able to afford health insurance. The more mandates we put on these private businesses, the higher the rates go up and the less affordable insurance becomes to many NH residents.

I agree with some other posters - put down the spoon and get your butt into a gym and lose the weight. Better yet, stop before you get to be 100+ pounds over a healthy weight.
- Robin, Manchester

How about getting Health Care providers to pay for stiching up lips rather than paying for Sen. Bob Clegg's bariatric surgery and other "overeaters". This way we could kill 2 birds with 1 stone by also shutting the mouths of stupid politicians.
- Dick Olson, Jaffrey, NH

I believe a decent treadmill could be purchased for about $1,000...
- KD, Maine

Once again a politician, one who really should know better, forces a business to do something the politician wants, and the governor, whose party thrives on telling others what to do and how to live, lets it become law. While mandates may not be the biggest casue of rising health insurance costs, they don't help keep prices low.
- Jeff, Goffstown

Another act of gutlessness by Governor "Sunshine". People love this stuff. At the 4th of July parade in Merrimack, Lynch was marching on by when a "older" woman behind me yelled "thank you Governor". I wanted to vomit right there.

If you are a Republican and voted for Lynch last time, grab a bag of smelling salts and snap out of it before NH becomes another Maine. If you are an independent open up your mind a little bit and ask yourself how much do you want to pay to live in NH and who do you want to support with future income tax dollars.
- Chris, Merrimack

Lynch's web site touts that he is working to reduce health care costs in the state. I guess this is his first step. Typical Democrat - picking your pocket while patting you on the back.
- Leo, Canterbury

Lynch is no dummy, he is playing the odds. There are more obese people now than ever before and the number of obese americans is increasing each year. He was not going to offend such a large and growing block of voters.
- Pete, Dover

Hey, how about lasik? Hair replacement?

Here's an idea. PUT DOWN THE SPOON. Now everyone's health insurance rates will go up because of this!

Every year I find less and less reason to stay in this state.
- Jeff, Bedford

Yet another bill goes to law without a signature from our Governor. Let's not forget the educational amendment that went into law without his signature. It makes this reader wonder if our Governor's pen is out of ink? I have several pens, maybe he should borrow one of mine. Like the one that says; "I'm a health care voter". Or even "DividedWeFail" pen, at least he could veto or sign bills into law that way.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Lynch is showing the same lack of leadership that has characterized his administration from the beginning, including when the Union Leader named him as Man of the Year. Why are so surprised now, when you were so accepting then?
- Bill, Mont Vernon

I think that rational people can disagree on this issue. I happened to have supported this particular measure because the information I read showed the benefits vastly outweighed (pardon the pun) the negatives. So I guess in the end I stood opposite of the main thrust of this editorial. But I also agree with the argument that excessive mandates are largely responsible for the increase in premiums. However, I think it is unfortunate that Gov. Lynch took the easy way out and chose to let this important legislation become law essentially without letting the citizens of New Hampshire know where he stood on it one way or the other (he allowed it to become law without his signature). This follows a troubling tendency for Gov. Lynch to withhold his position or opinion on important issues (Civil Unions, Adequacy Definition, etc) for reasons that could only be political. This is not the make-up of a bold leader. There is no question Gov. Lynch is popular but he surely isn’t without his faults.
- Rep. D.J. Bettencourt, Salem

--------------------
-

-

-
From: "NH for John Lynch"
SUBJECT: Lynch Campaign Update
Date: Friday, July 18, 2008, 3:46 PM
-

Dear Friends,

This week, more than 150 volunteers and supporters joined us to open our Manchester headquarters and officially kick off our campaign to continue moving New Hampshire forward.

If you missed the opening, you can still go to our Online Headquarters to volunteer, sign up for lawn signs, bumper stickers or to renew your membership in one of our supporter groups.

And don’t forget to check out the new tool we launched just yesterday to help build this campaign’s grassroots support – personal fundraising pages. It's a quick and easy way for you to get involved and to make a big difference for the campaign, working right in your own home.

Click here: http://johnlynch.helpmycampaign.com/myfundraising/signup to set up your page today and start your own grassroots movement for John Lynch!

Your personal involvement and hard work will make a huge difference in the success of this campaign, and in our success in continuing to make progress for the people of New Hampshire.

This week, Gov. Lynch gave us plenty of reminders about the difference his leadership makes for the people of New Hampshire and why it is so important that we keep him on the job working for us.

A Boost to Affordable Housing

Governor Lynch signed laws this week that will make New Hampshire a “more affordable place to live,” according to the Nashua Telegraph.

"Every family in New Hampshire deserves a safe and healthy home. Homeownership not only fosters pride, it helps build communities, a stronger workforce and a stronger economy," Gov. Lynch said. "Unfortunately, we know many families are increasingly finding themselves priced out of the New Hampshire housing market. We understand the importance of finding homes for our hard-working families and that is why we are taking steps to help New Hampshire families find homes to call their own."

Building the Economy, Creating Jobs

Governor Lynch was in Colebrook this week to help open Colebrook Manufacturing in a building that had been vacant for eight years. The company, which will bring at upwards of 50 new jobs to the area, is among the first to take advantage of the Coos County Tax Credit initiative that Gov. Lynch championed and signed into law last spring. The tax credit reduces businesses taxes for up to five years for companies that create good-paying in the North Country.

Gov. Lynch also met in Colebrook with more than 20 representatives of trucking companies from across the North Country who are struggling with rising gas prices.

Standing Up for Families

This week, Governor Lynch vetoed House Bill 1333, legislation that would have allowed the successful bidder at a foreclosure auction, prior to becoming the owner of the property, to immediately begin to evict the tenants on the property.

Campaign Jobs With New Hampshire For John Lynch

Do you know a good organizer? Or a recent college graduate? New Hampshire for John Lynch ‘08 is seeking to hire Field Organizers and interns to join its campaign team.

Field Organizers will work closely with volunteers in their regions and will be integral in implementing Gov. Lynch’s grassroots campaign. The campaign will hire across locations, depending on both current campaign needs and the geographic preferences of the candidate. The ideal candidate will be organized, persistent, resourceful, and highly attentive to detail. He/she will be attracted to this role due to the opportunity to re-elect a successful and popular Governor, while working closely with a small, dedicated, energetic team and gaining exposure to many different aspects of organizing a statewide political campaign.

Interested candidates should send their resumes to Field Director Sarah Ayres at info@lynch08.com.

As always, we also look forwarding to hearing from you at 603-836-0655 or by email at info@lynch08.com.

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Campaign Website: www.lynch08.com
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Affordable Housing News Article Link:
www.nashuatelegraph.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080718/NEWS02/99084642/-1/XML07
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Published: Friday, July 18, 2008
"N.H. becoming more affordable place to live"
By KEVIN LANDRIGAN Staff Writer, klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com

CONCORD – A 12-year legislative campaign to break down barriers to build affordable housing became a reality Thursday.

Gov. John Lynch said finding housing working families can afford remains a serious challenge, and he celebrated a ceremonial final step for three related measures.

"Every family in New Hampshire deserves a safe and healthy home. Homeownership not only fosters pride, it helps build communities, a stronger work force and a stronger economy," Lynch said.

"Unfortunately, we know many families are increasingly finding themselves priced out of the New Hampshire housing market.''

A 2005 report of the New Hampshire Workforce Housing Council concluded a shortage of these units cost the state 2,800 jobs and $412 million in lost sales annually.

The centerpiece bill (SB 342) makes it harder for local officials in cities and towns to use regulations to block building of work-force housing. Local planning or zoning boards could not ban or "unreasonably'' discourage the housing and developers appealing a local board's decision would get a hearing in court within six months.

Senate President Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, recalled first working on this issue after a 1991 Supreme Court ruling in a lawsuit involving the town of Chester.

"Since 1996, we have been trying to get these bills through,'' Larsen said. "It's a cause for celebration.''

Larsen made the housing package a top priority when the Democrats took control of the Senate after the 2006 elections.

Some regional and local planners raised objections to how quickly this change would be imposed on communities, and lawmakers agreed to delay it until next July 1.

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Bill No. SB 342

SPONSOR: Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth.

DESCRIPTION: The bill requires local land use boards to adopt regulations that allow work-force housing to be built.

STATUS: Gov. John Lynch signed the bill into law June 30. The law does not take effect, however, until July 1, 2009.

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Bill No. HB 1442

SPONSOR: Rep. Eric Stohl, R-Colebrook.

DESCRIPTION: This bill allows any city or town to decide if it wishes to assess farmland under current use and not market value. Sen. Betsi DeVries, D-Manchester, wrote the housing provision in this bill that compels assessors to take into consideration below market rate rents when preparing a property tax bill.

STATUS: Gov. John Lynch signed the bill Thursday.

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The second proposal (HB 1442) creates a method for assessing low- and moderate-income residential property where the owners make use of a federal housing tax credit.

"This will really be a useful tool,'' said Sen. Betsi DeVries, D-Manchester, author of the proposal who also represents Litchfield.

Some towns have assessed the property's value as if it all had market rate rents even though low- and moderate-income residents pay below-market rents in many if not all of the building units, she explained.

"The end result is a nonprofit housing program will pay a fair property tax but not an excessive property tax,'' Larsen said.

Judy Silva, with the New Hampshire Municipal Association, said some local disputes about these assessments are still pending before the state Board of Land and Tax Appeals.

Last year, $22 million of private investment went into these projects, according to Ignatius MacLellan, vice president of the Northern New England Housing Investment Fund.

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Bill No. HB 1259

SPONSOR: Rep. Mary Cooney, D-Portsmouth.

DESCRIPTION: This is voluntary legislation that permits a city council or the voters at a town meeting to create a housing commission. The commission could purchase, accept as a gift or otherwise acquire property to be used for affordable housing.

STATUS: Gov. John Lynch signed the bill into law Thursday.

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"Governor hears truckers' frustrations"
By LORNA COLQUHOUN, New Hampshire Union Leader Correspondent
Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2008

COLEBROOK – Like trucking companies around the state and beyond, those in northern New Hampshire have concerns, from the cost of fuel, to bureaucracy, to the lack of cell phone service in some areas of the North Country.

Yesterday, nearly two dozen representatives of trucking companies in the region met with Gov. John Lynch to talk about the challenges they are facing, and it's not only the high cost of fueling their rigs.

Some truckers say they save significant amount of money registering their trailers in Maine. Others expressed frustration with the process of registering and inspecting their trucks and trailers in the state.

Many of those at the meeting haul wood chips to plants down south.

"A year ago, truck fuel was $2.89 a gallon, now it's $4.89," said Roy Amey of Pittsburg. "How much more can the mills pay?"

That raised questions about increasing transmission lines in the North Country so power plants could come on line and sell electricity on the grid.

"Putting a power plant in Groveton would help," said Doug Currier of Gorham. "Having closer markets for low grade wood would help -- we need short-distance trucking, rather that going 150 miles."

Lynch told the group that after this month's meeting of the New England governors, New Hampshire energy officials are working with "several other states" to examine the transmission issue. Upgrading the lines has price tag of $200 million, he said.

"It would be a cost shared by the six New England states because it would go on the grid," Lynch said.

He said he expects a presentation to made to the six New England governors at their meeting later this summer.

Malcolm Washburn, who has trucking companies in Colebrook and Concord, said one of his big frustrations doesn't involve fuel costs.

"It's ironic to me that I can't use a cell phone in Colebrook," he said. "Why can't we get decent cell service in the one place we need it?"

After the nearly hour-long meeting, Lynch said he would direct state officials to look at some of the regulations involving trucking brought up at the meeting and said longer term issues include looking closely at renewable energy.

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Readers' COMMENTS:

A significant number of owners of trailers from all over the country register them in Maine...and their laws allow out-of-staters to register trailers there that are not campers. One can get a 12 year plate for example on a 5,000 lb car or horse/implement/utility trailer in Maine and it is only a couple hundred bucks for a Maine plate good for 12 years and there is no annual inspections on the trailer. No matter where you go in the country, you see a good number of Maine trailer plates on the highway. One can even get the plates without even leaving home...many on-line agencies will do them and you get the plate(s) in the mail.
- Larry, Nashua

Jen Jeffers - Get your facts straight. There IS cell phone service within Franconia Notch and further North (Littleton, Whitefield, Lancaster, Groveton, Berlin/Gorham, etc.) I've had Verizon Wireless for years up here and have had crystal clear digital service in the area. I have even driven to Colebrook and with the exception of a few areas from Groveton on up to Colebrook, the service is available and works well.
- Laurie, Littleton

The reason there is nothing in Coos County is that they have sat on there hind ends not raising a finger to "diversify" there economy. Anybody with half a brain saw that mills and anything to do with logging has been on the outs for many many years. This is nothing new. Sit back and when it gets bad blame the government, ask for handouts, let someone else pay for our mistakes and mis-management.
Maybe they should move to Vermont!
- M Bodruk, Manchester

I agree with the all the truckers up North. I was born and raised in Colebrook, and I married a truck driver from Colebrook.

There is NOTHING in Coos County! All the major mills have been sold, shut-down, or torn down.

Truckers used to be able to go to Groveton, or Berlin with their loads. Now they have to drive further, and get less money too.

Diesel fuel down here is averaging $4.79 / gal. So figure in that with truck and trailer registration (which could be over $3000), Highway Use taxes, IFTA... the average trucker is making alot less money.

And the rates have not gone up for the products they are hauling...

I think "Rich from Derry" is not the sharpest crayon in the box, if he thinks they are complaining to the Governor. The Governor can meet with governors from other states, and other government officials (like Senator Sununu) to get problems solved. That's his job by the way!

Most of the new electric plants that are being constructed today are "Wood-Fired" plants, which means they need truckers to bring in the wood, so the plant with run.
DUH!

And there is NO, I repeat NO cell phone service from Franconia Notch to Canada. So when the trucker is trying to get his next load or call his dispather, he can't get thru on his cell. (I have had several cell carriers, and none work up there.)

I think Rich needs to get a clue!
- Jen Jeffers, Deerfield

Sounds to me like a hard working man venting his frustration, so nice of you to belittle him Rich. Obviously this trucker didn't hear the speech made by the current commander and cheat yesterday, the economy is growing and everything is fine. Phil Grahm was right, these working stiffs need to stop whining so much about the price of gas, loss of jobs, cost of war in Iraq.....everything is fine sheeple, now go back to sleep.
- Sid, Plano, TX

I can understand the complaints about some of these things -- the cost of registration, for example -- but I don't understand complaining to the governor about these others:

"A year ago, truck fuel was $2.89 a gallon, now it's $4.89," said Roy Amey of Pittsburg. "How much more can the mills pay?"

Even if Lynch was able to convince the legislature to entirely drop the state gasoline tax, that's not going to bring the cost back to anything near $2.89. Does Mr. Amey expect the governor to fly to China and plead with the Chinese people to stop using so much oil?

"Putting a power plant in Groveton would help," said Doug Currier of Gorham. "Having closer markets for low grade wood would help -- we need short-distance trucking, rather that going 150 miles."

This sounds like Mr Currier is suggesting that a new power plant be built not because we need the electricity, but simply to make his job easier. But, hey -- what's $200 million for the transmission lines plus whatever the power plant itself would cost?

"It's ironic to me that I can't use a cell phone in Colebrook," he said. "Why can't we get decent cell service in the one place we need it?"

This one I don't understand most of all. Is he expecting taxpayers to shell out to improve the infrastructure of private, for-profit companies? I guess simply calling AT&T or Verizon or whomever his carrier is would just be too much effort.
- Rich, Derry
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"Colebrook gets industry"
By LORNA COLQUHOUN, New Hampshire Union Leader Correspondent
Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2008

COLEBROOK – For more than eight years, a building in the town's industrial park has been simply referred to as "the spec building," but yesterday, a Hooksett-based manufacturer expanding its operations in northern New Hampshire gave it a new name.

Colebrook Manufacturing is an offshoot of North American Equipment Upfitters, which is 150 miles south of Colebrook. Yesterday, more than 100 people, including New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, were on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"This is a great day in Colebrook," said Roland Cotnoir, a selectman and president of the Colebrook Development Corp. "We've been waiting eight years for the opportunity for you to be here."

North American Equipment Upfitters makes aerial buckets outfitted on utility trucks. The Colebrook operation will provide fabrication services of add-on equipment, such as tail shelves, steps and ladder racks, that the company has purchased from other parts of the country.

Company president Michael Dunican said the plant will open in three weeks and will initially have 10 employees. An order from FairPoint Communications, which is purchasing 700 utility trucks for its fleet, is sending 100 of them to North American Equipment Upfitters.

"We would not be here (so soon) if not for the FairPoint order," Dunican said. "Because of it, we'll be up and running Aug. 1."

Interviews for the 10 positions are scheduled for Thursday and Friday, he said. Long-term plans call for up to 50 more people to be employed later next year.

"We are all very excited," Lynch told the crowd of state and local officials, as well as many from the Colebrook area business community who attended. "This is all about jobs."

North American Equipment Upfitters is one of the first companies taking advantage of Lynch's Coos County Tax Credit initiative passed last spring by lawmakers. It gives businesses that create jobs in the state's northernmost county a break on business taxes for five years.

"It's a wonderful incentive," Lynch said, adding that it is the hope of state and local economic development agencies that yesterday's opening of Colebrook Manufacturing "continues the upward momentum for Colebrook and Coos County."

The Colebrook Development Corp. had developed the 10,000-square-foot building in its industrial park in 2000, with the aim of having something to offer a business interested in opening or relocating to town. It has sat idle for all that time, simply called the �spec' building.

"Today we are changing the name of it to Colebrook Manufacturing Company, and what a title," Cotnoir said.
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Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2008
"Bill's veto reflects changing times: Lynch blocks effort to evict tenants soon after foreclosure auctions"
By KEVIN LANDRIGAN, Staff Writer, klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com

CONCORD – The national credit crunch and rising foreclosures here prompted Gov. John Lynch to veto legislation to let those who bid highest in a foreclosure auction get a jump on evicting tenants, bill supporters said Monday.

The veto appeared to kill for 2008 a move by state Rep. Cynthia Dokmo, R-Amherst, to clear up inconsistencies in state law over eviction proceedings after a routine property transfer and property obtained through foreclosure.

"This bill (HB 1333) would allow the successful bidder at a foreclosure auction, prior to becoming the owner of the property, to immediately begin to evict tenants on the property,'' Lynch explained in his veto message.

"This may mean that tenants could be evicted by somebody who does not yet legally own the property where the tenants live.''The legislation would not allow someone buying property at a foreclosure auction to immediately evict tenants.

They would have to follow the court process any building owner must use to complete an eviction, that without any court extension, still takes at least 60 days.

From Jan. 1 to June 30, the number of foreclosures in Hillsborough County shot up 93 percent compared to the first six months of 2007.

The Telegraph reported earlier this month that Nashua, Merrimack and Hudson saw foreclosures double during the same period.

The rate of increase in Hillsborough during the first three months this year was even higher - 130 percent compared to January through March 2007.

Dokmo said she understood why Lynch chose to veto her bill that passed without a recorded, roll-call vote in either branch of the Legislature.

"This bill seemed to be a victim of the times and I certainly understand the governor's concern,'' Dokmo began.

"The legislation I sought was to clear up an ambiguity in the law that treated foreclosures differently than other property sales.''

New Hampshire Bankers Association President Jerry Little, said this was the second time lawmakers had tried to make this change in recent years.

Little said his group was fine with it once Dokmo and other lawmakers agreed to require the auction winner to get the permission of the lending institution holding the mortgage before any eviction could start.

"In many cases where a property is performing all the way through foreclosure,'' Little said. "If there are good strong tenants in that building, the last thing we wanted was to have those folks thrown out.''

Lynch noted in the veto that those who prevail at foreclosure often do not end up buying the building.

It was not prudent to let the eviction process start unless and until someone takes title to the property, Lynch said.

Little agreed Lynch's veto was more about the symbolism of the bill than the substance.

"The governor is sending a very strong message that we want consumers and homeowners in New Hampshire treated fairly,'' Little said.

The New Hampshire Legal Assistance that represents indigent clients who can face eviction had supported it after Dokmo made other changes to the bill, officials there said.

But Senior Staff Attorney Elliott Berry agreed Lynch in his veto raised a concern.

"The governor's veto raised a valid point,'' Berry said.

"I don't know if it's a problem and we haven't seen it be a problem.''

Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 224-8804 or klandrigan@nashua telegraph.com.
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"Lynch's Democratic Primary Challenger"
By Josh Rogers on August 22, 2008.

Governor John Lynch goes into this election as the odds on favorite to win a third term. Few, if any, political observers give Republican challenger Joe Kenney much chance of unseating him. Lynch’s opponent in the democratic primary, retired Teacher Katy Forry, faces an even bigger challenge. Forry lacks fame, money and staff. She’s also based her campaign on a policy that has never led to the corner office: passage of a general state income tax. New Hampshire Public Radio’s Josh Rogers has more.

If one were asked to identify the Gubernatorial candidate in the crowd at a recent seniors lunch at the Jaffery VFW hall, it might take some luck to guess Katy Forry on the first try……The 67 year old Minnesota native freely admits she’s not exactly a natural when it comes to pressing the flesh.

“I’m not interested in publicity, even in running for governor. You know, I’m a quiet person.”

Forry’s record in seeking office bears out that appraisal: She lost the three times she’s run for a seat in the Legislature. Her campaign flyers include neither biography, nor photograph and she has no website. But she does have her convictions.

“Voters keep voting for aristocrats for governor. And people have to know that if I’m not the Governor we are going to have two more years of the pledge and having our property taxes go up.”

Her suggested remedy is what she calls her property tax revolution. Specifically, she wants to exempt the first 200 thousand dollars of value on a homeowner’s primary residence, cut the statewide property tax in half, and then enact a new levy – preferably an income tax – to make up the shortfall.

You can’t run on that in the state, but I’m glad it’s getting into the election.”

That’s 78-year old Louis Rickl. The retired mailman says he’ll vote for Forry. A few feet away sat Bob Chamberlain, a former Jaffrey selectman who epitomizes the problem faced by any challenger to Lynch. The lifelong Republican said he’s got no problem with the current occupant of the corner office.

“Lynch is a good republican, hahaha. Where’s my coffee gone?”

While the Governor and most democrats would take exception to that description, a July poll from UNH showed the governor running strong across the political spectrum – 86 percent approval among democrats; 64 percent among republicans. With that kind of popularity it’s easy to see why Lynch was so blase when asked about Forry at a recent press conference.

“You know I know what I’ve read in the newspaper.”

-Do you know her name?

“I do know her name is Katy Forry.”

Katy Forry’s name will appear on the Democratic primary ballot on September 9th, 2008.

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Joe Kenney.
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Campaign 2008: "Kenney swings on the pendulum of politics: Candidate's signed on to wide range of measures"
By SARAH LIEBOWITZ, (Concord) Monitor staff, August 25, 2008

In 14 years as a state lawmaker, Joe Kenney has signed his name on a range of bills, swinging from the conservative - such as a proposal to restore the parental notification law - to the bipartisan.

"I do have my core beliefs," said Kenney, a Republican state senator who is running for governor. People "know where Joe Kenney stands on these issues, but he's not so narrow-minded that he's not going to work across the aisle," he said.

Kenney served four terms in the House before winning election to the Senate in 2002. As a lawmaker, he defies easy categorization.

There are bills that display his skepticism of all things out-of-state. In the most recent legislative session, Kenney co-sponsored bills to investigate the evasion of New Hampshire taxes by Massachusetts businesses and to restrict access for out-of-state government tax collection agencies to New Hampshire business records. Also on the list of Kenney-sponsored, New Hampshire-centric bills was a proposal to require schools to devote equal amounts of time to the teaching of New Hampshire and United States history.

And there are bills that align Kenney with some segments of his party.

This year, Kenney proposed an unsuccessful bill that would bar New Hampshire from serving as a "sanctuary for illegal aliens" and another bill, which was sent to interim study, lengthening the list of crimes that can be prosecuted as capital murder. There was the resolution, also unsuccessful, urging Congress to "prevent the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement superhighway system."
But Kenney has also sponsored numerous bills that had bipartisan support or aren't traditionally Republican.

Altogether, Kenney signed his name to 100 proposed bills, resolutions and constitutional amendments this year. Of those, 33 became law. Kenney and his campaign manager, Republican Rep. Casey Crane of Nashua, were the sole sponsors of seven of those 100 bills.

Health care, veterans and animal protection

Kenney has emerged as one of the most prominent advocates of animal protection legislation. This year, he sponsored a bill - which Gov. John Lynch signed into law - that allows the state to confiscate animals used in illegal fights and to ban someone convicted of running animal fights from owning or controlling certain animals. Kenney described the law as "the toughest animal fighting bill in the country" and attributed his interest in the issue to his rural childhood.

On one of the more controversial issues of this two-year legislative session, a bill establishing speed limits for boats on Lake Winnipesaukee, Kenney was one of just two Senate Republicans to side with the majority of Senate Democrats in supporting the proposal. The bill passed the Senate by four votes.

Kenney, of Wakefield, cast his vote as a form of constituent service. "I represent literally thousands of landowners that were asking me to support this boat speed bill," he said. "I would have preferred more of a compromise."

And on issues related to health care, Kenney has been prolific.

He is most proud, he says, of a law that allows New Hampshire nurses to practice in other states within a compact made up of about two dozen states, without having to obtain new licenses in each state. In addition, nurses from other states within the compact can practice in New Hampshire if they have a multi-state license.

"New Hampshire has a nursing shortage," said Kenney, who sponsored the bill that became law in 2005. "I think we're actually filling a need with that legislation."

This year, Kenney supported a bill that later became law to have insurers pay for services provided by midwives both at home and at licensed health care facilities. He sponsored several health care bills that failed, including a proposal to create a commission to study paying for vaccines for children who lack private health insurance and a bill mandating insurance coverage for mercury-free fillings, vaccines and injections for pregnant women, women who might become pregnant and children under age 12.

Kenney has sponsored several bills regarding organ donations over the years, including proposals - which failed - to require hospitals to report on their standards for organ donations and transplants and barring hospitals from requiring insurance coverage for organ donations and transplants. In 2006, he sponsored a bill establishing an organ- and tissue-donor registry, which became law. The registry, Kenney said, "really streamlined registration."

Sen. Kathleen Sgambati, a Tilton Democrat who is considered one of the Legislature's foremost experts on health care, described Kenney as "pleasant to work with," though they often disagreed on issues. "He often had good ideas and obviously cared a lot about some issues, but the approaches weren't always the most effective way to deal with the problem," Sgambati said.

Kenney, a Marine, began his career by focusing on veterans issues. But over time, he said, "I found myself gravitating toward health care."

Still, Kenney continues to support and sponsor legislation related to veterans. This year, he sponsored successful proposals to increase the maximum scholarship amount available from the National Guard scholarship fund and to require the state Veterans Council to issue a state veterans handbook biennially. In 2004, Kenney sponsored a Senate resolution to create a Purple Heart Trail in New Hampshire.

"Lower spending and the veterans issues he's always been in the forefront on," said Senate Republican Leader Ted Gatsas of Manchester.

Sen. Peter Burling, a Cornish Democrat, was chairman of the Executive Departments and Administration Committee, on which Kenney served. "He is a pleasant, decent man," Burling said. "I don't agree with him about much of the substance, and we disagree about much of the ways in which government ought to work."

'Let's keep New Hampshire New Hampshire'

Kenney's record also includes bills that are clearly rooted in his constituency.

This year he proposed a bill that would exempt the town of Wakefield from the setback requirements of the Shoreland Protection Act. The bill failed. Last year, Kenney sponsored a successful bill to pave the way for the construction of a dam on a lake in Wakefield. In the 2004 session, he proposed a bill - which failed - to eliminate the ban on Jet Skis on Pine River Pond in Wakefield.

And then there are those bills that aren't related to health care or veterans but that make Kenney proud.

Last year, he pushed for a change in the law regarding bingo games conducted by senior citizens organizations. The bill, which passed, increased the maximum total value of prizes and tokens awarded for such games from $150 to $500 and changed the minimum age requirement for participation in the games from 60 to 55. The bill, Kenney said, is "one of my most popular."

Kenney's interest in the issue of senior citizen bingo was prompted by a conversation with Kellie Chase, who runs senior programs at the Farmington Parks and Recreation Department. "We were way over" the old prize limit, Chase explained. "We were playing 25-cent games, but there were so many people." At the time, Kenney was running for the Senate, and Chase asked for his help.

"He was a big help for us," she said.

As for legislative disappointments, Kenney pointed to a death penalty bill that he proposed. The bill, which failed to pass this year, would have made those who killed multiple people in the same act subject to the death penalty.

Kenney summed up his campaign theme this way: "Let's keep New Hampshire New Hampshire, not Massachusetts." He said he wants to rein in spending, and he takes issue with what he deems "some of the social fabric changes" that have taken place in the state.

"I have a sense that people are very worried about basic necessity items like food, shelter and heat, and many people around the state feel like they can't afford all that," he said.

Asked how his campaign theme is reflected in his legislative record, Kenney pointed to the highway trust fund. Money from the gas tax goes to the highway fund, which helps pay for highway projects. Several other agencies, however, also get highway dollars, including the Department of Safety and the Department of Justice. Many lawmakers say the money should be limited to highway projects.

"I think the monies that go into the highway trust fund should go directly to the roads," Kenney said. "And I think that's keeping New Hampshire New Hampshire."

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The Boston Globe, September 12, 2008
CONCORD, N.H: "Audit of park system finds fiscal problems"

A legislative audit of financial controls at the state park system has found much room for improvement. The system is the only one in the country that by law must be self-supporting. The audit said the parks might not satisfy that mandate without better internal controls over their finances. Auditors said that when fiscal 2008 closed June 30, the four divisions included in the system's revolving fund were nearly $3 million in deficit. (AP)

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"State aims to overhaul mental health system"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, September 23, 2008

CONCORD – State officials yesterday unveiled a 10-year plan to overhaul the state's mental health system to improve treatment and keep patients out of hospitals and prisons.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas said the plan is meant to provide better services and to use state dollars more efficiently. He said the state now spends too much money treating patients in emergency rooms, or housing them in prisons where mental health services are inadequate.

Funding the first two years of the program next year will prove difficult in an ailing economy, but Toumpas said it would not really be new spending.

"We are already dealing with this but not in any disciplined way," he said. "New Hampshire's current system of publicly funded mental health services is not working." Toumpas could not say yet how much money the plan will require in its first two years, and said his budget proposal is still being worked on for submission next month. He pointed out that mental health and addiction issues account for significant portions of prison spending. If they are addressed early and appropriately, he said, the state could save money and see better outcomes.

The proposed 10-year plan was drawn up by a task force that included HHS workers, mental health centers around the state and the New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association.

Several officials said the state started out well 20 years ago as it deinstitutionalized mental health services, But a lack of funding has seen much of the planning go unfulfilled.

Three psychiatric units in Berlin, Claremont and Manchester have closed in the last 15 months. In all, the state has only eight beds for patients who are involuntarily committed, compared to 101 beds 10 years ago.

The state Bureau of Behavioral Health says the state has only 203 residential group home beds for a population of 7,000 adults who have serious and persistent mental illness.

Because those with mental illness typically have incomes only about 10 to 15 percent of the state median wage, they cannot afford housing and are priced out of the market.

The plan proposes improvements in nearly every area of the mental health system: housing programs and rental vouchers for patients, more involuntary commitment units, more residential treatment beds, outpatient treatment teams, money to recruit and retain more mental health professionals, and coordinated spending across state agencies.

Roland Lamy, executive director of the, said the state had a system of care 20 years ago, "but it came apart over time." Things will get worse without action, he said.

"Hospitals are already at capacity and the state's population continues to grow," Lamy said.

Geri Foucher of Bedford, whose son was diagnosed with mental illness 14 years ago, said housing is a critical issue. "I don't know anyone who can recover from any illness while they are homeless," she said. "It's time for action. Please, no more words."
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Readers' COMMENTS:

We have a growing problem of domestic violence law abuse. ROs are used to turn a mentally ill person into a homeless person with restricted bank accounts and no legal address once the NH Bar divorce attorney access the family assets. It is NH women, NH BAR and the STATE that manufacture growing homelessness through ROs abuse.
- jim, hooksett

This state population is growing at extremely small rate due to "housing" issues. The article is deceptive in it leaves the reader with the impression we have a growing state population with a housing problem for the mentally ill.
- Chris, Merrimack

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"Bleeding red ink: Concord drains more"
NH Union Leader, Editorial, 9/26/2008

The U.S. economy is teetering because millions of people obligated themselves to spend money they didn't have -- on the hope that enough cash to pay the bills would materialize sometime in the future. On Wednesday the state Legislature, at the urging of Gov. John Lynch, appropriated $12.1 million that it doesn't have on the hope that enough cash to pay the bills will materialize sometime in the future.

The new spending comes in two parts: $10 million in home heating assistance and $2.1 million in weatherization assistance. It comes halfway through a two-year state budget that grew by 17.5 percent, or $475 million, over the previous one. The state's obligations in the current budget already outstrip its ability to pay them. Gov. Lynch and legislators spent this year cutting here and raising taxes there to try to make ends meet. Even so, the budget is projected to end in a deficit of about $100 million. The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies estimates that the next state budget will be at least $286 million, and as much as $495 million, in the red.

But no matter. Legislators and the governor stared at all of that red ink and said, "Spend more!" They claim that $10 million will be repaid by the federal government and $2.1 million will be repaid by fees collected from carbon allowances purchased at auction under the new Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. But in reality, they have no idea if the state will get any of that $12.1 million back this year or ever.

At this point, why don't we all just close our eyes and wish really hard that we'll wake up tomorrow morning and the budget will be balanced? As futile as that step would be, it would be more than our elected officials are doing to bring the state budget into the black.
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Readers' COMMENTS:

Williams says, "It's your government why don't you get from it the things for which you pay? When is it going to by your turn?"

The point of the editorial is that no one has paid for this. Where is the new source of revenue to pay for these services?

William says, "Listen to the compassionate conservatives as they shut off your heat, raise your debt limit."

So what do you think the Dems in Concord are doing right now by putting us $286 million in the hole? What happened to the paygo rules that Dems preach to us in 2006? If we have new spending then we should see cuts from other services.

Why is it only a Republican War when both Biden (Your VP candidate) as well as Hillary (Your Dem. runner up) voted to give the president authorization to go to war? Did they are did they not vote for the war?

Seriously William, take your rose colored glasses off and start asking these tough questions of your Democratic brethren. Start by asking why Obama hired James Johnson (former CEO of Fannie Mae) to vet his VP options, Franklin Raines (former CEO Fannie) as a economic consultant; and Daniel Mudd (former CEO of Fannie) stated Obama was part of the family. Obama received the 2nd most in campaign contributions from Fannie Mae second only to Chris Dodd (D) and right in front of John Kerry (2004 Dem presidential nominee).

Both parties are contributing to the demise of our country but the more we play the red-blue game, nothing will change.
- Kyle, Bedford

The days of self reliance are over. We are now a "what are you going to give me" society.

Lets spend more money we don't have, which is what the Dems and Co. want so they could then cry foul and demand more broadbased taxes.

Political gain at the taxpayers expense.
- Don, Exeter, NH

I do not care which party gets the blame, Lord knows they are both fiscally irresponsible with money not their own.

This, however, is sheer madness. How much in the red do we have to get before some dunce in Concord figures out that it will affect our tax rates, bond rating, future budgets and the quality of life of everyone in the state?

We all complain about taxes and fees yet are not outraged when fiscally incompetent boobs spend us into the poor house.

We should be outraged that such a cadre of spendthrifts have bankrupted the state and still spend because "it feels good."

Vote Democrat, vote Republican, vote for a squirrel but for goodness sake, vote for someone who understands how to balance a checkbook.
- William Simpson, Concord

The NH legislature recognized that the federal heating oil assistance program is woefully short of money. Even though the price of oil has sky-rocketed since last year, and the need for assistance has grown with the economic downturn, the Bush administration wants to provide less aid to our citizens . Our Congressional delegation is working to increase the amount of funds, but this could take several months. Are we supposed to let people freeze in the meantime? Is that the New Hampshire way? Of course not, so we voted $10 million in state aid today that will be paid back from the anticipated increase in federal aid in the next few months. The other assistance is for weatherization, and comes out of RGGI money, as required by previous legislation. This bill passed unanimously in the NH Senate, and by a 321-12 vote in the House. The fact that UL sides with the 12 extremists who voted no says all a reader needs to know about how out-of-touch the newspaper has become.

As for a potential deficit, we ended 2008 in the black and, despite all the doom and angst in the UL, Governor Lynch will ensure that we end 2009 in the black as well. The situation next biennium will depend in large measure on how bad the recession is in the next 12-18 months. But it is ridiculous to say we will have a $285 million deficit, because the next budget hasn’t even been put together.
- Rep. Michael Marsh, Greenland

Fiscal responsibilty comes by example. At home, as a child, your example was your parents. In adulthood your friends and the government. How many of these examples were positive, menanig spend lass than you have and save the rest. Be wary of credit and always read as well as understand the fine print and potential consequences of what you are doing. So it is no surprise to me that the elected officials on all sides, regadless of party affiliation, seem to believe running the red line is ok. We can run a deficit, why, because the legislators before us did and it was ok while they were there. I am not saying that people do not need some help. But have they done everything they can to help themselves? Cut your spending, it is the easiest was to bring money to the bottom line each month. If that is not enough you may need to add money to the topline with a second job. If there is money 'left over' at the end of the month, even $20, put it in savings for the months your are $20 short. Keep one credit card with a moderate available credit. DO NOT USE IT. Once your savings has grown to the pointg were it can cover the cost of a new furnace or your oil delivery, request the available credit be lowered. Credit is to be used in emergencies, not for desires or dinners out. Be careful when you spend money. If you earn $10 an hour (probably $8 after taxes) that $16 purchase is actually a trade, two hours of your life for that $16 trinket. So a new tv ($1600) is a trade of 200 hours of your life, 5 work weeks! On credit it could double, triple or even quadrouple by the time you pais it off! Credit is dangerous, please use it carefully!
- J. Graham, Concord

Vote for the Republican party of greed that has benefitted from the years in which they have had huge pay increases and you have fallen further and further behind. Their siren song of tax cutting while they got no bid contracts with your money, started wars with your money, expended the youth of the country with your money and now want another trillion or so just to show that they can have anything they want. Listen to the compassionate conservatives as they shut off your heat, raise your debt limit. For heavens sake don't be kind to your neighbors who are cold. It's your government why don't you get from it the things for which you pay? When is it going to by your turn?
- William, Deerfield

This is just more bad news on the bad news already looming over us. The people of New Hampshire deserve much better than this. In 2006, the citizens were led to believe that Democrats could fix the mess the Republicans made years past. Yet the Democratic Delegation of Manchester was either not in session to vote on bills or completely voted with the party they represent and not with what the people they represent wanted. We truely have a unique opportunity to come out this November and VOTE. Vote for the person who respects you, Vote for the person who listens, Vote for the person who wants to hear your opinion and not try to sell you their ideas or beliefs. Remember, they represent you, not the other way around.

Robert M Tarr
Candidate for State Representative - District 12, Ward 5
Manchester
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Courts in N.H. struggle with load: Counties see rise in delayed rulings"
By Associated Press, September 29, 2008

KEENE, N.H. - More people are being left in legal limbo because of increased caseloads, more complex cases, and shortages of judges and clerical staff at New Hampshire's Superior Courts.

Cheshire County has one full-time judge, Brian Tucker, and one part-time judge, John Arnold, who spends six months of the year in Sullivan County, where he is the only active judge.

"It is not an exaggeration to say that every day there are at least two stacks at least a foot tall of routine matters on Judge Tucker's desk," said Cheshire County Superior Court Clerk Barbara Hogan. "Some days there are four or five stacks, and he gets them done every day. He's working them before and after the court opens."

Judges have 60 days to render a decision in any type of case after its final hearing. In Cheshire County, three were overdue this month.

"It's not getting better, but we're holding our own," Hogan said.

When decisions are overdue, the case files end up on the desk of Superior Court Chief Justice Robert Lynn, who talks with the judges and works out a solution.

"There is no real penalty," Lynn said. "We could make the judge work on the decisions on his vacation time, but that's never been necessary. They usually have a very good excuse for the delay."

Most of the time, judges are simply overworked, buried in paperwork, he said. Lynn said three years ago, he would see one or two overdue decisions statewide in a given month; now it's five to 10.

In Hillsborough County Superior Court South in Nashua, decisions in at least four cases were overdue this month, said Clerk Marshall Buttrick. The court has four full-time judges, and one vacancy. In Hillsborough County Superior Court North in Manchester, there were no overdue decisions this month, but clerical staff shortages have delayed the processing of the decisions.

"After the judge enters the decision into the record and gives it to our office, it may take two to four weeks for us to actually mail that decision because of a processing backlog," said Clerk John Safford.

Lynn said other government bodies are struggling, too.

"The Legislature is not singling out the court system. They have treated us very well over the last several years," he said. "There is a statewide budget problem, and I don't think we're any worse off than any other state agency."

In Keene, one overdue decision involves Jessie Carpenter, 27, who is in a custody dispute. While she waits for a decision, she sees her 5-year-old daughter for less than two hours a week at a supervised visitation center. The case dates to 2004; the last hearing was June 6.

"It's been long and drawn out, but I'm practicing my patience," she said. "I just have no idea what's going to happen."

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"Lynch, Kenney spar on business, financial issues"
By STEPHEN BEALE, Union Leader Correspondent
Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008

GOFFSTOWN – Gov. John Lynch and Republican challenger Joe Kenney aired their differences on spending, health care, and education funding at their first joint forum today.

Kenney said he was running to rein in state spending, calling for an across-the-board 5 percent cut in all agencies and departments. He warned that out-of-control spending was hurting New Hampshire’ ability to attract businesses.

“We don’t have a revenue problem in New Hampshire, we have a spending problem,” Kenney said. “And it’s become quite apparent that if we don’t get the spending under control, we’re going to kill the New Hampshire tax advantage.”

Lynch defended the state budget as “responsible,” saying it had increased by only 3 percent annually in the past two years, once nondiscretionary spending is factored out. “Certainly our low tax environment is very important and business people tell me all the time that that’s one of the reasons they locate here,” Lynch said.

The incumbent governor touted his achievements in creating tax credits for research and development and for businesses moving into Coos County, which he described as an “economically challenged” region of the state. Kenney dismissed those programs as “token” achievements which should be expanded.

Both candidates came out strongly against any statewide sales and income tax or increases in the business tax. Kenney said he would consider expansion of gambling operations as an alternative source of revenue for state education funding. Lynch also appeared open to gambling revenues but said he wanted to be sure there would not be an adverse effect on the quality of life in the state.

The forum was produced by the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire in association with the New Hampshire Union Leader, New Hampshire Public Television and New Hampshire Public Radio. Lincoln Financial Group sponsored the event. NHPR's Laura Knoy moderated the forum. Denis Paiste of the Union Leader and Richard Ager of NHPTV were media panelists.

A forum featuring U.S. Sen. John Sununu and challenger Jeanne Shaheen is scheduled for Monday. While no tickets remain available, the Senate forum will be live-streamed via UnionLeader.com and other partners' web sites.
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For more details on today's forum, see UnionLeader.com and tomorrow’s edition of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
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Readers' COMMENTS:

What a missed opportunity by Joe Kenney...I would have went right after the main cause of the 17.5% increase - out of line wage and benefit increases...past legislators have spent money that taxpayers cannot afford...negotiating pay and benefit packages that cost more than what we can afford is just plain irresponsible...once the feds are done raping the middle class with their bailout plan, what then?...the middle class bailout the poor and now the rich too...my kids pack a lunch 2-3 times a week so my federal tax dollars can pay for hot breakfast and lunches for people who's kids qualify for them...I shop for hamburg and the CEO's who ran their companies in the ground will walk away with multi-million dollars pay outs on my federal tax dollars...if the regular people in this country don't start standing up and say enough is enough, we will get exactly what we deserve...because of weak leadership and a failure to not back down, the middle class in America is being wiped of the face of the earth!
- Fred Leonard, Rochester

17.5% increase in spending (additional revenue needed) is still 17.5%!
If the government continues to spend more than revenue available then you start looking for a new revenue stream as Jeanne Shaheen used to say.
Both are wrong to think that expanded gambling dedicated to any line item is the way to go.
I am not anti-gambling - spend your money on what you wish - just don't ask me to help you out when you lose it.
This is an opportunity for Joe Kenny to challenge the governor on just who should be setting tax policy; NH lawmakers or the unelected State Supreme Court?
And a good time to talk about a state tax cap on the amount of increase to be spent - TABOR - the taxpayer bill of rights.
And about privatizing some state operations - at least go out to bid to find out if there is a better way of having the services performed.Can't wait until these two discuss social issues. You know - like changing the culture of our state even more and taking more rights from parents.
bnyoung@metrocast.net
- Niel Young, Laconia

Um, lemme see. You forgot something. According to your own Drew Cline:

"At the gubernatorial forum at NHIOP, John Lynch and Joe Kenney were asked what is their plan for maintaining and preserving the NH Advantage.

Lynch said we have to be careful about doing anything that affects our quality of life. “But I think our real advantage has to do with our people,” Lynch said. Huh? Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine don’t have “wonderful people”? He then mentioned tax credits to attract businesses and improving education."

Quite the Beauty Queen answer if you ask me, and typical of the 'non-answers' he gave even when debating Benson in 2004...

tsk
- Jane Aitken, Bedford

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The New Hampshire Union Leader Online: "NH budget hole getting larger"
October 17, 2008, 11:31 AM EDT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Not surprisingly, upheaval in the economy is causing a larger hole in the New Hampshire state budget - but that could change for the better if measures taken in Washington turn around business earnings.

New estimates predict revenue for fiscal year 2009 will fall $250 million short of original expectations - $50 million worse than Gov. John Lynch estimated just two weeks ago.

Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon said Friday the uncertain economy is to blame - especially the inability of businesses to get credit.

Business taxes are the state's largest source of general revenue.

Hodgdon told lawmakers Thursday revenues could be short $250 million when the fiscal year ends June 30.

"All bets are off if the economy improves and something comes from the federal level to loosen credit," she said Friday. "I would love to be wrong and have less of a deficit but this is what we have to plan for. If we find there's significant improvement, then we can take steps to ease off."

Lynch already has trimmed $90 million from the 2009 budget. If the projections hold, $160 million more will have to be cut by the end of June, Hodgdon said.

"I want to make sure (people) understand the fluidity of (the situation)," Hodgdon said. "It is changing day-to-day ... Our number will change again. I can guarantee you based on economic conditions this number will change."

Department heads have until Oct. 27 to give Lynch plans to reduce their budgets 8 percent - a figure set when Lynch thought the budget gap was closer to $100 million.

Hodgdon said Lynch had told agencies to come up with $55 million and he would look for ways to close the gap.

"The governor's forecast was before the market worsened dramatically," she said.

Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said Friday there will be enough ideas coming from department heads to make deeper cuts if the new revenue projection holds.

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"Cigarette tax goes up by 25 cents a pack"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief
The NH Union Leader Online, Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Concord – The price of smoking in New Hampshire just went up.

State tax officials said the tobacco tax is going up by 25 cents a pack beginning today.

Acting Revenue Administration Commissioner Margaret Fulton issued an advisory just after 2 p.m. saying that tobacco sales between July and September failed to produce the $50 million in revenue that would have allowed her to leave the tax on hold.

New Hampshire’s tax is now $1.33 a pack, still well below the $2.51 a pack, plus sales tax, that Massachusetts imposes.

The higher tax, which retailers are to start collecting immediately, will raise an extra $18 million a year for the state budget, by recent estimates.

The increase does not affect the price of cigars, pipe, smokeless and loose tobacco.

The Legislature voted in June to give convenience markets and grocers three-months to press a marketing campaign that would help the state take in $50 million in tax revenue. If they fell short, the tax was to take effect.

On the last day of September, a tobacco wholesaler complained that it ran into red tape when trying to make a $3 million wire transfer for tobacco stamps that would have put tax revenues over the threshold and avoided the tax increase. The wire transfer, which revenue administrators had never accepted before, created accounting problems for the state, because it did not go through the usual channels.

Fulton’s department issued a statement announcing the increase that said, in part, “Due to extenuating circumstances, the certification of the amount of tobacco tax revenue was delayed.”
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READERS' COMMENTS:
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Matthew in Plymouth, coffee is already taxed. When you go to Dunkins to get your cup of coffee, you pay the meals tax.
- C Johnson, Bow

Smokers are the last race of people pushed out into the cold in winter.

In the United States our laws are written to prosecute the cause of things, not the effect. If people drive drunk, ban alcohol. If non-smokers inhale second-hand smoke, ban cigarettes.

This country wasn't founded on freedom. It was founded on the freedom to practice the puritan religion. Thus we have today people in charge who mold society as they see fit.

Nicotine is a drug. I actually do not know the legal implications of taxes on drugs. Is there a caffeine tax? Why don't we tax coffee, or we can't because the majority of people drink coffee? How about a tax on tea? Oh wait, didn't that start a war?
- Matthew, Plymouth

Considering the way you all throw your butts out the window of your car and litter the roadways, you are 2nd class citizens! Hope they double the tax!!
- Steve, Hooksett

Did we all forget the core values of what it means to live in NH ? Does live free or die mean anything to anyone anymore, or is it just a nifty slogan that we print on our license plates to help bolster tourism ?

How is it fair to levy a tax against other hard working fellow citizens while YOU fail to contribute a fair share for expenses that YOU have incurred ?

How cowardly is it when the group you are increasing taxes on, are in essence helplessly addicted ?

None of us likes taxes, but they are a neccessary evil, so why not keep it fair and spread the increase amongst all who were responsible for incurring the debt in the first place, instead of levying a new tax on a particular segment.

Perhaps if everyones taxes went up, we all might start paying a little more attention and addressing the real reasons as to why our taxes and spending bugets are rising faster than the economy can support.

Just as we have to learn to live within our needs, so should the state !

Government needs to provide equal treatment to all of its citizens and not acting like a predator by shaking down a select group to pay for the expenses of others.

Perhaps this is how things are done in Washington, but we should not tolerate nor allow this type of partisan redistribution of wealth.

Lets NOT become another Massachusetts !
- Paul, Hillsboro, NH

To all of the smokers out there...the state has resources set up to aid in smoking cessation. 1800-try-to-stop , I know the UL doesn't like posting numbers or websites but this is a state hotline. The choice is yours to stop, quit blaming everybody under the sun for your addiction and lost money.
- Joseph, Bedford

Thanks Governor for making those of us who smoke pay even more and treating us like second class citizens at the same time. God forbid there could be a few places to eat or have a drink just for smokers and left up to the establishment owners to choose.

What other group of people out there pay fifty million in taxes while having their freedom to choose stripped from them. No non smoker would have been forced to work or go into a smoking establishment. For those who liked the idea not to worry. One day someone will target you when they think they know what is best for you. Maybe I'll be the better person and help protect your right to choose for yourself. That is if the freedom to choose still exists.

Some day's I'm just amazed at how much freedom of choice we have given away in the last forty years to those who know what's best for us.
- Deb, Derry

Thanks Governor for making those of us who smoke pay even more and treating us like second class citizens at the same time. God forbid there could be a few places to eat or have a drink just for smokers and left up to the establishment owners to choose.

What other group of people out there pay fifty million in taxes while having their freedom to choose stripped from them. No non smoker would have been forced to work or go into a smoking establishment. For those who liked the idea not to worry. One day someone will target you when they think they know what is best for you. Maybe I'll be the better person and help protect your right to choose for yourself. That is if the freedom to choose still exists.

In forty short years I can't believe how intrusive we have allowed government to be in our personal lives.
- Deb, Derry

I wonder if fewer people will come to New Hampshire to buy cigarettes at our convenience stores. I wonder if our convenience stores will sell fewer lottery tickets and other things. I wonder if business profits tax revenues from convenience stores will decrease.
- Ken Stremsky, Manchester, NH

Well said, Ryan M. Feel lucky you live in NH and quit complaining about everything. If you don't want to pay the tax then stop smoking! If I don't want to pay the Hooksett or Hampton tolls, I drive around them...I don't come to the UL website and make a fuss about it. Luxury taxing and tolls make it so we can avoid an income and sales tax.
- Jim, Manchester

This new tax increase is the same as saying we don't get enough tax revenue on gasoline because people are driving fuel efficient cars.
So we will raise taxes on the cars that get good gas mileage. It makes no sense but if the sheeple in this state apply the same logic, that is what would happen.
I'm sick of the Governments BS. People need to stand up and stop taxes from increasing in all areas.
- Tom W, Candia

It's hypocritical to say raising the tax is to help reduce smoking. If that happens the revenue supposedly coming from the tax increase would not be there. I don't think you really want the smoker to quit.
- Dan, Nashua

"Don't tax me or my neighbor, tax that guy standing behind the tree."

I'm not a smoker, but sticking it to a minority is becoming very popular. Sin taxes, income tax cuts for 95% on the national level and sticking it to the other 5%, additional fees on NH hunters, etc.

If the politicians want to raise salaries and benefits, add a program here and there, offload nursing home funding to the counties, and want to keep the archaic public pension system intact(underfunded by billions, and the underfunding will grow dramatically when this year's market values are factored in by the actuaries), the courageous thing to do would be to stand behind this increased spending and call for a broad based tax. At least that would be an honest debate.

Personally, I am totally against any broad based tax and believe in spending restraint, but what we have going on for the past several years is a backdoor effort to spend our way into a broad based tax. The budget crisis we have now was inevitable, even before the economic slowdown.

Our politicians now can claim that they are reluctantly, but courageously, going to do the right thing, and propose a sales or income tax, when it was probably the so-called progressives' plan all along. How else to explain a 17.5% budget increase? They had to know the property tax base cannot support that.
- Ditmar, Hollis

Iw ould seem to me that the "tax" on Wine & Spirits is already high as they state of NH makes between 20-40% markup on the products just for the pleasure of buying them in NH. Many folks that buy wine at supermarkets are already seeing increases as the retailers discount is lowered by another 5%. ( math majors thats another 50 to 75 cents a bottle or more) Lets come up a few ways to level the costs across state instead of just "sin" taxes
- Amy Kezar, Weare, NH

Does this make sense? If every smoker in NH quit smoking right now the state economy would collapse. So that means Kate M's kids would have no school to go to. I am a smoker. I am addicted to smoking cigarettes. I choose to feed mmy addiction rather than facing years of withdrawl pains. If you all really cared about my health you could outlaw smoking, but you won't because you need the money. (You're all welcome.) As for the argument for medicaid paying for a smoker's inevitable death, lets not forget that the majority of Americans don't smoke... but we all die. Smokers just don't take as much time dying (which saves money, really, go grab your calculator.) So who carries the bigger burden on the system? So comment board: do me a favor, don't spit in my eye with all your twisted facts and agenda driven arguments while taking more and more money out of my pockets. If you don't want me to smoke (which is still my right to do) outlaw cigarettes effective October 15th and I can be done paying for your kid's education!.

OR we can come to an agreement... stop targeting smokers and we will all accept things the way they are. Otherwise we WILL quit. And you can pretend all you want, but you DON'T want that. Trust me.
- EDWARD R, Manchester NH

Let me get this straight, because the revenues weren't high enough we're going to RAISE the price? That is supposed to increase revenues? Only a government bureaucrat could come up with such a stupid plan. I'll be buying my cigs online from now on.
- Bill, Manchester

We have all been so spoiled in NH. We do not pay sales tax or income tax yet we still expect our state to fund everyday services. The money has to come from somewhere! If the tolls get raised $.10 the immediate response is that the government is out to screw everyone. I would love to see how NH citizens would feel if we removed the cigarette tax and tolls replacing with a broad based sales and income tax.

Let's not play the "poor me" response b/c smokers have to pay an additional expense. I agree that smokers have been unfairly targeted to cover the expense however the law has been passed and if you do not agree than contact your local state politician and make your voice heard. All the "sins" that are taxed or should be taxed are luxury items and not a necessity. I do not need the 6-pack in my fridge I choose to buy it and if it were taxed to pave the highway or help buy text books for a school I will still buy it knowing I am helping to fund my state. I enjoying netting 5-8% more every paycheck by living and working in NH and would gladly pay a few cents for luxury items to save throusands per year.
- Ryan M, Manchester

While I am not a smoker and I understand that the state has overspent on the budget, how is it fair that Smokers bear the brunt of the tax increases in the state. It does not seem fair to me.

When this nation is in the midst of another recession and everyone is facing tough times, why is it that the economic burden is placed on individuals of one particular class. In this case, smokers. I don't agree with the comments that people are making regarding, "if you don't like it, quit smoking" this is not as easy as some may seem to think. While I have never smoked and never intend to, I do know that from the studies out there, it is an addiction and a hard habit to break.

As I was always told when growing up, "You will never know the meaning of something until you walk in the other persons shoes."
- CP, Weare, NH

Kate M of Marlow, NH...
Why not raise the tax on fast and fatty foods? We are paying for people with bad eating habits that have heart issues, diabetes, etc.
Or hey about about a tax on alcohol so less people drink and we worry less about alcohol related sicknesses.
Wake up - this has nothing to do with them wanting to help us smokers with out smoking related diseases - they KNOW that a lot of smokers will continue to smoke and so they raise the tax on us.
AND if we all quit smoking they would find something else to tax, so stop your complaining about your kids paying for someones healthcare - they will pay higher for something in the long run!
- Kristen, Manchester, NH

I don't smoke, so it has no effect on me however if you buy them online, you can avoid the tax altogether......never mind the fact they come right to your front door.
and Karen......don't give the state any ideas about taxing my Captain :-)
- Sydney, Londonderry

I am all for an even higher tax on cigarettes. I do not smoke and I am not against smoking if you choose to do it. I have friends that smoke, and let them smoke around me if they choose to. Its like the comedian Chris Rock said, we should make bullets cost like $1000/ each. You would see less gun crimes. Highere cigarette tax = lower cigarette consumption = better air quality! I think taxing stuff that voluntarily causes cancer is ok. And don't anyone pull the 2nd hand smoke does not cause lung cancer that I hear sometimes, because well think about this......how about the 1st hand smoke that comes off the end of the burning cigarette that goes into the air that does not even travel through the filter??? At least when you take a drag it is filtered, the stuff coming off the burning end is not!
- James, Derry

"The increase does not affect the price of cigars, pipe, smokeless and loose tobacco. "

Why not? These items are capable of causing just as many health problems for the users and/or people subjected to the second-hand smoke from the cigars and pipes.
- Stephanie Wells, Peterborough

But all you smokers will pay it cuz you gots to have your butts. :-)
- Bill, Berlin

Don't forget the liberals spouting how they will reduce taxes on the middle class and the poor....they can't...they spend too much and they have to tax us on things like liquor and cigarettes, car registrations, etc, to cover the debt If the liberals win this election you won't be seeing any reduction in taxes, someone has to pay for all the programs they are promising.......
- Dawn Gagnon, Manchester

What hypocrosy!!!! New Hampshire already collects millions from the Tobacco Co's to supposedly, "help" people who have smoking-related illnesses, so, the state holds small markets hostage, by telling them they have to push cigarette sales to collect $50,000 extra taxes to keep the state solvent.
STOP SPENDING SO MUCH!!!
- Shirley Copp, Rochester,N.H.

Molly, if you all stop smoking, the rest of us won't have to pay for your medicaid when you are sick from tobacco related illness. People NOT smoking will save us ALL money in the long run. My kids shouldn't have to pay to treat smokers who get sick! Raising the tax might just save some lives and save us all money later. NH needs revenue. So, vote for another kind of tax if you don't like the cigarette tax!
- Kate M, Marlow, NH

When do they vote on raising the Beer & Wine & Spirits tax??????? Was this vote a vote of the citizens of NH or the paid lobbyists?
- Karen B., Manchester, NH

im thrilled...they should have gone up $3.00 a pack....I think it is great
- louis, derry

Typical. If the public doesn't pony up enough money because the price of an item -- as in this case, cancer sticks -- is perceived to be too high already, why just raise the tax to generate more revenue. Riiight. Does it ever occur to these nitwits that raising the price of any commodity will DECREASE the demand.

Tolls are a perfect example; not enough $$$ coming to Concord from the various toll roads? The bureaucrat's answer is RAISE THE TOLL. The result: a further DECREASE in revenue to the state because the folks avoid the toll roads even more frequently.

As another poster here noted, the state is waging a Stop Smoking campaign. The more successful that campaign the less tax revenues from cigarettes will be realized. So, the nitwittery will respond, yet again, by raising the tax and, thereby, drive sales ever lower.

Liberals just don't GET economics! If they did B. HUSSEIN Obama wouldn't stand a bleepin' chance.

Have a day. Bang Gunley
- Bang Gunley, Hampton Beach

Thanks a lot, Democrats.

Vote them all out next month, and return our state to commonsense leadership.
- Keith, Manchester

This is a good thing. If you don't like it - don't smoke. How hard is that?
- John A., Manchester, NH

Who can I tax to make ends meet? I'm sorry, but government just doesn't understand that the more they nickel and dime us, the deeper in debt we get. Stop smoking, you say? And if we all stop smoking, where will the government get the millions of dollars they will lose in tax revenue? They'll just impose a different tax, so either way, we lose and the government just keeps getting to squander our hard earned dollars away. Bankruptcy anyone?
- Molly W, Manchester, NH

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"High court rejects school funding suit"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief
The NH Union Leader Online, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008

Concord – The Supreme Court in a 3-2 vote today dismissed a lawsuit that Londonderry and Merrimack filed over the state’s 2005 education funding plan.

The majority of the court said the Legislature changed the funding method in 2007 and 2008, making the issue moot. The towns said the Legislature didn't define an adequate education and in its funding formula created a situation that put more tax burden on some towns than on others.

In their majority opinion, three justices noted that the two plaintiff towns have not challenged the new funding laws.

Two justices, Chief Justice John Broderick and Associate Justice James Duggan, dissented.

Broderick wrote that the court has given the Legislature more than a decade to solve the funding issue, which it considers a matter of constitutional obligations to all public school children. He retraced the number of times the court has stayed its hand in ordering a solution.

“Despite its near decade long assurances … the State has not met its acknowledged obligation,” Broderick wrote.

The Legislature has settled three of the four jobs the court set out for it in its 1997 Claremont ruling: define an adequate education, figure out what it should cost and then fund it. It is now working on a final step of assuring that school districts are held accountable for results.

However, Broderick said if lawmakers can’t finish their work on school funding this year, he would be open to appointing a special master “to make recommendations to this court as to how the state’s obligations for public education can be fulfilled. I would hope that day does not arrive, but recognized and important constitutional rights need to be enforced. Certainty and finality are long past due.”

Duggan wrote the state’s high court should have sent the case back for a trial on disputes over the details of the current funding formula, such as student-teacher ratios, average salaries and other factors used to determine local aid.

These issues should be resolved in the first instance by the Superior Court,” Duggan wrote.
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Look for expanded coverage of this decision on UnionLeader.com later today and in tomorrow's New Hampshire Union Leader.
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Readers' COMMENTS:
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Jim,

I completely agree with you and I reject the idea that the NH constitution requires public education.

However, I made that comment because it seems that most of the posters have more of a problem with the courts stepping on the legislatures toes regarding how to finance, rather than whether to finance.

My entire point was that if you accept Point A, you have to allow the court to enforce it.

Maybe I am misunderstanding what everyone's complaint is, but from how I read them boiled down to the essence, it sounds like people want there to be a right to education, but not want it to be enforced... and that makes no sense to me.
- Kevin Barnett, Nashua, NH

Kevin Barnett, why would we "accept that there is a right to an education" when no such constitutional right exists? Such a right is not only absent, but cannot exist because enforcement requires violating the rights of others (ie property rights).

Education puppet lawyers pulled out the discredited "Positive Rights" concept to justify this money grab. The term simply elevates "entitlements" to the level of a constitutional right. Our Constitution has no "positive rights" - how could such a "right" ever be guaranteed?

Its worth noting that the structure of our government precludes the enforcement of any sort of "positive right". To enforce a "positive right" the courts would need powers they've been specifically denied in our Constitution.

That is the root of the problem, and that is what drives the Supreme Court to seek powers it simply doesn't have. As Tammy Simmons said, we need lawmakers with the backbone to stand up to this court.
- Jim Peschke, Croydon, NH

Five men in black robes on the other side of the river in Concord do not have the authority to tell the legislature what they must do.

We need to elect state reps who will fight to stand up to the courts. If these judges want to legislate, let them run for state rep or state senate and do so.
- Tammy Simmons, West Manchester

I thought the judges at the Superior Court level were appointed to the seat and Senators and State Representatives were elected by the people. Local control should be given back to the towns/cities. We need real representatives and senators who will stand up to the courts and represent the people respectfully. One solution could be to ensure funding is rated along the lines of the rate of inflation plus poplulation growth and such things as student-teacher ratios, average salaries and other factors used to determine local aid just to name a few. Otherwise we will continue go around in circles for more years to come.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Judge Broderick, as you're undoubtedly an ace constitution scholar, kindly explain how "cherish" becomes "centralize education control and spend up the wazoo at the state level"

Here's another one. Where does our Constitution grant the Supreme Court power to order the General Court to pass laws, levy taxes, and spend money?

Nowhere! Those powers are not available to the Supreme Court, only the Legislature. But you must already know that.

So the next time a bunch of Big Ed special interest lawyers dress up like ordinary citizens and file another frivolous state lawsuit, appoint your "special master" all you want.

With luck, your "special master" can report back to you and the NEA that the General Court understands separation of powers and chooses to ignore you.
- Jim Peschke, Croydon, NH

If we're upset with the Court for reading a right to education into the state constitution, I completely agree they are out of line and just writing things (that no matter how reasonable, sensible, logical, or desirable they are) that just aren't there.

However, if we accept that there is a right to education, then the Court has been extremely reasonable. They have been telling the legislature for a decade, "hey guys, do something so we don't have to"... hey when are you going to do that... etc. At some point, they cant let themselves be walked over time and time again...
- Kevin Barnett, Nashua, NH

I do not wish to sound partisan but…….IF you elect Democrats to the NH House and Senate you are sure to have – in addition to John Lynch – folks representing you who favor a state income tax (and maybe a sales tax).
You can read where Broderick and Duggan want to take us in the future.
We must elect Republicans – the ones who promise a resolution that informs the NH Supreme Court that they are longer involved in tax policy – that is left to those elected to the House and Senate. Now…if a Republican won’t promise to do it your way – withhold your vote and tell them you will!
bnyoung@metrocast.net
- Niel Young, Laconia

Change the constitution immediately so we will no longer be under the thumb of these rogue judges.
- Bill, Manchester

Wow Broderick really does think that the the Supreme Court are Kings. Amazing. Where does he get off thinking that they have the authority to make laws when the State Constitution clearly gives that authority to the General Court? Impeachment anyone?
- Nate, Canaan

"Cherish" does not mean "fund." It didn't mean it in the 19th century - when the clause was added - and it doesn't mean it now.

The court is wrong. Period. The legislature should tell the court to go to hell. Lawyers aren't any better than the rest of us at reading constitutions - and they're usually worse.
- Keith, Manchester

The platitudes in Article 83 that the court used to mandate equality could, if read by a different court, be used to strike down our entire system of government education. However, for the Legislature to enact a different, but essentially equivalent, system, and declare that the litigation was overtaken by events, was a gambit. The gambit has succeeded. Can we now get back to work, instead of filing new lawsuits to get Claremont the money that Claremont Town Meeting won't vote, at Brentwood's expense?
- Spike, Brentwood NH

CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION

Seriously. When the Court starts talking about a "special master", enough is enough.
- MP, Hampton Falls

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The text of the state Supreme Court's decision:

http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=The+text+of+the+state+Supreme+Court%27s+decision&articleId=418ee952-23be-4e2d-b5d0-39c66d67d7ed

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NOTICE: This opinion is subject to motions for rehearing under Rule 22 as well as formal revision before publication in the New Hampshire Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter, Supreme Court of New Hampshire, One Charles Doe Drive, Concord, New Hampshire 03301, of any editorial errors in order that corrections may be made before the opinion goes to press. Errors may be reported by E-mail at the following address: reporter@courts.state.nh.us. Opinions are available on the Internet by 9:00 a.m. on the morning of their release. The direct address of the court's home page is: http://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme.


THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

___________________________


Hillsborough-southern judicial district No. 2006-258


LONDONDERRY SCHOOL DISTRICT SAU #12 & a.

v.

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE


Submitted: October 2, 2008
Opinion Issued: October 15, 2008

Orr & Reno, P.A., of Concord (William L. Chapman on the memorandum), for the petitioners.

Kelly A. Ayotte, attorney general (Anne M. Edwards, associate attorney general, and Laura E. B. Lombardi, assistant attorney general, on the memorandum), for the State.

David Frydman and Jeffrey A. Meyers, of Concord, on the memorandum, for the Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the President of the New Hampshire Senate, as amici curiae.

James F. Allmendinger, of Concord, staff attorney, on the memorandum, for NEA-New Hampshire, as amicus curiae.

HICKS, J. The petitioners brought this action in 2005 seeking a declaratory judgment that House Bill (HB) 616, the statute previously governing education funding and allocation, was unconstitutional. At the conclusion of the proceedings below, the Superior Court (Groff, J.) declared the legislation unconstitutional on its face because HB 616 “failed to fulfill [the State’s] duty to define a constitutionally adequate education, failed to determine the cost of an adequate education, . . . failed to satisfy the requirement of accountability, and . . . create[d] a non-uniform tax rate in violation of Part II, Article 5 of the New Hampshire Constitution.” Londonderry Sch. Dist. v. State, 154 N.H. 153, 155 (2006).

On appeal, we affirmed the ruling that the State had failed to define a constitutionally adequate education, retained jurisdiction over the core definitional issues pending legislative response and stayed the remaining issues. Id. at 162. This was because “the definition of a constitutionally adequate education is essential to all other issues.” Id.

The legislature has now responded to the definitional issue by enacting Laws 2007, chapter 270, which is codified at RSA chapter 193-E. The petitioners do not challenge the constitutional sufficiency of this definition. In addition to defining a constitutionally adequate education, RSA chapter 193-E also paved the way for the State to determine the cost of an adequate education by creating a Joint Legislative Oversight Committee to study the issues. The legislature has since passed several statutes in an attempt to satisfy its duty to determine the cost of and fund a constitutionally adequate education. See Laws 2007, ch. 262; Laws 2007, 263:35 (superseding HB 616’s funding plan until the year 2009); Laws 2008, ch. 173 (determining the cost of a constitutionally adequate education and outlining various funding mechanisms). Laws 2008, chapter 173 also establishes legislative committees to investigate funding issues and satisfying the fourth duty of ensuring the delivery of a constitutionally adequate education through accountability.

In response to our July 25, 2008 order requiring the interested parties to file brief memoranda in light of this legislation, the petitioners and amicus curiae NEA New Hampshire allege several infirmities in Laws 2008, chapter 173. In addition to highlighting that the accountability requirement has yet to be met, they claim insufficiency in the universal cost per pupil, the allocated differentiated aid and the student-teacher ratio. The petitioners further take issue with chapter 173’s two-year funding phase-in provisions because they allege that this carries forward certain infirmities of HB 616 during the interim. The petitioners, however, offer to forego a challenge to this funding if the State provides the allotted funds and does not otherwise reduce the budget. We note that the petitioners have previously informed the court that they would assent to a dismissal of this case without prejudice “if the State will commit to making a good faith effort to fulfill, by June 30, 2008, the remaining three mandates of its constitutional duty to provide an adequate education to every child in the state.”

The State and amici curiae, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, assert that the action is now moot because “[t]he education funding plan before the court in the present case, . . . []HB 616[], is no longer in effect and is not based on the existing statutory definition of an adequate education.” The State and amici curiae, in essence, maintain that, with the enactment of Laws 2007, chapter 270 and Laws 2008, chapter 173, the State has now taken sufficient steps toward satisfying its constitutional duty to render the prior dispute over HB 616 moot by establishing costing and funding legislation and creating a legislative oversight committee as an affirmative first step towards ensuring accountability. The State also points out that neither chapter 270 nor chapter 173 has been challenged by the petitioners or subjected to a factual inquiry before the trial court.

We find that the action is now moot. “Generally . . . a matter is moot when it no longer presents a justiciable controversy because issues involved have become academic or dead.” In re Juvenile 2005-212, 154 N.H. 763, 765 (2007). A challenge seeking only prospective or declaratory relief is generally mooted where intervening legislative activity renders the prior law inapplicable. See, e.g., In re Guardianship of R.A., 155 N.H. 98, 100-01 (2007) (challenge moot where relevant statute no longer in effect); State in the Interest of Jane Doe, 118 N.H. 330, 333 (1978) (declining to entertain question of statutory construction where statute was repealed); Keene v. Gerry’s Cash Mkt., Inc., 113 N.H. 165, 168 (1973) (recognizing that dispute over injunctive relief was moot where ordinance at issue repealed).

We are, however, hesitant to dismiss a dispute as moot simply because one party voluntarily ceases the challenged practice or attempts to remedy its failure to act. See, e.g., City of Mesquite v. Aladdin’s Castle, Inc., 455 U.S. 283, 289 (1982). This is particularly so where, as here, the action implicates constitutional rights and duties. See N.H. CONST. pt. II, art. 83; see also Royer v. State Dep’t of Empl. Security, 118 N.H. 673, 675 (1978). However, we find no indication that either chapter 270 or chapter 173 is substantially similar to HB 616. We presume that, in enacting chapters 270 and 173, the legislature acted in good faith and crafted a responsive mandate intended to address the constitutional infirmities of the prior legislation. See D.H.L. Associates, Inc. v. O’Gorman, 199 F.3d 50, 54-55 (1st Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 529 U.S. 1110 (2000); see also Zessar v. Keith, 536 F.3d 788, 794 (7th Cir. 2008) (“Usually . . . legislative action will provide [adequate] assurance . . . because when the defendants are public officials we place greater stock in their acts of selfcorrection, so long as they appear genuine.” (quotation and ellipsis omitted)); Claremont School Dist. v. Governor, 138 N.H. 183, 193 (1993) (expressing confidence that political branches would “fulfill their responsibility . . . to defin[e] the specifics of, and the appropriate means to provide through public education, the knowledge and learning essential to the preservation of a free government”).

Although we are mindful of the petitioners’ claims that the new legislation presents new problems, it is precisely for this reason that the controversy before this court is now moot. HB 616, as it relates to the original petition, is no longer in effect. While the dissenters correctly point out that we have previously decided disputes that are moot when the matter involves “a pressing public interest,” see, e.g., Bleiler v. Chief, Dover Police Dep’t, 155 N.H. 693, 695 (2007), on the scant record remaining before us we decline to continue jurisdiction. Ensuring a constitutionally adequate education is undoubtedly a matter of pressing public interest. However, in contrast to other matters of sufficient public interest where the relevant authorities under review remained in effect, see, e.g., Sullivan v. Town of Hampton Bd. of Selectmen, 153 N.H. 690, 692 (2006), the relevant statutory provisions at issue in this case are no longer in effect and retaining jurisdiction would not cure “continued uncertainty in the law.” Proctor v. Butler, 117 N.H. 927, 930-31 (1977) (quotation omitted), overruled in part on other grounds by In re Sanborn, 130 N.H. 430 (1988).

For the reasons stated herein, we decline to exercise our discretion to retain jurisdiction. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal without prejudice as moot.

Dismissed.

DALIANIS and GALWAY, JJ., concurred; BRODERICK, C.J., dissented; DUGGAN, J., dissented.

BRODERICK, C.J., dissenting. While I agree with Justice Duggan that this case is not moot, I write separately because I would not order a remand.

Fifteen years ago, this court held that under Part II, Article 83 of the New Hampshire Constitution, the State has an obligation to fund a constitutionally adequate elementary and secondary education for all public school students, no matter their geography. Claremont School Dist. v. Governor, 138 N.H. 183 (1993) (Claremont I). We observed that, in the first instance, it was for the legislature and the Governor to define the parameters of the education mandated by the State Constitution. Id. at 192.

Four years later, in 1997, we held that the then-existing system for financing elementary and secondary public education in our state was unconstitutional because rather than paying the full cost of a constitutionally adequate public education, the State was utilizing local and disproportional tax levies to satisfy part of its exclusive obligation. Claremont School Dist. v. Governor, 142 N.H. 462 (1997) (Claremont II). In that opinion we made it clear that the State was responsible to: (1) define the content of a constitutionally adequate public education; (2) fund it; (3) ensure that any property tax used to pay for it was administered in a manner that was equal in valuation and uniform in rate; and (4) develop a system of accountability to ensure the delivery of a constitutionally adequate public education. We expressed our confidence that the legislature and the Governor would “act expeditiously” to satisfy these requirements. Id. at 477.

A year later, in 1998, the State sought a two-year extension to fulfill the mandates of Claremont II. Claremont School Dist. v. Governor (Motion for Extension of Deadlines), 143 N.H. 154 (1998). In so doing, it acknowledged that it had not yet constructed “a system to ensure delivery of a constitutionally adequate education.” Id. at 160 (quotation omitted). We denied the requested extension and cautioned that “[a]bsent extraordinary circumstances, delay in achieving a constitutional system [would be] inexcusable.” Id. at 158.

The following year, we determined that the State’s proposal to phase-in a statewide property tax to fund constitutional adequacy would result in unconstitutional tax disparities. Claremont School Dist. v. Governor (Statewide Property Tax Phase-In), 144 N.H. 210 (1999). At that time, the State expressly represented that it was making progress in developing a delivery and accountability system to address how to determine if a school or district was, in fact, providing a constitutionally adequate public education for its students. Based upon that representation, we denied, without prejudice, the plaintiff school districts’ request for the appointment of a master to take evidence and make recommendations to this court on a satisfactory system for accountability. Id. at 212; see Claremont School Dist. v. Governor (Accountability), 147 N.H. 499, 504 (2002). We described the request to appoint a master as “premature,” not unreasonable or unfounded. Claremont (Statewide Property Tax Phase-In), 144 N.H. at 212. In so ruling, we intended that the political branches have an unimpeded opportunity to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities. Regrettably, the accountability legislation touted by the State in 1999 “was subsequently sent back to committee and never became law.” Claremont (Accountability), 147 N.H. at 506.

In 2001, the legislature passed Senate Bill 164, “an Act establishing a comprehensive statewide accountability system concerning an adequate education.” Id. (quotation omitted). Because the State, however, was not required under the legislation to assist schools or school districts where students failed to meet prescribed standards, Governor Shaheen vetoed the bill. In her veto message she said, “I cannot support legislation which is more symbolic than substantive on an issue as critically important as school accountability.” Id. (quotation omitted). Four years had passed since the Claremont II decision and still no system of accountability satisfying the requirements of the State Constitution was in place.

In 2002, we issued an opinion addressing the accountability standards required to provide a constitutionally adequate education. We concluded that the standards then in place did not pass constitutional muster. Id. at 500. The accountability rules the State had implemented allowed it to be relieved of its duty when a school district’s tax base or other financial condition contributed to noncompliance with minimum standards. We held that there was “no accountability when the rules on their face tolerate[d] noncompliance with the duty to provide a constitutionally adequate education,” id. at 513. Again, we expressed our hope “that the legislative and executive branches [would] continue to work to satisfy their constitutional duty to ensure the delivery of a constitutionally adequate education to [all] public school students” in our state. Id. at 521. Our opinion made clear that without a system to ensure real accountability, the State’s duty to provide a constitutionally adequate education would become illusory.

Since 2002, the only action taken by the legislature to fulfill its acknowledged obligation to ensure accountability in providing a constitutionally adequate education for public school students was the establishment, within the last few months, of a “joint legislative oversight committee on accountability for an adequate education.” Laws 2008, 173:13, I. The committee is to “review and study the assessment and assistance methods, reporting requirements, and other methods of accountability presently being used by the department of education and local school districts,” id., 173:13, II, and “report its findings and recommendations concerning the sufficiency of existing statutory law to provide accountability for the delivery of the opportunity for an adequate education . . . and the possible need for additional legislation,” id., 173:13, III. This initiative occurred nine years after the State represented that it was making progress in developing a system of accountability and eleven years after we identified the State’s duty to do so.

It is readily apparent that despite its near decade long assurances that our public education system would contain the requisite controls to ensure the delivery of a constitutionally adequate education, the State has not met its acknowledged obligation. This court, for the past fifteen years, has repeatedly, respectfully and appropriately deferred to the political branches to resolve the critical issues the numerous school funding decisions have identified. See Claremont I, 138 N.H. at 192 (“We do not define the parameters of the education mandated by the constitution as that task is, in the first instance, for the legislature and the Governor.”); Claremont II, 142 N.H. at 475 (“[W]e were not appointed to establish educational policy, nor to determine the proper way to finance its implementation . . . we leave such matters . . . to the two coequal branches of government . . . .”); Opinion of the Justices (School Financing), 142 N.H. 892, 903 (1998) (“It is neither our task nor intent to manage the public school systems of the State . . . .”); Claremont (Extension of Deadlines), 143 N.H. at 160 (declining invitation to determine whether the adopted definition of an adequate education is facially unconstitutional where State concedes it has not completed its efforts); Opinion of the Justices (Tax Plan Referendum), 143 N.H. 429, 445 (1999) (“[W]e have nothing to do with the propriety, expediency, or policy of any law; . . . these considerations concern the legislature, and not us . . . .” (quotation omitted)); Opinion of the Justices (Reformed Public School Financing System), 145 N.H. 474, 478 (2000) (content of a constitutionally adequate education must be defined, in the first instance, by the legislature); Claremont (Accountability), 147 N.H. at 521 (“As in the past, we are confident that the legislature and the Governor will fulfill their responsibility . . . .”).

Deference, however, has its limits. Constitutional rights must be enforced or they cease to be rights. The orders of this court going back more than a decade cannot be trumped by extended and repeated noncompliance. I would reject Chapter 173 as facially unconstitutional for, at a minimum, failing to contain a system of accountability. “In light of the procedural history of this litigation, including . . . [the State’s] previous statements on this issue, and the application of settled law, this conclusion should be neither surprising nor unanticipated.” Claremont (Accountability), 147 N.H. at 519.

I would strongly encourage the political branches to complete their unfinished work in funding, providing for, and ensuring a constitutionally adequate education for each public school student in our state so that the long unfulfilled promise of our State Constitution can finally be realized. If the legislative and executive branches cannot, despite their ongoing efforts, satisfy the constitutional mandates of Claremont II and its progeny by the end of the 2009 legislative session, I would be open to a request that this court appoint a master, as was requested almost a decade ago, to make recommendations to this court as to how the state’s obligations for public education can be fulfilled. I would hope that day does not arrive, but recognized and important constitutional rights need to be enforced. Certainty and finality are long past due.

DUGGAN, J., dissenting. In Londonderry School District SAU #12 v. State of New Hampshire, 154 N.H. 153 (2006), we affirmed the decision of the Superior Court (Groff, J.) declaring House Bill (HB) 616, an education funding law, unconstitutional. In response, the legislature passed HB 927, Laws 2007, ch. 270 (Chapter 270), which defines the opportunity for an adequate education and established a Joint Legislative Oversight Committee (Joint Committee) to study the cost of providing the opportunity for an adequate education. We then requested the parties to submit memoranda addressing how we should proceed in light of the new legislation. For the reasons that follow, I would dismiss this appeal without prejudice and remand to the superior court.

On July 1, 2005, HB 616 became effective. The purpose of HB 616 was to ensure an equitable education and target aid to communities with low property values. HB 616 established a new education funding formula for municipalities and provided criteria for municipalities to receive local tax capacity aid, targeted per pupil aid, and statewide enhanced education tax capacity aid. The plaintiffs, Londonderry School District SAU #12, Merrimack School District SAU #26 and New Hampshire Communities for Adequate Funding of Education, filed a petition for declaratory relief in this court, requesting that we find HB 616 unconstitutional. We dismissed the action without prejudice after concluding that, “while substantial questions of constitutional law are presented by this case, we believe further factual development is necessary in the superior court before those questions are decided.” The plaintiffs then filed a petition for declaratory judgment in superior court and moved for summary judgment.

The plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment challenged the constitutionality of HB 616 on the grounds that the statute: (1) failed to define, determine the cost of, and ensure delivery of a constitutionally adequate education; (2) required a number of municipalities to fund a constitutionally adequate education through local taxes; (3) all but eliminated so-called “donor communities” and imposed an unreasonable and disproportionate tax burden on the property-poor municipalities with respect to funding education; and (4) created a class of former donor communities that retain all revenue they raise through the state-wide enhanced education tax, resulting in a violation of equal protection. The trial court found that the legislature failed to define a constitutionally adequate education, failed to determine the cost of an adequate education, failed to satisfy the requirement of accountability, and created a non-uniform tax rate. The trial court determined that HB 616 was facially unconstitutional and granted the plaintiffs’ motion. See Claremont Sch. Dist. v. Governor (Accountability), 147 N.H. 499, 505 (2002) (providing four mandates to “define an adequate education, determine the cost, fund it with constitutional taxes, and ensure its delivery through accountability”). The State appealed the trial court’s ruling.

In Londonderry, we affirmed the trial court’s finding that the State failed to define a constitutionally adequate education and stayed the trial court’s remaining findings. Londonderry Sch. Dist., 154 N.H. at 155. We retained jurisdiction of the core definitional issues with the expectation that the political branches would define with specificity the components of a constitutionally adequate education before the end of fiscal year 2007. Id.

In response to Londonderry, the legislature enacted Chapter 270 and created the Joint Committee. On February 1, 2008, the Joint Committee submitted a report to the legislature and the Governor on its findings and recommendations as to the cost of the opportunity for an adequate education. By order dated June 25, 2008, we instructed the parties to file brief memoranda “addressing whether, in light of recent actions of the legislature . . . , this case should be dismissed without prejudice, or remanded to the superior court for further consideration and such further proceedings as it may deem appropriate.”

In response, the State requests that we dismiss this case, arguing any challenge to HB 616 is moot after the enactment of Chapter 270, and that no exception to the mootness doctrine applies. The President of the Senate and Speaker of the House filed a joint amicus memorandum in support of the State. They argue that the passage of Chapter 270 and the work of the Joint Committee have satisfied the legislature’s duty under our prior holding in this case. They further argue that the creation of the Joint Legislative Committee on Fiscal Capacity, Transition Aid and Diseconomies of Scale will satisfy the remaining burden placed upon the State to determine the cost of an adequate education. Because of the progress made and the changes implemented, they argue that the plaintiffs’ case is moot and should be dismissed.

The plaintiffs request that we retain jurisdiction while the Joint Committees and legislature bring the State into full compliance with the four mandates. The plaintiffs concede “that the State has fulfilled its obligation to define a constitutionally adequate education.” The plaintiffs further state that with Senate Bill 539, enacted as Laws 2008, chapter 173 (Chapter 173), the State has addressed the second and third mandates comprising the State’s duty to provide an adequate education. The plaintiffs argue, however, that flaws exist in the attempt to comply with the second and third mandates, and further argue that Chapter 173 acknowledges the State’s failure to meet the fourth mandate.

Regarding the second mandate, determining the cost of an adequate education, the plaintiffs argue that Chapter 173 sets an insufficient universal cost of education per pupil. Specifically, they argue that, in determining cost, the legislature factored in unreasonably high student-teacher ratios, low teachers’ salaries, and insufficient funding for special needs students. As to the third mandate, the plaintiffs point out that Chapter 173 “establishes a twoyear phase-in period during which municipalities will receive funding tied to the funding they receive in FY 2009.” This, they argue, allows the legislature to carry forward the “constitutionally flawed” statewide distributions authorized in HB 616. The plaintiffs thus propose that we retain jurisdiction and that the plaintiffs, rather than challenge the constitutionality of the new legislation, “will work with the legislature during the 2009 legislative session to meet the State’s constitutional obligation to cost out the opportunity for an adequate education."

The National Education Association (NEA) filed an amicus brief memorandum in support of the plaintiffs. The NEA argues that the State has only reached the midpoint in fulfilling its responsibilities under Londonderry, and that dismissal of this case would frustrate further progress. In particular, the NEA argues that the student-teacher ratio is miscalculated, and that too few provisions are made for classroom aides, substitute teachers, and school administrators. The NEA also challenges the adequacy of funding for food services and pre-kindergarten programs. As such, the NEA requests that we retain jurisdiction over the matter until the State fulfills its remaining obligations.

The State, in its memorandum, addresses some of the factual issues raised by the plaintiffs. The State points out that the legislature heard the evidence presented and considered information from its own experts in determining the appropriate teachers’ salaries. The State further argues that student-teacher ratios are acceptable because they “are those enacted in the State’s school approval standards,” and that the legislature, in its formulation, specifically took into consideration special needs students. As to differentiated aid, “the [Joint] Committee found that its ranges for additional aid for students with special needs exceed those of any other state.” The State maintains that the universal cost per pupil also includes “technology, instructional materials and supplies, teacher professional development, facilities operation and maintenance, and transportation,” and “many of these amounts are the same or higher than those used by other states.” The State argues that “it is apparent that there would need to be in-depth fact-finding before [the plaintiffs] could prove their assertions that these legislative decisions do not meet constitutional muster.” Such a claim, the State argues, must be brought through a new suit challenging the constitutionality of the recent legislation.

Initially, I will address the majority’s decision that this case is moot. The doctrine of mootness is designed to avoid deciding issues that “have become academic or dead.” Sullivan v. Town of Hampton Bd. of Selectmen, 153 N.H. 690, 692 (2006); Petition of Brooks, 140 N.H. 813, 816 (1996). It is wellestablished that “[m]ootness is not subject to rigid rules, but is a matter of convenience and discretion.” Royer v. State Dep’t of Employment Sec., 118 N.H. 673, 675 (1978). Thus, “[a] decision upon the merits may be justified where there is a pressing public interest involved, or future litigation may be avoided.” Sullivan, 153 N.H. at 692. This is a disjunctive standard, and I rely here upon the public interest prong.

There is a pressing public interest when there are “substantial social costs stemming from continued uncertainty in the law.” Proctor v. Butler, 117 N.H. 927, 930–31 (1977) (quotation omitted); see Bleiler v. Chief, Dover Police Dep’t, 155 N.H. 693, 695 (2007) (sufficient public interest in determination of whether petitioner’s concealed weapons permit had been properly revoked warranted resolution of legal issues, even though petitioner’s permit had expired); Bio Energy, LLC v. Town of Hopkinton, 153 N.H. 145, 150 (2005) (pressing public interest in issues arising out of the use of construction and demolition woodchips as a fuel source in facility even though moratorium in place on the disposal of construction and demolition waste by incineration); Sullivan, 153 N.H. at 692-93 (sufficient public interest in resolution of town budget to forgo mootness concerns and address issues presented, even though town was halfway through its fiscal year).

The issue of financing public education in New Hampshire has received much state-wide attention since 1992. Although early debates resulted in the Claremont decisions, see Claremont Sch. Dist. v. Governor (Accountability), 147 N.H. 499 (2002); Claremont Sch. Dist. v. Governor (Statewide Property Tax Phase-In), 144 N.H. 210 (1999); Claremont Sch. Dist. v. Governor (Motion for Extension of Deadlines), 143 N.H. 154 (1998); Claremont Sch. Dist. v. Governor (Claremont II), 142 N.H. 462 (1997); Claremont Sch. Dist. v. Governor (Claremont I), 138 N.H. 183 (1993), the issue is far from settled. There is no question that the funding of public education can have substantial social costs. No party to this case would dispute the fact that the education of New Hampshire children has wide-reaching consequences; they instead dispute whether the legislature has fulfilled its constitutional obligation to provide an adequate education. Considering the substantial social costs involved in funding an adequate education and the history surrounding this debate in New Hampshire, I find sufficient public interest in resolving the now perennial issue of whether the State has fulfilled its duty to provide New Hampshire children a constitutionally adequate education. I thus disagree that this case is moot.

I next address whether we should retain jurisdiction of this case. I remain cognizant that it is the role of the political branches to define the substantive content of a constitutionally adequate education. “[W]e were not appointed to establish education policy, nor to determine the proper way to finance its implementation,” Claremont II, 142 N.H. at 475. However, it is our responsibility to “uphold and implement the New Hampshire Constitution.” Id.

Although the plaintiffs concede that the legislature has fulfilled its obligation to define and determine the cost of an adequate education, the parties’ memoranda show considerable factual disagreement as to the remaining obligations. The Joint Committee held eighteen meetings and heard testimony from the public, educators, administrators, education stakeholders, and state as well as national education policy and finance professionals. Following the Joint Committee’s report of its findings and recommendations, the plaintiffs disputed the base numbers used to determine the universal cost per pupil as well as the construction of the formula used to reach that figure. The submitted memoranda demonstrate disagreement over, for example, student-teacher ratios, teachers’ salaries, and who makes up necessary personnel. These are fact-driven disputes that are normally decided by a trial court. I agree with the Chief Justice that there exist other unresolved issues as to whether the legislature has complied with the mandate to provide a constitutionally adequate education, but these issues should be resolved in the first instance by the superior court. I, therefore, would dismiss this appeal without prejudice and remand to the superior court.
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"Governor John Lynch details plan to cut the state budget"
By Adam Leech, aleech@seacoastonline.com, www.seacoastonline.com, October 16, 2008

PORTSMOUTH — With the state looking at a minimum $100 million deficit in the current budget, and potentially more due to the struggling economy, Gov. John Lynch said, “it will take steady leadership at the top” to see the Granite State through the storm.

Lynch told the Portsmouth Herald editorial board Thursday he has asked department heads to come up with plans to cut 8 percent from each of their budgets. With a revenue shortfall of $57 million already in the current fiscal year, Lynch said it is vital for state departments to prioritize spending. The cuts will not be made across the board, he said, but having plans for each department will help make necessary cuts.

“We’re going to have to make the tough decisions,” said Lynch. “We’re just not going to be able to do everything until we get out of this economic conundrum that we’re in.”

The two-term governor also said he will be looking closely at cutting some consultant costs and encourage collaborations with departments to save money. This will come in addition to zero-based budgeting and the hiring and large equipment purchase freeze he ordered early this year.

If the economy does not improve, he said the shortfall could be $150 million, which is why all expenditures will come under heavy scrutiny.

“I plan to look at each department and determine which cuts are appropriate,” he said.

The economy is just one of the issues either Lynch or his opponent, Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Kenney, will have to deal with. Education funding will continue to be an issue that Lynch said will require a non-partisan and open discussion to adequately solve. The progress that has been made is good, he said, but the state needs to find a way to ensure donor towns do not peak their ugly head again in 2011.

The Supreme Court’s dismissal of an education funding lawsuit filed by the town of Londonderry this week was an important decision, he said.

“I’m going to continue to work with the Legislature to not have donor towns here in New Hampshire,” said Lynch. “We are making progress, but I think there’s more to do.”

Lynch was apologetic about the state not contributing to the commissioning ceremonies for the USS New Hampshire, but “with a potential deficit for this year of $100 million, we just don’t have the money.”

If he wins in November, Lynch said he would not commit to running for a fourth term at this time. He did say he still loves his job and has no aspirations of going to Washington, D.C.

“I like being in New Hampshire. It gives me the opportunity to help people. That’s what this job should be about,” he said. “I don’t believe in managing the state behind a desk. I’ve never been that way. I like being out talking with people.”

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"Three NH towns deemed recession-proof"
By KRISTEN SENZ, Union Leader Correspondent
Thursday, October 16, 2008

LEBANON – The sky is not falling in Lebanon.

The city and surrounding towns comprised the "least vulnerable" regional economy in the nation when compared with other communities its size, according to a recent study by Forbes Magazine.

As the national economy staggers into recession, Lebanon, Keene and Concord are largely insulated, according to Forbes, which listed Keene and Concord as third and seventh "least vulnerable" to recession, respectively.

The business magazine used August unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and 2007 Census data on median income, poverty, education levels and outstanding mortgage debt to measure the economic resilience of 141 communities with populations ranging from 65,000 to 188,000. Lebanon, with a median income of $51,099, ranked high in all the categories. Also among the top 10 were Key West, Fla., Seaford, Del., and Helena, Mont. The three towns "most vulnerable" to recession were Lancaster, S.C., Palantka, Fla., and Shelby, N.C.

Lebanon Mayor Karen Liot Hill yesterday called Dartmouth College and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, which combined employ more than 10,000 people in the Lebanon area, the "anchors" of the local economy. She said the two institutions "create the stability and the security that other businesses need to thrive."

And thrive they have. Despite the national economic downturn, many businesses in the Upper Valley have seen an uptick. Scott Milne, president of Milne Travel American Express, said business at the travel agency's West Lebanon office is up 35 percent over last year. The corporate travel portion of his business in West Lebanon has increased 70 percent over last year, he said.

"The Dartmouth engine clearly drives a lot of the economy in this area, and a lot of that money ends up at my business and other businesses around here," Milne said.

The Upper Valley is home to a wide variety of companies, from multi-national corporations to research and medical institutions, to professional services and precision manufacturing. It's that diversity that keeps unemployment levels low (2.6 percent) and commercial growth high, said Paul Boucher, president of the Greater Lebanon Chamber of Commerce.

Likewise in Keene, the presence of Keene State College and Antioch University New England coupled with a diverse array of businesses, including wholesalers and defense contractors, helps insulate the local economy, said Keene City Manager John MacLean.

"I think all of that lends itself to a fairly stable economy, even in difficult times," he said.

But Lebanon and Keene have one problem in common: the difficulty many businesses experience in recruiting and hiring qualified employees. Milne said he could expand his travel agency office in Keene if he could hire some new travel counselors.

"The limitation on growth there has really been driven more by personnel than business opportunity," he said.

Boucher has repeatedly heard the same complaints from businesspeople in Lebanon. Some businesses, such Hypertherm, a manufacturer of plasma-cutting systems, have gone so far as to create their own training programs.

Lebanon Mayor Hill said although the study by Forbes shows that communities in New Hampshire are finding a combination of economic drivers that promotes stability, many households in those communities are still struggling to make ends meet.

"Just because our regional economy is strong does not mean that people's individual pocketbooks are not hurting," she said. "People have been moving out of the centers of towns to try to find more affordable housing, (but) any savings that they've made in the cost of housing is now literally going into their gas tanks."

Concord was named the seventh-least vulnerable town to an economic downturn in America. That didn't come as a surprise to Tim Sink, president of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce.

"We've been talking about the recent financial situation, and we've got a lot of small banks and credit unions. They all have money to lend and they're all out there professing that," Sink said. That means businesses can get loans they need.

In addition, Sink noted that Concord's two largest employers were state government and the health care sector. Concord Hospital, with close to 3,000 employees, is the city's largest private employer.

Still, some in the capital had mixed views on the ranking.

"I feel kind of iffy about it, to be honest with you. I have seen some businesses in the Concord area close their doors," said Aaron Letendre, co-owner of the In a Pinch Cafe and Bakery on Pleasant Street.

Letendre said his business is doing quite well, and a recent drop in gas prices has helped matters. Still, his outlook on what the future might hold isn't clear.

"I am feeling as uncertain as everybody else," Letendre said.
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New Hampshire Union Leader Staff Writer Benjamin Kepple contributed to this report.
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Reader's COMMENT:

Let's not lie to ourselves people, Dartmouth Hitchcock and University are quasi government agencies no matter how you slice it, so whatever numbers used to derive any employment statistics should be taken with a grain of salt. The truth is that small businesses throughout the state are hemoraging jobs as their business slows globally and locally. Small business is where we need to look for true job creation and economic stability, and despite what some political candidates would have you believe, taxing these folks excessively only hurts our economy!!!! Protect our businesses, small and large, in NH and the US!!!!!!
- Hank, Bedford

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The New Hampshire Union Leader, Wednesday, August 27, 2008, Page A7

“In Concord, it is tax, borrow, spend, repeat”

As the election grows nearer, it is time to re-visit the state’s biennium spending. Let us look at the facts. In the 2006 – 2007 biennium, state spending in general fund appropriations totaled $2.71 billion. With the Democrats in control in the 2007 – 2008 biennium, that figure jumped to $3.19 billion. That is an increase of $475 million, or 17.5 percent. That increase in spending passed by only 51 votes in the House.

Here is a list of the hits taxpayers are taking:

. A repealed communication tax exemption increased residential phone rates.

. A 25 percent increase in the motorcycle registration fee.

. An increase in the registration fee for all automobiles of at least $6 per year.

. A 28 cents-per-pack increase in the tobacco tax. There will be a second increase in 2008 of 25 cents per pack if $50 million is not raised by October.

. An increase in the wild turkey hunting fee from $5 to $15 for residents and $5 to $30 for nonresidents.

. An increase in the nonresident fee for moose permits to $450.

. An increase in tractor-trailer registrations. (This affects the cost of everything from food to gas and everything else that is shipped to stores.)

. A new $25 fee assessed on each property transaction recorded. This goes to fund the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (L-CHIP).

. An increase from $500 to $1,250 in the fee for reviewing terrain alteration permits.

. An increase from $100 to $200 in the fee for a shoreline structure application, plus an impact fee increase.

. An increase from $100 to $200 in the fee for an impact dredge and fill projects application.

. A new $25 filing fee for court proceedings.

These represent just a part of the tax, fee, borrow and spend tactics that the Democrats are doing to convince you, the taxpayer, that we need to have a broadbased tax in New Hampshire. We cannot let these tactics continue. I am proud that I voted “no” on these bills, but do you know how your representative voted on them?
As him, or look up his voting record on the State House website,
www.gencourt.state.nh.us.

If those reasons were not enough, let me give you one more good one. How about the midnight passing of the special session bill? Although state revenues were up, the crazy spending had us in about a $100 million deficit, so the Democrats decided to bond about $90 million to pay the current expenses. The bill was pushed through the House without committee hearings or public hearings, and passed on a roll call vote of 178 – 125.

All this money was not immediately needed, so why the rush? Why did not we use the Rainy Day Fund? That is what it is for. The Democratic reply was, “Don’t use the Rainy Day Fund for a drizzle; wait for a storm.

If $100 million is not a storm, what is?

The legislators who voted for this spending fiasco should be voted out of office. We must undo this tax, borrow and spend policy we are in and get government back under control.

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"Dems retain control of NH state Senate, House"
By Norma Love, Associated Press Writer, November 5, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. --In a historic first, Democrats retained control of the state House and Senate in New Hampshire for a second consecutive election cycle.

"We definitely made history," Democratic House Speaker Terie Norelli said Wednesday. "There has never been a back-to-back Democratic majority in the House."

Norelli and acting House Republican Leader David Hess believe the Democratic majority will have roughly 222 seats -- give or take a seat or two once final tallies are confirmed. Republicans picked up a few seats from the 159 they had in the 400-member chamber over the past two years but fell short of topping 200 for a majority.

Democrats also maintained their 14-10 margin in the Senate -- which Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said also marks the first time Democrats have been put in charge of the chamber two consecutive elections.

Democrats won control in 2006 with 14 of 24 seats. Both parties retained control of the same districts Tuesday -- though six will have new faces to replace incumbents who did not seek re-election.

Prior to the 2006 victories, Democrats had last controlled the state Senate in 1998, but their 13-11 advantage ended the next year with the death of Democratic Senate President Clesson Blaisdell. In the House, Democrats hadn't been in charge since 1922.

Senate President Sylvia Larsen said Tuesday's election also made history in another way. For the first time in the United States, women make up the majority of a state legislative body, she said. Thirteen women were elected Tuesday.

"It's another step in history," she said.

Hess said Democrats' victory may be Democratic Gov. John Lynch's "worst nightmare" with the economy in recession and lagging revenues forcing deep budget cuts.

"He won't be able to blame Republicans for anything in this fiscal nightmare," said Hess of Hooksett.

Norelli and Larsen said they are very aware of the state's budget problems. Lynch plans to bring his next round of proposed budget cuts to the joint legislative Fiscal Committee on Nov. 21.

Lynch and lawmakers face at least a $160 million budget shortfall by July -- about 10 percent of the spending from general tax revenues.

"It's going to be very tough," Larsen said of making budget cuts. "We are celebrating today, but we also know we have to tighten our belts and make difficult reductions."

Norelli said the state of the economy keeps her awake some nights.

"What I know is it's not a pretty picture. The national economy is on its knees. New Hampshire is in better shape than many other states, which may not be comforting to us as we address our revenue shortfalls," she said. "We will have to consider all options."

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"Blue Hampshire: A passing phase?"
By Kathy McCormack, Associated Press Writer, November 5, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. --Fed up with the financial meltdown and the unpopular Bush administration, New Hampshire voters gave Democrats a sweep of races for federal office on Tuesday. But political analysts question whether there's enough of a groundswell to keep New Hampshire a blue state.

Voters replaced a Republican senator with a Democrat and re-elected two Democratic House members -- the first time since 1912 the state elected three Democrats to Congress at the same time. (Three elected in different years served together from 1975-1979.)

On Tuesday, voters also re-elected Democratic Gov. John Lynch in a landslide and kept control of both houses of the Legislature.

"I think the Democrats can make a very valid claim to be the majority party in the state of New Hampshire," said Dante Scala of the University of New Hampshire. "That may actually prove to be the case by the time the new registrants (at the polls) are counted. It's possible there could actually be more Democrats registered than Republicans."

But Allan Racklin, who teaches sociology at Franklin Pierce University, isn't ready to call New Hampshire blue. He said he would wait another election cycle or two and see if the anti-Bush phenomenon wears off before he even considers the question.

"Even in terms of the intensity of the blue, it's a mix of candidates in terms of what kinds of Democratic principles, or shade of Democrat we have," he said. For example, he said, Senate winner Jeanne Shaheen "is at best a moderate, very moderate, very tentative Democrat. A generation or two ago she would have fit very nicely into the moderate wing of the Republican Party."

Wayne Lesperance, who teaches political science at New England College, also says it's too early to tell.

"What's going to be really important is to see what happens in two years," he said. "If we accept the argument that so much of the success for people like (U.S. Rep.) Carol Shea-Porter and Jeanne Shaheen is attributable to Barack Obama's candidacy, what happens in two years in the case of Carol Shea-Porter if she has to run again, (and U.S. Rep.) Paul Hodes if he has to run again? Is that same level of support going to be there? ... This Democratic groundswell, is it sustainable?"

Jennifer Donahue of Saint Anselm College's Institute of Politics expects the state to move back and forth politically depending on what voters are experiencing in a given election cycle.

Lesperance said it was difficult to imagine how John McCain could have overcome the strong sense nationwide that the country is on the wrong track and that the Republican Party is responsible. He said Republicans are asking themselves the same thing Democrats asked four years ago: "Where do we go from here?"

Sen. Judd Gregg, soon to be New Hampshire's lone Republican in Washington, offered this response:

"We got to go back, take a hard look at where we've been, what we're doing, how we're doing things. We've got a lot of very talented people, we've just got to make sure that all of those people have a place at the table and we start to restate our views.

"I still think our message in New Hampshire is a very strong message, which is keeping government small, keeping taxes down, not having a broad-based tax, having a commitment to the individual entrepreneur and individual liberties and protecting the environment."
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Associated Press writers David Tirrell-Wysocki and Holly Ramer contributed to this story.
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"Former Governor Sununu: Lynch NH's 'worst governor'"
By GARRY RAYNO, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 11/15/2008

MANCHESTER – John Lynch is "the worst governor the state has ever had," former Gov. John H. Sununu told members of the Seacoast Federated Republican Women meeting yesterday in Portsmouth.

Later, explaining his opinion to a reporter, Sununu cited a $250 million state budget deficit; what he called the erosion of family values in the last legislative session; and Lynch's failure to persuade lawmakers from his own party to vote for his constitutional amendment on education.

"A deficit that size is huge and makes it impossible to do anything else worthwhile," Sununu said. "The deficit and the education issue are the two biggest issues in New Hampshire.

Sununu, a Republican, said Lynch, a Democrat, has maintained his popularity because the GOP hasn't run a serious candidate against him.

Sununu said 12 years of former Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and Lynch has resulted in failure to do anything to address the education issue.

On Nov. 4, New Hampshire voters elected Shaheen to replace Sununu's son -- U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu, R-N.H. -- on Capitol Hill. In the weeks since Sen. Sununu lost that race, speculation has been rampant that he will run for governor in two years.

Contacted about Sununu's remarks, Lynch's press secretary, Colin Manning, said: "Governor Lynch has been focused on bringing people together to address the shortfall in revenue being caused by the downturn in the national economy, and that is what he will continue to do to make sure we have a balanced budget and continue to make New Hampshire a place of opportunity for all our citizens. We're facing an unprecedented economic situation in this country, and now is not the time for partisan attacks because that is not really going to solve anything."

Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley called it laughable that the former governor would criticize Lynch. When then-Gov. Sununu left office, Buckley said, the state was saddled with its largest deficit ever to that point.

Likewise, Buckley said, Sununu should not criticize any governor or anyone else about education funding. If Sununu had fully funded a $50 million education plan when he was governor, there never would have been the Claremont lawsuit that has dominated legislative attention for the past 18 years, Buckley said.

"It's shocking Governor Sununu would even bring up education," Buckley said. "I was there. Maybe he doesn't remember, but I do, and so do the people of New Hampshire.''

The senior Sununu said yesterday he wanted to remind Republicans the election cycle is every two years in New Hampshire.

"Republicans have to redefine Republican principles in a way people understand," he said. "We have to remind people how special this state is.

"I've talked to a lot of Republican leaders in the state and have encouraged them to address Republican principles and issues, and if they need an old has-been like me to put these issues on the table, then I will do it."
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Readers' Comments:
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MR. sununu, you said what? Did you tell the women of the Republican Party how you lost your job at the White House? Let's be fully honest - oh I am sorry, that is not a trait of your Republican principles.
- rm, nashua

Sununu is obviously not done licking his wounds for his sons loss in the senate race. He seems awfully critical of democratic spending for a man who resigned from his chief of staff position under a cloud a controversy regarding his mis-use and mis-management of government property...A.K.A. WASTING TAX PAYER MONEY.
- Shawna, Manchester

Slinging mud at each other accomplishes nothing! Yes, our state has a deficit, I challenge anyone to name a state that doesn't. Between Mother Nature, the economy and with the taxpayer's proverbial "head in the sand", it's a wonder our government can operate at all. It is time to pay attention and get involved in the process. Stop complaining and start attending town meetings, contacting your representatives or read the budget. Obtaining a better knowledge will benefit everyone! And just in case anyone cares about my opinion, Governor Lynch makes a positive impact on our community everyday, he is in touch with his constituents, understands the need for real change and is moving our state in the right direction.
- Sherry D, Epsom

Ooooh, sounds like somebody's daddy is bitter about the election results in NH.
- Eileen, Hooksett

I can't help but notice how all the democrats praise and adore the current governor and are so willing to beat up on the conservatives.

I wonder how you're all going to feel when our now liberal state government increases the gas tax now that gas tax revenue is dropping so that the governor and his liberal cronies can keep the cost of government growing.

I also wonder if you'll keep singing the praises of the governor.
- DW, Merrimack, NH

I would say second worst after Shaheen. To Daniel in Greenland, conservative Republicans are not out of touch, but you sure are, and you make a great sore winner. The reason Republicans have been losing elections is because they abandoned their conservative principles and started acting like Democrats. In fact, conservative Republicans are the ONLY ones completely in touch with the fact that our Constitution, which binds us as a nation, is being usurped by liberal democrats and socialists like Barrack Obama who have the sad notion that government is the solution to the country's many problems. Now, thanks to all of this, we are on the verge of becoming another second-rate country like most of Western Europe. Somewhere in Hell, Karl Marx is laughing. A government that gives you everything can also take it from you. Grow up liberals, and stop asking the government what it can do for you before we all suffer for it.
- Mike, Temple

Spare me! Gov John Lynch is doing a wonderful job. Hey wasn't he re-elected to a third term? Must be doing something right.
The worst recent Governor was Craig Benson. He was so out of touch and a Republican who was only elected to one term.
Sununu's are done with politics. time to move on.
Our wonderful Democrats will have to straighten out this mess caused by the Republicans. Thanks a lot!
- Fred Norris, Bedford NH

Does anyone remember our state's worst governor? That would be Governor Benson! Only elected to one term! That was enough of him.
And don't forget This Recession was brought to you by a Republican!
Sununu is a sore looser!
- Ben Stern, Manchester

I think the GOP left Kenney out to dry and Daddy Sununu is just setting up for Junior 's next run. Why doesnt he run against the other Senator that is also living off he's Daddy's reputation
- Rick, Manchester nh

Another angry Republican blaming the world for the fact that they belong to a political party that is almost completely TONEDEAF to the needs of ordinary Americans.

Sununu has always come off to me as an uncaring, bloodless Machiavellian figure. Do you think he realizes no one is listening, and his bitterness about his sons loss is quite obvious? Back to obscurity dear Elder, we didn't ask for your advice or opinion...
- Jon, Atkinson

Former GovernorSununu is right on the money regarding our incumbent services as Governor however he is not alone to share the title of worst Governor, Judd Gregg, Jeanne Shaheen and even Craig Benson, left a deficit mess for his or her replacement. they all created with numbers a fictitious oversupply when they left that turned into a budget shortage for the replacement governor, who is kidding who, They shoiuld be considered in the list of worst governors
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester

Charles Therriault- I recommend that before you post you at least make a small attempt to get your facts straight so that your thesis doesn't look and leak like a sieve. Know this: the Republicans had control of the entire Federal Government until 2006, exactly two years ago. Their pigeons are coming home to roost and for good reason. Let the Republicans cannibalize themselves while the adults confront the very tough issues facing America and New Hampshire. If they fail we both know what will happen to them.
- Tom, Dover-Foxcroft, Me.

If the elder Sununu is angling for a run again at the Corner Office, he can forget it. And the worst Governors in NH history, in order, are Shaheen, Lynch and Benson. That last one was the GOP's fault. If people in the GOP like the elder Sununu had supported its candidates for governor for the past two cycles and not privately trashed them, or ignored them, we might have had a stronger ticket. Instead, they hide until the election and THEN come out swinging against the likable, but big-spending Lynch. What gall!
- Michael, Manchester

The only argument all you "Pro-Lynch" people are using in all these replies is attacking Old man Sununu and his son's loss which happened to be because of GW. Try something new for a change. Sununu was one of the best young Senators in the country who happened to get caught up in the GW backlash. Now we have Shaheen...God help us all.
- John, Londonderry

Lunch was re-eelcted with 74% of the vote because most people fear meaningful change. Those who voted for him like his low-profile don't rock the boat style. While this style may be likeable to many, it is not useful in confronting the issues before us.

If people have followed Sen. Sununu's career in Washington, they would know that he has been a very strident force in protecting our rights and security. Often he has been cited as one of the brightest minds in Congress. I agree.

Governor Sununu has been speaking out about New Hampshire government and fiscal responsibility since he left the White House. He sticks to his principles, which many of us share. His comments are honest talk. Most people don't like to hear the stark truth.

Ray in Northwood
- Raymond E. Pinard, Northwood

Nice play Sununu! Just trying to set up sonny up with a new job. Sununu's record as Gov. was a joke! He was a disaster in Concord and Washington. He and his type are the reason the republican party is in shambles. Sununu needs to shut up and retire. Hopefully somewhere other than NH.
- Dave, Manchester

Governor Lynch does have a remarkable ability to fly under the radar.
- Dan, Manchester

I would have to disagree...Jeanne Shaheen had to be the worst governor in the states history.
- Paul, Nashua

This just helps to prove how out of touch the Sununus and conservative Republicans are. Continuing on his whine from the night that his son got demolished at the polls, Sununu claims that voters are idiots and only he (and I guess his conservative buddies) knows reality and what this state and country need. According to him the Republicans aren't the problem, the voters are. What a sore LOSER.
- Daniel Kern, Greenland

It is not the fault of anyone it is all the liberals moving up from other states and bring their high faluting ideas with them that is turning NH into a democratic state, which for many years was republican. Also the rising costs of bridge and road repairs have gone through the roof, one mile of road is over $800,000 dollars to repair and many bridges cost one million dollars or more. Which would in turn bring a budget short fall. The town of Bow, NH is a good example for many years the old time residents had low taxes and went to the town dump every day. With the influx of out of staters moving into Bow and wanting trash pick-up, better roads, a high school, a larger elementary school etc. the taxes in Bow have tripled over the years. I say we build a one way road back to where they came from and make NH the peaceful, quiet state it used to be. They also bring their bad driving habits with them and run everyone off the road and are very rude and domineering!
- Sherry, Concord, NH

As a Republican, I disagree with Sununu's claim about Lynch being NH's worst governor. He is the second worst. The title of worst Governor has been earned by former Governor Shaheen. Her tax and spend policies set the foundation into place for NH's massive current day budget deficits.

However, the NH GOP has not been much better on these issues and only has itself to blame for it's election losses. For far too long, the Party has been run by out of touch, liberal, country club types who make decisions from behind the closed doors of their ivory towers.

Conservatives and libertarians who are fed up with the GOP leadership have even formed a new coalition at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhrvc whose goal is to help elect articulate and principled Reagan style Republicans in NH.
- Kevin, Salem, NH

Whether you agreed with anything Governor Benson did or not the facts are that when Shaheen left office as Governor the State had almost an Eighty Million dollar deficit and when Benson was beaten by Lynch after only two years the State had a Two Hundred Million Dollar surplus. He did it by taking drastic measure just as he said he would have to and was not very popular because of it. Now the facts are we are facing a Two Hudred and Fifty Million Dollar Deficit.Republicans have not had control of any part of the Federal or State Goverment except the White House which does not make the laws or budgets since 2002 when the economy was going so much better than now. Democrats are in charge of the entire economy now so blaming anyone but themselves is out of the question. If Benson could turn it around, and yes it was during the last recession when he did it, and Lynch does not with total control with his Democratic controlled State Government then they should all be replaced with more conservative people. Throwing money at every problem has never solved it, lets make our elected officials accountable for their decisions for a real "Change".
- Charles Therriault, Barrington, NH

Nice to hear from a man who was thrown out of the White House for abusing power, makes his living peddling influence to foreign interests and is upset he has lost his direct connection to the US Senate. Poor Johnny the free ride is over.
- Mike, bedford

Benson was unlikeable in "many" ways and Lynch is likable in many ways, even I find him hard to dislike yet his record has been a complete disaster. Benson was a far better Governor when it came to fiscal issues. The state would not have this huge deficit if he was still governor or if Lynch had listened to the Republicans over a year ago when everyone that lived outside a cave knew the economy was tanking. People get caught up in thinking a likable person is an effective manager, just look at MA and now that we are no longer NH but Northern MA the same goes for us. Kudos for former Gov Sununu for telling it like it is. The truth lies in the numbers, they don't lie.
- John, Londonderry

Like the old man has any creditability these days? He's just a washed up right-wing hack. Obviously, 74% of New Hampshire voters are smarter than him.
- Frank Smith, Manchester

Hey Colin Manning/Gov Lynch:

1.) “now is not the time for partisan attacks”??? That’s all Democrats did for the past 8 years. It was all Bush’s fault. Don’t you remember?? Now it is entirely your fault.
2.) The state budget issues are NOT a result of the national economic situation. Governor Lynch and the Democratic legislature RAISED the budget 17.5 % when they knew that revenue would only increase between 4-5%. It was a designed deficit.
3.) How much is the legislature going to increase the budget this coming year? How many more “hacks” are going to be put on the payroll? You can’t even get out of Concord around 4:30pm without getting caught in the onslaught of state employees rushing for the door.

Don’t even think about turning to the Federal Government to bail you out. Take your out-of-state hacks and your Napoleonic complex back to whatever hole it is you crawled out of.
- Tim Moore, Gilmanton Iron Works

Appears Poppy Sununu has forgotten the Wonder Years of Craig Benson in between ('course, who can blame him? You sure don't want to remind people of THAT nastiness when talking about the possibility of another Republican governor).
- Betty, Salem

Lynch is focused on bringing people together? How about some strong leadership!
I admire John H. but this last election was the time for him or others who had the financing to oppose Lynch. I would have worked hard for him.
Buckley and I were there for the $63 million that Steve Merrill would not fund.
No matter how much the state guarantees in "education funbding" it will never be enough for the NH NEA.
School choice for all parents and you will see the government schools decline in enrollment.
bnyoung@metrocast.net
- Niel Young, Laconia

It seems that Lynch was re-elected with about 74 percent of the vote. They call that a landslide.
- Dick Roux, Bedford NH

How can anyone talk about NH's worst governor and not think of Craig Benson is beyond me.
- John Hattan, Concord NH

What, did Sununu just wake up from his nap? Lot of good to shoot his mouth off now, after the election! Where was he when Kenney was running? Did it take his kid getting thrown out to make the old man emerge? Are his words meant to open his son's campaign for Governor? Kenney was right to be mad after the election. The GOP sure has "done him wrong" with tepid support and an insipid campaign probably due to his being out of the old boy network.
- John LInville, Wolfeboro

With former Gov Sununu's latest 'blast from the past' aimed at Gov John Lynch, it looks like former Senator Johnny-Boy Junior Sununu could be headed for running to be governor in November 2010.

Hey Johnny-Boy...why not go after Senator Judd 'Powerball' Gregg in the September, 2010 Republican primary? That worked for you against Senator Bob Smith so why not try that route again?
- Walter, Meredith, NH

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"Lashing Lynch: Sununu has a point"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, 11/18/2008

Former Gov. John H. Sununu erred last week when he called Gov. John Lynch the worst governor in state history. After all, there is Jeanne Shaheen's abysmal record to consider. Yet Sununu had a point, made by too few lately, about Lynch's leadership.

Yes, we concede that Lynch is enormously popular. He got that way in part because of his adept handling of the state's emergency response during several disasters and in part by going along to get along in Concord.

Lynch has never taken a firm position on a controversial issue before general opinion was settled on the matter. He has avoided signing controversial bills, dodging responsibility by letting them become law without his signature. And on the state budget, he let the Legislature lead the state into a sea of red ink.

Lynch's only fiscally responsible term was his first, when a Republican Legislature kept spending in check for him. After that, he introduced a budget that shot spending to the moon and stood by, nodding approvingly, when the Democratic Legislature spent even more and manipulated revenue numbers to get an artificially balanced budget.

Instead of taking the helm from spend-happy legislators, Lynch let the irresponsible 424-member crew steer the ship perilously close to a broad-based tax. Instead of correcting the course, he stood there with his fingers crossed behind his back, hoping the revenue would materialize.

It didn't.

Lynch did show some leadership on education funding. But legislators proved themselves more politically skilled, and even with his popularity he failed to get his proposed solution passed.

Say what you want about Gov. Craig Benson, but he showed real leadership on a wide range of issues, actually cut state spending in his last year in office and left the state with an $89 million surplus.

Lynch has done none of those things. Which is why he is so popular. And why he has turned out to be a weak governor.
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READERS' COMMENTS:
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Sununu is taking a page out of the Rove/GOP play book. Verbally blasting the other party while forgetting your own history (thanks for the Seabrook nuke plant, even though the people had spoken and voted against building it) and not coming up with a plan of your own. Remember Sununu's plan for school funding? The rich towns had nice schools and poor towns - too bad for you kids. Lynch is popular for many reasons. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason Sununu, you should listen to the NH citizens twice as much as you talk about them.
- Ann Corliss, Durham

I'd like to thank Tom from Bedford for reminding me why I always vote a straight Republican ticket for the state legislature. The fact that we have people who think that the insane spending increases that New Hampshire has seen under Lynch's tenure as governor are not only OK, but necessary, tells me that that the poverty pimps can no longer afford the People's Republic of Massachusetts and are indeed moving north.

What people in this state want are safe and effective schools, good roads to drive on, and the lightest tax burden in the country. What we don't want is a host of social services that form the foundation for creating the next great welfare state.

Liberals don't seem to understand that social services have a nasty track record of creating more of a demand for the service they provide than reducing the problems they were created to resolve. What's funnier (in an ironic sense) is that the demand for those services comes in the form of people that the majority of those same liberals wouldn't associate with under any circumstances.

So, to Tom and the rest of the do-gooders who want to recreate New Hampshire as the next great welfare state, let me offer you some advice from the great social icon Homer Simpson: Go back to Massachusetts, Pinko!
- Frank Moore, Derry, NH

A 17.5% budget increase is irresponsible no matter how you look at it. Also there's the hidden Lynch taxes that don't show up on a tax bill such as the greehouse initiative which I guess only applies if you use electricity and health insurance mandates which impact you if you have medical insurance. He's taken the Nazi approach to taxes and wacked ciragette smokers with new taxes 3 years out of 4. He continues to raise tolls which of course only affects you if you drive.
- Jack Langley, Hollis NH

But where was the UL? Why didn't your political writers and editors actually write about the NH budeget and who is really to blame for the 17% increase.
Most people in this state had no idea how much government has grown over the last two years.
I do think the UL shares the blame. You might write it on the editorial pages but the content of your paper does not support your positions and does not educate your readers to be able to value our editorials.
Your writers make you look like fools.
- Amy, Henniker

What legacy does New Hampshire have? I have never been able to figure that out.
- Tom, Dover-Foxcroft, Me.

Can't agree more with most of these comments, as I have said before I could care less if our Governor is popular and a nice guy. I could care less what he's like (..Benson), what I want is a fiscally conservative leader who can make things happen and keep NH's legacy alive.
- John, Londonderry

Reading all of the editorial content and commentary makes me glad the Dems are in full control right now. If the republican constituency takes a good hard look at who they have been putting in office for years, and who are ultimately being served by this, they may come to see that the reason for the need for additional taxes and services are not for want, but for need. The population of NH has grown and the piper has to be paid. Grow up and take responsibility for paying for the advantages you get from living in this state. The pendulum always swings back and it is swinging back looking for fiscal equilibrium. The next time the republicans are given the privelige of being in office, don't be so damn cheap and expect those who profit pay their fair share of the responsibility. The folks at the UL pine away for the days of yore, where they had more power in this state. Do they understand that the days of the newspaper being the primary source for our information are over. Access to the internet gives us opportunity for the choice for an alternate, possibly more moderate source for information.
- Tom, bedford

Its funny how the blue team trashes the Bush administration for ringing up our federal debt and deficits yet look the other way or uses every excuse in the book for Golden Boy Lynch. Then the red team castigates Lynch for his drunken sailor expenditures and then votes for big government republicrats in the primaries. (Lynch actually campaigned for some of his Republican brethren for state offices.)

No wonder the political class laughs at us serfs and nothing ever changes. We are all so busy blaming the other party when we never realize they work together to solidify their power and keep us all in the dark, all the while picking our pockets. Keep up the charade and the waste of energy Ryan and Mike, your doing exactly what they want you to do. Schilling for the one party system.
- Kyle, Bedford

Mr. Lynch is popular to the sheeple. He is very unpopular to those who think for themselves and do not NEED the government to take "care" of them. Unfortunately, due to the ease of welfare programs in this state compared to others in the area in which we live (Thanks Gov Shaheen), the sheeple out number the people.

To tag himself a "fiscal conservative" after signing the 17% budget increase is laughable. It is also very sad that the sheeple think that it is true because they do not know how to think on their own.

We are well on our way to the sales/income tax and Massachusetts North will be here before we are able to stop it.
- Mike, Nottingham

It's about time U L.
The Teflon governor as I have called Lynch in my writings since the Scamman speakership - Dems and Republicans again getting together for a "consensus" candidate - when Mike Whalley should have been speaker for being the Republicans' choice!
John Lynch has avoided controversy because Dems and Republicans have covered for him.
He has been a devastating governor: civil unions, NO parental notification, rewarding teacher' union by keeping students in school until age 18, spending way beyond our means, and NO leadership on the education mess which Shaheen and Lynch are responsible for due to the people they have put on the NH Supreme Court.
In 2006 Republicans in D.C. and NH got their payback for no backbone.
The NH GOP and the congress opened the door in 2006 and look what happened in 2008 for the same reasons.
Where were our "leaders" in the last two NH elections?
Too busy playing politics to save their own bleeps. And sad to say what we have now will bring us the same results in 2010.
In 1997 the conservative message meant enough to me to purchase air time for a Saturday morning radio program to give like-mined folks a place to discuss what the media would not: failure of Republicans to have principles and want to defeat the other political party. Still doing it nearly 12 years later- and warning the listeners that this could be the term for the state income tax to reach Lynch's desk.
And he will let it become law without his signature if he remains true to form.
bnyoung@metrocast.net
- Niel Young, Laconia

Gov. Lynch is certainly a nice person, and at least until he last election he did not come across as a partisan hack. Sadly the op-ed is correct, Gov. Lynch is a very weak leader and has allowed the tax and spend crowd that currentlly occupies the NH legislature to run roughshod over him. The UL is right, Gov. Benson made couragous choices, unfortunately he gored a few scared cows and left before he could really accomplish anything. Shaheen was little more than a figurehead and yes, we could have her as a governor again, at least in Washington she is only one of 100 and so junior that she'll be lost in the haze. (that she is Senator Saheen is to thinking New Hampshires shame)
- Jeff, Goffstown

Then stop reading the UL Mike if you hate it so much ! What is it with you hate-filled liberals ? It's always this pathological anger. Always this nasty name calling. Get a life.
- Jay Collins, Laconia

The basic thrust of this article seems to be that Governor Lynch is an enormously popular Governor because he is such a terrible Governor. Talk about pretzel logic.

As the rabidly conservative Union Leader continues to shill for the Sununu clan can there be any doubt that John Jr. will run for Governor in the near future?

If that is John Jr's intention he better hope that his daddy can convince the Union Leader to put their A-Team to work shilling for him. I doubt that sophomoric articles by authors such as this are going to put much of a dent into the current Governor's popularity.
- Mike Lane, Manchester

FINALLY! I'm not going to lie, Lynch seems like a nice guy, but being a nice guy doesn't make you a good leader or a responsible governor. Lynch has managed to elude any sort of responsibility during his time as governor of this state while we have dove head first into debt. Being a nice guy shouldn't give you another term as governor. Its time for Lynch to go, however an editorial like this would have been better and more helpful a month before the election...
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester

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"State vows to help laid-off AT&T workers"
The NH Union Leader Online, December 4, 2008

CONCORD – Gov. John Lynch said yesterday the state will do all it can to assist more than 300 workers who will be laid off from the AT&T call center in Dover.

"I know this will be extremely difficult for these workers and their families. New Hampshire state government is committed to helping them through this difficult time," Lynch said. "Our state Rapid Response has already begun making plans to meet with the workers and is ready to provide them with job training and job placement assistance."

Rapid Response assistance includes help to re-enter the workforce, resume writing, job counseling and retraining. The team includes representatives of departments including Employment Security, Labor, Resources and Economic Development, Health and Human Services, the New Hampshire Community College System and NHWorks.

AT&T said yesterday it is closing its downtown passport information call center by the end of February.

Walt Sharp of AT&T's corporate headquarters in Dallas said the center is closing because the U.S. State Department decided not to renew a contract for the National Passport Information Call Center. Instead, he said, the government chose to go with Peckham Industries of Lansing, Mich.

Sharp said the federal department opted to go with an "AbilityOne" program, which awards government work to companies employing workers with disabilities.

AT&T is not considered an AbilityOne program ,even though some Peckham Industries employees were working at the Dover site.

The company provides the public with information concerning passports.

Bill Henderson, president of the Communications Workers of America Local 1298 in Hamden, Conn., said the union represents about 300 workers, including workers at the Dover site. The members ratified their first contract last month, he said.

The union, he said, was notified of the impending closure Tuesday. Employees were notified the passport inquiry center is closing Feb. 27.

Henderson said he has contacted the governor and New Hampshire's congressional delegation for help ensuring the jobs stay in the state. He also is calling for a congressional investigation into the relationship between Peckham Industries and AT&T and has contacted U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, President-elect Barack Obama's choice for secretary of state.

He said AT&T did not bid on the contract that was awarded to Peckham Industries.

The call center has been in Dover for about 10 years and at one time employed about 600, Henderson said.

Seven months ago, 178 jobs were eliminated after the State Department told AT&T to reduce its staff.
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Union Leader staff writer Pat Grossmith contributed to this report.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Exactly how is Governor Lynch responsible for the actions of AT&T? Just more post-election sour grapes. Grow up guys, you can't blame the governor for everything.
- Frank, Manchester

Okay Thom, your comment has no valid point here. This is not Mass. and NH does not require police officers at job sites, you must be reading the Boston Herald too much. When and where did the AT&T lay offs become police officers fault Thom?
- Brad, Hooksett, NH

I agree with the other posters' comments.

Today, "leadership" in NH consists of Gov. Lynch showing off his compassion (rather than passing a responsible budget, and now spinning the budget problems as unforeseeable-- entirely due to the recession), Shaheen running TV ads while standing in front of gas pumps when gas was $4 per gallon last summer, and villifying the evil oil companies, and Hodes doing God knows what besides following Pelosi's directives.
- Ditmar, Hollis

What troubles me is why is it that 300 works at AT&T seem to get acknowledge by the governor while the 3 voices of workers let go at Joe's Some NH based business go unheard. And as for the plan to provide "job training and job placement assistance" to the workers of AT&T. Yeah...thanks for the soundbite Lynch, but that's something the NH Department of Employement Security would have provided anyways. I would have like to think a governor of a state would know this already!

My god...why did the people of NH reelect this man??? He has done absolutely nothing for this state except raise tolls and create an enormous budget deficit!
- Mike, Manchester

Mark from Amherst - you are 100% correct. If anything, Lynch has encouraged businesses to leave the state. We need some leadership on attracting business to NH. Perhaps its time to replace George Bald over at DRED with someone who can bring the business bacon home to NH. Recessions are times of opportunity. How many companies in other states would relocate to NH if our tax code encouraged business growth. While NH has no tax on payroll income, it has a very high tax on corporate income, dividends and interest. Perhaps we need to revisit how we tax business if we want them to come to this state.
- Mike, Bedford

Gov Lynch ,, since you offered: will the laid off ATT workers be allowed to work as Flag Men along the highway? At $40 per hour? I would think this might be a good start. Or, is this just the usual Teflon Governor talking? Governor, you say "the state will do all it can to assist", well, I think that offering people who are smart, hard working, a job directing traffic at a construction site is a good assist, don't you? .. But we all know the truth, don't we Governor. You don't plan on really doing anything. This is just all show and tell. The smart, hard working folks who are losing their jobs will be driving down rt 93 and a very large cop will be talking on his/her cell phone making over $40 per hour, and you don't plan on doing anything about it.. Isn't that the truth Teflon Man?
- Thom, Manchester, NH

Why are all the efforts of Governor Lynch and our Congressional delegation always focused on saving jobs that are already lost? Where are the efforts to bring new private sector jobs into New Hampshire? Having a team to help newly unemployed workers write resumes doesn't do any good if you aren't bringing in businesses to create new jobs for them. Why isn't Governor Lynch working to lure businesses to NH with tax incentives? Why do you think major manufacturing operations go down south. Hint: it isn't just for the warmer weather. New Hampshire should be an enterprise zone that provides an attractive tax environment for businesses to locate here. Individuals already enjoy this advantage. It's time to extend it to businesses. But wait - where will we get the tax revenue for all the wonderful programs including this "rapid response team"? The best social program is a job and for that you need business and businesses will go where they are treated best. Instead of begging for government contracts and trying to prop up dying businesses - let's work on getting new industry into the state. Come on Governor, this is your responsibility. You have done nothing for 4 years. Why not put some emphasis on this in the next 2.
- Mark, Amherst

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"Lynch takes oath, calls on Washington to pass new stimulus"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, 1/8/2009

Concord – Gov. John Lynch took the oath of office for a third time today and headed into the most difficult of his years as the state’s chief executive.

“Let me be very clear,” Lynch said in his inaugural speech. “We face a budget challenge of unprecedented dimensions.”

Lynch, 56, appeared in Representatives Hall to take the oath from Chief Justice John T. Broderick of the New Hampshire Supreme Court before a crowd of cheering supporters and officials.

Lynch promised to work across party lines to find solutions to fiscal problems, and said he plans to keep the state free of a sales or income tax. He called for quick action at the national level for an economic stimulus to lift the nation’s economy.

Despite a global economic downturn and a looming budget deficit estimated at a half billion dollars by 2011, Lynch said “My faith in our ability to work together and my belief in the spirit of the people of New Hampshire give me optimism about our future."

Lynch referred to severe ice storms last month as a reminder of the strength and cooperation the state can muster when times demand. He said his budget work will be guided by four key roles for government: protect public safety, help the weakest among society, educate its children and preserve our quality of life.

But the economic prospects mean tough choices are ahead, Lynch said.“We will have to examine every area of spending, look at every program and say 'no' more often than we would like,” he said. “We will not be able to do everything we want to, or even everything we should do as a state.”

But he noted the state has made ends meet in the past without sales or income taxes, “and we will continue to do it that way.”

Despite the difficulties, he urged calm and dedication to solving the problem in a bipartisan way.

“We must have confidence in our ability to seek common sense solutions to uncommon problems, to employ calm in the face of fear, and to assert the certainty of our core values in these uncertain times," Lynch said.

He added that the state needs to be careful not to make mistakes that will compound themselves over time.

“These tough times will not last forever. If we act wisely now, we can meet our responsibilities, honor our core values and still prepare New Hampshire for the future,” he said.

“History will define this moment as one of unprecedented challenges. Let us define this moment in our history as one of cooperation of courage and of action.”

Lynch proposed two ideas aimed at boosting the economy.

He proposed a Green Jobs Initiative, which will put people to work weatherizing homes, improve the energy efficiency of public buildings, train new workers for energy-sector jobs and offer low-interest loans for businesses investing in energy efficiency equipment.

The program would be funded by money that comes from auction of pollution credits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

He also proposed expansion of the Job Training Fund, which has helped 3,000 workers at 70 businesses through grants each business must match with private funds. He wants to open the program up to the unemployed.

Republican critics said after Lynch’s speech that he and other Democrats set the stage for difficult times by spending too liberally in the past.

Former Gov. John Sununu, the lone candidate for chairmanship of the state Republican Party, said “We’ve been on this slippery slope for 10 years now, of overspending the budget, building up spending momentum and making it harder and harder each year for New Hampshire to be fiscally responsible.”

Rep. Anthony Renzullo, R-Hudson, said Republicans are ready to help Lynch, “if he wants to do that hard thing, which is cutting spending. But not on raising taxes.”
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Look for additional coverage of the inaugural tomorrow on UnionLeader.com and in the New Hampshire Union Leader.
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Reader COMMENT:
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After three terms of unchecked spending, Gov. Lynch finally acknowledged the state budget is tapped out. Way to go, Governor! Maybe the new tolls in Salem at $2 a car will bail us out or perhaps all of those fees that have been raised since 2002......and maybe the tooth fairy will bring some extra revenue into state coffers over the next two years.
- Mark, Manchester
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"The text of Gov. Lynch's inaugural address"
The NH Union Leader, January 8, 2009

Concord – The prepared text of Gov. John Lynch's third inaugural address, January 8, 2009.

Madam Speaker, Madam President, Mr. Chief Justice and members of the judiciary, honorable members of the House, Senate and Executive Council, and my fellow citizens of New Hampshire:

I am honored to again be entrusted with the solemn responsibility of serving as Governor of this great state. I pledge to you that I will work every day to keep your trust.

Allow me to take a moment to thank my family, beginning with our exceptional First Lady, my wife Susan. I appreciate her love and encouragement and the work she does for the children and people of New Hampshire.

And I must thank our children: our daughters, Jackie and Julia, and our son, Hayden. I would not be here today without their continued love and support.

Let us also recognize the brave men and women of our military serving our nation here at home and overseas. They, and our many veterans, have sacrificed so much for all of us. Please join me in honoring them and their families for their service.

A few weeks ago, a major ice storm downed trees and power lines from Keene to Portsmouth leaving more than 400,000 people without power.

We must thoroughly review the utilities' preparedness and communications. But we can all agree that many dedicated men and women worked through the cold and subsequent storms to restore power to their fellow citizens. And we should thank them for their efforts.

We are all mindful that some of our people lost their lives during the storm. This ice storm was incredibly difficult for all the people it affected. It could have brought out the worst. Instead it brought out the best and showed the true character of New Hampshire and our people.

We saw volunteers, themselves without power, working at local shelters so others could have a warm bed and a hot meal. We saw state and local employees working tirelessly to help ensure the needs of people were met. We saw first responders on-duty around the clock to help keep families and their communities safe.

We owe all of these people our gratitude.

It is this spirit, these people that make New Hampshire so special.

This recent natural disaster has reminded us of the strength of the people of New Hampshire. That strength will be called upon again as we weather the current economic storm.

Our nation is at a critical juncture. We are in the midst of an unprecedented global economic crisis and a national recession the likes of which most of us haven't seen in our lifetimes.

The markets are suffering their worst decline since the Great Depression. The number of people seeking unemployment benefits is at a 30-year high and mortgage foreclosures across the country continue to rise.

Here in New Hampshire, we will be called upon to make difficult decisions in the next two years. We must come together to find solutions to the problems our families are facing today and to address the financial challenges facing our state as a result of the recession.

But it is not with pessimism or with a sense of foreboding that I speak these words. My faith in our ability to work together and my belief in the spirit of the people of New Hampshire give me optimism about our future.

We live in the greatest state in the greatest country in the world. Working together, I know we can meet any challenge that comes our way.

Let us not point fingers, assess blame or worry about who gets the credit. Let us continue to put partisan politics to one side and focus on solving problems.

That is how we've accomplished so much over the past four years - passing tough laws protecting children and families, and keeping New Hampshire the safest state in the nation.

We ended the ability of insurance companies to discriminate against sick workers, passed a new more affordable health insurance plan for small businesses and we expanded children's health insurance.

We improved education, worked to build our economy and create jobs.

We acted to protect our land and to cut pollution.

We passed tough ethics laws and opened up state government.

We brought smart, capable leaders to our state agencies, leaders who share our dedication to making progress for the people they serve.

Our steady leadership is more important now than ever.

We must have confidence in our ability to seek common sense solutions to uncommon problems, to employ calm in the face of fear, and to assert the certainty of our core values in these uncertain times.

Across New Hampshire many hard-working men and women have lost their jobs. Some families have seen their dreams of home ownership put into jeopardy. And seniors have watched their retirement savings evaporate.

We are better positioned than most states to withstand this recession. Our unemployment rate remains well below the national average. We have a strong and educated workforce, a diversified economy and a significant advantage with our tax structure and our quality of life.

But New Hampshire is not an island unto itself. New Hampshire's economy is tied to the national and global economies.

We need national solutions to this crisis. I urge the new Congress and President-elect Obama to act quickly to pass a stimulus package that will create jobs for our workers now.

This package should help protect the safety net for America's most vulnerable citizens, and put people to work by investing in our infrastructure.

It will take national action to recover from this recession, but there are things we can do, together in New Hampshire, to help our economy and to help our people.

We've worked to restore fiscal responsibility to our state's highway and turnpike funds. As a result, we are moving forward with highway construction projects that will make our roads safer and create jobs. As we develop our state's next capital budget, we should do so with an eye toward critical projects that can begin quickly and get people working.

Two years ago, we reinstated the Job Training Fund to give our workers new skills they need to compete in the global economy. Since then we have helped provide training for more than 3,000 workers from nearly 70 companies at no cost to the general fund.

We should look to expand this fund -- and extend its opportunities to unemployed workers -- to help our citizens compete.

Our state is at the forefront of national efforts to build a new energy future. Our first wind plant has recently opened in Lempster. We need to continue to invest in energy efficiency and work to ensure that 25 percent of our energy comes from renewable power by 2025.

Though oil prices have dropped dramatically, we cannot afford to become complacent. We must use this time wisely, to push ahead in pursuit of a new energy future and new jobs.

That is why today I am proposing a new Green Jobs Initiative, funded from part of the proceeds of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Renewable Energy Fund.

First, we should expand our home weatherization program. This will help put people -- carpenters, electricians, plumbers -- to work and help families cut their energy costs.

Second, we should upgrade the energy efficiency of state and municipal buildings. This will have the added benefit of saving taxpayers money now and in the future.

Third, we should provide training so our citizens can learn the new skills needed for this new and growing industry.

Finally, we should create a low-interest revolving loan fund to help New Hampshire businesses become more energy efficient and to convert to renewable energy where possible. This will help our companies cut their costs and become more competitive.

This Green Jobs Initiative will help create jobs for our people now, and make New Hampshire's economy stronger for the future.

Let's help New Hampshire workers and businesses keep their competitive edge, and let's keep good paying jobs right here in New Hampshire.

The national recession is having a dramatic impact on our state budget. New Hampshire and states across the nation have seen significant shortfalls in revenue as this recession has deepened.

We have a proven record of sensibly managing our state budget - and we have done so without a sales or income tax. We will continue to do so.

We increased the state's Rainy Day Fund from $17 million to a record $89 million. And at the first sign of the national economy's downturn, we acted to reduce the shortfall by over $150 million.

But we are still facing a significant challenge in closing the budget gap for this current fiscal year. And it is clear this recession will continue to impact our next state budget.

We run a lean state government, making our budget decisions that much more difficult. But making difficult decisions is what we were elected to do.

State government has fundamental responsibilities - protecting public safety; helping our most vulnerable citizens; educating the next generation; and preserving our quality of life. These should be our guiding principles as we develop the next biennial budget.

To ensure we can fulfill these responsibilities, we must be willing to think differently and creatively about how we do business as a state, and change practices that have grown outdated.

Let me be very clear: we face a budget challenge of unprecedented dimensions.

This next budget cannot be balanced by tweaks and minor adjustments. This problem will not be solved by closing our eyes with the hopes it will go away. And there is no magical pot of gold at the end of a mythical rainbow.

As we develop the next budget, we will have to examine every area of spending, look at every program and say 'no' more often than we would like.

There are some initiatives and programs -- no matter how worthy we feel they may be -- that will have to be deferred until better times. We will not be able to do everything we want to, or even everything we should do as a state.

But these tough times will not last forever. If we act wisely now, we can meet our responsibilities, honor our core values and still prepare New Hampshire for the future.

We must be mindful of the long-term impacts of decisions we make today. For example, last year we made real progress tackling long neglected problems with our state's retirement system. In that process, we saw how short-sighted decisions made decades ago had severe long term and negative consequences, consequences we're still paying for today.

As we address our challenges, we must learn from the mistakes of the past and not do something today that future generations of New Hampshire citizens will regret.

Educating our next generation is one of our fundamental responsibilities. Our children must have the skills and the knowledge necessary to compete in this rapidly changing world.

Our goal is to ensure every child in New Hampshire has an equal opportunity to receive a quality education.

Over the years, there have been many debates in this great chamber regarding both the quality and the funding of education. We will continue these debates as we work to meet our education funding responsibilities and make progress to improve education.

And we have made progress.

For the first time, all children in New Hampshire regardless of where they live will have the opportunity to attend public kindergarten.

We defined an adequate education, and developed an education funding plan clearly linked to that definition.

I still believe that the best way to improve education is to target real state aid to the communities and children who need it the most. I also recognize there has not been a consensus in the Legislature on a constitutional amendment that would allow for that approach. I believe that discussion should continue, but we also need to meet our education responsibilities and build on the progress we have made.

This includes developing a system that holds our schools accountable. A legislative commission has made recommendations that will be the starting point for our discussions this year.

As we move forward, we must ensure that our accountability efforts do not simply place additional burdens on our schools, but actually deliver better results for our students.

As a state, we have set a goal of reducing our state's dropout rate to zero over the next three years. This is a lofty goal, but a goal we must embrace.

We recognized the necessity of a high school diploma in today's economy by increasing the compulsory school attendance age to 18. We must continue to support alternative learning programs and make it possible for every child in New Hampshire to graduate from high school.

We must also continue to re-think how we deliver education, adapting to changing technology and the changing ways young people get information and learn.

We can use technology to create new opportunities for learning. We can connect classrooms giving more of our young people access to highly qualified math and science teachers, Advanced Placement classes, or language courses.

In every industry, technology is breaking down old barriers. The same must be true in education.

Because we know that education drives jobs, we have invested significantly in higher education, ensuring our students have access to state-of-the-art learning through our university and community college systems.

This has allowed more of our young people to get the skills they need for the future.

Let's continue to ensure that our young people have 21st century opportunities so they can live full 21st century lives.

Working together -- Democrats, Republicans and Independents -- we have embarked on a path of greater discourse and as a result, we have made real progress on the issues that matter to New Hampshire families.

No one of us claims to have all the answers and no one cannot do it alone.

History will define this moment as one of unprecedented challenges.

Let us define this moment in our history as one of cooperation, of courage and of action.

Understanding that we face significant financial and economic challenges, but recognizing that we are a great state, let us leave here committed to working together for the people of New Hampshire.

Thank you.
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Readers' COMMENTS:

Sue from Manchester is right on the mark. I couldn't have said it better. Great job! The liberal approach to fixing the country........spend till you can't spend no more, regulate till you regulate yourself into the corner.
- Jim, Litchfield

Wow how predictable! First he starts with the latest disaster. Are you suprised? Then he goes on to the recession, blaming it on the global crisis and not his passage of a 17.5% increase in the budget that could have been avoided. And finally, these items are questionable.

"We improved education, worked to build our economy and create jobs" - This is questionable. Lyonel Tracy and Co are doing things that are not legal according to my copy of the constitution. Did you vote for nationalization of the educational system? A regional education system to destroy further our high schools? I didn't think so.

"We acted to protect our land and to cut pollution" - This was done at the expense of the property owner. RGGI is a scam, plain and simple. SPA will take away your kid's right to build a sand castle on your beach! You will pay a price to fish for stripers in the OCEAN.

"We passed tough ethics laws and opened up state government" - So I ask, why doesn't your own party follow these laws or get punished when they violate them? Why is your party trying to exclude certain agencies from the Right to Know law?

"We brought smart, capable leaders to our state agencies, leaders who share our dedication to making progress for the people they serve." - Progress = MORE TAXES, MORE GOVERNMENT (which is really regression)

Must not leave out that word 'progress' so he could pander to his most left wing radical constituents. They seem to be running the show anyway.

What a mess you've gotten us into Mr Lynch!
- Sue, Manchester

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"Speaker Norelli says don't bet on gambling"
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter, NH Union Leader, 1/8/2009

Concord – House Speaker Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth said today she doubts the House of Representatives is ready to pass an expanded gambling bill, despite the state's financial problems.

In an interview in her State House office prior to Gov. John Lynch's inaugural, Norelli said she also realizes Granite Staters do not want a broad-based tax.

"That's still the mood of the people," she aid.

A proposal for video lottery terminals at the state's racetracks is expected to receive much attention with the state facing a $250 million or more shortfall.

While such a bill may receive a positive response in the state Senate, Norelli said expanded gambling "has never received more than a minimal number of votes in the House, and, quite frankly, I don't see that changing."

Norelli said she sensed "a certain somberness" early on this inauguration day because of the massive challenge facing lawmakers.

"While wer'e in better shape than other states," the speaker said, lawmakers will still have to deal with "really significant" financial issues.

Veteran Republican Rep. David Hess of Hooksett said, "From our (GOP) perspective, it's somber here. We have a horrendous shortfall for this year and in the coming biennium."

He said it will require "belt-tightening and reviewing programs to leave the muscle and the bone but remove any fat."

He said he continues to personally oppose expanded gambling but said the GOP caucus has not yet discussed the issue as a group, so he did not venture a guess as the the mood of the caucus on the issue.
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Watch for further updates later today on UnionLeader.com.
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Readers' COMMENTS:

Gambling and trips to Foxwoods and Las Vegas are way down due to the recession. Why would gambling work here?

Beware of any "belt tightening" which merely pushes the cuts down to the towns or counties, and forces them to decide between property tax hikes or cuts. Lynch wants to fund his green jobs initiative by auctioning the "carbon credits", but that means the money will come through increased electric utility bills.

Spending restraint at the state level is the key, but now we have to backtrack on the prior Lynch budget which ratcheted up biennial spending by almost 18%, and the unions won't defer a raise (which Lynch and the legislature granted), nor entertain any modernization of the pension plans, even as the private sector downsizes and people are losing their homes.

And we still have this talk of spending hundreds of millions of dollars for a pie-in-the sky commuter train to Boston which would require massive tax subsidies to sustain if its built. And the toll booth proposal on I-93, which will likely cause Massachusetts to propose their own toll, maybe on the FE Everett.
- Ditmar, Hollis

Norelli has been in favor of an income tax her entire career. Expanded Gambling would destroy her hopes of taxing us all even further. UNH and Becker Institute polling have always shown that 70-75% of NH citizens fully support placing slot machines at the racetracks. This would bring in $400 million just for the state of NH. Thats 4 times what we get from business taxes, and its more than the statewide property tax collects. EMAIL, mail, or call NORELLI AND TELL HER NH WANTS GAMBLING:
Terie Norelli
35 Middle Road
Portsmouth, NH 03801-4802
Phone: (603)436-2108
Email: terie.norelli@leg.state.nh.us
- Will, Manchester

Norelli is a so far too the left. She wants to control what people do with their money. Why doesn't she issue another press release about payday and title loans?
- Henry Swanson, Freedom

Why don't they ask the people of New Hampshire- majority rules- if the people want it, pursue it.

If not, then fine.

I think the arguments against are ludicrous and hypocritical when you go in any store and see the yellow lottery machine and the counter full of $5,$10,and $20 lottery tickets.
- Gary, Manchester,NH

Yeah we really don't want casinos or video gambling in New Hampshire... we'd be going down a moral street we really don't need to be going down (sarcasm).

This is coming from the same state with liquor stores on the sides of its interstate highways. Don't drink and drive kids.

Don't kid yourselves people- this would be a great source of revenue for the state. A casino would also attract visitors from Maine, Vermont, and northern Mass to spend money here.
- Brian, Concord

The people of NH favor expanded gambling over sales, income tax, increased property taxes or cuts to programs for the poor. So perhaps the house should join the senante and vote on the side of democracy and represent the people.
- Greg Barrett, Manchester

Of course Norelli doesn't like gambling because its a revenue source that she does not have any control over (ie stealing money from our pockets).
- Gary H., Manchester, NH

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"John DiStaso's Granite Status: Down to business, with Democrats in charge"
The NH Union Leader, 1/8/2009

NOW, DOWN TO BUSINESS: Democratic activists are celebrating this week with good reason. The swearing in of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Reps. Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter on Tuesday and today's third inauguration of Gov. John Lynch brings home the stark reality to the loyal opposition in the GOP that they are officially the party in power in the Granite State, at least for the next two years.

A bigger celebration occurs on Jan. 20, with the Barack Obama inaugural, but for now, it's all about getting down to work.

Shaheen, in her first full day on the job yesterday, met with staff and made general preparations for the next few weeks. Today, she will attend her first energy committee hearing and deliver her first floor speech. Spokesman Alex Reese said her speech will "lay the foundation for long-term economic strength by investing in clean and renewable sources of energy."

Reese said that when Shaheen and Sen. Judd Gregg walked down the center aisle of the Senate chamber on Tuesday as Shaheen prepared to take her oath of office, Shaheen held the same Bible she used to be sworn in as governor on Jan. 9, 1997. He said it was given to her at that time by the state's inaugural committee.

Shaheen and Gregg are the first former New Hampshire governors to serve as senators in more than 50 years, he said.

A low-key, business-like inaugural is expected as the State House today as Lynch is expected to deliver a speech that will reflect the "unprecedented economic times we are in" nationally and locally, said spokesman Colin Manning.

While inaugural addresses are historically short on detail, expect Lynch, despite the massive impending budget shortfall, to reiterate his pledge to veto a broad-based income and sales tax. You can bet the Republicans will jump up and cheer, but how enthusiastically will legislative Democrats react to that line?

Expect no Lynch pledge against expanded gambling, however.

A big attraction today will be former Gov. John H. Sununu, who is expected to make first appearance as state GOP chairman-in-waiting, just nine days before he is expected to be elected to the party post.

After calling Lynch the worst governor in state history, the reception line greeting will be watched with interest.

And will Sununu come out of the box on fire in his critique of the inaugural address?

Could be interesting.

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CHRISTIAN ISN'T GOING AWAY: Portsmouth Republican Christian Callahan got a taste of New Hampshire elective politics last fall when he made a decent showing against the popular Martha Fuller Clark in the District 24 state Senate race.

Republicans say Callahan's 62 to 38 percent loss to Clark was a good showing considering he was relatively unknown, was recruited to file for the seat two hours before the deadline and was heavily outspent.

But Callahan, 38, thoroughly enjoyed the experience and is not ruling out another run for office, perhaps the 1st District U.S. House seat, especially if Shea-Porter does not seek the seat again and opts for a run for the Senate.

It remains to be seen if Callahan can raise the money necessary to mount a congressional bid or if more well-heeled Republicans will run and squeeze him out.

But for now, Callahan, the successful owner of two seafood companies, said he is determined to work to rebuild the Republican Party from the ground up in the Seacoast area.

"If I realized one thing in the campaign, it is that there are a lot of Republicans who feel they don't have a home or a seat at the table in the Republican Party," Callahan said. "My main focus is seeing how we can get people active who want to be active and give them something worthwhile to do."

Callahan said a group of local Republicans will meet today in Portsmouth.

More serious about a run for the 1st District seat at this early stage is former federal treasury department official, retired banker and energy executive Robert Bestani, 60, of Newmarket, who announced yesterday that he has filed a congressional exploratory committee.

Bestani, a visiting scholar on economic and financial issues at Stanford University, has been active in Newmarket politics in his six years in the state and worked for Jeb Bradley and John McCain last fall.

He said he has met with Sununu, outgoing party chair Fergus Cullen and a long list of top Republicans and will spend this year "laying a lot of pipe and meeting with more people, and engage in fundraising after a certain point."

Bestani said he became interested in running after a group of friends suggested he look into it after he had put together a clear-cut presentation on the nature of the country's economic troubles last fall. His effort snowballed into presentations to town officials, service clubs and an appearance on a political talk show.

Bestani said the troubles facing the nation relate directly to his area of expertise. He said he does not intend to run a negative campaign, but said of Shea-Porter, "I look at her background and I don't see much in the way of expertise and I don't see that she has accomplished very much."

EARLY HIT: In an early hit by the National Republican Congressional Committee, Shea-Porter was labeled a hypocrite this week for voting along with the Democratic majority to the end the limit on committee chairmanships to three terms, or six years, a measure established in House rules under Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" back in 1995. She also voted to end the Republican minority's power to effectively kill bills on the floor by sending them back to the committee of origin in motions to recommit. The Republicans said the move will make it more difficult, if not impossible, for them to challenge tax increase measure.

Shea-Porter spokesman Jamie Radice said the changes "provide technical and procedural corrections that will make Congress more efficient and transparent." Radice did not comment on the NRCC's decision to criticize Shea-Porter so early in the 2010 cycle.

THE FIRST 2010 NUMBERS: It may be early, but polling for 2010 has indeed begun.

The American Research Group is the first out with polling pitting Shea-Porter and Hodes against Gregg.

ARG polled 569 registered voters Dec. 27-29 and found Hodes faring better than Shea-Porter against the Republican, but Gregg leading both.

Gregg led Hodes, 47 to 40 percent, with 13 percent undecided, and Shea-Porter, 54 to 35 percent with 11 percent undecided.

Gregg led Shea-Porter by the same 54 to 38 percent margin among undeclared voters, and she received support of only 56 percent of Democratic voters.

Gregg led Hodes 46 to 42 percent among undeclared votes, while Hodes led among Democrats 67 to 22 percent. Gregg received the support of 78 percent Republicans polled against Shea-Porter and 75 percent of Republicans against Hodes.

On a issue sure to be discussed at the State House beginning today, ARG found that 46 percent of registered voters support and 36 percent oppose allowing video lottery terminals at the state's racetracks, with 18 percent undecided.

The margins of error for both polls was listed at 4.2 percent.

And, asked to rate the performance of Public Service of New Hampshire to last month's ice storm, 24 percent said "excellent," 41 percent said "good," 22 percent said "only fair" and 9 percent said "poor."

TO TAX OR NOT TO TAX? Facing a Tuesday deadline in many communities, groups on both sides of the tax issue are mounting drives for non-binding warrant articles or resolutions seeking spending caps and denouncing the anti-broad-based tax pledge.

The New Hampshire Advantage Coalition, undeterred by the rocky road it encountered last year, intends to turn in spending cap resolutions by Tuesday in Rindge, Hampstead, Salem, Goffstown, Kingston and Allenstown, according to group chair Michael Biundo.

He said the group is working to met Feb. 3 deadlines in Plymouth, Ashland, Rumney, Hebron, Holderness, Campton, Bristol, Conway, Haverhill, and Strafford.

Last year, the group was successful in passing an article in Rochester and hopes to put the question on the ballots the cities of Concord, Manchester and Portsmouth in November.

The proposal asks voters whether town officials should be directed to cap any increase in their annual budgets to no more than the consumer price index.

Biundo said NHAC has opted for non-binding questions this year hoping that the Legislature "will look at changing state law to allow all communities to put tax caps in." Only chartered communities can legally adopt binding changes of this kind, he said.

"We have been fielding calls from communities across the state that are upset with their taxes and are looking for a way to show it," Biundo said. "This is really a growing grass-roots movement."

The Granite State Fair Tax Coalition has had its anti-pledge resolution passed in 67 communities over the past two years and we understand that this year intends to submit resolutions in about 10 more.

LET'S SEE YOUR LAUNDRY, BARACK: It may be a tough sell in the nasty weather we've had recently, but Merrimack County Democratic Chairman Alex Lee wants you to hang out your laundry to dry whenever you can.

This is serious. Lee is founder and executive director of Project Laundry List, a 501 (c) (3) organization with the goal of "making air-drying laundry acceptable and desirable as a simple and effective way to save energy."

Don't laugh. Lee had just concluded an interview with the Wall Street Journal on the subject before he spoke with us.

"The federal government says that 6 percent of residential electricity goes to the dryer," Lee said, "but that does not include gas dryers, which is 17 percent of American households or multi-family housing or commercial drying and restaurants and hospitals and prisons and universities."

The group's latest goal, in a petition that can be found on the Web site right2dry.org, is to convince the Obamas to, as Lee puts, "get a clothesline on the roof or in the yard of the White House," at least for a one-day, symbolic photo op.

After all, says the Web site, "It is the inalienable right of every man, woman and child to line dry."

QUICK TAKES

-- McCain has a launched a new fundraising committee called "Putting Country First" and yesterday e-mailed supporters asking for donations as "charter members."

-- Remember Susan Spear? The firebrand former Democratic lawmaker moved to the Hudson Valley in New York 17 years ago and remained active in politics. This week, she was promoted from district director to chief of staff for Rep. John Hall, D-N.Y.
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John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
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Readers' COMMENTS:
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Just like we are sick of all you republicans now - in 10 years we'll be sick of the democrats in power - and so on and so on.
- Frank, Dover NH

Fiddling while Rome burns.

That's it Democrats, whoop it up. Have a grand time at the inauguration. Party while the economy tanks and Americans suffer.

Not smart at all.
- Tom, Campton

I can't help but wonder aloud if they (the Democrats) had left the budget alone and not increased spending by 17.5% ($475 million if I have my numbers correct), how pretty this state would be sitting financially. We would only be looking at a $25 million deficit, would not have BORROWED to balance last years budget, and the state would be in a better position than all others for when the economy starts to rebound.

So, my solution to the fiscal mess that the Democrats have gotten this state into is sumple, roll the budget BACK to the numbers it was at BEFORE they raised spending by $475 million, and then try to cut the $25 million from that to balance it all. (That was hard)
- Mark, Nottingham

Christian Callahan would be an excellent candidate to oppose Carol Shea Porter. Callahan has great ideas that are unique from what you hear from mainstream politicians from either party. I wish him the best of luck and hope to see his name in the future.
- Linda B., Manchester, NH

Will any reporter with his or her salt ask Gov Lynch how and why they raised taxes in the midst of a recession despite having all that financial information at their fingertips and hopefully living in the real world and now they have to cut what they raised and some more besides?

Don't expect an answer. He'll just smile like Jeanne Shaheen and speak without saying a single thing of merit as he sits on his Concord fence.
- RG, Manch

I believe there is a grassroots statewide movement among all NH taxpayers to control spending and set the expectation of reliable government. Gov. Lynch anf Speaker Norelli obviously still need in a lesson in reliability public service given NH's first tragic deficit of 300 million of our money vs. their spending.

Taxpayers this is your state and your tax dollars - if our state government cannot provide financially sound fiscal policies it is our job to teach them --- get involved in the tax cap movement today www.theNHadvantage.com
- Roger, Nashua

Just to clarify John's Distaso column item on NHAC. We are on the ballot in Concord and Manchester next November. We are working for ballot access in for November in Portsmouth.
- Mike Biundo, Manchester

The headline of this article is downright terrifying. The same people who increased the general fund spending 17% are now tasked with getting us out of the $500 million hole they put us in. The good news is that there will be no Bush backlash in 2010. The bad news is that there's a lot of damage these spend-and-tax-and-borrow legislators can do to our state between now and then. If the last two years is any indication, we have much to fear.
- Keith M., Manchester

Did the PSNH poll break down the data into subgroups - those who did not lose power and those who did? Did it further break down those who lost power into the length of time they were without electricity?
- Bill Siroty, Amherst

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"NH think tank says cuts alone won't balance budget"
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 1/8/2009

CONCORD – A New Hampshire think tank says the state can't solve its budget woes by cutting spending alone.

Steve Norton, director of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, told Senate budget and tax writing committee members Wednesday they will need to raise taxes and get some help from the federal government.

Norton estimated the state could face a $500 million revenue shortfall over the life of the next two-year budget that begins July 1.

Norton said the federal government helped states in 2001 by temporarily increasing the federal share of the Medicaid program. He said a similar boost is under discussion and could mean as much as $75 million a year in additional federal aid.

But Norton said no one knows if or when the money will come or if states like California with much bigger financial problems will get a larger share of any Medicaid bailout money.

In his presentation, Norton offered some examples of big-ticket items lawmakers could adopt as cost-saving measures. The largest single item would be eliminating the $50 million annual increase due for state school aid. Norton also estimated the state could save $20 million annually by implementing "good time" rules to release inmates who behave.

Norton also included suggestions for raising revenue, including implementing an 8 percent inheritance tax or allowing video slots. Lawmakers repealed the state's 18 percent inheritance tax, effective in 2003, and have repeatedly opposed video slots.

Norton said the current recession is similar to one the state experienced in 1990-1991. The Legislature raised a number of taxes during the period, including the tax on restaurant meals and renting hotel rooms, he said.

Norton noted that 73 percent of spending this year is on program expenses, primarily driven by direct payments to organizations providing services for the state. Total personnel costs are 14 percent with another 4 percent for benefits.

Norton said six programs drive spending: Medicaid, retirement benefits, corrections, developmental services and aid to schools for construction and disabled students.

Norton made his presentation the day the Legislature convened and the day before Gov. John Lynch was to be inaugurated to a third, two-year term. Lynch is expected to focus on the state's fiscal challenges due to the recession in his inaugural address Thursday.

Since February, Lynch and lawmakers have cut spending, raised the cigarette tax, enacted a new tax on poker games and approved borrowing state school aid to deal with declining revenues in the budget that ends on June 30.

So far, they've closed $150 million of a projected $250 million revenue gap -- adjustments totaling roughly 5 percent of the $3.2 billion in spending from general tax sources in the two-year budget. The total budget is $10.3 billion when spending from federal and other sources is included.

Norton said Wednesday he believes the revenue gap will be higher -- $300 million -- meaning lawmakers have a bigger hole to fill by June 30. He stressed that waiting until the next budget takes effect to make major policy changes affecting spending won't result in the immediate savings needed.
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Readers' COMMENTS:

Why dont the 4 of you run for public office, such as governor. Im sure you can gut the state all you want then.
- Steve, Concord

Why would anyone be surprised that the NH think tank comprised of liberals would come up with such a witty suggestion such as "we need to raise taxes"? This is what they live for. With hundreds of thousands of Americans losing jobs and certainly more to follow, who is going to have the ability to pay any more?

Me thinks the thinkers in the think tank are brain dead.
- Jim, Litchfield

Not much thinking going on in that tank. Of course cuts will balance the budget, if you cut enough.
- Tom, Campton

Shocker, a liberal think tank is suggesting that NH raise taxes. Raising the inheritance tax will do nothing but continue to kill small businesses that are passed along from generation to generation.
- Gary H., Manchester, NH

This is not a think tank but an excuse-making tank. It first assumes that a huge percentage of state spending is "uncontrollable," even by lawmakers we send to Concord with the power to change the laws. Norton would cut payments to other levels of government (which will shift the blame to them for tax hikes) and have the state stop doing some of its legitimate job (turn criminals loose, showing future criminals that the state doesn't mean what it says).

Great job telling legislators what they want to hear: that what is theirs is theirs, what is ours is negotiable. No state program, no state employees, have to suffer the cutbacks that, for instance, the car industry has. Still haven't read any reasoned opposition to the Union-Leader's modest suggestion to eliminate the Commissions on the Status of this-or-that victim group.
- Spike, Brentwood NH

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The NH Union Leader, Editorial, 1/29/2009
"Highway funding: Better spending, safer roads"

Two state troopers have testified that the state failed to keep Interstate 93 clear of snow and ice on a February night two years ago, contributing to the death of a 6-year-old boy in a terrible accident. They said the problem was chronic.

"(We) actually go into the sheds and talk to them, ask them what can be done to treat the roads better. (They) always seem to come up with an excuse. There's either a truck broken down, somebody called out sick, something to that effect," Trooper Bryan Trask said.

The troopers were testifying in response to a lawsuit filed against the state by a Canadian trucking company whose driver was involved in the accident that killed the little boy.

State Transportation Commissioner George Campbell said in December the state might cut back on plowing and salting the highways to save money. That would be the worst possible response to the budget crunch. The state is duty-bound to keep the roads safe. In addition, messier roads can reduce tourism and business activity.

Here is a better idea. Spend highway fund money on the highways. In 1999, 22 percent of the money collected by the gas tax and motor vehicle fees was transferred to other departments. In the current budget, the transfers consume 36 percent of the highway fund. That comes to $84 million. If the state had simply kept transfers from the highway fund at the same 22 percent rate effective in 1999, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) would have an additional $33 million this year.

But that isn't the whole story. When block grants and transfers for local road projects are factored in, the DOT will wind up with only 51 percent of highway fund money this fiscal year, down from 55.75 percent last year.

The bulk of the transfers go to the Department of Safety. If that money didn't come from the highway fund, it would have to come from general funds. And that means legislators would have to cut spending on something less essential. They should do that now. They will have to do it next year anyway. That's when a new law takes effect mandating that the DOT gets at least 68.5 percent of highway fund money and the Department of Safety no more than 30 percent (It gets 34 percent this year).

Legislators have put off this prioritizing for too long. It cannot wait any longer. The highway fund needs the money. It will cost a lot more if our poorly maintained highways result in more deaths and more lawsuits.
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Readers' COMMENTS:

The real issue, however, is how to pay for the 36% if that money is no longer taken out of the highway fund. The money has to come from somewhere. As the Department of Safety said a few months ago - they don't care where the funds come from, as long as they are funded. This is the $64,000 question.
- Art, Portsmouth

From the UL's own mouth

"State Transportation Commissioner George Campbell said in December the state might cut back on plowing and salting the highways to save money. That would be the worst possible response to the budget crunch. The state is duty-bound to keep the roads safe. In addition, messier roads can reduce tourism and business activity."

I completely agree. Where are all those who demand we never call out the DOT on poor maintenance. It's pretty quiet in this post.
- Art, Portsmouth

Which is it, 34% or 36%? The editorial states both numbers for this year.

The driver of the truck was solely responsible for rear-ending that car. Too fast for conditions is too fast for conditions.

*** Editor's note: The editorial above says that 36% is transferred to other departments (note the plural). Safety gets 34%, with 2% going elsewhere. ***
- Jeff, Manchester

JP in Warner: There is no such mandate that 1/3 of funds can not be spent on roads and bridges. Sometimes, though, it seems that way.

Editor: You say, “That’s not the whole story”, and then you suggest state road tax revenue should not be spent on local roads. You pick on the wrong bad guy. Municipalities are responsible for many miles of roads that NH residents use. They should share in the gas tax revenue. But, that’s not the whole story, either.

In 2004, the NH Motor Trucking Assn. foiled the NHDOT’s plan to spend state gas tax revenue on the Nashua to Lowell rail extension. But the Supreme Court’s ruling did not prohibit the DOT from funneling $24 million in Federal funds to the project … funds that could have been used to meet real highway needs.

According to 2005 cost and ridership estimates, this project will cost over $166 thousand per train rider.

In Concord, the NHDOT funneled Federal funds to purchase trolleys that run nearly empty. Somehow, this was supposed to improve air quality.

These are just the tip of the iceberg.

Much of the waste is due to Federal transportation policy, which ignores any consideration of benefits to costs analysis. But, that should not absolve the DOT from its responsibility to do so.
- Dick, Concord

Legislators will continue, as they have always done, to take money out of certain necessary funds and use those monies for their pet projects, or rather pork projects. Taking money out of the highway fund for unnecessary projects back home is an example. This is why we should always keep taxes and revenues low - so that legislators will not be tempted to waste those monies on other things and be encouraged to spend them on for what they were originally allocated.
- Nicholl, Manchester

As a president once said"there ain't no free lunch". Go to Mass or NY(think Buffalo or Syracuse!) during and after a storm and compare the road conditions to NH. They get two or three times as much snow and still the roads are better in winter. Our crews do a great job with what they are given but it costs money to do a decent job. Low taxes = deaths and fender benders (injury and higher insurance costs). Live cheap and die.
- Joe, Weare

The 'greenies' longtime suppression of major safety improvements and widening are responsible for six-year old Mahoney's death, and they should not escape scrutiny. This doesn't happen in Buffalo. A 59-car pileup is unacceptable.

After the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco during the World Series, elevated highways were quickly rebuilt. Stable, safe highways are simply a function of will.

The stretch where the death occurred must be rebuilt. Get some talented engineers, draw up a plan as if funding was unlimited, and solve the problem. Then figure out how to pay for it.
- Steve, Manch

Why spend highway fund money on the on the highways when you can just put up some new tolls booths instead?
- Rich, Derry

The same thing happens at the Federal Level.

We pay approx 18 cents per gallon in Federal taxes that is supposed to go into the Highway Trust Fund.

If Congress were to spend that money on Roads and Bridges then there wouldn't be any infrastructure problems.

Unfortunately, quite a long time ago Congress in their infinite wisdom mandated that fully 1/3 of those funds could NOT be spent on Roads and Bridges....instead they mandates that it must be spent on pet pork barrel projects like installing sidewalks or street lamps.

Sadly, its just another example of well meaning government gone awry.
- JP, Warner

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"Try again, governor: Push hard for amendment"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, February 17, 2009

The inescapable reality of the state budget is that our government officials have committed us to more spending than the taxpayers can afford. Legislators have a chance to address one of these unnecessarily large commitments Wednesday when they consider three constitutional amendments regarding education funding.

Gov. John Lynch tried in the last session to persuade the Democratic majority in the Legislature to undo the damage done by the Supreme Court's Claremont and Londonderry rulings in which it rewrote the state constitution to mandate unsustainable state funding of local schools. Then in his budget proposal last week he conceded defeat by increasing state adequate education aid by $123 million.

The governor ought not give up so easily. Economic reality has prompted some legislative leaders to at least talk as if they believe in fiscal responsibility. House Finance Committee Chairman Rep. Marjorie Smith, who last year claimed there was no fat in the state budget, last week praised Gov. Lynch for making big cuts.

The House Education Committee, of course, recommended that the full House kill all three of the constitutional amendments up for debate tomorrow. But its vote on the most promising amendment was 11-9.

If the recession could get Democrats to praise Gov. Lynch for making some of the same budget cuts -- and some even deeper ones -- they attacked Gov. Craig Benson for making, then maybe it has awakened them enough to see how imperative a constitutional amendment on school funding is.
-
READERS' COMMENTS:

Passage of a poorly written amendment could be worse than having no amendment.

It's absolutely true that the court's takeover of the school funding debate is why NH is having such a difficult time budgeting and planning for anything at all.

The UL has pushed an passing a constitutional amendment to fix the court's Claremont travesties for years. So, exactly what amendment language would effectively end the courts control over schools and what language would pass muster in the present legislature?

Judges appointed for life aren't supposed to be able to exercise any of the legislative powers granted to elected representatives of the people.

If the UL wants to continue to promote the idea of amending the constitution to fix the Court's Claremont decisions then the UL ought to sponsor a contest. . . . .to determine what language would work to both fix the school funding issue and to get the Chief justice and his pals on the Supreme Court out of the legislating business.
- Paul Mirski, Enfield

"How about a few years of the other thing - the one that Democrats bring where bills are paid, infrastructure is rebuilt, the less fortunate are helped, the minimum wage is increased, health care is provided and social commity is rebuilt?" An we all get ponies and no one has to work and no one will ever feel bad again, now let us all sing Kumbya. Because a few years of what the Democrats bring will turn NH into a socialist state teetering on receivership. Tell me, where in your little Marxist Utopia is the funding going to come from?
- Joe, Amherst

The encroachment of the judicial branch of government usurping the power of the legislative branch of government has finally has come home to roost. Liberals started this slippery slope when they looked to the judicial branch to attain what they were unable to achieve through legislation. Through judicial interpretation they changed law to get what they wanted and changed the entire formula for funding education to the extent we now have an expensive boondoggle. Unfortunately it is a slippery slope that has not stopped with education funding and has crept into many other areas as well and has corrupted the balance of power between the 3 branches of government. Sad that governor Lynch has neither the tenacity nor the will to reclaim that balance of power. Our state motto is “live free or die”. Unfortunately the end result of this imbalance of power we shall find that we can no longer afford our government or our way of life in New Hampshire anymore.
- Rob, Manchester

When Governor Teflon goes after the state, municipal pension abuse .. when Governor Teflon allows flaggers to work our highways so some of the newly unemployed can have jobs ... when he actually does something rather than give us his painted on smile .. then I will take him seriously. The man is the biggest empty suit in the state's history.
- tom, manchester,nh

Some of these comments here are too much to ignore. If our elected representatives cut taxes, that's considered hacking off our willpower at the knees, but when the Supreme Court purloins legislative powers for itself in a gross and lawless overreach, it's a good thing because it rebuilds "social comity?"
- Rick, Portsmouth

William of Deerfield - "It's fun to..." read your rants, so typical of left wingnut tax proponents and capitalist haters.
Where do you come from with your high horse attitude that only you have the solutions to what ails this country? You're always whining but rarely offer proven solutions.
- Guy Plante, Manchester

The first sentence should read "supreme court" instead of "government officials". It is the supreme court that has "committed us to more spending than the taxpayers can afford" in violation of NH Bill of Rights, Article 37, Separation of Powers.

When the Legislature uses these decisions as justification for increasing spending by $123M, there is yet another check on their power. The governor can veto this spending.

Characterizing Lynch's refusal to uphold the independence of the Executive Branch by 'conceding defeat' does much to create confusion as to the actual, constitutional role of each body. Nothing becomes law without his signature, the buck stops with him.
- Steve, Manch

Ok so I ask you... Where on the list of priorities do our children come? Shameful!
- steve, concord

Agreed - Republican or Democrat, if we are to have a viable economy in this state, someone has to undo the mess Jeanne Shaheen got us into. Remember it was her husbands law firm that was the catalyst for the Claremont law suit. Her reign as Governor was a travesty to this state. It boggles my mind how NH voters rewarded her wreckless spending and made her a senator. She is nothing more than a Pelosi/Reid rubber stamp in lockstep with the extreme far fringe left.
- Harry, Tilton

It is fun to watch arbitrary choices ("may wish to afford") turn into moral imperatives ("can afford") according to some conservative wish list. It is the nature of most opinion pieces that they recommend action and present argument. Here that order is crushed by the failed ideological zeal of the editors. We are among the richest states in the Union. We have either the lowest or second lowest tax burden of any state. We can do whatever we want to do but continually having our will power hacked off at the knees by right wingnut tax cutters results in vast gifts to the ultra rich, and fewer and fewer services to people who actually work for a living. How about a few years of the other thing - the one that Democrats bring where bills are paid, infrastructure is rebuilt, the less fortunate are helped, the minimum wage is increased, health care is provided and social commity is rebuilt? Oh, I forgot, the compassionate conservative got voted out of office.
- William, Deerfield

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"NH jobs chief faces charges"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009

CONCORD – State Employment Security Commissioner Richard Brothers faces 10 charges of fraud on travel vouchers he submitted to state officials.

Brothers was named in 10 misdemeanor charges the Merrimack County grand jury returned yesterday. Each Class A misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,200 fine.

Gov. John Lynch immediately called on Brothers to resign and barred him from entering and Employment Security facilities. Brothers' term in office, which began in the last days of the Gov. Craig Benson administration, will end April 1.

Brothers, 50, of Thornton, said through his attorney that he will fight the charges and expects to be vindicated.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said Brothers has not been arrested. He will be expected to appear at an arraignment on the charges once the court sets a date. Typically, that would be within the month, she said.

According to the Attorney General's Office, Brothers submitted false travel vouchers on May 31, 2008, that covered a period that began in August 2007.

Language in each charge that the grand jury returned -- called an "information'' -- alleges Brothers committed a crime known as unsworn falsification when he "knowingly made a written false statement." It says he planned "to deceive a public servant . . . by submitting travel vouchers for reimbursement for mileage and tolls and attesting to trips he had not actually taken."

Young said there are no allegations about how much money Brothers may have obtained through the vouchers in question.

While it is not the usual course to go to a grand jury on misdemeanor cases, Young said, it is not unheard of. The state used the same method last year to bring charges against former Manchester City Clerk Carol Johnson. She was accused of abuse of office over her handling of alleged thefts of city money by her nephew, who worked under her.

Young said her office went to work on the case several months ago when the Department of Administrative Services brought concerns forward.

Attorney Charles Douglas said Brothers is guilty of nothing more than sloppy bookkeeping. He said he will seek a jury trial.

"There are many thousands of dollars owed him that he never even submitted, but some of the ones he did submit were erroneous. We offered to correct them, but for some reason, they want him out," Douglas said in a phone interview.

He alleged that a subordinate filed a complaint in retribution for a bad personnel report.

Douglas said Brothers made "a good faith approximation of where he went and what the purpose was. At no time was he attempting to rip off the state by only claiming a total of 4,238 work-related miles."

He said Brothers intends to file amended vouchers. "Thus, the state will end up owing him money," the statement said.

Lynch said in a statement released by his office that Brothers is barred from all Department of Employment Security facilities, effective immediately. Calling for Brothers to resign, he said, "I expect all the leaders of our state agencies to have the highest standards of ethics and integrity and to follow the law at all times."

Brothers was in the news earlier this week, defending a worker who authorities said has agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud charges dating to 2001 and 2003.

Lynch called on Brothers Wednesday to suspend Raye Ellen Douville, a former insurance agent. Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said yesterday Douville has been suspended.

Brothers is a former state representative and ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 2002. He was put in his current post, which pays $89,000 a year, in December 2004, one month before Lynch took office.

-
READERS' COMMENTS:

Something to ponder! To those that support Brothers and call this a minor bookeeping error or inattention to detail. Just think if he can'y keep track of a few thousand bucks he has no business being responsible for the millions that his agency gives out during these difficult time. Its an absolute shame that he supports thief who is homosexually disordered but we lock up people who smoke a joint. Whats wrong with this picture?
- Jay, Concord

OH Brian Peppers, now it's all Benson's fault? Really? Why doesn't Lynch have to take the blame for everything Sullivan and Buckley and all the other scofflaw Democrats did to people for the last 10 years?

What a joke. You liberals always have to have some sort of scapegoat. Benson is not responsible for someone 5 years later.
- Sue, Manchester

Jane, I have been witness to plenty and know of people who can prove fraud. As for doing something about it, why do you think I add my comments? I know people who have endured much pain due to perjury and fraudulent practices by a DCYF Lawyer and caseworkers, not to mention the Judges that do whatever DCYF wants. The Attorney General was notified. Her answer, DCYF works for the State.She stands by them and can not take complaints against them.
I have been working toward reform along with many other people and will keep it up until our government does something to stop the deceitful practices used on families.
- Sheila, Nashua

Sheila, I would love to know what "evidence" you have that supports further corruption and lack of accountability in DHHS. And instead of COMPLAINING about it in a public forum, how about trying to do something about it?
- Jane, Concord, NH

All this fuss over sloppy bookkeeping?? You've got to be kidding me. Brothers probably WILL get money from the state not only for all the travel he didn't report, but probably for defamation as well. This sounds like nothing more than a political witchhunt of a former Benson emplyee to me.
- Brian, Amherst

How many of you men are guilty of being lax in filing paperwork, especially when you are busy doing your job? Give the guy a break and don't condemn him until all the facts are in. I doubt that Richard, as an ex-Marine, would stoop to such larceny and damage his reputation. I smell a little politics at work here.
- Judy Finsterbusch, Enfield

To Tom from Dover: So Republicans are the corrupt party? Ever hear about Blago or Senator Burris?

Party has nothing to do with it...human beings are tempted to sin whether they are Republican, Democrat, Socialist, Marxist, Anarchist, member of Likud....you get the point. If you check the papers of the last ten years, I suspect it pretty much evens out by party.
- Seth, Manchester

One more reason to be glad that Craig Benson is no longer able to make appointments to state government.
- Brian Peppers, Swanzey, NH

Have you forgotten? You are now considered guilty until proven innocent. Sometimes your still considered guilty when proven innocent. It depends on what State Agency you are unfortunate enough to have to deal with. Why are some state workers held accountable when others aren't? Even the PD is held accountable. What makes some of the state agencies better than anybody else?
- Sheila, Nashua

Aren’t people innocent until they are proven guilty? How could Lynch bar Brothers from his office?
- Bill, Amherst

Ironic, isn't it, that this comes about 5 days after her refuses to meet the Governors public request to suspend an employee. This is crooked politics. ON the other hand, why in the world would anyone allow travel vouchers that go back 9 months. You typically have to submit them in the same month. That's how the state predicts its spending pattern.
- nancy, manchester

There you go Republicans. He's your man bought and paid for by your hero Benson. Wonderful party of honor and integrity.
- Tom, Dover-Foxcroft, Me.

It's hard to beleive that a guy who makes 90 grand a year would deliberately falsify some travel reimbursement claims to get a few more bucks. My guess is that this is a personal vendetta or simply a political move to oust this guy.
- Brian, Farmington

"We offered to correct them, but for some reason, they want him out." - Chuck Douglas

When did you offer to correct them, before or after the Department of Administrative Services looked into the matter?
- John, ME

And I'm sure he'll expect to be on the state's payroll for the rest of his life either through active employment or pension just like every other state employee. The feedbag is endless.
- Tom MacGregor, Hooksett, NH

The Attorney Generals office has investigated Mr. Brothers for fraud. Now how about going after other state workers for fraud? Mainly DHHS caseworkers and assessment workers who seem to think their accountable to no-one, with good reason.
- Sheila, Nashua

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"New Hampshire Governor Wants Worker Charged with Fraud Suspended"
insurancejournal.com, February 20, 2009

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch is calling for a state worker to be suspended after she pleaded guilty to insurance fraud in a previous job.

Raye Ellen Douville is scheduled to be sentenced for insurance fraud in April after she pleaded guilty to stealing more than $100,000 from truck companies. Douville now works for the state Employment Security Office filing unemployment claims.

Prosecutors said Douville, known as Raymond Douville before a gender change, didn't buy insurance for the companies.

Commissioner Richard Brothers said Douville has been a good employee, and that she has been honest about the investigation.

Brothers said that Douville is protected by the state employees union, and only under very specific circumstances can she be let go. But in a written statement, Lynch said Brothers should suspend Douville, and if she's not removed, he will go to the attorney general.

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NH unemployment hits 15-year high
By DENIS PAISTE, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 2/26/2009

Concord – The percentage of unemployed workers increased to 5.1 in January 2009, up 0.8 percent over the previous month, the state said.

That means about 6,620 fewer residents were working in January compared to the month before.

Nationally, the rate for January was 7.6 percent, an increase of 0.4 percentage points from the December 2008 rate.

“It tells us in comparison to the nation, we’re still fairly stable,” said Anita Josten, research analyst with New Hampshire Employment Security.

New Hampshire still has the lowest unemployment in the region. “New Hampshire only increased 1.7 percentage points since the beginning of the recession in December 2007,” she said, “compared to the nation, which has gone up by 2.7 percentage points.”

In December 2007, New Hampshire was at 3.4 percent unemployment, while the nation was at 5.9 percent.

The figures represent seasonally adjusted unemployment, which smooths out seasonal variation.

The last time the New Hampshire rate reached 5.1 percent was March 1994, when the state was recovering from the early 1990s recession, Josten said.

New Hampshire’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December 2008 rate decreased 0.3 percentage points with revision to 4.3 percent.

Seasonally adjusted estimates for January 2009 placed the number of employed residents at 701,700, a decrease of 5,730 from the previous month and a decrease of 10,980 from January 2008.

But there was some good news for the unemployed, who will get an increase in benefits.

Gov. John Lynch announced he has signed an agreement with the federal government increasing unemployment benefits for New Hampshire citizens.

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, unemployment benefits are increasing $25 a week through calendar year 2009. The increase, which is federally funded, begins this week and will appear in checks within the next couple of weeks.

The $25 increases apply to all benefit payments including the first 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits and the 20-week federal extension.

“This is the worst national recession since the Great Depression. New Hampshire families and businesses are being impacted, and I believe strongly we should do what we can to assist families through these difficult economic times and increasing unemployment benefits is one way we can do exactly that,” Gov. Lynch said. “This modest increase will better enable our hard-working men and women to provide for their families as they look for a new job.”

For contact information and directions to New Hampshire Employment Security offices go to www.nh.gov/nhes, or call 1-800-852-3400.

(State House Bureau Chief Tom Fahey contributed to this article.)

READERS' COMMENTS:

Do you people blaming Obama realize how dumb you sound? The man has been in office about a month and he hasn't fixed all the problems that took years to create. Weird. Even better is the fact that you are the same people that seem to be rooting for him to fail. Guess what people we are all on the same teams... Team Human and Team America. Many of you out there need to grow up and think about it. However I know you won't so I will continue to laugh and shake my head when I read your posts.
- Holden, Manchester

If you think things are good in New Hampshire, try checking out northern Coos County and see what our unemployment rate is, and what's being done about it. Nothing!
- Jean, Stewartstown, NH

Obama is going to keep blaming Bush and the past administration for how long? Obama is in over his head
- Todd, Concord

what most people do not realize is there are a lot more people in NH than other states that are self employed.All this stimulus money will do absolutely nothing for us. we can not collect unemployment get job training or any other assistance.
- bill, manchester

In a related story, the employment rate is at 95%.
- JD1111, Nashua

Let's see......which party is in control in Concord? The Democrats! Which party has the majority of NH's congressional seats? Right again....the Democrats! This is now Obama's recession and watch as the Dems scramble in Concord when unemployment in NH hits 6+%. The voters will be more than happy to end the gravy train for them in 2010.
- Mark, Manchester

eh, don't worry about it. With the new American Recovery and Rebuilding and Everything Will be Just Fine Stimulus Act of 2009 we'll be down to no unemployment in no time. I know this because Paul Hodes said so.

Shovel Ready!
- Mark, Amherst

No surprise to anyone really.

New Hampshire tends to be somewhat insulated from national trends -- that means less employment in the good times and less unemployment in the bad times, but it's still going to have some correlation.

On the whole, things don't seem too bad when compared to other regions in the country.
- Brian, Manchester, NH

He was right about one thing, things will change, looks like change for the worse. wantna bet he blames Bush again?
- Francis, Francistown

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"NH lawmakers may restructure liquor commission"
By Jarret Bencks, jbencks@eagletribune.com, eagletribune.com, Published: March 01, 2009

A bill under review in the New Hampshire Senate could drastically change the structure of the state's liquor commission and allow the commission to issue licenses to private retailers to sell liquor.

The bill, written by Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, and sponsored by Sen. Michael Downing, R-Salem, as well as six other legislators, would restructure the liquor commission and give it oversight in distributing licenses for private liquor stores.

According to the liquor commission, the bill as currently written would increase the liquor commission's revenue by about $124 million in 2010 and $129 million in 2011.

The bill goes along with Gov. John Lynch's proposed budget, which calls for up to 16 state store locations to be closed.

Downing said the licenses would be distributed to areas that would no longer see service from the state due to the closings.

"The bill would allow for contracting with independent stores in areas not serviced by the state," Downing said.

During a meeting with legislators in December, Liquor Commission Chairman Mark Bodi introduced the idea of ending the 75-year monopoly of selling liquor only in state-run liquor stores in an effort to boost revenue.

His comments originally had the support of grocers. But John Dumais of the New Hampshire Grocers Association doesn't like the direction legislators are going in.

The bill doesn't restrict how many stores the commission could open in the state, but Dumais said conversations with the liquor commission have led him to believe only a handful of private licenses would be offered to compensate for the stores that could be closed as part of the governor's budget.

"Our concern right at this point is the potential limiting of the number of stores," Dumais said. "That isn't fair to all the other stores."

The bill would discontinue distribution of licenses for agency stores in 2014.

Michael Norton, a spokesman for Hannaford Bros., said the national chain of grocery stores would wait and see how legislation turned out before taking any stance on the potential licenses.

"It's their call as policy-makers at this point," Norton said. "We would definitely evaluate the opportunity."

The grocery chain does sell liquor in its Maine stores, where hard alcohol is permitted to be sold by grocers.

There are currently three private locations in the state, operating in Colebrook, Errol and Greenville. Dumais asserted if liquor could be sold in all stores, it would boost the commission's revenue by $16 million.

There will be a public hearing on the bill on Tuesday. Within a week of the hearing, the Senate will vote on the bill.

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State House Dome: "Transgender rights in 'bathroom bill'", By TOM FAHEY
State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, 3/15/2009

REPUBLICANS call it the "bathroom bill."

Democrats call it a non-discrimination bill.

In either case, House Bill 415 is stirring up interest, e-mails and phone calls from as far away as Boston, according to its sponsor, Rep. Ed Butler.

Butler filed the bill to close what he sees as a loophole in state law that allows discrimination against transsexuals. The bill adds to a host of laws -- which bar discrimination on the basis of sex, age, race, creed, color, sexual orientation or religion -- the words "gender identity" or "gender expression."

Butler argues, "Our non-discrimination laws cover almost every person in this state, but people who are transgendered and are discriminated against in housing and employment are not protected. This is a bill to correct that."

Critics say that because the bill includes laws on public accommodations, it will open bathrooms to use by either sex. Actually, current law already bars discrimination in the use of public accommodations on the basis of gender or sexual orientation.

State Republican Party chairman John H. Sununu said the bill is an example of extreme liberalism among Democrats.

He called it "part of their quiet agenda for changing New Hampshire. I will admit, I've been wrong in suggesting they wanted to make us a clone of Massachusetts. It now appears they want to make us a clone of San Francisco."

Sununu said, "I cannot believe that Gov. (John) Lynch will let this garbage come to his desk." Lynch press secretary Colin Manning said the governor hasn't been tracking the bill.

"We're focused on the budget and on getting federal stimulus money where it needs to go," he said.

Democratic party chair Ray Buckley came to Lynch's defense.

"It is unfortunate that Sununu would rather try to score partisan points than have a serious discussion about issues. New Hampshire Republicans deserve better than that," he said in a statement.

A House Judiciary subcommittee voted last week to recommend passage of HB 415 and a gay marriage bill.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee have been getting e-mails urging them to vote against the "bathroom bill." Butler said he was called by a Boston talk radio show last week.

Rep. David Nixon, a former Senate president, said he voted in subcommittee to move the bill ahead for discussion by the full committee.

Rep. Joseph Hagan said he voted against it as a conservative who feels gender issues, "are one small facet of a much broader psychiatric illness." He also questions the state's reliance on a Human Rights Commission, saying it's really a government tribunal that denies people their day in court.

He said that if transsexuals get more rights, others will lose them.

As an example, Hagan said a private school could not fire a school bus driver whose sexual issues were confusing children.

"Should you be able to use the Human Rights Commission to beat up Trinity High or any other private school?" he asked.

Butler said the boiling down of his bill to a debate on bathrooms reminds him of debates over the Equal Rights Amendments.

"People who opposed it said we'd have unisex bathrooms and it would be a danger to citizens," he said.

Butler says transsexuals should not be left without rights.

"There are many instances of people who are transgendered who've been hurt, abused, lost jobs, lost housing and have had no recourse," he said.

Judiciary takes up the bill for a full committee vote in executive session on Tuesday morning.

The gay marriage bill is getting less attention, so far, but is also up for committee discussion on Tuesday. Rep. Jim Splaine, sponsor of the bill, said he's encouraged.

A long list of other divisive issues also is slated for committee vote at Judiciary Tuesday, including parental notification, changes to the civil unions law, restrictions on eminent domain and an assisted suicide bill.

- - - - - -

EXECUTION COMEBACK?: Death-penalty opponents may have taken heart after the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee's 15-1 vote to pass a capital-punishment study bill.

Given remarks by Attorney General Kelly Ayotte last week, they may have another thing coming. She or a member of her office will sit on the commission, which has to report by the end of next year. Ayotte said she thinks any group studying the issue ought to look not just at repeal or restrictions.

"I think it should look at which cases should be eligible for the death penalty," she said. "Those who commit multiple murders now aren't eligible under New Hampshire law. That is a discussion which, if we have a commission, needs to be had."

The issue came up just last year, when former Sen. Joseph Kenney brought a proposal to the Senate, which killed it 22-2. His bill would have applied to multiple murders in one setting, such as a 2007 triple murder that took place in a Conway Army-Navy store. The killer got life in prison with no chance for parole.

Ayotte said the law could also be expanded to cover serial killers. Right now, it applies to those who kill law enforcement officers, judges, and kidnap and rape victims.

The vote to set up the study panel came on the same day the committee rejected a bill repealing the death penalty, 11-7, setting the stage for House debate during a three-day session March 24-26.

The Executive Council last week formally scheduled a public hearing for March 25 on Ayotte's nomination to a second four-year term.

- - - - - -

TOLLS FOR NASHUA?: There could be changes in store for tolls along the F.E. Everett Turnpike.

Rep. David Campbell, who has dug deeply into public works and highways issues over the past three years, said the Department of Transportation has a long-term plan to remove tolls from Bedford and install them in Nashua.

"That way we get them at the border," he said.

At a gas tax bill hearing last week, Campbell and DOT Commissioner George Campbell, who are not related to each other, also discussed plans to use turnpike money to help maintain interstate highways.

Commissioner Campbell said he wants to start using toll revenues to maintain interstates.

He plans to discuss the plan in detail this week, but the general aim is to ease pressure on the DOT operating budget. More than half the toll revenues the state collects come from out-of-staters, he said.

"This is one way to import money into our state and into our system," he said.

- - - - - -

NO LIBERAL LYNCH: The governor frustrates his party sometimes for his unwillingness to embrace liberal issues.

Lynch took a shot at himself for it at last week's benefit St. Patrick's Day breakfast, joking about how U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg insisted that a Republican be appointed to replace him.

"I know what a lot of you are thinking," he said. "Why didn't I just appoint myself."

- - - - - -

COMINGS AND GOINGS: Democrats have hired Joe Elcock to manage Bud Martin's campaign for state Senate against Republican Jeb Bradley, who announces his candidacy tomorrow. Elcock has worked in both New Hampshire and Washington, D.C., and managed Sylvia Larsen's first state Senate race in 1994, party executive director Mike Brunelle said.

State House regular Bill Hamilton, who lobbied for AARP over most of the past decade, is retiring from the organization. He leaves April 3.

Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan has been elected as chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party state convention, planned for June 6.

- - - - - -

CORNED BEEF AND POLITICIANS: Former Executive Councilor and Nashua mayor Bernie Streeter holds his Wild Irish Breakfast Tuesday on St. Patty's Day, at the Nashua Radisson Hotel. The event, featuring Lynch, Nashua Mayor Donna Lee Lozeau and others, benefits the PLUS Company, which helps the disabled develop independent living skills.

Bobby Stephen is excited about hosting his annual St. Patrick's Day supper to raise funds for charity. The event on March 17 will be at the Executive Court Banquet Facility in Manchester.

Tickets are $40 and proceeds benefit scholarships and jobs programs for disadvantaged youngsters.

In between, Lynch will be at the annual John P. Ganley St. Patrick's Day awards luncheon, at the Boys and Girls Club in Salem.
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Tom Fahey is the State House Bureau Chief for New Hampshire Sunday News and New Hampshire Union Leader.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

It is unbelievable the amount of unconstitutional, overly taxing, overly controlling, and just plain insane legislation that these Democrats have proposed. They should stop trying to impose their (im)moral views on the rest of us.

If someone wants to have coed bathrooms in their business, let them, but do NOT make a law that forces me to allow that in MINE.

I WILL NOT DO IT.

I can just see it now -- being sued for letting some little girl use the bathroom at your business, and then they are assaulted by a man in a dress.

I am sorry if this offends the transgendered because I am not accusing them as a whole of anything, I am saying that criminals will TAKE ADVANTAGE of this 'freedom' to the detriment of the rest of us.

The people proposing this defy common sense!
- Sue, Manchester

At least one in ten men who uses the men's room is a homosexual. In light of that we should have restrooms designated for them. Separate drinking fountains too...make them ride in the back of the bus, discriminate against them in housing, not let them vote, not let them marry (oh, already working on that little gem)...all that great American tolerance.
- Jay, Concord

As a registered Republican for 27 of my 27 eligible years, and a former voter for John Sununu, I'm quite disappointed to see just how uninformed he is.

This isn't about bathrooms for transvestites, it's about equal housing, jobs, etc for transgender people.
- Cynthia, Goffstown

2 X chromosomes = female
1 X and 1 Y = male

No matter what they want to call themselves.
- Rich, Bennington

People's rights are worth legislating, clearly they need to be in this intolerant society. The only ones I worry about in restrooms are republican politicans...they seem to use them as places for sexual dalliances.
- Dorothy, Concord

Here is my suggestion. Try to see transgendered and transexual people as PEOPLE first. They are your fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. Doesn't your family deserve the same protections that you take for granted?

Greg Barrett
Manchester
- Greg Barrett, Manchester

I think it's important to understand that any of the 424 state legislators can introduce a bill that will have a public hearing and a vote on the floor of the House or Senate, depending on who sponsored the bill. There are whack jobs in any random 424 people. This bill will not pass, because rational thought will take hold...i.e., how can I protect my child from predators who take advantage of a non-discrimination bill to prey on unattended kids using the toilet. Unintended consequences that apparently didn't occur to the sponsor.
- Marge, Lyndeborough

Actually Scott from Manchester has it right. Regardless of political affiliation we do not send the best and the brightest this State has to offer to Concord. Ever been to a session? I have. It is an embarassment. People asleep, some folks actually drooling, Representatives that have absolutely no idea of the legislation before them. And we keep returning many of these same fools year after year after year, or make them party chairs like Ray Buckley! No people, it is our fault, we are the one's that have created this mess. But I have to look at the bright side. Bathroom legislation. It makes sense. Think about it. some of the best work done by these citizen legislators, for free, is probably actually performed in State House bathrooms!
- Thomas Thorpe, Portsmouth, NH

Extremes such as this are proof we need a New Hampshire Voter Petition Initiative so we can control NH legislators and NH Legislation.

By a Voter Petition Initiative NH voters can create a petition for a proposed new NH law or policy, a repeal of part of all of an old law NH or policy, a recall from office of any NH elected or appointed official, or an NH Constitutional Amendment. When enough signatures of registered NH voters are accumulated, the Petition would go to the NH Secretary of State who would either set up a special election (if specified in the Petition) or place the proposal on the ballot for the next general election. If passed, the proposal cannot be vetoed by the Governor or overturned by the legislature and thereby becomes law or policy.

This is the only way we voters who care about the quality of life and the necessary logical and therefore rational government of New Hampshire can ensure that New Hampshire remains New Hampshire.
- Bob Kroepel, Nw Durham

"Bathroom laws" have been enacted in 13 states and over 100 cities and towns .
To date, there have been NO incidents of Bathroom invasion! Transexuals have to use toilets too! This fearmongering is the latest evolution of hate. (What's Next?) Think about it, What stops this hypothetical "pervert" from entering the ladies room now? It doesn't happen. Pass the law!
Regards, Terry
- Terry Egan, Lakewood, New Jersey

Mike, Temple

Seeing that most child molesters are married men with families who can't be distinguished by their clothing, you must be very concerned about bathrooms as they stand right now. Will you be doing anything about it?
- Gary, Pelham

Jim in Concord:

Nice example of 'Projection'. Unemployment is up and the state is broke (thanks to wild spanding by the dems in office), and you blame the Republicans who try to stop them from turning the attention to useless topics.
- sally, candia, nh

Hey Jim in Concord, Sununu was just expressing the GOP position on such a stupid bill. He's not allowed to do that? Maybe he should go along with the bill?

Why is it that liberals like yourself and Mike Lane in Manchester can never tolerate anyone's opinion when it differs from yours?

Mike Lane throws out his normal venom because others in this forum feel that there are more important matters for our nitwit legislators to be focused on, and your comments should have been directed at your own party.

Jeepers creepers.
- Melvin, Keene

This would have allowed GOP Senator from Idaho Larry Craig to wear a dress while he cruised for gay sex in bathrooms instead of getting a nice suit dirty, so why not?
- Joan, Bedford

I fixed Jim's post:

"Today's front page included a story about a 7.3% unemployment rate in Coos County, and Democratic legislators are spending their time pushing a bathroom bill???"
- Ryan, Hooksett

This is a waste of time. Rep. Ed Butler should be ashamed for sponsoring such a ridiculous bill. Fix the real problem with this state before you worry about where a transvestite can take a whizz.
- Dave, Litchfield

It's interesting that everyone thinks this is going to rake the coffers clean of stimulus money. This is more for adjustment to discrimination laws to allow transgenders with all the legal and medical documentation the right to be who they need to be with out fear.
The bathroom issue is another matter, if you go to almost any fast food and most other restaurants it is only one stall and if there are more than one, there is in most cases a solid wall between. So if this about the bathroom I think you're looking at this from the wrong perspective than any of us or people that support this bill.
The majority of transgenders just want to live there lives as any other person with our family with no fears as you all enjoy everyday.
- Andrea, Manchester

I just read HB415. As typically crafted by politicians looking out for the general interests of the residents of New Hampshire, this bill and how it is to be understood is so vague I can only phrase it as being out right dangerous especially the changes to RSA 354-A:16 and 354-A:17. So please correct me if I am wrong in understanding this "wonderful" (NOT!) piece of legislation.

You mean to tell me that a person who is confused and questions or cannot determine their own sexual orientation will now be allowed to enter public rest rooms, locker rooms, showers, and changing rooms of either sex without question? The answer is yes. Let me run this scenario by everyone...as a parent, I take my little girl to the movies. She has to use the restroom. My little girl has an expectation of privacy when using a restroom. In comes the male trans gender who wants to use the ladies room rather than the mens room. How am I supposed to know if this guy is a true trans gender or just a plain old pervert? You are not going to find to many fathers having the reasonableness or patience as the sponsors of this bill possess.

I know this may sound crazy but what's to prevent Jr. or Sr. high school students from entering the opposite sex's restroom locker room or shower? All they need to say is they are confused or undeterimed about their sexual orientation and now have the law to protect their right to do this.

Our elected officials find justification in changing the law for less than 1% of the population? What about the privacy rights of the majority? What about safety and moral well being? Nah!!!! New Hampshire is no longer the "Live Free or Die" state. It should become the "Let's Get Stoned and Go to the Casino Where There Can Be No Distinction Between Male and Female Because Marriage Means Nothing" state.
- Chris, Laconia

What a waste of time this bathroom bill is. It would effect maybe a handful of people and besides, this is a perfect example of of an issue for the courts to settle. It seems that number two is the Dems number one priority.

Well let me hit you with a clue stick. In light of the current economic situation, we don't want our leaders to waste a microsecond on these damnable social issues. Our house is on fire and these yayhoo's want to mow the lawn. GAH!! We want you to spend every waking moment on reducing government spending and coming up with ways to help NH businesses to sustain, recover, and expand. THAT'S IT.
- Biff, Canterbury

We should discuss this legislation. At one time or another the "bathroom bill" could involve us all.
What consenting adults do in their own homes is not my business.
On the other hand why do we HAVE to accept bad behavior AND subject the ladies and children to unsafe conditions while using a public bathroom?
bnyoung@metrocast.net
- Niel Young, Laconia

The people who support this bill should be willing to sell this bill to the voters next year otherwise they have no business filing it in the first place. Imagine some young mother having to explain to her 5 year old daughter why some man dressed as a woman is using the ladies room.
- Chris, Merrimack

I am a summer resident of New Hampshire, I am not listing the town where I have my summer home because of fear of harassment since I am a transsexual.

The bathroom argument is a fear tactic that the opposition to bill are using. The truth is that 39% of the U.S. population is now covered by gender inclusive anti-discrimination laws and there has not been an incident where a transgender person attack any one in a bathroom. In Massachusetts, the National Organization of Women (MassNOW)and the Jane Doe Inc. (The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence) backing the Massachusetts bill to add gender inclusion to the Massachusetts discrimination laws. In Connecticut, the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS) also has backed a gender inclusive bill.

There are 13 states and the District of Columbus that have gender non-discrimination laws, including Maine (2005), Rhode Island (2001) and Vermont (2007). Both Connecticut and Massachusetts have a ruling by their Human Rights Commissions protecting transgender people.

We are not asking for special rights, all we are asking is that we can “Live Free” and to earn a living to support our families and to have a roof over our heads to shelter our families.
- Diana L., Connecticut

Jim in Concord, either the clocks are slow in Concord or just you are, but how does a two paragraph statement equate to "spending all his time"?

Researching, drafting and trying to pass a bill, like the Dems are, is much more accurate in terms of "spending all their time". Heck, even Buckley's response was an attack on Sununu for not giving the bill "it's proper attention". Bwahahahaha.

Kudos to Lynch for not paying attention to this bill and hopefully he uses it for transgender toilet paper.
- Scott, Manchester

Just when you think you've heard it all from the liberal democrats, they come out and trump it.
We already have women and children being sexually assaulted in public restrooms. Can you imagine if this passes? The good thing is that these liberals are getting just as ridiculous as the PETA people and even most on the left are seeing it.
- Robert M., Boscawen

Some rights are more equal than others.

Maybe our politicians should focus on understanding and protecting basic Constitutional rights of the people first.

Also, how are "gender expression" and "gender identity" defined?

What's to keep a guy from going into the ladies room, saying he's feeling "womanly"? Can't kick him out. That would be discrimination. He's exercising his right to feel genderish.
- Bruce M., Brentwood

Mike -

The people have had enough of the intimidation and name-calling any time someone disagrees with the positions of the radical far-left agenda.

The fact of the matter is that it's the American Psychiatric Association that has categorized Gender Identity Confusion as a mental disorder, not the Republican Party.

If there's anyone who deserves to be protected, it's women and children - and I am so sorry you cannot see that.
- Kevin Smith, Litchfield, NH

John T. Sununu has begun pulling his weight as party chairman. His "San Francisco" quip entertains but identifies the nub of the problem. I would rather hear a speech full of this stuff than Ray Buckley's predictable "It is unfortunate" blather. The key question is whether Sununu can recruit candidates to match.

Mike L. ("hate and discrimination") returns to the party line that anyone against special rights for eccentrics--anyone against letting men use women's bathrooms--must be "mean-spirited." Mike, what happens on Earth, despite twelve years of public schooling, is that people acting ridiculously are sometimes ridiculed. You guys's solution is more rules, laws, victimless crimes, and bureaucrats. "Liberal" is not the right word for this mental orthodoxy.
- Spike, Brentwood NH

To Mike L from Manchester...it's funny to listen to the hypocritical liberals lecture us on tolerance. These same liberals are only "tolerant" of views so long as they align with their own.

When the first story breaks about a young girl being molested or murdered in a woman's bathroom by a man who was in there legally, Mike L from Manchester and his hypocritical, hateful comments will be nowhere to be found, just like all liberals who are scarce when their foolish ideas come back to haunt us....but hey, it's "for the children."
- Mike, Temple

Today's front page included a story about a 7.3% unemployment rate in Coos County, and the chair of the state GOP is spending all his time focused no a bathroom bill???.
- Jim in Concord, Concord

Nice to see that hate and discrimination are still planks in the NH Republican party platform. Maybe we should bring back public lynching and then we can get rid of all of "those" people who aren't like us. Lord knows we don't want "confused children"....
- Mike L., Manchester, NH

"Transgender rights in 'bathroom bill' - this bill will open bathrooms to use by either sex."

This will make it legal for a male child molester to go into a bathroom where there are young helpless females.
- David, Keene

The bad bews is we are going to get more & more of this from the NH Democratic party. The good news is that the NH Democratic party is setting itself up for a historic loss in 2010.
- Jay Collins, Laconia

Unemployment is high. Layoffs everywhere. Budgets being cut. Homes being foreclosed on. Health insurance is costly, if you are lucky enough to have it.

How are we in this mess?

We elect officials that want to spend $1.4 million for a flower garden (Manchester state Rep. Jane Beaulieu) instead of using that same land as a relatively free dog park for the city.

The state is wasting time and money for "transgender" bathrooms.

The Manchester alderman vote to cancel a meeting because of, not Christmas, not even New Year's, not Easter or the Fourth of July, but for St. Patrick's Day because George Smith and Kelleigh Murphy want to drink green beer.

Peter Sullivan wants to brawl Joe Kelly Levasseur.

Mike R. in Bedford is 100% correct, get these clowns OUT. NOW. Democrats or Republicans, I don't care, these clowns need to get out, NOW.
- Scott, Manchester

Haven't we had enough problems already with politicians in bathrooms.
- Jonathan, Bedford

Nice to see what the Democrats' priorities are.

Economy? Bringing white collar companies to NH?

No. Transsexual bathroom rights.

Get these clowns OUT. NOW.
- Mike R., Bedford

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State House Dome: "Speaker turns egg timers on lawmakers"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, 3/22/2009

CLOSE TO 250 bills and three days. That should be plenty of time for the House to dispense with the bulk of business ahead of it.

About 150 could be taken care of in a single vote with no debate, since they are all bunched together on the agenda in a section called the consent calendar.

That leaves nearly 100 other bills to be voted up or down in the three sessions that start on Tuesday.

Just to be sure the House finishes its business, Speaker of the House Terie Norelli has a plan to help debates stay focused, and short.
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She wrote lawmakers last week to let them know little three-minute egg-timers will b/e at the speaker's podium, so they'll know how long they've been at it. And when to, um, relent.

There will be plenty to talk about: retirement reform, parental notification, gay marriage, gender expression, the death penalty, liquor sales, mercury pollution, medicinal marijuana, housing for welfare clients, and red swim caps.

Yes, swim caps. House Bill 224 requires swimmers who go outside marked swim lines or more than 150 feet from shore to wear brightly colored caps so they can be more easily seen by boaters. The bill applies to the state's six largest lakes, from Newfound to Winnipesaukee, and came out of the Transportation committee with a 15-0 vote.

It's been placed on the consent calendar, which usually insulates a bill from debate, unless someone wants to challenge the committee report.

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CHURCH AND STATE: Debates over the debates have already started. Two Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are steamed that their minority reports were barred from the House calendar.

Rep. William O'Brien and Rep. Robert Mead were told that unless they rewrite them, they will not be printed in a planned addendum next week. The bills, HB 73 and HB 396, change the words in two state laws from "ministers of the gospel" to "clergy." O'Brien's rejected report says HB 73 moves the state to "a post-Christian world (with) no defense to the stridency and prejudice of Islamo-fascism."

Mead wrote a full-page report including references to ninth-century Church teachings and a 1563 decree from the Council of Trent. He also wrote a two-pager on gay marriage.

Deputy Speaker Linda Foster said the two reports, referred to as "blurbs," fell short of what she called "the professionalism and decorum" expected in official journals. They also didn't address the bills or explain the minority's committee votes, she said.

"A blurb is supposed to speak to the issues of the bill, why the minority or majority voted the way they did," she said. "It is not a history of religious belief or philosophical belief."

Foster said those points can be brought out in ways other than the House permanent record.

O'Brien said he's not rewriting anything. He said he'll try to read his report during debate and will challenge the Speaker if she tries to stop him. O'Brien said he's just doing his job.

"Our role as a minority is to show the state of New Hampshire that there is a different vision and speak to that," he said. "On bills such as gay marriage, there is a party out there ready to act in opposition."

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CHECKING ON VOTER FRAUD: The Attorney General's Office is investigating eight cases of potential voter fraud from fall elections.

Assistant Attorney General James Kennedy said the investigations are standard procedure based on letters that go out to check on new voters who could not show an approved photo ID when they registered to vote. Under state law, Secretary of State Bill Gardner sends a letter to any new voter who does show approved photo ID, such as a driver's license, when registering in the state for the first time.

Gardner sent out 200 letters this year. Eight were either returned as undeliverable or sent to the wrong address, or by addressees who said they did not register.

Two years ago, Kennedy said, the state sent out 106 letters that led to three investigations. "All three were subsequently cleared," he said.

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RETIREES' INSURANCE: Retired state workers will have three months to get used to a new health-insurance program. The Legislative Fiscal Committee voted unanimously Friday to move all retirees into the same point-of-service program active workers get. The change is part of Gov. John Lynch's budget plan, and saves an estimated $2.4 million.

Retirees at the meeting worried that their costs, especially for pharmaceuticals and hospital visits, will soar while they stay on fixed state pensions.

House and Senate members said the most onerous part of the switch was dropped. Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon pulled a proposed $100 monthly premium for retirees under age 65 from the plan. However, that charge remains in the mix for consideration with the rest of the 2010-11 state budget. Taken together, the premium and plan change save $10 million.

Sen. Kathy Sgambati noted the state plan gives retirees savings in some areas and increased costs in others. Now, retirees pay $4 for a three-month supply of a prescription. The new plan charges $10, $20 or $30 for generic, preferred or non-preferred drugs.

Sen. Peter Bragdon, the Senate Republican leader, said most of the mail and calls he got were about the $100 premium issue.

"I heard so much on that, I don't think I heard anything on changes to the plan. If I got an e-mail about it, it was drowned out in the sea of complaints about the premium," he said.

Judy Lupien, a retired Glencliff Home worker from Warren, said the new drug plan could take up most of her $282-a-month state pension.

"Darn it all, we lived up to our obligation as state employees. I just don't feel it's right," she said.

Ernie Loomis, a retired state trooper, said he fears there will be hidden costs in the changes.

"These costs could be very, very heavy for someone on fixed income," he said. "We're left between a rock and a hard place.

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YOUR TURN: Sen. Jacalyn Cilley, co-chair of the legislative Groundwater Commission, has set up a series of meetings around the state to gather public opinion, starting this Wednesday, March 26 in Manchester. The committee will meet at the Southern New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission office, 438 Dubuque St., at 6:30 p.m.

The next meeting is April 30 at the Nashua Regional Planning Commission.

Cilley said the commission work can include groundwater regulations; landowner rights; criteria for large groundwater withdrawals; the role of state, regional or municipal entities; and drought or water-shortage policies.

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TOLL-BOOTH TRUCE? Rep. Frank Sapareto is part of an ad hoc group comprising New Hampshire and Massachusetts legislators that wants to declare a truce on the budding toll-booth war. There are moves in both states to set up toll booths near the border. Federal approval would be needed before any construction could begin.

Sapareto said the group wants to keep the interstate open and free.

The group will hold a press conference at noon Monday at the State House in Concord.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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Readers' COMMENTS:

Unfortunately for Rep. O'Brien, this is a multi-religious nation. To have a bill in the 21st century that refers to, or gives specific rights to, "ministers of the Gospel" is, in fact, exclusionary of other faiths and could be construed as a recognition of one religion by the state. Which is, by the way, unconstitutional.

His little essay is a call to theocracy and the domination of Christianity over other faiths, and he should be ashamed of himself for trying to publish such a thing in the House Record.
- Stephen, Manchester

It is not unusual for Representatives to have the blurbs they prepare rejected or sent back for corrections by a committee chair. I had this done to me on several occasions because I didn't mention a key point about a bill or said something that wasn't a clear part of the testimony on the bill. Committee chairmen have a right, and a responsibility, to ensure that information about the bills their committee’s work on is presented fairly to the entire House.

Rep. O'Brien's blurb would be rejected by any reasonable committee chair for a couple of reasons. First, it assigns motives to the actions of the majority in voting to pass the bill. This is a violation of House rules and is something not allowed. O’Brien cannot possibly know what a majority of the members of his committee voted for the bill, and to impugn them in his blurb goes against House policy. Second, his blurb does not speak about the intent and purpose of the bill, which simply says that members of the clergy who do not follow the Christian gospel can solemnize marriage. Instead, his blurb talks about discarding our Judeo-Christian tradition and becoming amoral, neither of these points is in the bill.

The purpose of a blurb is to inform the members of the House who cannot be present at every meeting of every committee what a bill they are going to vote for is about, and to give in brief the importance features of the bill and the reasons to support or reject it. By long-standing tradition, a blurb is not a place for grandstanding or for making political statements that are irrelevant to the bill. Rep. O'Brien violated the tradition of the House in what he wrote. Now he is complaining because he couldn't get away with it. That’s a shame, but perhaps he will learn from this and be a more productive member of his committee. Judging from his comments, though, it doesn't seem likely.
- Michael Marsh, Greenland

Actually Jeremy, the Democrat-suppressed minority report was not "multi-page." It was one word longer than Ryan Marvin's comments posted above yours and would be much less than half a page.

I think readers can better judge whether it was "off-topic" then you, who comes at the subject with a pre-determined bias that rejects anything so inconvenient as rules, so here it is:

The minority did not hear the sponsor or committee proponents of this bill demonstrate that it addresses any problem or solves any problem. No more, nor fewer people will be married by the passage of this bill. But, it became apparent, that is not the point. Rather, the point of this legislation is to move New Hampshire into a post-Christian world; a world where terms such as “minister of the gospel” are condemned as highly exclusionary and offensive, and are to be discarded despite literally centuries of use in our laws. A world in which we abandon our Judeo-Christian tradition as a country that has a secular government combined with a society based on religious values. Values that are founded on a strong biblical view of a world in which there can be earthly justice; there is an emphasis on laws; there is a belief in judging, as well as in love and forgiving and the sanctity of all individuals, from whatever religion or part of the world. Values that serve as both the essence and also the foundation of American Exceptionalism.

In exchange for this tradition, we will enter the amoral world of post-modern Europe, a world that stands for nothing, therefore falls for everything. A world that has no foundation of values and therefore falls in turn to the collectivist nightmares of the left: fascism and communism. A world that has no ideological defense to the stridency and prejudice of Islamo-fascism. This is the world of HB 73. Reject it and you reject HB 73.
- William O'Brien, Mont Vernon

Time to send out the WAAAAAmbulance.

Now they're emailing constituents about "the Democratic Speaker's imposing gag orders on the minority" and trying to get people to spam Norelli's office.

Elliott, Mead, O'Brien, and Rowe have used every Nixonian dirty trick (technicalities, mischaracterizations, and outright lies) in the book in an attempt to stop these bills which hurt their poor dominionist sensibilities. This is of course the logical next step.

Nancy Elliott called HB73, which allows other clergy the same rights and privileges of Christian clergy, "offensive", "a slam against Christianity", and "an outrage" while demanding (quite ironically given this new news) that the majority report's language "be somewhat generic so that it would not offend another point of view."

These four have a severe case of Christian Persecution Complex. They see every judicial decision, every cultural change, and every constitutional challenge to the status quo of entrenched Christian superiority as a war on Christianity.

They cannot see the difference between “a Christian nation” and “a secular nation with a Christian majority”. Since they are the majority, they seem to think that American culture and law should bend itself to their religious beliefs.

They’ll talk about the “tyranny of the minority” when issues like marriage equality are brought up. When we apply equal protection of religion, we are ushering in "a post-Christian world (with) no defense to the stridency and prejudice of Islamo-fascism."

It's getting old. These guys think they represent New Hampshire's Christian population, and it's time more Christians made it clear that they do not.
- Ryan Marvin, Manchester

"O'Brien said he's not rewriting anything."

What a bloody hypocrite.

O'Brien was the Committee member harping about the rules all day long during the exec sessions for these bills. The Chair isn't following Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, he isn't recognizing motions in the proper order of precedence, he's letting out-of-order motions stay in play, &c.. O'Brien made half a dozen "parliamentary inquiries" (questions to the Chair as to parliamentary procedure, technical stuff) to try and slow things down.

And now O'Brien is trying to submit a multi-page, off-topic *essay* where a *paragraph* about the bill(s) is called for?
- Jeremy J. Olson, Grafton, New Hampshire

The Dems are truly out of control. Most of these bills were unconstitutional to begin with so why not just put them in the circular file and be done with it?
- Sue, Manchester

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State House Dome: "Lynch targets bills from middle of the road"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, The NH Union Leader, 3/29/2009

DEMOCRATS HIT the trifecta last week, and they didn't even have to go to the track.

Gay marriage, death-penalty and medical marijuana bills all passed the House.

Before anyone celebrates or sheds a tear in his beer, these bills are not across the finish line yet. The Senate weighs in next, and you can expect Gov. John Lynch to up the pressure against these bills.

Lynch has promised to veto the death-penalty bill. He said he's looking at the marijuana and marriage bills with concern, but hasn't yet used the "V" word on them.

Lynch would rather see the bills fail in the Legislature. Otherwise he becomes the bad guy with the veto stamp in the eyes of those Democrats already frustrated with his refusal to leave the middle of the road. So Senate President Sylvia Larsen and Majority Leader Sen. Maggie Hassan can expect Lynch on the phone with a few suggestions, soon.

Nothing would make Republicans happier than to see vetoes of all three of last week's winners. Unless, in some Machiavellian turn, they'd rather see them become law and hang around Lynch's neck in the next race for governor. With each veto, they'd see another election-year issue not only evaporate, but make Lynch look like the voice of reason to the state's large pool of independent voters.

So we're in for some stage play here, as the Senate deliberates and Lynch says repeatedly that he's talking with lawmakers, while quietly twisting their arms.

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RED INK RUNNING: The House will finish work on the next two-year, $11 billion budget this week, as all three Finance subcommittees come together to nail down whatever cuts and taxes they think will create a balanced package.

Questions are still floating about tax changes the state might see, with a $126 million gap yet to fill in the next two years. Proposals for higher tobacco taxes, along with a new tax on capital gains and/or estates could be thrown in. The House put a hold on a Homestead Plan for property taxes Thursday, leaving it in the back of the deck, just in case it's needed later. The bill gets a bit complex, but basically raises the state property tax, while exempting the first $150,000 of a primary home's value.

Red ink this year continues to flow. Revenues that budget writers in 2007 expected this year are on pace to be short by $250 million to $300 million. March looks like it will be about $50 million short of plan, based on figures available Friday. That would put the year's shortfall so far at about $175 million, with three months to go.

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SPEAKING FROM THE HEART: House debates are often something that fills the time while half the representatives take a walk in the halls or step out for a smoke.

Last week was different. At some point on each major bill, a representative gave a touching, some said convincing, personal story that swayed at least a few votes.

On the death penalty, it was Rep. Reny Cushing, who said he has always opposed the death penalty, even after his father was murdered in his own home.

"Filling another coffin only creates another grieving family," he told a spellbound, and nearly full, House.

Rep. Evalyn Merrick, who has her own battle with cancer to refer to, spoke for medical marijuana, saying, "I come before you to plead for those in the shadow of life." She urged colleagues to show "we take seriously the moral obligation of the oath we took to care for our fellow citizens, first and foremost." Rep. Jim Craig followed, recounting the death of a young friend he helped end his substance abuse, only to see him develop cancer. The man cried when he had to use marijuana to maintain his appetite before he died.

"If I get hammered in the newspaper tomorrow, so be it. I'll think about Jamie," he said.

On the marriage bill, Rep. David Pierce said his gay household with two children is as mundane as any other home, where dinnertime talk runs toward school, work, and why it's not polite to burp out loud.

- - - - - -

WHOLE WORLD WATCHING: It wasn't just New Hampshire watching the House votes last week. House information officer Cissy Taylor said she fielded calls from media outside the state during all the hubbub. They included WBZ in Boston (which is not so unusual), CNN (now we're getting there) -- USA Today, the New York Times, and the Agence France-Presse, the French Press Agency.

USA Today featured a photo of Merrick on its Web site, and noted that New Jersey, Illinois and Minnesota are now considering medical marijuana bills.

- - - - - -

'BATHROOM BILL' RETURNS: Just when you thought it was all settled, the "bathroom bill", HB 415, will be back.

Rep. Kathy Taylor of Franconia served notice she wants reconsideration, which means a second vote on the bill that would bar discrimination against transgender people.

The bill will come up on April 8, when the House takes up the budget. Opponents paint it as a bill that would open bathrooms and locker rooms to predators and perverts. Those who support the bill said it was a move to extend civil rights in the work place and housing to transgenders, who, they noted, already use bathrooms every day.

If Taylor's move fails, the bill, which was killed 181-149, is gone for the next two years.

Rep. Fran Wendelboe introduced a motion to designate one State House bathroom as unisex. That got squashed, but the move did bring attention to the renovations to the third floor women's room, near the offices of House Speaker Terie Norelli and Senate President Sylvia Larsen.

The Executive Council approved up to $80,000 in general funds for the renovations at its Jan. 14 meeting. It features marble counters and walls and motion-sensitive sinks.

Rep. Dan Eaton, who oversees repairs of State House facilities, said the old marble is being recycled to replace broken slabs in the building. Wooden stall doors were refinished and reinstalled, he said, and the sinks will save energy and money.

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AYOTTE A LIKELY NOD: The Executive Council will likely vote Wednesday to approve Attorney General Kelly Ayotte for another four-year term.

At a hearing last week, she drew mostly rave reviews from law enforcement, and polite questioning from the council. Councilor Deb Pignatelli was most aggressive, asking her about a decision last year to sign onto an amicus "friend of the court" brief involving the California gay-marriage issue.

Ayotte said she thought better of the decision after a day or two and pulled the state out, seeing that the case might conflict with the state's civil unions law. She said her original thinking was that the case was one in which courts were stepping on states' rights issues.

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STONYFIELD LINK SCRUBBED: The Office of Consumer Advocate has pulled from its Web site a link to Stonyfield Farms, one of the companies fighting Public Service of New Hampshire's mercury scrubber project at the Bow power plant.

Stonyfield carries a page updating the scrubber battle, and posted the Symbiotics Strategies report it is using as evidence the project should be stopped. Instead of the link, the OCA now posts the report in a PDF format.

The state Building Trades Council objected to the link that OCA was offering, saying it was a misuse of state resources. BTC is fighting to preserve hundreds of jobs it says the PSNH site creates.
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Tom Fahey is the State House bureau chief for New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

J Osborne

Good post. I totally agree. I fully support equal rights for Homosexuals however this is not a question of rights. I am sure many women would not want to have men in their bathroom regardless of what they appear to be or feel they are.
- Brian, Wakefield

J Osborne, Wendelboe's amendment was surely a "poison pill" designed to sink the bill by daring legislators to be the first to enter the "transgender" world.
- Spike, Brentwood NH

If McCain strategest Steve Schmidt can endorse marriage equality, shouldn't the Governor and the State Senate do the same?

"McCain strategist endorses same-sex marriage; Schmidt urges GOP to be more welcoming of gays" The Washington Blade, March 25, 2009.

If Schmidt can endorse same-sex marriage, shouldn't Governor Lynch and your State Senator also support marriage equality?

President Obama has no difficulties in mulitasking - the economy, the wars in the Middle East, health care reform, etc - so why shouldn't the Senate be able to handle a subject that will not add to the budget deficit?
- Bill Siroty, Amherst

I'll try and keep my political leaning out of this. I'm glad to see that there our elected officials are talking about some serious issues down in Concord. The US is at a crossroads economically and socially and some hard decisions will be made in the next few years at the local, state and national levels. I will be interested to see how the Governor responds to these issues if they reach his desk. They will likely determine his legacy.
- Mike, Whitefield

Fran Wendelboe needs to upgrade her thinking. If she wants to share the bathroom with transgendered people then she needs to be responsible when a pervert uses the transgender card to be in a ladies room bathroom for the wrong purpose. I for one think this supposedly equal rights movement goes too far. It is time for logic in what type of laws are being passed to supposedly protect and help the public. This law is not in the public's best interest. No transgender bathrooms - keep them separate. Fran who is funding your campaign's???
- J Osborne, Pittsfield

The NH House is a travesty mindfull of the european burlesque of the 1930's.

Wally Stickney
- Wally Stickney, North Salem,

We already seen Governor Lynch say on WMUR News that if the death penalty reached his desk he will veto it, what makes this reader think he won't veto the others? Every man, woman and child IS considered equal under our nation's constitution. It is our state governments that state our "choices" make us less than equal. This reader is always asking how is it that a "choice" to love someone of the same sex makes you less equal? Is this reader less equal because he "chooses" to be a Republican over a Democrat? Is this reader less than equal because he "chooses" to be Pro-Life instead of Pro-Choice? The state governments demand people abide by the laws because afterall, if the lawmakers say there is no "choice" in the matter, then it must only be one way to be considered equal. Maybe the opposing lawmakers and Governor Lynch forgot who makes the "choices" to elect them every two years? Oh that's right, they (the people) are less than equal because they make choices different than those on Capitol Hill.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

--------------------

"NH to release school progress reports Monday"
Boston.com - AP, April 2, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. --The New Hampshire Department of Education plans to release its annual Adequate Yearly Progress report on schools Monday.

To achieve passing progress, schools or districts must have met reading and mathematics targets. They must also have met state participation, attendance and graduation goals.

Last year, 175 schools achieved passing progress in all areas. The department said 282 schools failed one or more targets.

If schools don't meet adequate progress for two years in a row, they are added to a list of schools in need of improvement. Fifty schools were added to the list last year, bringing the total to 183.

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-

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The new home of Gov. John Lynch sits on 7.85 acres in Hopkinton and was recently assessed at almost $3 million. (BOB LAPREE)
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"Lynches settle in at new home"
By JOHN DISTASO AND GARRY RAYNO, New Hampshire Union Leader, 4/3/2009

It's finished, and Gov. John Lynch and his family have been living there for a few months now.

The Lynch family's sprawling, 11,094-square-foot, federal-style home on Watchtower Road atop Gould Hill in Hopkinton can only be described as magnificent.

On a clear day, the chief executive can walk off the tennis court or out of the greenhouse or in-ground pool and see Mount Washington.

Such luxury doesn't come cheap.

The home was recently reassessed, along with the rest of the upscale town. According to an assessment report on file with the Avitar Associates assessing firm, the building is valued at $1,929,900; extra "features" at $153,100; and the 7.85 acres on which the house sits at $757,100.

Avitar sets the total card value at $2,840,100 and the parcel value at $2,939,200.

Based on a tax rate of $22.19 per $1,000 Lynch's property taxes are $65,220.

Separately, the family owns 164 acres in the vicinity, also intertwined with the Gould Hill Orchards. According to Avitar assessment records, it has a market value of $434,000 and receives a current use credit of $419,000, meaning the governor pays taxes on a value of only $14,973.

How does Lynch heat such a building?

According to the Avitar assessment report, with oil.

It's unclear how many rooms are in the home, but it does have five full baths, two half-baths and five bedrooms.

A spokesman at the Dead River heating oil company in Manchester said a home with 16 rooms typically uses approximately 1,700 gallons of home heating oil a year. The owner of such a home would pay $3,400 at $2 per gallon.

Lynch's home is described by Avitar as being on "a very private excellent site, and view." It calls the quality of the home "luxurious."

The flooring is listed as pine. The exterior is partially stone and partially clapboard.

The home features:

-- a barn with a loft, valued at $100,388

-- a glass greenhouse, valued at $3,436

-- a tennis court, valued at $11,200

-- two custom fireplaces, one valued at $20,000, and the other, at $10,000.

-- a Gunite in-ground pool, valued at $8,050.

A trust controlled by Lynch and his wife, Dr. Susan Lynch, purchased the 164-acre tract in 1999 for $350,000, according to documents on file at the Merrimack County Registry of Deeds.

A second trust controlled by the Lynches purchased the property on which the house now sits for $780,000 in 2006.

Erick Leadbeater later that year told the New Hampshire Union Leader that he planned to put the rest of the 250-year-old family-owned farm on the market because he could no longer afford the property taxes. But he continues to own the orchard today.

Registry records also show that Lynch sold his former, far more modest home in a residential neighborhood in Hopkinton to James and Stephanie Sykes for about $500,000. Lynch had lived in the home since 1986.

Before becoming governor in 2005, Lynch built a personal fortune in the private sector, primarily as the president and chief executive officer of Knoll, Inc., manufacturing firm for seven years, where his salary was about $400,000 and he received six-figure bonuses. He later headed his own business consulting firm.

Dr. Susan Lynch is a pediatrician who works as a pediatric lipid specialist at the Cholesterol Treatment Center at Concord Hospital.

"It's well-known that the Lynches have a nice home," Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said yesterday.

"The governor has worked very hard and has been fortunate. But the governor is focused right now on managing our state budget and helping New Hampshire families and our state through tough economic times. And that is what he is going to continue to focus on," said Manning.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Enough politics people. You can't argue reaping the rewards of ones success. BUT, if you can't see the hypocricy here, turn in your drivers license....please!

Everyone knows the Benson arguement doesn't hold water. The guy was a joke, but never proclaimed to be an earth child. And if I'm not mistaken, he did refuse his salary in favor of technology and efficiency grants.

Finally, I'm curious, did the Governors budget include he and all the department heads taking pay cuts? Didn't think so!
- Andy, Franklin

Spend less time posting whiny "reader comments" and more time learning, developing skills, and contributing to society and someday you too can enjoy the fruits of your labor. Now, turn off the computer and go be productive.
- Steve, Manchester, NH

They worked for their money and should be able to spend how they want. Those who talk about it being bad timing on their part, due to the bad economy. If you know anything about construction you know that this house has probably been under construction for at least a year. Personally I don't see the need for a house this size, but other people do it as well on a somewhat smaller scale. I have a friend, single guy, he lives in a 3,000 sq ft house -- 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, family room, living room, dining room, eat in kitchen, 2 car garage. Why does a single guy need a house this big? Because that's what he wants. If you're willing to pay for it, and that's what you want, then do it I guess.

On another note, the electrician who wired the Governer's house just did some electrical work for me. He says the house if beautiful.
- DJ, Amherst

Interesting story...why was it written? Maybe because the economy is in the tank and the democrats have passed an historic 3.5 trillion dollar budget and made it considerably worse? Maybe because the Gov unilaterally signed us up for the carbon footprint program and now of the newly congressional passed cap and trade act might be a hypocrisy to his 1700 gallons per year? Not green? Where's the outrage? The Gov, Shea-Porter and Hodes are all sending a clear message to the people of this state and country: "Let them eat cake". Lovely home by the way.
- Judy Krahulec, Laconia

Regarding comments from "Pete from Dover", were you there when they built the house? Do you know what types of materials they used? NO??!! Then what makes you an expert on his "carbon footprint"?
Good for them, they both worked hard for their money unlike other people who think they are entitled to everything and do nothing!
- J, Hooksett

Just think of all the jobs that he created by building that house. He's doing his part to stimulate the economy, are you?
- Joeseph, Salem

Mike in Epping...
I wrote Gov. Lynch a letter and got a response. Belive me im way lower class then you being that i was in high school when I wrote it.
- Steph, Manchester

11,000+ square foot home? I didn't realize the Governor had such a large family.
- Beth, Candia

slow news day, eh UL? Roll out the rest of the 'rich and famous' of NH too while you are at it. I'll go back to worrying about my own mortgage payments.
- Pete, Littleton

It is important to remember that Governor Lynch earned his money in the private sector to be able to afford a home that big. This is the same private sector that most of you refer to as the "dreaded private sector" whenever they want to complain about how rough they have it and imply that run-of-the-mill government workers earn too much money. I challenge any of you to find a single police officer, firefighter, highway worker, or teacher that lives in a house that big. It seems once again that the dreaded private sector really isn't that dreaded if you work hard and make wise investments.
- John, Plaistow

So let me get this straight. Some of you think that the Gov. deserves this mansion because of all his hard work and believe that he earned it in the private sector?
Let's dissect those statements.
Last I checked the economy is horrible and very few people are making any money let alone enough to build this mansion.
If he is such a money maker, why can't he put that much effort into making "honest" money for the state and not taking us all to the cleaners with all the new fees, tolls and taxes?
Folks, the only people that get into government are the people who already have more than they will earn. And the reason for that is because they know that they will get many "favors" while in office that will more than pay for what he deems as a "pay cut".
If he cares about his people so much, why on earth would he flaunt such a mansion at a time when families are being foreclosed on and kids going hungry?
Unless he plans to invite a bunch of people to live with him, he doesn't need a house this size- no one does (except maybe the Duggar's)
I may never be as rich as Lynch is, but you take me at my word that if I ever am, I will NEVER waste money on frivilous things such as a mansion and I WILL make sure that families are taken care of that fall on hard times.
Bravo to UL for printing this.
- Pauline, Franklin

While Gov Teflon lectures the peons about Global Warming, he lives in a carbon burning mansion? What a hypocrite!
- tom, manchester,nh

Good for the Govenor and his wife. They are hard workers, and living the American dream. Nice people, nice house, too bad they are Democrats.
- Mike, Auburn

I am a state employee that is probably going to get laid off, I was wondering if Gov. Lynch has any openings for servants, pool boy, gardener, maid, driver (oh thats right the state pays for that).......
- James, Concord

I'm no expert, but I'm guessing that they use more than 1700 gallons of oil. Not that I care, more power to them.
- MS, Litchfield

Steve in Hudson...

Why should the Governer take a pay cut? Do you think his salary as governer paid for this? No, it was a result of their success in the private sector.

His salary as governer was $113,538 in 2008. He was only the 77th highest paid state employee. Yes, see the attached document...

http://www.unionleader.com/uploads/media-items/2009/January/2008statesalaries.pdf
- Greg F., Manchester, NH

Gov. Lynch,

You are the biggest phoney I have ever come across in my life. It's people like you, raping this economy with your big bonuses and b.s. talk about fairness and the environment, that turn around and buy a house that's bigger than an apartment complex. It's people like you that say we must sacrifice for the environment(carbon footprint) and than you built a place that gobbles fuel and resources to keep it running - all for one small family. You are a phoney.
- Scott, Salem

Eric, Manchester NH
Right on Bro! Let's see a description and pics of that big McQuaid mansion.

Oh wait...There isn't one....
- Jack, Candia

I can see now why he would not answer my three page letter that I sent to him months ago. I am way out of his class, just the working guy that used to be middle class. Bet if I was part of the upper class we probably would have discussed my letter over lunch at the country club
- mike, Epping, NH

Gotta love all the "Green Libs" who blame UL on running this becuase it's a slow news day. Your people, Obama, Lynch, Shaheen and all other Dem's are never wrong right? Please get over yourselves. I have no problem with Lynch building this home. He earned through Capitalism and Ingeniuty and Hardwork. Also inheritance but that doesn't matter, he earned it. What you morons don't understand is that this way of life will be gone under NObama, and his Socialist rule, and only people in Gov like the Lynch's and the Shaheens will be able to do this, everyone else will haev a ceiling on their way of life. Not to mention the "Carbon Footprint' that all the greenies compain about, well people you voted him in, and look hwo he has repsonded. He believes that the North Countries Beauty should be tarnished and given up for "Green Wind Power" but also he can build this mansion and not even bat an eye at the damage he has done or the grid consumption this monstrosity will use. Does that not strike any of you odd? Again all for free market and making money, but don' preach one thing to the populace and do something completely opposite. As previous poster said Bush was constantly ridiculed yet he is 10 times as green as Lynch. Kinda funny how that works.
- Dave, Pembroke

Looks like Al Gore's.
- Wes, Keene

Governor Lynch has not only been a governor he has been a very successful business leader and has worked hard for everything he has. He is a great man with an even better family. He by no means has a nice house just because he is Governor. It is low for people to state comments such as tax cuts and things of that nature since nearly none of his wealth is from being Governor. People who say these things are reacting without proper information and are apart of the small minority of people in this state that did not vote John Lynch for Governor.
- Jon, Bedford

As a Conservative who believes in Capitalism I have never, nor will I ever, begrudge one for earning a living.

However, I find the contrast in the Publics opinion interesting.

-Governor of NH’s home = Good.
-Private sector Executive’s home = Bad

Just an observation.
- Wally, Manchester, NH

as a conservative, I applaud him for stimulating the local economy. This is what it takes to keep the gears moving. I think it is great. He has to pay taxes on this house, heat it, landscape it, keep up on improvements. This is great. Instead of taxing the crap out of our acheivers, let them spend their money, it is a much better way to stimulate the economy, if only our federal government would get the idea. stop looking at raising taxes, let the rich spend, that is what really moves things, how many people have work to do because of houses like the Lynchs'.
- Tom, Manchester

It is quite obvious to everyone the reason why Joe and the Union Leader has published this stroy and it is too bad. Did you pubish anything about the two homes that Craig Benson had just minutes from one another in Rye? Don't think you did. And gues what, his were worth more. I have no problem with someone spending money they have worked hard for. Anyone that has taken the time to analyze this as Lynch showing off, get a grip. It is the paper exposing it as an opportune time when the economy is in peril. Nice work UL. New lows.

*** Editor's note: Craig Benson's oceanfront residence was the subject of Page One news stories several times during his term as governor. Benson's ownership of two homes in Rye was first reported in 1999. ***
- Justin Pike, Portsmouth

Whose business is it anyway? Only because he and his wife are in the public eye. There certainly are larger and more ostentatious homes in this state. Take a look at some of the mcmansions on the lake.
- Nancy, Pembroke

The hypocrisy of over-indulgence, huge carbon footprint, destruction of natural habitat/orchards, picking up the property from the poor old farmer whom can no longer afford the taxes......fine example of the "live as I say not as I do" limousine liberal mindset. Hillarious...
- Mike, Raymond

So where is the story on where the top people of the U.L. live??? Come on let us be fair. I agree this is a poke at the Gov. an his family. The beauty of it is that anyone can achieve what they have through hard work and determination.
- Eric, Manchester, NH

Gould Hill is my favorite place it pick apples and take the family. Not a big fan of Lynch, but I'd rather have him there than a bunch of condos or housing developments.
- LW, Manchester

So people are going to slight others for earning money legally, and spending the money they earned? Are you kidding me? I also am not a fan of his politics, but I must say that he should be able to spend his money any way he wishes. Everyone has different incomes and expenses. What may seem normal to you may seem affluent to others. I consider myself middle class and I cannot fault someone for spending their hard earned money. We should be more upset at the drug dealers that drive around in cadillac escalades, living in welfare mothers homes for free, that the taxpayers are paying for.
- Lyle, Manchester

Small guy, Big house
- Bob, Manchester, NH

Since the UL is ALWAYS fair and balanced, let's see a comparable story about Craig Benson's houses. He is way more wealthy than Lynch is.
- Frank, Manchester

Beautiful home, but too ostentacious and impractical in the best of times and certainly not the proper tone to set during this down turn. It's not particularly environmentally friendly either. Poor choice I think.
- fran, jaffrey

Oh Union Leader, your attempt to stir the pot is so very transparent. So the governor is wealthy and has an expensive home. So what? While I'd love to see solar and other renewable energy sources powering his estate, I just cannot find his wealth a reason to discredit him.
- Kerri P., Nashua, NH

Congrats Gov. Lynch & family on your new home. It looks lovely! I do hope you'll enjoy it for many years to come.
You deserve it! You've worked hard for this home!
- Doris Pond, Manchester

For everyone complaining, get a life. When someone works hard in this country and earns their own money, they can spend it the way they chose. I have seen people in this state and others with much bigger and more expensive houses and no one seems to mind those.
Was this story really worth publishing?
Also for everyone complaining about it being paid for by the taxpayer, his income from the state would not be enough to pay for that home alone, he would need money he made from the private sector...we don't pay him THAT much!
- Chris, Manchester

i can't stand lynch, but good for him i'd have one, too, if i could. however, doesn't anybody find it ironic that people like him who have achieved the american dream will do almost anything to prevent you from!? government spending, national health care and socialism will not let YOU attain the same wealth. liberal hypocrisy at its finest! . i wonder how many federal inmates can be housed in an eleven thousand square foot building?
- fpc, manchester

I'm on the other side of the aisle from most everything that the Governor does. That said, it's his money, he earned it, and he can spend it anyway he sees fit. And let's not forget Dr. Lynch..she's also worked hard, makes a good living, and is reaping the rewards. The more I think about it, it's a great example of what you can have if you work hard to get it....BRAVO to the Lynch's
- Tom, Hanover

The Governor is the one paying the bills,I have no problem with his house.Nice place,good for you!This isn't politics(I'm no Democrat) He earned his money and can do what he want's with it.Capitalism works,however his taxes are too high.What does he get in return for that outrageous money?
- Tim, Boscawen

Some wonder why we are reminded of the governor’s sprawling digs while we are in the midst of an economic crisis. The reason is that the UL has decided to stir the pot on a slow news day. And just in case the photo and tax assessment are not enough to incite outrage, the writer goes on to list individual amenities with their price tags.

Wealthy people live in large homes. Get over it.
- Kevin, Milford

maybe he should take a pay cut
- steve, hudson

I'm not a fan of Gov. Lynch's politics, but I cannot fault him for providing a beautiful residence for his family. His property taxes represent the value of his home, and since he is willing to pay them he should not be criticized.

If I could provide a house like that to my future wife & kids, I most certainly would.
- Stuart Dunmeyer, Manchester

Congratulations Govenor on having a beautiful home. I wish we might be able to see the inside with some pictures or a video tour but also respect your privacy. I think its fantastic you were able to build a fortune in the private sector and then build this beautiful house on NH's fine land.
- Ben, Portsmouth

Another Democrat living of the people's money. Wonder which taxes he didn't pay??? I'm sure he's pure as snow like Turbo Tax Geitner, Limo-man Daschle or now the Governor from Kansas.. We should bus some out of work folks up to the house to admire how the "better half" lives.
- Andy, Milford

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is what our country was founded on. Prosperity is not a bad thing. But it will be a thing of the past if our nation runs like a freight train down the tracks of Obama's agenda. So all you who agree with Obama including Gov. Lynch and Senator Shaheen and support the massive entitlement programs and redistribution of your earnings to others who don't have to work to be rewarded can kiss your prosperity goodbye. Better buy what you need now while you can still afford it.
- jem, portsmouth

Typical "Union Leader" expose' to attempt to smear a hard working ethical family who does not agree with the right wing rhetoric of the U/L philosophy. They worked for it, good for them. Lets examine how many law makers who are republican have extreme footprints also. I wonder what the size of the McQuade or Loeb estates are.... hmm.. I am sure we wont find that out.
- Steve, Concord

I don't know what any one does in a 11,000 sf. house. But in the times that are hard he of all people should not be showing off how good life is. And if you do the math, he built what is discribed as a luxury home at about 200.00 per foot and bought land around the home at 2,100 per acre with views. You and I can't get if for less than 7,000 and yes I know it was done in 99. Its now time that he goes home, to that lovley home of his and let some one that knows what he is doing run the this fine state that we have. Becausse you don't show up in a new car with a driver and tell the working man that he has to walk to work to save money.
- John, Candia

I'd love to have a house like that! I have no problem with the Lynch family being able to afford a house like that, they earned it.

My only problem is, as one person posted, the pure hypocrisy of talking about climate change, cap and trade, green house gas emissions while building the very house that goes against all of that talk. He either doesn't really believe in the global warming garbage, but is following the party line and collecting revenue, or he does believe in it, but not for him, just for us because he can afford the extra costs.

George Bush, the target of every left wing anti-fossil fuel nut, owns a home in Crawford that uses geothermal heat and A/C.
- Melvin, Keene

Yes, this is America, and one can do what one chooses with one's wealth. However, this house is surely an ostentatious display. For two people with a small family, seems so out of proportion to their needs. Oh well, no cure for the human condition.
- Kathy, Sandown

What's wrong with it, Aaron, JJ, and George, is that he is doing way more than his part to destroy the world. There are more than 6 billion people on this planet, and if all of them lived like the governor, the earth wouldn't last a year. A moral person tries to limit the harm he does to the world around him; the governor's approach is the opposite.

This is beyond wrong and hypocritical. It is obscene and evil. And, by the way, I voted for him the first two times. I usually vote Democratic, but I recognize hypocrisy when it punches me in the face. When I learned he was building this monument to greed, I wrote him off. The rest of you should, too.
- Alan, Concord

Maybe he should leave other peoples' retirement alone, so that they can enjoy themselves after working hard their entire career. If he can afford this why doesn't Lynch contribute toward the State budget, instead of taking from State employees.
- Mike, Weare

a Gunite in-ground pool, valued at $8,050.

The Ul may want correct that. Thats and 80 thousand dollar pool in the back yard. I'm betting there's a 400k btu propane heater attached to that baby that could heat a couple of homes alone. Sorry..... even as a Dem myself I'll be the first to admit that this house is pure hypocracy. Enjoy your wealth Gov Lynch but spare us the climate change speaches.
- Don, Manchester

I am no fan of Gov Lynch and his policies,especially the "Green House Gas Initiative." At least he didn't earn millions of dollars based on his political connections like Tom Daschle.
- Chris, Merrimack

Hey, Lynch supporters.......wonder where all of those campaign contributions went? I'm sure too the unemployed in Coos and Hillsborough Counties will applaud the Gov's new home.
- Mark, Manchester

Didn't you know? The big "Greenies" need those estates to entertain and plan with their important comrades. They will steal the energy required from the rest of us SERFS under the guise of Cap & Tax.
- Mae, Plaistow

Good for them. If they've got money, in these times, better off spending it on something they want and need, rather than hiding it in the mattress.
Enjoy your new home Governor & Dr. You've worked hard for this.
- George W. Hill, Bedford

Do you need more proof of the Governor's hypocrisy? He issues an Executive order creating a Climate Change Impact Plan at the same time he expands his carbon footprint by building a house 5 times the size of an average home. If he really believed in Global Warming would he build such a monsterous house? Or maybe it's arrogance on his part, I will have what I want environment be damned but don't you (the populace) do anything like this because it's bad for the environment. The Governors new house should be used in every future story of his efforts to implement a climate change plan in NH to show what a joke it is.
- Pete, Dover

100% agree, Aaron! Times are indeed tough for so many of us (myself most definitely included), but I hold no ill will towards those who have made a success out of their lives in a legal and ethical manner as Governor Lynch and his family have done.

This is a beautiful home and they have every right to be proud of their fortunes. I only hope that the Governor and his construction contacts can find a way to reduce the oil usage in favor of alternative methods of heating the home. That would be a great sign of being serious about leading our country away from fossil-fuel dependancy.
- JJ, ManchVegas

It's nice that during a time of economic stress where families are hurting and employees from around the state are facing layoffs - that we can read about how Lynch has such a wonderful home.
- Chris, Laconia,NH

It's only a matter of time before people start complaining about how this is "wrong" how the governor has an expensive home and lots of property. He worked for it. What's wrong with that?
- Aaron, Manchester NH

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A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL
"The cost of capital punishment"
April 15, 2009

IT MAY BE too soon to call it a trend, but two states have abolished the death penalty in the past three years, and 10 others have legislation pending. States and voters are reconsidering capital punishment, and many have a new reason: money.

Cost was one of the factors New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson cited when he signed repeal legislation last month. Richardson, a former supporter of capital punishment, said he had traveled "a long personal journey on the issue." But polls show New Mexico voters broadly supported the repeal, which replaces the death penalty with life in prison without parole. New Jersey abolished its death penalty in 2007.

Even more striking was the recent vote in the New Hampshire House to end capital punishment there, since it came shortly after the state handed down its first death sentence in 50 years. But Governor John Lynch has said he will veto any repeal.

A recent study by the Urban Institute found that an average death penalty trial costs a state about $2 million more than a murder trial where no death penalty is sought. The Death Penalty Information Center estimates that keeping an inmate on death row costs $90,000 a year in extra security. Almost every state is facing a deficit, and getting smart about corrections budgets is an unexpected side benefit.

Abolitionists will take whatever argument they can, but money isn't the only, or the best, reason to stop executions. The death penalty is not a deterrent to most deadly crimes. It is applied unevenly. It places the United States among the world's most brutal regimes. And there are 130 other reasons: the 130 death-row inmates who were exonerated by new evidence. Their deaths would have carried an awful price tag.

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"UNH report: Wind project would create 550 jobs"
boston.com/news/local, April 15, 2009

DURHAM, N.H. --A new report from the University of New Hampshire shows that a proposed wind power project in Coos County would contribute $20 million to the North Country economy and create 550 jobs in the next two years.

The 99-megawatt wind power project capable of generating enough power to serve about 40,000 homes is being proposed for Coos County by Granite Reliable Power. The project is before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee, which must rule on it by May 6.

According to the researchers, construction and operations jobs with the project are expected to pay on average $45,000 in annual wages, about 50 percent higher than the county average.

About 200 workers would be directly involved in construction, with the workforce coming from a 100-mile radius of the project, including northern New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.

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"Lynch's view: Traditional marriage is best"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, April 16, 2009

CONCORD – As debate on gay marriage raged just down the hall, Gov. John Lynch said yesterday he thinks the word marriage should be limited to describe traditional marriage.

"I think the word marriage is reserved for a marriage between a man and a woman, and I think the real issues really are rights and protections for gay and lesbian couples," he told reporters. The civil unions law, which took effect in January 2008, takes care of those issues, he said.

He would not say what he will do with a gay marriage bill if it gets to his desk, declining to say whether he'll sign it, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

More than 500 people turned out for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on House Bill 436, which would legalize gay marriage in state law.

The House passed the bill by seven votes just one week ago. The bill would provide gay and lesbian couples the same right to marry that mixed couples now have. The law says terms like "groom, bride, husband, wife" would become gender neutral. A change in state law would have not an effect on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal benefits like such as Social Security or tax breaks, to same-sex couples.

During a six-hour hearing, religious and social conservatives called for defeat of the bill and protection of marriage as an institution. They squared off against religious and social liberals who said the state discriminates against gay couples by denying them marriage.

The state's Catholic bishop disagreed with the Episcopalian bishop, Baptists with Congregationalists.

Witnesses quoted the Bible and the Constitution; Martin Luther King and George Washington; a state commission on marriage and the conference of Catholic Bishops, all in attempts to persuade the committee.

Ronald S. Goodwin, a construction worker from Alexandria, said gender lines have become too blurred.

"Some of the women have been wearing their pants so long that some of the men have forgotten their identity. It's time for the men to put their pants back on, and women to put their dresses on the way it was meant to be" he said. Referring to the Bible's Garden of Eden story, he said, "We have let the serpent slither into our garden."

Amy Wright of Concord said she is already married, in her mind, to her female partner of nine years. She's waiting for state law to catch up to her.

"This is not about the Bible, and it's not about politics. It's about my relationship," she said.

Religious leaders also split.

New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, a gay man in a civil union with his long-time partner, said he prays the senators find political courage.

"Courage to rise above political considerations, courage to lead," he said. "If full marriage equality will be right some day, it is right today. Don't give into the fearmongers," he urged.

Catholic Diocese of Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack said in prepared remarks, "Let us not case aside an institution that has enabled our great civilization to reach this point in time." He said civil unions already "protect the rights of people to join together in caring relationships."

Some argued that civil unions create a "separate but unequal" system, while opponents said marriage is a public institution that society has to protect.

Many spoke not only of God, sociology and human rights, but of children. Even there, some said children need a loving home with two loving parents, and others said children do best when raised by a mother and father.

Witnesses during the Senate hearing got three minutes to make their case before chairman Sen. Deborah Reynolds D-Plymouth, would ask them to sum up so another speaker could begin.

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LYNCH
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Readers' COMMENTS

Maybe this is why Lynch is looking so sickly lately.

Republican traitors put him in office and he can't anger them, yet he can't anger the extremists who are running the show in the legislature.

If he doesn't veto this gay marriage bill, he will be exposed either way.

And shame on you calling yourselves libertarians if you are promoting this. Since when do libertarians ask the government for their 'rights'? Be honest, this is about money.... not about acceptance of your sexual behaviour.

No one cares what you do, just don't expect us to subsidize it!
- Sue, Manchester

This argument is honestly ridiculous. The goverment has absolutley no place in deciding who can wed and cannot wed. Seperation of church and state? who's rights really are "gay" couples infringing on or harming when the marry or "civil union" ? Just because people do not live that life style and agree with it, does not mean that they shouldn't be allowed to pursue their happiness? They aren't hurting anyone, not even themselves. What is going on with the government trying to control everything that people do. I think it is a stretch for them to be dictating this kind of thing. Personal preference, personal freedoms, no longer your choice but now its in the governments hands.
I have no interest in this battle as I am not gay, but c'mon now.
- Frank, Manchester

All of you that eat Bacon or lobster and preach marriage as an institution on religious grounds raise your hand. Good now sit down and relish in your sins.

For goodness sake wake up and smell the roses....stop using your religioius beliefs, which ARE YOUR beliefs, to discriminate....even the Governor is wrong once in a while and he is wrong on marriage. Marriage is a civil instituition, co-opted by Religious organizations...., always was and always will be....it's a legal and financial issue, not a church issue.....
- Brenda Whitmore, strafford

"Some of the women have been wearing their pants so long that some of the men have forgotten their identity. It's time for the men to put their pants back on, and women to put their dresses on the way it was meant to be" he said. Referring to the Bible's Garden of Eden story, he said, "We have let the serpent slither into our garden."

Someone tell Ronald S. Goodwin that it's 2009 not 1809
- Ron, Concord

Homosexual unions in and of themselves will not sustain the human race, they will not continue it even one generation. They are unable in and of themselves to procreate.

In Darwins terms they are an unsustainable abberation. Therefore they must not be held up to the same regard as those that procreate. They do not stand side by side with the heterosexuals in the tree of life. They could not survive on their own in terms of life begetting life.

If men love men and women love women, let them take care of each other, but they don't bring procreative value to society.

The mandate of God to Adam and Eve was to go and multiply. Homosexuals by definition can not meet that mandate.

That is the fundamental difference between marriage and civil unions.

Marriage is the institution for those that accept the design of the creator to go and multiply.
- Paul, Concord

For all of those for and against, and I am against on religious and moral grounds, the simple fact is that the majority of NH citizens are also against gay marriage. Isn't it a democracy when our elected officials represent the majority? Are we no longer a democracy? Incidently, it is no longer seperation of church and state when my children are being forced to learn that gay marriage is equal to heterosexual, procreative marriage without the opposing view.
- CG, Newfields

Governor Lynch is entitled to his private opinion, the same as other issues like abortion.

He should not, however, use his position to allow Government to obstruct and discriminate against individuals regarding the right and freedom to call their unions whatever they wish based upon their sexual orientation.

Governor Lynch should allow this bill to become law without his signature.

Governor Lynch should stand against discrimination. Governor Lynch should stand up for individual rights, and equal rights.
- Bob Jean, Northwood, NH 03261

"Marriage" is between a man and a woman - it is different because only the union of a man an a woman is capable of procreation. They have the unique ability to physically interlock in a manner that leads to new life. A man and a man or a woman and a woman respectively can not between the two of them in the relationship bring about a new life. If they are to raise a child it requires a minimum of a third party for insemination, or surrogate or outright adoption. This Is The Significant Difference. This Is Why It Is A Separate Institution. It Is About Pro-Creation.
- George, Concord

I guess these so-called Christians dont read the Bible much. God is the ony one who can judge us. If God has a problem with gay marriage let him deal with it. Dont be so high and mighty..you know that good Christian man you sit next to in church? That is the kind of freak that molests children. Not the gay man..the good husband, father, Christian. Look at all the Catholic priests out there that molested little boys. They are even worse because they use God to prey on innocent children.
- Tammy, Rexford, NY

I come from 2 homosexual parents, 1 male, 1 female. But because they were raised being homosexual was wrong they married and had 3 children. I was raised not to know being gay/lesbian was different from anyone else. I was not taught discrimination (gay,straight,white,black or otherwise), as most children are in some form or another. I grew up with 2 mom's and 2 dad's and I turned out well. And our children are raised by straight parents who teach their children there is no difference
- Mom of 2, North Country, NH

I'm straight, and in love, but I don't want to get married. Marriage is a religious union, and neither myself, nor my girlfriend are religious. For us to get married would be hypocritical, at the very least. We should be allowed to be united at the civil level, and have the same rights and benefits as those that are united in the eyes of their god. And, if that's allowed for me and my wife, a mixed couple, why not for same-sex couples?

It's a sin "in the eyes of the Lord". That's your belief, and that's great. Eating bacon is a sin to Jewish people, but you don't see them picketing outside of Wendy's, demanding they stop selling the Baconator.
- Matt, Manchester

If we call a gay person homosexual and a straight person heerosexual, why are we even having this debate.

Semantics. We call a single person different terms becasue they are different. Likewise, a couple that is homosexual is not the same as a couple that is heterosexual. Marriage is a word for heterosexuals who commit themselves to eachother. Let the other side be called somethign different, afterall they are different.
- CJ, Bedford

WAY TO GO! I knew I voted for you for all the right reasons!!!
- Marcia, Penacook

Kudos to Governor Lynch for sticking up for what he believe's in. I agree with him 100%. This whole gay marriage thing has gone far enough.
They should also ban gay couples from adopting, but we'll leave that one for another day.
- Jon, Hooksett

Sometimes I wish that I too was bigoted, closed-minded, ignorant and angry.

Nah--just kidding.
- JB, NB, NH

Kudos to Gov. Lynch for taking a stand and siding with traditional marriage. He's proved that he's not going to be intimidated by a special interest group whose mission is to re-define society. This is not an issue about civil rights or the Bible, it comes down to whether or not we have objective definitions for our institutions. Marriage has always been about one man and one woman. Sorry if it's unpopular these days, but there it is.
- Paul, Manchester

In response to BW, in Concord...

As an openly gay man reading your post about homosexuality being a choice, I can't help but be frustrated. I do, however, respect your opinion.

I would like to point out that being gay or lesbian is not a choice - it's how you are born. Think about it in the simplest terms - why would anyone want to live a life that is socially "different?" Why would anyone want to become part of a class of citizens that is ridiculed, considered "less-than," and have to fight for the same rights as heterosexuals? The answer is: we don't.

For the record, I believe marriage is a religious issue and not a civil matter. Marriage is when two people go before God and enter into a holy union with Him and their church. Until the church decides homosexuality is not a sin, it will likely never happen. In saying this, I believe all "marriages" - gay or straight - that are not within the church should be a Civil Union. Additionally, the rights of a marriage and civil union should be the same. The only difference being that one is entered into with the church and one on a civil level without the church's involvement.
- Peter, Manchester, NH

Governor Lynch just sent the Granite State a message: I plan to run for re-election and I'm afraid of the backlash from the right.
- LJC, Manchester

I would like to be a sports car. Will the NH legislature please make it a law so I can be one if I want. Thank you legislature.
- Bob H, Londonderry

Governor Lynch just sent a message to the NH senate......dump the gay marriage bill. It's over. As an aside: I am amazed at the way this governor never takes a stand. His lack of leadership is astounding. Good guy no doubt, but no political backbone.
- Jay Collins, Laconia

There is nothing preventing a gay or lesbian person from getting married. Just pick a member of the opposite sex as the rest of us do.

Just because they choose NOT to doesn't make that discrimination.
- BW, Concord

Connie, Debby, and all you Bible thumpers, get off your high horse. We are ALL God's children. We were all put on this Earth to love one another and be right by one another. Homosexuality is NOT a choice. No one would choose a lifestyle of judgment and discrimination.

No, gays and lesbian couples would not get much more rights that they have now. But it is time that we stop choosing what is right and what is wrong. We are not Nazi's trying to bring down the "inferior" race. The thing that is wrong here is that we have to give a joining of two people in love a DIFFERENT name. Why is one person's commitment to one another "A", and others "B"?

Until everyone can stop judging others, gay people have the right to say they don't want to have their love and devotion to someone given a separate name or a second- rate status.

And for all of those "protecting the santicty of marriage" and wanting to do what is right, protect the santicty of marriage by tearing down 24-hour wedding chapels in Vegas, get tougher Domestic Violence laws.

And you are so concerned about the children. I am so sure that gay marriage would definitely "damage the children".. What about poor Caylee Anthony and Baby Grace? That was an example of evil of heterosexual parents.

Gov. Lynch has disgusted me. He is trying to appeal to all sides. Who knows how he really feels right now. He is going to be a coward and ignore the bill, but let you know how wrong he thinks it is. He can appeal to all the Bible thumpers saying "I don't agree with it" but then appeal to those who voted for him and let it slide by. He just wants to put his hands up and show us all how clean they are. Pathetic.
- Beth, Raymond

John In Dover..it may not be in the Constitution, but there was a court ruling in 1947 - Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947), Recall that at all? Its unconstitutional to bring the bible, a book of stories that are interpreted in so many ways by man, into governmental affairs. Get into the 21st century. We're no longer in the 1800's or in bible toting/pushing middle America.
- Bea, Manchester

I am so tired of this issue being equated to slavery because it is not close to that at all. You keep calling marriage a "right".
How is it a "right" is what I want explained.
The following comment is a little troubling to me.
" Who are you to deny people from being able to marry someone that they love??
The same could be said about a couple that are "blood related" and want to be married.
Not the same you might say? It is no different than this in that it may be percieved as 'wrong" now but could be viewed differently using the same argument that gay marrige is using.
How when you have the same rights as everyone else in a civil union makes you a "second class citizen" is beyond me. If you feel that strongly about it then you need to get the federal government to change it's laws because until they do no marriage or civil union means anything as far as benefits are concerned.
Is it really hate if you disagree that gays should be allowed to have a certificate of marriage? Yout talk of fear mongering but isn't saying that the same thing?
The real question is and should be where does it end?
- Bill B., Pelham

Marriage is all about what the bible says. God created marriage, not the courts. It is a covenant between two people and God.

You may not believe in the Holy Bible but it is true nonetheless. There are people that don't believe that the earth is round, but it is. Ok, you naysayers, it is oval.

We will all be judged by God's standards someday. Get used to it.
- Bill, Dunbarton

I find it amusing that people use the Bible and religion as the basis of this argument. This has nothing to do with religion or the bible anymore. According to what some have written it would be wrong for anyone who doesn't follow the "Bible" to be married! REALLY??? So Islam, Hindi, Bhuddist, etc... (pardon any misspellings) marriages are wrong in your eyes as well?

To think that only your religion is the only right one is closed minded and foolish. I believe that there are some excellent values and teachings in the bible, however that does not mean I would follow it blindly.

Have faith in humanity, not in a book. Believe in a higher power, but believe in yourself and others as well.
- Joe, Manchester

What would Charles Darwiin say about gay marriage (that after he was done laughing)? What would Mohammad say (if he allowed you to retain your head)?...Why is it that all proponents can say about this issue is "ME, me me....Look at me !!!..." I find it very selfish for you to push your behaviors on the rest of us, who are trying with difficulty already to raise our children in this poisoned, Larry Flynted culture.. (and yes, I said 'behaviors....For, if you can show me homosexuality is natural, I can show you a defect that can be cured)(Please spare me the gay penguin stories, btw....Show me a gay species, and I'll show you an extinct one !)
- Geoff, Derry

Why are our elected representatives wasting time on this nonsense? The vast majority of NH citizens have no interest in this, only a small but well-financed and well-organized band of homosexual radicals. Stop with this garbage and get to work for the people of this state, or be held accountable for it.
- Tom, Campton

What makes you people think we all follow your bible? This is a country of religious freedoms, hence the separation of church and state. If you want a country that only allows one religion and forces everyone to follow that religion you may want to pack up and leave the land of the free because we want to be free to make our choices - not live yours!
- Tracy P, Fremont, NH

Put simply, marriage is a function of the Church, and civil unions are the function of the State. If you want to keep seperation of Church and State, then why are gays insisting on sanction from the Church? Want to really make this fair? Then lets have a state-wide referendum so that every citizen of the state has a vote in the decision. Why does the tail alwalys wag the dog in this country anymore?!
- Bill, Whitefield

NH people would not vote for gay marrage. We have common sense. Children should not be forced to view a gay partner as a parent. Go against the tide and support traditional values Governor Lynch. It will cost you some votes but will earn mine next time if you are still willing to serve.
- Belinda, Peterborough

At the end of the day, what Lynch feels on a personal level shouldnt have anything to do with his job. He is here to represent the people of New Hampshire. Not his own interests.
- Theresa, Dover

I'm at the point where I do not care any longer about this position. A majority of the global population has differing interpretations of what marriage. The Judeo-Christian view is only one such view.
So let Gays and Lesbians have the ability to marry. Precedent in law is what Judges use to make judicial decisions. When those of Islamic faith and Fundamental Mormons seek, via the courts, the same rights and privileges that Gays and Lesbians are now winning, I wonder if Gays and Lesbians will start thumping the Bible or be supportive?
- Gene, Hooksett

NM in Manchester,

Show us where "separation of church and state" is in the Constitution. Don't bother looking, because it is not in there anywhere.

It is a myth. People have twisted it to fit their view.
- John, Dover

Throw the bible out with the bath water. Cafeteria christians need a new and worthwhile cause -- how about homelessness? Ignore homoness. Equal rights for all. Lynch is trying to ride the political fence, after all look at the fine citizens of NH he has to please. Hopefully, your children are more progressive and we just win through attrition, and get this state out of the dark ages.
- Dorothy, Concord

Horray for Gov Lynch, dont be afraid to stand up to these people. Bible or no Bible it is just plain WRONG. what ever happened to treating the sick and their ways instead we just try to make it the norm and OK. no wonder we see so many high schoolers turnign gay, i for one do not wish my children to be subject to the gay way and public displays of affection between 2 guys or 2 gals. face it folks it is just wrong and will never be generally accepted in society. it just will not happen, ever...
- Rick G, Lee

This is NOT a Civil Rights Issue

This is NOT a religious issue

This is just a wordsmith game.

In New Hampshire a Civil Union IS the same as a marriage, by law, the rights and obligations are IDENTICAL.

How many of you have read the New Hampshire Civil Union law? well here it is…
CHAPTER 457-A - CIVIL UNIONS - 457-A:6 Rights, Obligations, and Responsibilities. – Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the parties who enter into a civil union pursuant to this chapter shall be entitled to all the rights and subject to all the obligations and responsibilities provided for in state law that apply to parties who are joined together pursuant to RSA 457.

Please, Please, Please, ask any supporters of this Bill; What rights are same sex couples lacking and expect to get from passing it???

Please, Please, Please, ask any opponents of this Bill: What rights they want to BLOCK same sex couples from getting under this new Bill ???

Then inform them they are full of BULL**** this Bill changes NOTHING.

Let’s stop wasting time, energy, and a lot of hot air that’s leading to global warming on this topic. A year ago, this was addressed by the Legislature, signed by the Governor and is the law of the land…. Time to move on to other real topics.
- Bob, Francestown

To all who keep saying "this is against the bible" There is this beautiful thing in the constitution separating church and state. Who are you to deny people from being able to marry someone that they love?? You're trying to keep the sanctity of marriage? Stop getting divorced. Stop pushing your beliefs on others. Stop being so conceited about it.
- NM, Manchester, NH

The Bible is God's instructions on how to live. Currently our society is rejecting the Bible (to include this bill). And look at the shape our country is in.
- Don, Rochester

Is it going to be okay to marry a sibling someday? How about one man and two women?

It is not wrong to say NO sometimes. We dont have to allow every behavior that comes down the road. They have civil unions. PLease leave marriage alone.
- Tim, Manchester

I have voted for Lynch three times but 2008 was the last time. Never again! Opposition to gay marriage is a form of homophobia. I know a lot of people just want gays to go back into the closet but it is not happening. We need to normalize gay relationships so they can have the same rights, responsibilities, and privileges as other married couples have.
- David, Derry

Connie,

The laws of this country are not all about the bible.
- Jim Wilson, Manchester

The governor can have his opinion, but as a heterosexual man, it's just not his place to decide what the best word is to define this right--marriage or civil union. He's not gay, and he can't possibly imagine what it's like to be relegated to a second class status. It would be like a white man trying to tell black people that he thinks the word "colored" is the best word to describe them. As I listen to and read through all of the arguments against gay marriage, I realize that the same arguments--tradition, against the bible, against nature, slippery slope, etc., could have been used and probably were used 100 years ago to deny giving women the right to vote.
- Dom, Weare

It's not about sex or religion- It's about civil rights and equality under the law. Unfortunately, our civil laws are wrapped in religious foundations, and despite our founders very strong desire for separation of church and state- our social fabric is wrapped in religious doctrine and continues to drive our legal system of laws.

If all civil laws and rights could be achieved without any reference to "marriage", like income tax laws for example, then "marriage" could then be returned to religion as a bond recognized solely by religious doctrine and apart from civil laws. Until we can get to that state of mind people who have relationships that are socially and economically entwined continue to be denied equal treatment under law.

Civil law should even go beyond "marriage" and should include family members who live together and who are financially dependent upon each other- Mother -daughter, Grandfather-grandson, etc should all enjoy equal treatment under law if their relationships are essentially like "marriage" from a civil law perspective.
- Gary, Bedford

Gays have the same right to marry as heterosexuals - they can marry anyone of the opposite sex. They are not being discriminated against, period. The purpose of marriage is to create a family and to bear and raise children to perpetuate mankind. Gays cannot do that through gay marriage, so let's stop this foolishness. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman without exception.
- Brian, Farmington

In the dictionary the word marriage is defined as "a close and intimatew union" or "the state of a couple voluntarily joined for life". No where in the definition does it say anything about man or woman. It may state man and woman in the Bible, but I thought that the law wasn't about religion. Isn't there a seperation of church and state? I am not gay, but I say legalize it. Who are we to judge what others do with their life? Who is it hurting to allow them to marry? I just don't understand why people feel they should have a say in the way someone else lives their life. They wouldn't want someone telling them how to live theirs.
- Lisa, Manchester, NH

Hear those airbrakes? That's the sound of the bus that Gov. Lynch just threw the gay voters of NH under. Remember him? The guy you voted for last November? Maybe you can organize a protest at his new mansion in Hopkinton.....
- Mark, Manchester

Civil unions protect the right of gays to share the rights of married people. If you allow them marriage, then you insult every hetero-sexual married couple in the state. Thats alot of votes.
- Bill, Whitefield

Let's hope Gov Lynch does the right thing for New Hampshire and NOT pass this bill. It really saddens me to see the way this state is going. GOV LYNCH if you're reading this...PLEASE do the Biblical thing here 'VETO'VETO 'VETO' this bill!!

Please DO THE RIGHT THING for us all for a change... If not you too will also answer for the choices you make as a Government Official for our state.
- Debby, Manchester NH

Amy Wright of Concord said she is already married, in her mind, to her female partner of nine years. She's waiting for state law to catch up to her.
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HEY AMY,

It is all about the "BIBLE" and you and your friend need to understand that. The BIBLE state this is wrong. I believe GOD wrote those instruction for us for a reason.and he will never agree this is right! ' 'God' does NOT change his mind and he will NEVER except this sort of behavior!!!!!!!!It's called an abomination.


I really hope and pray that Gov Lynch does not sign this bill and veto's it. Let this State stand by it's morals for a change and STOP trying to follow suit with the rest of the world. DO THE RIGHT THING GOV..FOR ALL OUR SAKES.
- Connie, Concord NH

"Best"?

We decide what relationships are "best" by declaring it through legislation?

I am a happily married monogamous Christian. My faith teaches that homosexuality is wrong, but so is gluttony. I don't see anyone calling to outlaw the "immorality" of all-you-can-eat buffets.

The more important point is that government should not be involved in marriage at all. Whether marriage is religious oath or a civil commitment, it isn't a criminal matter. Government should never be in the business of legislating whose religious oaths are legitimate, nor whose civil contracts are valid.

Anyone who disagrees should produce their government-issued Baptismal License, or Permit to Preach, or Certificate of Salvation. If you don't think any of these things should be subject to government approval, then why do you believe the sanctity of marriage is different?

Speaking of "sanctity of marriage", it comes up often in these discussions. To "sanctify" means to "make holy". Does a government permit make something holy? Of course not.

"Give unto God what is God's, and unto Caesar what is Caesar's." Don't give Caesar power over what rightly belongs to God.
- Kevin, Lancaster

Religious opponents of gay marriage are absolutely insane. We need to remove their arguments from every gay marriage debate because they are flamboyantly ignorant, and not a valid point of view.

We need to float a constitutional amendment to ban anti-gay marriage proponents from marriage, and treat them to their own brand of poison.

As for Mr. Lynch, he is so wrong, and completely out of touch with his state.
- FlexSF, San Francisco

I find it sad that our governor will not stand up for what's right. Allowing civil unions but not marriage between a same sex couple is discriminatory and unfair. There is no reason to deny couples equal treatment simply because they love someone of the same sex.

To hide behind religion or tradition is a copp out. Stop hiding behind your bible. It's a poor excuse to discriminate and hate people. Allowing same sex marriage will not end the world as we know it. Instead of breeding hate, lets foster tolerance and acceptance of those that are different than you.

Instead of complaining about gay marriage, people need to put their time and energy into doing something productive to improve the world instead of discriminate and spread hatred. I'm sure you all have something better you could be doing than focusing on that would actually have a positve impact on the world.

It's people like Robert Goodwin that are the problem in the world - "It's time for the men to put their pants back on, and women to put their dresses on the way it was meant to be". Really?!?! Is that really how it's meant to be? Or is that your sexist way of thinking you are superior to women? Your mother must be proud. I'd like to see you do a mothers job for a day.
- Shawna, Manchester

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"N.H. Senate panel rejects transgender bill"
By Norma Love, Associated Press, April 24, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. - Former corrections officer Toni Maviki choked on her words as she described being pummeled against a concrete wall by a fellow guard who learned she was transitioning from being a man to being a woman.

The 52-year-old from Danbury filed complaints that led to further harassment until finally quitting her job, she testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday on legislation to extend antidiscrimination law protections to transgender people.

But the committee was not swayed by her story or others. After a three-hour hearing, the committee voted 5 to 0 to recommend killing the bill.

The full Senate could vote on it as early as next week. Unanimous committee recommendations are difficult, though not impossible, to overturn on the floor.

Maviki gave a vivid account of the harassment she endured, and wondered aloud who was protecting her rights.

"They snapped rubber bands against my breasts," Maviki testified of her treatment by other guards. "I was kicked. I carried a badge, and I protected all you people, and there was no law to protect me from harm."

Republicans had labeled it the "bathroom bill," based on the argument it would open all bathrooms to both men and women. Republicans said women and children would be put at risk if men came into women's restrooms.

Ann Marie Banfield of Bedford testified she was angry that lawmakers would consider protecting potential predators from walking into women's locker rooms or bathrooms.

"I am here as a woman fighting for my privacy rights,' she said. "Where are my rights? Where are my daughter's rights?"

Shannon McGinley of Bedford said sex is a biological fact, not a state of mind. "A man is a man, and a closet full of dresses does not change that," she said.

Supporters said opponents were attempting to paint a straightforward antidiscrimination bill as something it is not. They said it would protect a vulnerable group who identify with the gender opposite of their birth.

"We don't go to the bathroom to attack people," said Maviki, who now works for law enforcement as a woman in Vermont.

The bill would add "gender identity or expression" to the state's laws prohibiting discrimination because of age, sex, race, color, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, or physical or mental disability, religious creed, or national origin.

During the committee's deliberations, Senator Robert Letourneau, Republican of Derry, said the bill was too broad and could have unintended consequences.

Other committee members said the state's Human Rights Commission should be able to handle complaints filed by transgender individuals.

Senate Judiciary chairwoman Deborah Reynolds of Plymouth, a former commission member, acknowledged that the law is not clear, but supported the recommendation to kill the bill.

Governor John Lynch has also questioned whether existing laws are adequate.

Thirteen states, the District of Columbia, and 93 cities and counties have laws banning discrimination on transgender status, according to the Transgender Law Policy Institute.

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"N.H. set to OK same-sex marriage: Lynch to sign bill if religious groups gain protections"
By Eric Moskowitz, Boston Globe Staff, May 15, 2009

Governor John Lynch, appearing to pave the way for same-sex marriages in New Hampshire, announced yesterday that he would sign a bill legalizing the unions as long as the state Legislature made it clearer that religious groups would not be forced to conduct "marriage ceremonies that violate their fundamental religious beliefs."

Lynch's announcement sets New Hampshire, once viewed as a conservative enclave in a liberal region, on course to become the sixth state in the country - and the fourth in the last six weeks - to allow same-sex couples to marry. It would leave Rhode Island as the sole New England state to prohibit gay marriage.

Lynch, a Democrat, had loomed as a possible obstacle in New Hampshire. The governor had supported civil unions but consistently opposed gay marriage. But his thinking changed, he said yesterday.

"Throughout our history, our society's views of civil rights have constantly evolved and expanded," Lynch said in a nearly 600-word statement. He cited New Hampshire's tradition of landing "on the side of individual liberties and protections," adding, "That is what I believe we must do today."

While Lynch warned he would veto the bill if lawmakers do not add his language to the legislation, activists and politicians on both sides of the issue said they viewed Lynch's proposed language as a subtle, technical adjustment, making legalization of same-sex marriage in New Hampshire all but a done deal. The Senate president and House speaker announced quickly that they thought the changes would be made.

"I applaud the governor for keeping an open mind," Senate president Sylvia Larsen said in an interview last night. "The language that we will be addressing only improves the protections for religious organizations and individuals."

Representative James Splaine, the primary sponsor of the same-sex marriage legislation, said: "We can find a way to do that in the next week or two, and then we'll have marriage equality."

Amid the accolades for Lynch, there was sharp criticism for his change of heart on the issue. Kevin H. Smith, who led the in-state campaign against the bill as executive director of Cornerstone Policy Research, said Lynch had "broken his trust with New Hampshire voters."

John Sununu, former governor and current head of the state's Republican Party, said Lynch had "wiggled out of his commitment to traditional marriage."

Lynch made his announcement amid a flurry of gains for same-sex marriage in the region. Last month, Vermont lawmakers overrode a governor's veto to legalize gay marriage; last week, Governor John E. Baldacci of Maine signed a similar bill after it passed his state's Legislature.

The laws take effect Sept. 1 in Vermont and in mid-September in Maine, though conservative groups there are trying to collect 55,000 signatures in three months to challenge the law at the polls.

The bill progressing in New Hampshire would allow same-sex couples to marry starting Jan. 1, 2010.

"We are further than we ever thought we would be at this point," said Janson Wu, a staff attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Boston-based advocacy group that has pushed for three decades to end discrimination against gays and lesbians. "It's really exciting."

The group's lawyers waged the court cases that led to gay marriage in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and its staff has worked to build support across the region. Last fall, the organization announced a campaign to legalize same-sex marriage throughout New England by 2012.

What had seemed to be an optimistic goal is now almost complete. The organization will now turn its attention toward Rhode Island.

When Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004, New Hampshire seemed unlikely to follow, even with its "Live Free or Die" motto and history of individual liberty. Republicans had enjoyed virtually uninterrupted control of both houses of the Legislature since the late 19th century.

But in 2006, the same Granite State voters who unseated a pair of GOP congressmen amid rising unpopularity for the Iraq war and the presidency of George W. Bush, also swept Democratic majorities into the State House. A few months later, the new Legislature approved civil unions.

Two weeks ago, when the New Hampshire House approved gay marriage by a 186-to-179 vote, Lynch reiterated his position that civil unions were best for the state. The bill appeared to falter in the Senate, but lawmakers crafted an amendment to protect religious freedom. That version won the support of 13 of 14 Democrats but none of the Republican senators, for a 13-11 tally.

Lynch built on the Senate amendment in proposing his wording, which stresses that religious groups would not need to marry gay couples or otherwise acknowledge their unions.

Smith, who opposed the bill, said that wording was merely cover for politicians to reverse their position.

"The folks who [they are] claiming to be protecting in this bill are already protected in the First Amendment by the freedom of religion," he said. "The folks who are not protected are your individual business owners, caterers, photographers, who now will be forced to provide these services for same-sex weddings."

Beyond New England, Iowa is the only state in which gay couples are allowed to marry, the result of a court ruling there last month. California previously issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples but ceased doing so after voters passed Proposition 8 last year.

Opponents of gay marriages say that their hopes for preserving marriage as the domain of heterosexual couples only lie with voters.

"Every time the citizens are allowed to vote, even in California, citizens vote for marriage to mean the union between one man and one woman," said Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute. A majority of the public recognizes "that the primary role of marriage is children," he said. "It takes a father and mother to create a child, and every child has an inalienable right to be raised by a father and mother."

Splaine said New Hampshire's politicians have reflected the public will. Politicians, he said, have been driven by personal stories and a critical mass of openness, acceptance, and demystification.

"Harvey Milk's advice in 1978 - 'Come out, come out, wherever you are' - was an important message," said Splaine, who came out as a gay lawmaker in 1980. "When people see that we're their friends, their co-workers, their family members, it becomes much more difficult for people to discriminate."
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www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2009/HB0436.html
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"Same-sex marriage becomes law in NH"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Concord – Gay marriage legislation became law in New Hampshire this afternoon (6/3/2009).

Gov. John Lynch signed the bills just after 5:20 p.m. before dozens of enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage.

New Hampshire's law takes effect Jan. 1, 2010.

HB 73, compromise legislation demanded by the governor, was passed by a vote of 14-10 in the Senate and 198-176 in the House today. HB 73 (text), was an add-on to the gay marriage bill itself, HB 436 (text), and to HB 310 (text), which made technical changes to the main bill.

HB 73 clarifies the rights of religious organizations and their employees to refuse to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies or celebrations. It states that religious groups have exclusive control over doctrine, teaching and beliefs on who can marry within theirfaiths.

The House refused to go along with the Lynch language protecting religion two weeks ago, failing to pass the measure by a single vote.

Some who voted against it at the time said the House was being asked to agree to changes without being given enough time to examine them.

House opponents aired the same complaints today, but the tide had shifted.

"The House has always taken the time to consider the unintended consequences of any bill," said Rep. Betsey Patten, R-Moultonborough.

Supporters of the bill said the new language protects religious beliefs and individual rights.

"Let's vote this one last time. Church and state should be separate," said Rep. Anthony DiFruscia, R-Windham, who helped craft the final compromise language.

In the Senate, Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Deborah Reynolds, D-Plymouth, said the language in the amendment strikes a balance that provides "equal rights for all and the right to religious freedom."

Minority Leader Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, criticized Democrats for removing Sen. Sheila Roberge, R-Bedford, from the committee of conference when she refused to consent to compromise language.

Reynolds said the practice has been used by Senate presidents going backto 1992.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont and Iowa already allow gay marriage, though Maine opponents hope to overturn that state's law with a public vote.

California briefly allowed gay marriage before a public vote banned it; a court ruling grandfathered in couples who were already married.

READERS' COMMENTS:

I am a young lesbian woman and I am disgusted by some of the comments I've seen on this board. It amazes me that after how far this country has come towards equal protections for all citizens, there are still so many hateful people out there. For those of you who obviously don't know many/any gay people...let me help to set the record straight. What gay marriage means to me is the ability to have my loving relationship with my partner recognized and protected by the laws afforded to me by the state of NH. I don't want to infringe on anyones heterosexual marriages, or jump in the sack with a dog...(come on, I mean really!!??) I just want equal protection! My sexual orientation doesn't change who I am as a person nor did it alter my Christian beliefs and values. I don't understand why I should be treated like a second class citizen soley based on the person I fall in love with.

For those that argue that gays had civil unions, why not leave it at that? That's like saying African Americans should be happy using a separate water fountain and attending different schools than white children. What's the problem with that? I mean they can still still use a water fountain and go to school, they just can't do it with white people. It's absolutely absurd and looking back on all our country's civil rights issues we should see that gay marriage is really about equality and will not hurt anyone's exisiting rights.

So bring on your negative comments and your Constitutional amendment initiatives. But for me, I'm just going to enjoy this moment with the knowledge that I live in a state that cares about all it's citizens. Thank you NH. I'm glad I could witness history.
- Nicole, Hampstead

This is great!! my girlfrinds and i want to get married and we were planning to go to MASS and do it, but apparently we dont have to!

I dont understand how this is so wrong to some people. If two people ar ein love, then shouldnt they have the right to get married, even if they are the same-sex?

Bob in Hudson...here is what I have to say to you: is this going to hurt you? I dont think so...in my say, this is a good thing because it shows that NH and all the other states that have passed the SSM bill care about what others think and how they feel.

I am proud to say that I am bisexual and my girlfriend and I are going to get married within the next few years, and if ytou dont like it thats fine by me because we dont need your aprooval to be happy!!
- Bridget, Raymond

Now I can no longer feel smug about having moved to Mass. I'm proud that my home state of NH has done the right thing! I believe that no one has the right to tell someone else who they can marry. Civil rights are not to be voted on. I doubt that the voters of Little Rock, AR would have held up desegregation, but they would have been wrong. I just don't understand what kind of busybodies care what other people do with their own lives, anyway.
- Eve, Somerville, MA

Hey JP in Bedford,

I'm well aware that gays and lesbians can adopt and foster kids in NH, I never said they couldn't. My point is that I don't want the next generation of kids thinking it's OK and doing the same things. I'm sure it still won't affect my life but it will affect the generations to come when less and less children are born and the culture cannot thrive.

Understand now Spanky?
- Reid, Hooksett

Six down, forty-four to go!

As a mother of two youngsters, I'm so proud to live in this state. I'm also very impressed with Governor Lynch. While he personally does not 'believe' in same-sex marriage, he still supported civil rights. One clip of him I saw on WMUR showed him signing the bill and handing the paper to someone with a very stiff, awkward smile on his face. All the more reason to be impressed--he did the right thing though he can't personally reconcile it to his own beliefs. THAT, my friends, is a consummate professional.

Civil rights are not something to put up for a vote. One thing I've heard bandied about is the possibility that narrow minded folks bent on forcing their religious beliefs on the rest of us here in NH, are looking to add non-binding referenda on local and county ballots to 'define' marriage as hetero-only. If that's the case, then here's one hetero mom who's going to go toe-to-toe with any hate group looking to remove civil rights from our state's citizens.

One other comment---unlike VT, couples who have already obtained a civil union can go ahead on Jan. 1, and apply to have the union transitioned to a marriage--with NO FEE! That's the stuff, NH! I'm very proud.
- Margaret B, Rindge

Here's an idea:

Stop being selective about who gets what rights. You can't just say well this person can have this rights, but no one else.

When we're children, if we're raised right, we're taught to treat everyone equally. Why should we stop as we get older?

Bigots and racists are disgusting people who are incredibly intolerant...oh wait I think I've seen this EXACT thing somewhere before. IT WAS CALLED THE HOLOCAUST.

Just because someone doesn't live up to your standards does NOT mean they shouldn't have the same rights.

So get your head out of your rears, stop acting like bigots and move forward or move out.
- Megan, Plymouth

I have a fairly simple solution. I think that all unions, be it man/woman, man/man or woman/woman, should from the state and federal view to be nothing more than civil unions or domestic partnerships. I think that if the hullabaloo is about what "marriage" is defined as based on your religious reasons just remove the word marriage from all government documents. Let individual religious organizations decide if they want to confer the status of married under god (whichever one they expouse) to any particular type of couple.
- Ed, Bourne, MA

Hooray! True conservatism (less government involvement in citizen's personal lives) have been supported with this vote! I am heterosexual and am happy to see equal rights upheld. Human rights do have precedence over the religious/personal beliefs. It is these rights that allow each of us to have and express our beliefs.

The vote is over. It is time to move past the debate about whether or not equal rights should be "given" to law-abiding, tax-paying folks and return to the more important business of getting the economy back in order.
- Paul, Manchester, NH

I've been sitting here for probably 20 minutes now reading as many of these comments as I can, should be working on other things, but I just have to say. I have heard absolutely no convincing arguments about what is wrong with this.

1) The term 'marriage' lost all of it's traditional meaning years ago when the divorce rate shot to 50% and every celebrity that could got a quickie marriage and an even quicker divorce.

2) There were several comments comparing gay marriage to polygamy, marrying pets, or siblings. I wonder if any of these comments are married, or even just dating someone. How would you feel if I compared you spouse/significant other to a dog, a sibling, or several people instead of just one?

3) What is there to be embarrassed about exactly? If you don't like gay marriages, don't attend them. The law specifically states that churches or other places of worship will not be forced to marry anyone they do not want to marry. I wonder if any of those that claim embarrassment for NH actually know any gay people. Or have even spoken to any. They're people just like you. They do embarrassing things, sure, but so do you. It's part of being human. The idea of being embarrassed for a state is just ridiculous.

4) Gay marriage is legal in my home state of CT because our state courts came to the decision that civil union is less than, and not equal to marriage. A very sound legal precedent.

5) This law makes me think three things:
-'all people are created equal'
-'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'
-'live free or die'

44 more states to go until civil rights for all.
- Dallas, West Hartford, CT

Yee-Hah! I can't wait for the Gay parades down Elm St.! These notoriously licentious exhibitions, with sexually-provocative behavior and a serious lack of clothing is just an "alternative" to the normal, family-friendly or- GASP!- heterosexual parades, right?

That's what you get. Thanks, Lynch.

I do not care where anyone chooses to bump their uglies. Gays and lesbians have had the "civil rights" option of a legal Civil Union here in NH for years. But no- now it seems that is not good enough (as others warned us way back when, talk about a "slippery slope"! You were WARNED!!!) now it HAS to be the word "Marriage."

Well, guess what? You all just lost 22 previous supporters/voters in my family.

We are all for civil rights and the option to be wed to whichever non-related adult one likes in a Civil Union, but to then go for the brass ring- to legally re-define the word "Marriage"- is totally inappropriate!

We voters were assured years back that this would not happen. That a "Civil Union" would be enough for you. Obviously, you can't be trusted.

I am an atheist, and so I am not harmed by this decision on a religious basis. But my children will now be flooded with more of the "Two Mommies" or "Two Daddies" crap that has been flooding our public schools for the past 4 years.

Go ahead and celebrate with your "Wahoooo's" in this comment section, if it makes you feel good. Just remember this feeling, when other rights are taken away from you in three months' time. You'll know what I mean. Please copy this post and get back to me in September.
- Leslie, Manchester

I was watching a shopw about Jackie Robinson a few months ago, and my son, who is five, asked me who this man was. I had to try and explain the policies of segregation and inequality, which blew is mind. He couldn't fathom why people would be denied rights like that.

I think 30 years from now, my grandson will be equally amazed when my son tries to explain to him that this country used to deny a portion of society the right to be happily married.

Equal Rights- it's something even a 5 year old can understand is the right thing to do.
- Justin, Rochester

Despite the fact that none of my own elected reps voted for the bill (how enlightened, these GOP stalwarts), I'm thrilled that New Hampshire's government reps have taken such a stand. Bonds between two adults, gay or straight, have been the cornerstone of civilization for centuries.

In the end, gay marriage won't bring the heavens crashing down on us. It won't open the door for legalized pedophilia, bigamy or bestiality as the religious right have claimed. Certifying this legally signifies our state's commitment to legal protections for all citizens, not just heterosexuals. For that, I am proud.
- Randy, Londonderry, MH

It still amazes me how close-minded and ignorant some people are in this day and age.

Those of you with kids that are complaining you're going to pull up your stakes after your kids graduate - good. I am a gay male, and I don't have kids in the school system, yet, the money that comes out of my pocket, to pay my taxes, that go towards the school system to help pay the expenses for your kids to attend, will not longer support your kids, or your inherent ignorance. Have a nice day and a safe move!
- Rob, Manchester

I think this is crazy. Why do we have the right to decide who another person can love or marry. I am a straight woman but I don't think I or anyone has the right to choose for another person. Honestly, who are they hurting? Certainly not any of you.
- Karen, Allenstown

This is a loss for what NH was and represented what it has become. The "progressives" or the soccer mom well to do legislators, have no value for tradition and independence. NH asserted our independence by providing for civil unions early which I applauded. If there was a problem with the civil union legislation it should have been corrected, co-opting the definition of marriage was not the answer. Lynch and others who approved this change will not get my vote, its just that simple.
- Mike, Newmarket

Lynch lost the trust of New Hampshire and will thrown out of office next year. Absolutely disgusted!!! The movement to pass a constitutional amendment to proclaim Marriage is between and man and a woman begins today.
- Jack Truman, Middlton

After living in this state for 45 years, I will have to say that I am ashamed to admit that I live in New Hampshire!!

As soon as the kids are out of the school system, I'm selling the house, pulling up my stakes and leaving this state for good. The Democrats have ruined New Hampshire beyond repair.
- Larry, Nashua

As an openly gay male I think I have a valid reason to make a point on this topic. I am a firm believer as I have been since I was 18 that church and state needs to be seperate at all levels. Born and raised a catholic, I believe marriage is a religious institution. So if you want to be married, do it in a church. A civil union is a goverment union to protact anyone, in this case same sex, on a legal level. I am firm believer you should have to apply for a civl union no matter who marries, man and woman, man and man , or woman and woman in the eyes of the state. That makes it legal, and if you are doing it in a church, or with a religious person officiating , they whip out a marriage certificate. I was happy with civil unions, except I could not change my last name. Marriage for me gives me what a civil union does not. A chance to truly start a whole new life and give our kids somthing they have never had, a family.
- Laurence McGrath, Franklin, NH

I see this as a victory for true conservatism, which is suffering in this country precisely because it isn't conservative.

Conservatism to me with respect to government means, the less government in our business, the better. Don't take and spend so much of our money, and don't tell us what we can and cannot do -- within reasonable bounds, of course, which is why this law doesn't change the fact that incest, polygamy and underage marriage still aren't legal and shouldn't be.

What we've had instead is that conservatism has come to mean, still spend a lot of money but in *their* ways, and still use government to advance a primarily religious agenda.

I applaud the Senate, Legislature and Governor for finally bringing this law to pass. Now let's move on and bring the cost of government down too. Letting people keep more of their hard-earned money will have a bigger impact on quality of life than almost anything else.
- Larry, Manchester

There are those that support, those that oppose and those that just don't care about this new law.

A Google search of New Hampshire House and New Hampshire Senate will lead you to a roll call of how your representative voted on HB73.

There is one way to send a message to elected officials that do not reflect your views or the views of the majority of the people - vote them out in the next election!
- Don, Berlin

Can we start a petition to stop this before Jan 2010? Anyone know how to get one started? Maine is trying.
- Ron, Litchfield

I just hope none of the negative posters on here are divorced. Because then they would be hypocrites because that would be defiling the oath that they took when they got married and take away the sacredness of it. Personally this does not affect me at all. I think it might even be a boost for the economy.
- Cecil, Manchester

I don't recall getting to vote on this.
Regardless of where anyone stands on this, the public official who was voted into office, did not stand by their election platform. Where do we go from here?

Too little too late at the next election.
I am regularly ashamed by the lack of fortitude/commitment by our "elected officials. How does anyone explain to our children (our future) how government is supposed to work?
- Holly, Manchester NH

How bizarre to see self-styled 'conservatives' arguing against the expansion of civil rights and away from government control of people's private affairs.

Or, in a similar vein, to hear these same folk claiming this is bringing about the demise of New Hampshire - the very bastion of personal liberty.

Congratulations to the Legislature and the Governor! You've lived up to the state motto and protected the rights of the religious folk too - though some don't seem to realise it yet, perhaps in time they will.
- tom, Candia

Changing the definition of a word does nothing to change the eternal truth. I'll stick with the eternal truth.
- Peter, Hookset

I Support Gay Marriage!
It's a great day for NH!
- Kevin, Mancheser

Hey Reid,

Gay and lesbian couples have long been approved to adopt and foster children in NH. Apparently it has so affected your life that you never even noticed. The world didn't end and it won't now. Equality for all!!!!
- JP, Bedford

To Kirk in Raymond:
You said: "One of you conservatives need to explain to me exactly how two guys getting married does you any harm. In the final analysis, a marriage contract is nothing more than an agreement to share debts and assets. What's the big deal?"

Here ya go. Somebody killing someone else doesn't harm me either, but I don't like to see it happen. A child molester defiling an innocent child doesn't harm me, but it enrages me. A goofball beating a dog doesn't harm me, does it harm you? Then why would you oppose it? Gays had Civil Unions!
- DF, Candia

Seems the vast majority of comments, both for and against gay marriage, underscore the divisive nature of public discourse today and the penchant for personal attack, instead of reflecting an effort, or even an interest, in understanding and discussing different viewpoints. I do not believe sexual orientation is a choice. Do heterosexuals freely choose their sexual orientation? No. I am a heterosexual, and I know my orientation was not a choice. I think those who oppose gay marriage are concerned about, and--in many cases--afraid of the affect it may have on our culture and our children. There is a lot of fear on the part of opponents. Instead of attacking or insulting opponents, the supporters of gay marriage should first seek to understand, and then respond appropriately. Same for the opponents; they should look inward and examine their own beliefs and feelings. Only then can honest, meaningful dialogue take place. Otherwise we're left with people just sounding off. Although I support traditional marriage, I don't oppose gay marriage. I think Gov. Lynch got it right.
- John, Manchester

It's a real shame that the people were denied a voice in this process. Governor Lynch lied and the people will not forget.
- John, Newmarket

Hey, Gays have the right to miserable too!
- MIke Johnson, Manchester NH

I'm proud to live in a state that stands for equality. Thank you to Gov. Lynch and all the good Legislators who voted for equal marriage rights.
- Wayne, Warner

Marriage is far more than two individuals in love who desire to commit their lives to only one another. Legally, that is done by a civil union. Marriage, by definition, is a covenant-a sacred promise between a man and a woman that brings with it the openess to the creation of new life, perfectly provided for biologically, with the blessings of children. Every human person deserves a mother and a father who possess such a covenant freely chosen. This insures the likelihood of joy and security for each new member of the human family.

Instead of choosing to redefine what a marriage is, let us instead act honestly and call our invention by an original term. Let's hold the integrity to live honestly and not seek to imitate what a marriage is by definition. Marriage, a transcendent joining of a man and a woman. is the perfectly designed haven for the creation of family and has been so since the beginning of recorded history-cross-culturally.

If ones goal is to achieve a sense of unconditonal love, belonging and acceptance with another for the rest of this life and share that with someone else, it will not be legitimately achieved by calling a same-sex union a "marriage." It is simply ill-defined.
- R.R., Hopkinton

I recall one day years ago seeing Mother Theresa on TV. She surprised me by saying the world's greatest problem was not poverty, it was loneliness. That comment struck me then and has proven correct, in my mind, over time.

This law directly addresses her concern, so I think it's a good thing, also perfectly Constitutional, and repositions the moral high ground to the middle where it belongs. We have a very wise Gov Lynch.
- Gary G., Manchester

Live Free or Die, indeed. Bravo NH!
- Ben, Manchester

Brian, Farmington

Calm down son, you sound like you need a girlfriend, or "significant other."

Anyway the, "...fools who say it's nobody's busy who marries who..," like me, would inform you this law pertains to adults over the age of consent, not the nonsense relationships you babble about.

I can see this is killing the koolaid and baloney crowd, but you should save your outrage for things that affect YOUR life. The majority wanted this to pass.
- Louise, Bedford

A couple of things...

First, to all the Kumbaya-singing loons who act as if they've acheived something momentous, you may have "won" this fight, but the real losers will be those in the state government who voted this into law. It starts with the paper Governor and will extend to each and every state Sentator and Rep who voted for it. They may not want to put gay "marriage" on the ballot for all voters to decide on, but rest assured, the voters will have their say once election day arrives and these same people find themselves out of office.

Secondly, lets take a cultural long-term look at the issue. Do we want these gay couples to adopt children and expose them to their aberrant lifestyle? Or, do we want more gay couples marrying with no chance at procreation, thereby decreasing the possibilities of our culture continuing?

Either way, thanks NH government for all the hard work. Maybe now you can find the time to change the name of Twin Mountain to "Brokeback Mountain."
- Reid, Hooksett

I don't hear you people who are calling for the people to vote calling for a vote on heterosexual marriage. Let's put it on the ballot. Let's also put divorce on the ballot.
- David, Salem

All the reasons cited by these haters are all STUPID.

First, how can you guarantee that gay marriage will lead to sibling marriage and polygamy? What's the logic behind your reasoning?

If it's the fact that a good number of people have just received equal rights and other "weirder" rights must follow, did interracial marriage lead to any sibling marriage, polygamy, or animal marriage? NO.

Second, why did democracy get tainted by the Congress' decision? They did not take any power from the people or from your so called democracy. In the first place, we voted for them to REPRESENT US and our VIEWS. That's why America has a representative type of democracy, not direct. If it was direct, all the laws passed by the federal government MUST be VOTED upon by each and everyone of us...then that's going to be much chaos.

What kind of idiots are you guys? Admit it! The image of two men, fondling each other, making out and touching each other just DISGUSTS you! This is why you use even the stupidest reasons just to HIDE your bigotry and hatred.

Well, IN YOUR FACE...SAME SEX MARRIAGE is NOW Legal in NH..HAHA!

Cry me a river!

And just what many of you told gay californians when Prop 8 passed.

A Yes is a YES. Move somewhere else if you don't agree. Right back at yah.
- Angeli, Manchester

That was my last vote for Lying Lynch. He should be ashamed. I think I can hear the old man of the mountain crying. What a sad day for NH.
- Kathy, Lebanon

This is a great day for New Hampshire!

To those opposed, mind your own business! No one is forcing you to marry someone of the same sex. There is no reason to go out of your way to promote hate! I dare you to find one reason that this will personally affect you!

To everyone who fought to make this possible-- congratulations! You did it!
- Jessica, Derry

I've never been threatened by homosexuality, live and let live I say. I'm glad to see people that love each other can legally express it here in NH. I remember when this was first reported on here, people said it would never happen it would never pass. I'm glad to see those fools proven wrong. Now it's time to pass a medical marijuana law (another law the brain donors that post here said will never pass). Live free or die NH. Job well done!
- Bill, Andover

Can we all agree to discuss this issue without using the "slippery slope" argument - widely recognized as a vapid and unimpressive reasoning in any context? You show you're intellectual limitations when you do so.

Discuss the debate at hand - leave future discussions for the future.
- James L. Booker, Brookline, NH

Ah, the sweet sound of Republicans whining that their increasingly-unpopular views aren't being respected. The same screams of "This will doom the Democrats!" were heard back when they passed civil unions, remember? Ultimately no one is harmed by marriage equality, and anyone who's enough of a kook to base their vote on that wasn't voting for anyone less right-wing than Mussolini anyhow. Good show, Governor Lynch!
- Peter, Canterbury

It will pain me to mark 'regrets' on the invitation to every gay weddings I'm invited to for the rest of my life but I'm sure they will understand because they're tolerant and accepting of others' viewpoints, right? (That's some heavy sarcasm in case you missed it). All discrimination ended when they won civil unions but nooooo, they just HAD to demand the word marriage and really rub their lifestyle in our faces. Disgusting. And I was perfectly OK with civil unions too. Celebrate today, but be prepared for some serious voter backlash.
- Joe v., Nashua

We got married in Worcester 11/25/05.
We have lived together(mostly in NH) for the last 24 years. I am a NH native. We are moving back to the Granite State in a couple of weeks. this is better than an apple pie or a box of whoopie pies as a gift to us. To re-hash the Shaw Bros from Dovah: When the first rays of the sun shine upon Mt Washington, I know how it feels to be New Hampshire high. I love New Hampshire naturally. Thank you, Governor Lynch, kind sir. peace
- bradley, jefferson, ma

Judges 21:25 says "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did what was right in his own eyes." Throughout the millenia, marriage has been a religious issue, separation of church and state should favor keeping it out of our laws, not demanding me as a pastor honoring gay marriage. The state can make civil unions because that truly is a state's issue. Marriage is far more than a contract, and shame on the USA for reducing it to that point.

We have a weak king who has decided to allow every man in the house and senate to do what is right in their own eyes. If you want God's blessings, quit mocking God's laws.
- George Barbour, Newbury

I'm so proud that people are open minded enough to have passed this law. I'm straight, but I think that any couple who loves each other should have the same rights I do.

For all you people who are saying this is ridiculous and are disgusted, here's an idea, move to a state that doesn't allow gay marriage, or...DON'T MARRY A MEMBER OF THE SAME SEX. No one's forcing you to marry someone of the same gender. If you don't like it, look away or don't do it. Let people live their own lives. No one comes and tells you sitting on your porch, drinking beers & being racist or homophobic is against the law.

Interesting how I never homosexual couples in the news for abusing their children or running meth labs in their houses...they're all "normal" male-female married couples. Hmm.
- Tara, Manchester

Does this mean I will no longer be forced to watch the lady with the man's voice hugging her "partner" who has a moustache followed by the two guys with ponytails telling me how much they love each other every night on channel 9? Yes? Ya baby ! Woot Woot .. Now that the legislature has lured these unsuspecting victims to the altar, how about raising the marriage license fee to $1,000 dollars. What the heck, the democrats/communists who are running NH have raised every other fee.
- tom, manchester,nh

Hey N.H. all I can say is that my prayers for you were answered. Yeah and Congratulations! I prayed so hard lately that New Hampshire would let all of it's people be able to live free.
- Jeff, Sandown, NH

Hey Marc in Weare: Oh boo hoo. Tell me exactly how this is discriminatory against you. You can still do exactly as you want can't you. I'm sorry that your party has gone from the pinnacle of power to the depths of insignificance so quickly. Maybe you and your conservative buddies shoyuld look at that huh?
- Cathy, Littleton

Congratulations to NH on such a bold and progressive step.

That said, the Lynch amendment is redundant and a bit insulting. The First Amendment prevents the government from forcing religions to recognize or perform any form of marriage, so specifically highlighting gay marriage is superfluous and shows a desire to discriminate.

Otherwise, if this is what it takes to get enough votes, so be it.
- AxelDC, Montreal, QC

if you deny people basic human rights, you write them off as something less than human.
- jeff, pelham

This is a sad day for N.H.
If the reports that most N.H. residents oppose this same sex marriage then now is the time to organize to remove Pinocchio Lynch and every Democrat and REPUBLICAN who voted to pass this terrible legislation. And let us research which Republicans kept missing the votes on this bill - and call them out on it - and maybe - throw them out!
I for one will NOT support any Republican who voted in the majority.
And watch for phonies (headline seekers that they are) who like to grab headlines that they ARE going to do something about gay marriage the way they promised to do something about “civil unions". How many residents of DiFruscia’s district have had it with him? Next election: get rid of him!
Bob from Hudson: if you truly did vote for Lynch then do not pretend to be a conservative.
bnyoung@metrocast.net
- Niel Young, Laconia

To all those whining about how this should have been up to a public vote, can you guess what the public opinion of interracial marriage was in 1967 (Hint: 70% against)? Part of the reason we have Constitutions and courts is to protect the rights of the minority FROM the majority. Are you going to claim that the majority has always been right throughout history? The people that WE DID vote for did the very thing that should have been done, and did not submit to populism, a populism which, by the way, is not currently reflected in public opinion polls of our own state.

Congratulations to my state for standing up for it's ideals and motto. I'm proud to continue to live in a state that is a pioneer in individual rights.

Live free or die!
- Luke, Concord

It's sad to me to see all the people who cheer this on. If this argument was only about equal rights why is a civil union not good enough its about trying to litigate our churches out of existance. Once churches deny to marry a gay couple or they hold a sermon on how gay is an abomination to our Lord then they will be sued if you really cared about separation of church and state you would be intellectually honest enough to see this hipocracy and that it will lead to gov. controlling church speech so thank you for promoting the fascist government that should be altogether out of our bedrooms and personal lives.
- Dan Cameron, Londonderry, nh

Brian from Farmington:---

"We might as well go all the way and legalize recreational sex for everyone."

Um, other than age of consent laws, it already is legal for everyone. You thought it wasn't? What alternate reality are you living in, Brian?
- Jeremy J. Olson, Grafton

Hurray for New Hampshire. Who would have thought it would be even more progressive than California. I'm very proud to be from New Hampshire.
- Sean, Dublin, CA

Marriage is now meaningless in the Granite State. It's only a matter of time before other special interest groups argue for their "rights", and the precedent set here will allow them to get their way. Want to marry two women? Sure. Ten men? Okay! Want to marry yourself? Why not, can't discriminate.

Shame on you Lynch. I doubt the greater part of the population supports this. This is but another failure of our representatives to represent the will of the people.
- Alex, Nashua

Yes, Alex. When they remove the biological base of marriage -- two people of opposite gender -- marriage is an arbitrary, meaningless term that will flap in the wind. Two men or two women together aren't the same as marriage, there is no discrimination -- it just isn't the same and hasn't been for thousands of years.
Sit tight -- Just like California, it will all be different in a couple of years.
- Maureen, Hollis

Congratulations, liberals and liberaltarians, you have destroyed the plain meaning of the word "marriage." It now means whatever an active, well-funded minority says it means and can force onto a gullible legislature afraid of being called "bigots."

Is it still legal to oppose the Leftist gay agenda? Will I be fined for posting this? Will the UL even post it? Or will I be accused of a "hate crime" for standing with 5,000 years of history?

Oh, and Gov. Lynch broke a promise today. He's toast in 2010.
- James, Manchester

Governor Lynch supports individual rights and freedom. He has done the right thing.

What a great Governor!
- Bob Jean, Northwood, NH

Governor "Flinch" is a spineless, fence riding, coward who has no leadership abilities. He needs to be voted OUT along with all of these other liberals and RINO's in the next election. A very sad day for society and NH.
- Brian, Londonderry

Who cares! This feel good law still doesnt fix the state economy, and fill the half a billion dollar hole that Lynch and his Democrats put us in.
- Alex K., Deering, NH

I'm now ashamed to be a Democrat!
- Ralph, Hudson

THe Governor has shown true followship not leadership and I'm sorry I voted for him. If someone can't stand by his principles he deserves to be voted out of office.
This is not religion, church and state, but biological fact -- Marriage is between those of opposite gender and no redefinition will make it any different -- it's still scientific fact. This has nothing to do with Gays or straights, it's biology.
Never mind, NH will end up following again -- following California and reversing this silliness
- Sally, Nashua

We'll need a two pronged approach. First,get rid of these pols who caved in to the homosexual mafia. Second, amend the state Constitution to define marriage as it should be,that is one man,one woman.(Evidently there ae some people who can't seem to figure this one out.) The sooner we can overcome this abomination the better. And please, to all of you so called equality types. Where were you when there was a bill giving fathers an equal footing with regards to parental rights? We were told that we had to proceed slowly for that. But marraiges for homosexuals, the Legis. moved at warp speed. This was all nothing but a scam.
- R. Cassidy, Hudson

Well New Hampshire, you wanted change and here it comes. The most un-shocking aspect of this whole silly "battle" was Governor Lynch waffling on his beliefs - again. So now its done. Men can marry men and women can marry women. Lets see if the legislatures can rally around the less important issues like the collapsing economy and learning how to spend within the confines of a budget.
- Sean G., Alton

This is disgusting. I am so ashamed that not just New Hampshire but New England is now pro-homosexual. What's next somebody is going to want to marry their dog? Their sister? if we don't let them do that then that is discrimination isn't that right all you gay supporters? I can't believe this California and Rhode Island are like the gay capitals of the world and they don't even pass the gay marriage bill. You have to be kidding me. With all the bad things that are going on in the world with terrorist and the economy etc. All our government thinks about his gay marriage. This is terrible. I used to live in Los Angeles and it was all gays and we barely have any gays here. Why did we pass gay marriage if there is barely any gays here compared to other places? I don't even want to know what it is going to be like in 20 years from now. What are we going to teach our kinder gardeners now that its ok to be gay? Yeah Jimmy it's ok for you and Johnny to go make out the New Hampshire Government approves. This is going to backfire on our youth within the next 100 years. And we could of prevented it.
- Josh Jaskolka, Manchester

It's about time - equal rights for all in regards to marriage has been long overdue. Let's stop the judgment and hatred and discrimination, It's time to celebrate the power of love! Hooray!!
- Genie Dean, Bedford, NH

Captain Kirk of Raymond -- I'll answer your question about how this harms us "conservatives." First, this is not just about you, me, or any gays. Stop being short-sighted. It is about our children -- our priority in life. When gays marry, and "acceptance" of that lifestyle is subsequently forced into the K-5 and beyond public school curriculum, that directly harms my kids, grandkids, etc. And/or I effectively lose the use of the public schools I help pay for because their agenda is a poison pill for me. The harm is due to the use of cultural and eventually legal forces to indoctrinate my kids, grandkids, etc. with the liberal's version of humanism -- their religion per a SCOTUS decision. We are witnessing the gradual supplanting of Judeo-Christian values in law with laws reflecting the religion of humanism.

In time, more direct harm will come to me and my progeny. Scripture and my faith insists that homosexuality, and by extension gay marriage, is wrong. My First Amendment right to denounce gay behavior and gay marriage is already ridiculed but in time I will likely get fired from my job, then ostracized and called names like "religious nutjob." In the end, I will be discriminated against, fined, and/or imprisoned for expressing my faith, despite the First. Ordinary Christians will be treated like the K.K.K. under the "changed" law of the land. There is no genuine "respect for diversity" from their side at all.

That's the direct harm to me and my progeny. Whooosh! Down the slippery slope we go. Q.E.D.
- Ed Holdgate, Sandown, NH

The radical right wing and Jeb Bradley have received their wish. It is over and the legislature can now move on to what Jeb considers more importent matters.
As for myself and all other people of faith one thing we can all agree upon is : "Thank you God. Thy will be done." Even the legislature can be open to the intervention of the Holy Spirit. They were and they did the right thing. And it happened in increasing numbers!
Greg Barrett
- Greg Barrett, Manchester

All of you who believe we have become the San Francisco of the East and want to do more that just gripe about it, run for State Representative in 2010!

go to http://www.sos.nh.gov/register%20and%20run.html
- Bill, Manchester

Intelligent, tolerant and compassionate legislation grounded in the firm separation of church and state. It seems to be the American Ideal (no, not Idol). Why did this take so long in NH, the 6th wealthiest and one of the most educated states in the country? Let's hope that this spirit of America- intelligent debate and respect for all fellow citizens- continues, and helps define us as THE place to live.
- Bob Jones, Bedford

Wake up people,as it is we the people that should have had a vote to vote this down. This is what we get when we have libs running the state and even Lynch has become a disgrace. When laws that have been great for the good of society get trashed and that is what has happened for political purposes it is truely a sad day for this state-Please take "LIVE FREE OR DIE"off our license plates as this was not voted by the people
- nancy, kensington,NH

Well, if this can't get the Republicans some votes, then I guess they don't deserve to be in office. And obviously the majority of the state is Democrat right now, so what's the problem with it passing? We voted - they (the legislature) voted. Democracy works fine if you ask me.
- PJ, Boscawen

I applaud the legistlature, and congratulate the governor for standing up for human rights. I loved the quote from Rep. DiFriscia that I read earlier today, saying that "if you have no choice as to your sex...or as to your color"....then we darned well better protect your rights to life, liberty and happiness. A new day has dawned in New Hampshire. Very happy for all of you.
- Timothy J. Mannion, Montclair, NJ

To those fools who say it's nobody's busy who marries who, how about a 30 year old man marrying a 15 year old girl? Nobody's business? How about polygamy? Nobody's business? To those fools who say the legislature and the courts should make the laws, just who are the senators and representatives suppose to represent? The people or some abstract throught? And aren't the courts charged with interpreting the law? Or did something change along the way that gave the courts power to make laws? In some of those countries where same sex marriage was legalized some time ago, the current crusade is to legalize polygamy. Surprised? You shouldn't be. After all, if two guys can live together as husband and wife, or is it shim and shim, why shouldn't a guy be allowed to marry and live with two women. At least in that marriage it's easy to figure out who the husband and wives are. Well, at least this might mean a few more bucks in the coffers of Hallmark - kids will need cards for "Daddy & Daddy" or "Mommy & Mommy" and relatives and friends will need cards for "Brother & Brother-in-law and all that rot. What a fine, morally upright society we've become. We might as well go all the way and legalize recreational sex for everyone.
- Brian, Farmington

What a wonderful day for New Hampshire!!!!
- Kathy, Keene

All you zealots make me laugh.

No one will be forced to do anything they don't want. No, a DJ won't be forced to play music at a gay wedding reception - just like they aren't forced to do it for a heterosexual marriage.

It is about time NH moves into the 21st century. Kudos to all who voted in favor. This heterosexual does not fear gay marriage.

Let's celebrate!
- Spiro, Rochester

I am very proud to say I'm a native New Hampshirite today. It is heartening to realize that the state of my birth recognizes that equal rights means exactly that. Not more. Not less. But equal. God bless you all. Peace.
- Joel, Nashua

When you change the definition of a word (marriage) ....it simply LOSES ITS MEANING.
- Kevin Mueller, Plymouth

I support gay marriage because it is so much fun to watch the right wing foam at the mouth over it.
- LJC, Manchester

Makes me proud to live in NH. I can't understand why some people on here feel so threatened. My wife and I married 3 years ago and I cannot begin to imagine how two men or two women being officially married rather than being in a civil union will hurt the love and coommitment we have. If you really think gay marriage will hurt your marriage or harm you in any way whatsoever, maybe you should focus on your own relationships and not other people's private business.
- dr, Hanover

What a great day for NH. Hats off to the people fighting discrimination everywhere.
- Tim, Manchester, NH

OK, let's have a show of hands: "How many of you are losing your spouses to members of the same sex now that gay marriage is legal?"

(Long silence)

No volunteers, I guess. Well, where's your dog in this fight? Don't start with the nonsense that Marc is peddling, that somehow 'good people are being discriminated against'. What's the discrimination? That you are forced to share marital status with people who may be just as moderate in their private habits and generous in their civic commitments as you are? And who besides you decided that prejudice and being 'good' are compatible?

What's next? Affidavits from straights that they don't engage in (ahem) 'unusual sexual activities? Since when is any of this your concern? You're free to conduct yourself as you see fit, but we don't need any mullahs in this state telling people how to live their lives.

I've lived in NH all my life, and frankly I resent it when the 'New Hampshire Way' becomes a slogan for greed instead of what it really stands for: Minding your own business.
- zoot, Manchester

I am a Conservative Republican and I did like/support/back Lynch up to now. Now I am against Lynch.

HE SHOULD BE ASHAMED!!!!

The difference between marriage of different religions and/or races is that the bodies of the individuals involved were, by nature, meant to mate. This is part of a deviant lifestyle that Obama should create a Czar over to resolve!
- Bob, Hudson

OK, Now lets get to the business of straightening out the budget mess, and other important business!
- Bill, Stratford

Ah, the sweet smell of progress and victory over discrimination.
- John, Plymouth

No incumbents, vote them all out. They are not representing the people.
- Dave, Kingston

Steve, It's democratic cancer...it's spreading through the state and it soon will be crossing borders...I suggest your try to build a wall now as time allows for you to. Good Luck...
I for one will be noting who voted this legislation in and rest assured change will be coming.
We need Gov. Sununu back!!!
- mike, auburn

To Mike in Manchester.

The laws against incest (which I assume New Hampshire has) effectively rule out sibling marriage. So, yes, there is already a legal predecent in place.

And there is no logical reason that gay marriage leads to sibling marriage. The argument a red herring.

The legality of gay marriage in your neighboring jurisdications (Canada, Massachusetts, Connecticut) have not led to such requests, except among those who want to prey on irrational fears.
- Sandy, Norwalk, CT

I want to marry myself! Equal rights for me.
- Bob, Manchester, NH

Congrats! Not gay, but its about time that religion stop running our country!
- Sean, Salem

One of you conservatives need to explain to me exactly how two guys getting married does you any harm. In the final analysis, a marriage contract is nothing more than an agreement to share debts and assets. What's the big deal? So far the only arguments I've heard from those against it are that they are offended by it. I checked the Bill of Rights, there is nothing in there that says we are all free from being offended. Get on with it, and get over it, so these people can come out of the shadows and live normal lives. In my lifetime in NH I have seen these men beaten, mercilessly hazed and harassed, and subjected to any and all kinds of discrimination, and for decades the police pretty much looked the other way. It is time for these people to have the same rights as the rest of us, they were born who they are and have no control over it.
- Kirk, Raymond

Let's just legalize consanguine marriage and plural marriage while we are at it. Someone should issue an apology to the State of Utah for forcing it to abandon plural marriage as a pre-condition for statehood. It is all going to go downhill.
- Nicholl, Manchester

Same sex marriage is a civil rights issue and should NOT be left for the voters to decide. Look what happened in California where Mormons from all over the country injected their fear and their checkbooks into the debate.

Was inter-racial marriage legalized by white voters in the South? Were schools desegregated in the South because white voters decided it was discriminatory? Civil rights in the 1960's did white people suddenly decide that bla,cks should sit anywhere on the bus and at the lunch counter and vote to make it so? No, no and no.

Civil rights for minority groups are almost always passed in legislatures and the courts.
- Jamie Morgan, Concord, NH

well, UL has not posted it yet...but i figured I'd give all you haters the word that the house did pass the bill. HURRAY!!!
- michael, manchester, nh

Why are only religious organizations exempt from refusing service to these homosexuals?

Anyone who finds homosexuality disgusting should be able to refuse them service. They are not some people who are only different because of their color or race. They are sexual perverts. You should be able to refuse them service on that basis alone.

Should a wedding D.J. or band be forced to partake in their "make believe" marriage ceremony if they find the idea disgusting? That is exactly what this law would do.

Do not use the rule of law to legitimize these people's perversion.
- David, Bedford

As long as the bill allows a church to deny marriage against their religon I am glad this will finally pass. There are many churches which will marry gay couples but you know there will be some tolerance nazis out there who will search around for a church that won't marry them and then sue to force a church to marry them just to spite the church.
- Brian, Wakefield

Governor Flynch has already proven to be a typical Obama style Democrat by reversing directions on such an important issue to NH citizens.
Put it to a vote! Stop telling us what YOU think and let us tell you what WE think!

California take-two. Time for a constitutional amendment.
- bob, nashua

Because Steve (SC), there isn't a palm tree's chance in NH it would come close to passing. The NH Democrats have their agenda and don't give a hoot what it's citizens think, and although our (D) Gov. personally doesn't support gay marriage he's terrified of the rath of the liberal activists that run our State, who are from "out of State".

RIP NH.
- DF, Candia

For those arguing that this is a frivalous issue that has nothing to do with the economy, they are very wrong. Many of the rights at the state level that you take for granted are very much about the economic viability of the family unit over its lifetime. Sure, NH has civil unions but the label of marriage is a word that opens doors and explains to the community this is not only a family but an economic entity worthy of protecting. Marriage in the eye of the state is an important distinction in the world of economics. It is discrimination but it is also about the protection of families who deserve respect by the state as well. And in the totality of it all, this issue is a private matter that is secular under state law and no one else's business.
- Sean, Baltimore, MD

Interesting that Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Deborah Reynolds, D-Plymouth, said that the practice of removing someone who did not agree with the the committee of conference for refusing to consent to compromise language has been used by Senate presidents going back to 1992.

I think understanding that marriage is between a man and a woman has been going on for millenia, but that did not matter.

The attitude that a law can be made that permits "marriage" between two men, or two women, reminds me of Caligula making his horse a Roman Senator. Caligula's nonsense occured early in the decline of the Roman Empire. Well, those who voted today in the Senate to affirm gay "marriage" may have much in common with the backside of Caligula's "senator".
- Dave, Northwood

The mainstream wants it both ways. Long lines of people line up at the DMV everyday to surrender their constitutional rights for benefits as a Driver . Obviously the State can license anything they want. If they can license back your constitutional rights as a privilidge then they can license gay marriage, abortion or ANYTHING, all they need is an agency to do it and enough volunteers. Start the drum roll and line up
- Steve, Manchester

To Steve in Greenville: we generally consider a system of elected representatives "democracy," and it's worked pretty well for the last 200+ years. If you need evidence of why direct democracy doesn't work, look at California's budget.

Of course, you're in South Carolina, so I'm not sure why a ballot referendum on laws in New England is so important to you.
- Dan, Boston, MA

We are your brothers, sisters (Candace Gingrich), mothers, fathers (Jim McCrery), sons (David Knight son of Pete Knight), daughters (Mary Cheney and Maya Keyes), heroes (Mark Bingham UAL FLT 93, David Charlebois AA FLT 77).

Marc from Weare:

When was the last time a Republican was bludgeoned to death with an axe handle and thrown onto burning tires for being Republican (see Billy Jack Gaither) or tortured, tied to a fence and murdered for being Republican (see Matthew Shepard)?

America is better that this. Let's move beyond the hate to the more important things in life.
- Cindy, Manchester

The best way I had this described to me is this. "What if someone came up to you and your wife of 20 years and said, You can't be married because YOU were divorced before". Its none of their DAMN business who I marry, just like its none of yours or anyone elses. If this bill is vetoed its going to CONTINUE leeching up time, money, effort and resources over something you should give a rats ass over. It sure as hell isnt going to affect my marriage of 23 years and NO ONE is going to decide what's right for me. The slippery slope is right...what the next reason to deny people their civil rights? Sign the damn bill into law and lets move on to things that DO affect us, like the horrible economy and job loss!
- Jim, Derry

Democrats are ruining New Hampshire! This bill should have never passed the legislature. Marriage is one man and one woman the majority of the people oppose this legislation and that is why the Democrats refuse to allow a popular referendum. Vote them all out of office next year and wake up New Hampshire!
- Peter, Brookline

Why are these goofball politicians so afraid to put the issue to a vote to the real democracy-deciders: the people? They say that Northeasterners are now pro-gay marriage so why don't they put it to a vote to prove it to the rest of the nation?
- Steve, Greenville, South Carolina

Please VETO this bill and be done with it!!!
- John, Hooksett

This year homosexual marriage, next year sibling marriage. The specific exclusion in this bill is clearly discriminatory (not to mention hateful). I can't wait for the court case.

Ridiculous you say, so is the concept of homosexual marriage. They should absolutely have civil legal rights but they can’t be married.

But, if the legislature says yes to them, they’ll have to say yes to siblings. Wait for it! It's coming. There's no logical argument against it (at least I haven't heard one yet on these pages).
- Mike, Manchester

Budgets, deficits, education, taxes - who cares? The most important thing is homosexual "marriage"!

Veto this nonsense and get to work on the people's business.
- Tom, Campton

OK Jeff... then who do you explain the discrimination against Conservatives, against Republicans, against good people with positive influence on society who have values and ethics... we are the newly discriminated against...
- Marc, Weare

The sliding down the slippery slope is about to start if the House signs this terrible bill.

I don't care if you think my opinion is wrong, the only thing I care about is that legalizing gay marriage is wrong.
- Bob, Hudson

Funny how Republicans never minded using the conference committee trick when it was to their benefit. After you hit someone, you can't complain that they hit you back.
- Peter, Canterbury

My god, people, give them their rights and lets move on to the important things like the economy! So much time and so much money spent on an issue that doesnt effect 90-some odd percent of us. They pay their taxes, they deserve the rights, end of story.
- Jim, Derry

CJ in Manchester: don't you have things a bit backwards? Slavery was abolished in the US in 1865.
- LJC, Manchester

So let me get this straight.. a guy can marry a guy or a gal, a gal can marry a gal or a guy.. but the guy or gal can't marry two guys or two gals at the same time. Why not? Seems to me, that's the next "civil rights" dispute that we MUST act to correct. Pretty soon marriage will be open to any and all.. except those without partners, and we'll have to include them as well so we don't hurt their feelings. What's the point? Just end the legal recognition of marriage and be done with it. Then the people can do whatever the heck they want.
- Alex, Nashua

Finally. One less group that's discriminated against.
- Jeff, Manchester, NH

Pass this bill already and move on. We don't even need the religious protection language. Religious institutions already have the right to marry or not marry whomever they choose. One day we'll look back on this in a similar light as that of the Civil Rights movement…sad that the struggle was/is long and hard, but happy it is finally corrected.

This has taken far too long - pass it and move on to other important issues of the day.
- cheryl, derry

"Reynolds said the practice has been used by Senate presidents going back to 1992"

Well, Reynolds, the practice of slavery has been in practice going back to 1865. Does that make it okay to do it now? I don't think so.
- CJ, Manchester

--------------------

"Lynch vetoes medical marijuana bill"
The NH Union Leader, July 10, 2009

Concord – Gov. John Lynch has vetoed a bill that would have allowed marijuana use by critically or terminally ill patients.

Cancer patients, particularly, have said that marijuana is the only thing that alleviates the nausea and lack of appetite that plagues them during chemotherapy.

Lynch said the bill, HB 648, has “too many defects to move forward.”

Lynch said he has “tremendous compassion” for their plight, adding “I have been open, and remain open, to allowing tightly controlled usage of marijuana for appropriate medical purposes.”

But he cited “many inconsistencies and structural problems in the legislation that would greatly complicate its administration and would pose barriers to controls aimed at preventing the unauthorized use of marijuana.”

Questions about landlord rights, marijuana potency and licensing distribution centers need to be settled, he said. Fees meant to make the program self-sustaining could end up so high that only wealthy patients would be able to afford to take part, he added.

Lynch concluded his veto message by saying, “We cannot set a lower bar for medical marijuana than we do for other controlled substances, and we cannot implement a law that still has serious flaws.”

The bill would have allowed the distribution of marijuana to certified patients at three “compassion centers” to open within two years. The centers could provide up to two ounces every 10 days to patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other ailments named in the bill.

A patient’s doctor and the state Department of Health and Human Services must agree that a patient qualifies for certification.

The bill was opposed by law enforcement, including Attorney General Kelly Ayotte. Lynch repeatedly stated he was concerned about keeping marijuana tightly controlled.

The original version of the bill allowed certified patients to grow their own marijuana, up to six plants per patient, or to have designated caregivers grow it for them.

The Legislature passed the bill by a 232-108 vote in the House and a 14-10 vote in the Senate. Lawmakers could override Lynch’s veto if they muster a two-thirds vote in each chamber. In the Senate, that would require 16 votes.

READERS' COMMENTS:

"We don't pass laws and approve drugs based on hearsay, rumor or anecdote."

I know it. We do it based on how much Pfizer can make from it.
- Brian, W. Manch

I don't disagree with Lynch's veto but I don't agree with it either. I agree there needs to be a tightened regulation structure for medical marijuana. But, it also needs to be taken off the black market, out of the hands of the dealers, taxed, regulated, and dispensed. There has never been a single death related to marijuana alone and if marijuana was present in a toxicology report, I guarentee there was booze, cocaine, heroin, etc. also present. The arguement that marijuana is a "gateway drug" is a aged arguement from the 50s. Those who use marijuana and eventually turn to heavier things, have far more problems that the drug use. Recreational users use it for the relaxation effect, for the calming effect, and in some cases, for the social outings. The government bases their findings on the people who irresponsibly use the drug or any drug for that matter.

I think with due time, marijuana will continue to be decriminalized and theorectically, eventually legalized. If the government control marijuana like they are trying to control every aspect of our lives these days, it'd be a cash crop like no other. But until then, we have to deal with the hypocracy of "We'll tax alcohol and tobacco, which kills hundreds of thousands of people a year combined, but we'll continue to put up the wall when it comes to marijuana because we think it's a gateway drug. And we just don't like it." Lynch, stay on your path, you're in the right direction. Politicians, do you job, meet his requirements which are far from unreasonable, and help these folks that need it. I don't care about the recreational users right now, but from seeing it benefit cancer patients, it needs to be regulated for them.
- Guy, Manchester

Shame on you Gov. Lynch for playing political games with the suffering of others.

Why can't the bill be passed and amendments addressing your concerns be added at a later date?

I would think the Gov't would be much more concerned about Oxycontin and other "regulated" drugs that pose an even greater risk for abuse and illegal activity.
- Angelo, Manchester, NH

He passes a gay marriage bill but vetoes the marijuana bill? Mobilize people! Lets get this clown and his liberal clowns out of office.
- Rob, Manchester

For James, Manchester, regarding the AMA

AMA Scientific Affairs Council Recommends Pro-Medical Marijuana Platform

The Medical Student Section (MSS) of the American Medical Association (AMA) overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution urging the AMA to support the reclassification of marijuana for medical use at the AMA's annual conference in Chicago earlier this month. The resolution will now go before the AMA House of Delegates for a final vote at its interim meeting in November.
- Howard Marks, Concord, NH

Bad call Lynch
- Maria, Manchester, NH

I have no use for this govenor. Shame on you Lynch, no vote for you.
- Patrick, berlin

Legal or not legal people are going to use marijuana for whatever purposes they deem appropriate.
If someone is terminally ill and they see it fit to smoke or ingest thc by whatever means, the government should not interfere.
People drink themselves to death everyday, how could they deem this more dangerous than booze really? Hypocrites at their best.
And also, since when is Flynch concerned about expenses, and things being costly?
Anna's statement is sad but true, we really need to evaluate things properly.
- Frank, Manchester

i hope he runs for office again, so i can lead a crusade against him!
he passes gay marriage but not medicinal marijuana? this guy is a joke!
i agree with other posters he must have interests in the prescription drug industry!
- george, hillsborough

John Asbury of Manchester: Stop fibbing about pot and glaucoma! The American Glaucoma Society DOES NOT AGREE with you that smoked pot is an effective treatment for glaucoma.

The AMA disagrees with you, and does not recommend ANY smoked drugs as treatments for ANY ailment! We don't pass laws and approve drugs based on hearsay, rumor or anecdote.

What's funny is that when the doctors don't agree, the pot-legalizers start attacking the doctors. Wait for it. 3, 2, 1 ...
- James, Manchester

I like how people here talk about how bad of a job Lynch is doing but don't do anything to help or change things. Who do you think you are? If you think you can do better why dont you try running for Govenor. If your not part of the solution you are just being part of the problem. I was also disappointed to see this bill did not go through, but I don't see how it helps to come to a news papers website to complain about it. This bill may not be ready to go through now, there may be revisions that should be made. I am sure the Govenor is doing the best he can with the information he has been given. Chill out people!
- Chris, Amherst

What a spineless wimp this milquetoast is! Imagine: Even though 13 other states dispense medical marijuana he uses the feeble excuse that he couldn't sign the bill because the Feds say so. Like someone else pointed out: no qualms about pushing 180 proof alcohol on the highways here in Nh, but relieve a terminally ill patients pain and suffering - oh no...can't have that!
- Joe D, Bedford

I am SO gratified that Gov. Lynch didn't cave to the pro-pot dealer lobby and sign this horrendous, destructive, cynically exploitative and deceptive legalization bill.

Like the first poster, Chris in Hopkinton, who FREELY admits, "let everyone have pot" that was the REAL goal of the bill and those who were pushing it.

GREAT JOB, GOV. LYNCH!
- Stephen A., Manchester

You people are ridiculous. You clearly didn't take the time to read what Lynch actually said. He wants to support it, providing that his concerns - legitimate concerns - are addressed. He's not asking for the world, he's not playing politics, and he's making a lot of sense. Don't worry, you'll get your government weed. Relax.
- Floyd, Manchester

It appears that the shoe is now on the other foot....Welcome to the Governor Flynch show.
- Bob, Manchester, NH

Wow, and meanwhile people continue to get their pot illegally, simply to find relief from their sickness. Wow Gov. Lynch, you really dropped the ball on this one. Stating too many holes in the legislation is a b/s response, especially since we live in a state with a motto "Live Free or Die" I agree with Kevin, a state that can sell 180 proof alchohol right off the highway but discriminates against someone who puffs for relief from disease or just the stress of life is persecuted.
- Jay, Weare, NH

The drug reps must have Lynch in their pockets. That the only thing that makes sense. We have a major problem with kids getting hooked on their parents pain meds and turning to heroin for the fix when the oxy runs out.
- Ed, Manchester

A bit of honesty by many of the supporters of this is always lacking with such bills and stories. Many of those who support medical use only do so so they can work towards either full legalization of marijuana or the government being the drug dealer and appointing our first drug dealer Czar. Most likely by hiring the leaders of current drug cartels into government possitions. NICE!

I'm pretty conservative but would back letting people grow up to four plants for personal use only provided there was a stiff penalty for anyone caught giving or selling it to anyone under the age of 21. That in my view is freedom and keeping government under control at the same time, while the democrat plan involves government making huge sums of money to squander off the destruction of the citizens it claims to care about and the pot heads would not care so long as they got their weed. A nation of pot heads would be pretty ripe for the picking dude. LOL
- Deb, Derry

What does anyone expect. If the majority are for it, he votes against it; if the majority are against it he votes for it. Would anyone like to review the last few months......
- Jim, Loudon

I find it odd that the State can peddle 180 proof alcohol along the highways without the moral concern of “many inconsistencies..." with DUI laws yet the mere mention of marijuana brings out the soap boxes. It's time the fearmongering spread by the anti-marijuana group is ended. Ask yourself, who do you think is more dangerous behind the wheel, someone who just polished off some Everclear or someone who just smoked a joint?
- Kevin, Bennington

Ridiculous! No lets not let the dying use Marijuana to relieve their pain, but its ok to load them up with synthetic Heroin.
- Anna, Manchester

2 more Senate votes for an override. Let's make this happen people.
- Howard Marks, Concord, NH

What a heartless coward! After the committee of conference addressed each of his eight spurious concerns with the original bill, he vetoes it and releases a statement that's just boilerplate "drugs are bad, m'kay?" Keeping the status quo where patients who need cannabis to survive can be thrown in jail at the discretion of a law enforcement officer hardly shows "tremendous compassion." And if Lynch is truly concerned that "only the wealthy would be able to participate", maybe he could have mentioned that concern after the original bill passed, but he was busy claiming that people are not responsible enough to grow a plant in their house, an extremely low cost alternative to purchasing from a compassion center.

I hope Lynch runs for office again so I can help to destroy his credibility and electability.
- Brinck Slattery, Manchester, NH

Looks like Lynch just lost this marijuana smokers vote next election. That is if I don't forgot about this by then.
- John, greenland

The Guber's decision to veto this marijuana bill has precious little to do with "too many defects to move forward" as he claims. In all reality Flynch dearly wants to sign the bill so he can sew up the votes of those wanting the drugs, and liberals in general too. However, Flynch was surprised -- even shocked -- at the backlash from his shenanigans to give the gays their pseudo-marriage law. He realized his re-election chances were jeopardized. Therefore, this veto on the drugs is merely the way a coward scrambles back to a safe perch to save his elective neck next year. Political Calculus 201.

ps. I too oppose HB648 but everybody should just admit he is going to wait until he can get away with it.
- Ed Holdgate, Sandown NH

Thanks for nothing Gov. Lynch. As a person who suffers from glaucoma and does not respond to drops, I was looking forward to seeing this bill pass. I hope that one day you will not find yourself in the same predicament as myself.
- John Asbury, Manchester

Sad day.

Lynch is playing political instead of doing what is right. Let the sick people have pot.

In fact let everyone have pot.. it is less dangerous than alcohol.
- Chris, Hopkinton

Again the Gov. has made a wise decisioin based on a flawed law.
- Michael King, Epping

--------------------

AP: "NH gov signs school accountability bill"
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, via The NH Union Leader Online, 7/14/2009

CONCORD – Gov. John Lynch ended an 18-year court fight Tuesday by enacting a law requiring that New Hampshire schools prove they're meeting key academic standards.

The law, which took effect with Lynch's signature, holds schools accountable for providing a constitutionally adequate education - answering the last of four mandates issued by the state Supreme Court in response to a 1991 lawsuit by five poor school districts.

The schools successfully argued that New Hampshire's reliance on the property tax to fund education was unconstitutional and resulted in unequal educational opportunities depending on what town children lived in.

Under the new law, schools will have to prove they're meeting academic standards by submitting reports to the state Education Department that show students have access to instruction in key areas such as language, arts, math and science. They must demonstrate compliance by the end of the next school year .

Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, schools may instead demonstrate compliance through a performance-based system that the Education Department will develop.

The alternative system will include test scores, attendance rates and the number of students in accelerated courses.

In the fall of 2012, state auditors will begin testing compliance by visiting 10 percent of New Hampshire's nearly 500 schools each year to monitor the self-reporting.

Schools that fail to comply will be provided state technical assistance. Schools failing to comply for three consecutive years could be told to how to spend their state aid.

The 1991 lawsuit led to a series of court decisions against the state. The court said that using widely varying local property taxes to pay for schools was unfair to children in poor communities.

The courts also repeatedly said the state must define an adequate education, price it, pay for it and hold towns accountable for delivering it. The amount need not be the same for every pupil, but the courts rejected aid systems that helped only selected towns.

The rulings led to almost two decades of fighting over school funding and dozens of failed attempts by the Legislature to put constitutional amendments before voters to shift control over the issue from the courts to lawmakers.

Two years ago, the state defined an adequate education by setting curriculum standards for grades K-12. Last year, lawmakers pegged the cost at roughly $3,500 as a base per pupil cost with additional aid for pupils who are disabled, speak little English and are in schools with a high population of poor kids. Property-poor towns will share a separate pot of money. The aid system is anchored by a statewide property tax.

Funding was included in next year's budget to begin the transition to the new aid system.

The accountability system is the last piece.

Lynch said the accountability system will "allow us to determine if schools are in fact using critical state aid to provide the quality education each child deserves."

Sen. Molly Kelly, a Keene Democrat and the bill's prime sponsor, said lawmakers can move forward with new ideas for education now that the court mandates have been met.
-
READERS' COMMENTS:

The Union will hate accountability, but let us who work in the private sector dream for a bit:

1. Accountability in schools means current staff unable to meet goals.

2. Union busted.

3. Salaries raised for entering teachers to attract qualified individuals. Unqualified individuals terminated or turned down.

4. Overall average salary of teachers goes down because of young teacher infusion. Taxpayers save money.

5. Education is improved as teaching is no longer sought after as a comfortable for life gravy train. Teachers are forced to keep up skills and performance, instead of being guaranteed a job for life regardless of performance.

We can dream!
Craig
- Craig, Manchester, NH

This new law will require municipalities to hire new paper-pushers to fill out state-mandated forms, on the premise that municipalities cannot achieve quality schools unless coerced by Concord. This means higher taxes, greater potential for litigation, and no improvement in education. It is a thoroughly bad move that makes state politicians look good.

I agree with you, Rowland--but also with Art from Portsmouth that the court followed the state constitution and the only effective remedy is to change it. Specifically, Part 2, Article 83 ("cherish...the interests...of education") is a bunch of platitudes that were waiting to be abused by an activist court. That text should be ripped out.
- Spike, Brentwood NH

Funding has nothing to do with quality education.
If these public schools would just stop parenting, counseling, social servicing, and raising the students and just get back to educating the students then they would not fall below standards.
The town should be able to run their own schools, but they do not want to, instead the school boards give full control to a superintendent that does not know how to do a good joband the admininistration who do not know what they are doing either. It seems that the only ones who do a good job in the schools are the actual teachers and para- professionals. But if they are ruled by bad management then the whole district suffers and students no longer learn.
All these meetings and new programs that the management put in place that look good in a presentation, do not work and seem to be getting further and further from actual education.
Look at private schools and charter schools where there are not as many administers but more teachers that are given the opportunety to just do their jobs, teach. These schools do much better.
The amount of money one school gets over another does not make a difference in being capable of teaching. It is the teachers that make the difference. All extra money each school gets goes into administration, not the classroom anyway.
- k, hillsboro

Hopefully once the Dems are out of power in 2010 we can work on abolishing the mess that is public education, and let parents either homeschool or send their children to private institutions. Both are superior to public education and nobody is forced to pay for an education if they don't want to.
- Moses Burnshaw, Keene

The more centralized at the state level education becomes, the lower quality it will be. Public schools function best when run at the local level where local school boards and parents can decide whether education is adequate. After all the complaining (deservedly so) of No Child Left Behind at the federal level, this bill is the same thing just at the state level. And it's just as bad.

Look at California. In addition to the fiscal disaster their schools are horrendous. They used to be the envy of the nation. But that was before the state took control away from the cities and towns. Now they are the joke of the nation. We're on the same road.

Thanks Democrats!
- Mark, Amherst

Rowland - Elected officials made this law. The courts are merely doing their job - enforcing the Constitution of the State.

If you want a different school funding mechanism, then change the Constitution.
- Art, Portsmouth

We need leaders who do not live in ivory towers.
- mmh, londonderry

This issue, specifically, is what I remember Democrats "running" on in 2006 when they first took control of the legislature. After 15 years of court ruling after court ruling, they said, "elect us into office, and we will solve the education funding issue."

With the dire economy taking center stage as the top political issue over the last couple of years, it's easy to forget that education funding was very recently the most important issue to New Hampshire voters.
- Dan, Manchester

What we need is elected officials who won't let the courts make our laws for us.

Then we can work on fixing this public school disaster.
- Rowland, Fremont

--------------------

"Lynch names 14 to gambling panel"
By Shira Schoenberg, Concord Monitor staff, August 21, 2009

Gov. John Lynch yesterday announced the names of 14 people who will be part of a commission to study gambling.

Called the Gaming Study Commission, the group will be led by Andrew Lietz of Rye, a former business executive and chairman of the board of the University System of New Hampshire.

Lynch has said he wants to put people on the commission who do not have a strong agenda on gambling.

According to a release put out by the governor's office, the commission's mission will be to "undertake a thorough and comprehensive review of various models for expanded gaming and their potential to generate state revenues, as well as an assessment of the social, economic and public safety impacts of gaming options on the quality of life in New Hampshire."

One additional member will be announced later. The commission's first meeting will be held Sept. 1, 2009.

The members are:

Sen. Bob Odell of Lempster

Rep. Jim Craig of Manchester

Mayor Tom Ferrini of Portsmouth

Former state representative Ned Densmore of Franconia

Former state senator Joseph Foster of Nashua

Former state representative David Babson of Ossipee

Police Chief David Bailey of Bedford

Mark MacKenzie of Manchester, president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO

Bonnie Newman of Portsmouth, former interim president of the University of New Hampshire and executive dean of the Kennedy School of Government

Michelline Dufort of Concord, vice president of the office of advancement for New England College and former executive director of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association

Maggie Pritchard of Laconia, executive director of Genesis Behavioral Health in Laconia

Mary Heath of Manchester, dean of the school of education at Southern New Hampshire University and former state deputy commissioner of education

Karen Pollard of Rochester, economic development director for the city of Rochester.

Shira Schoenberg

--------------------

"Governor for 8 years, he's got NH in his heart"
By NANCY BEAN FOSTER, NH Union Leader Correspondent, June 6, 2013

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch said he takes pride in New Hampshire’s ability to come together during a crisis. (Union Leader file)

Though he grew up in Massachusetts, John Lynch said he knew he'd found home when he came to New Hampshire.

"New Hampshire is small enough to really be like a family," said Lynch, who served an unprecedented four terms as governor. "You can have friends in every corner of the state and everybody knows everybody or has a connection."

Lynch is one of five people chosen for a Granite State Legacy Award, presented by the New Hampshire Union Leader and sponsored by Centrix Bank, Lynch and his wife, Dr. Susan Lynch, live in Hopkinton and have three children, Jacqueline, Julia and Hayden. Last year, he opted not to seek a fifth term, instead choosing to return to private life. The transition has been smooth, he said, but perhaps a bit lonely.

"When you're governor, you're with people all the time," he said. "And that's not the case now. The hardest part of the transition has been going through withdrawal from people."

Lynch, 60, said he looks back on his eight years as governor and finds a source of pride in his ability to bring people from different walks of life together to confront the issues that faced New Hampshire.

"I tried to pull people together to solve problems and to create opportunities for the citizens of New Hampshire," he said. "I tried to put partisan politics aside because that's what the people of New Hampshire wanted."

Lynch is sometimes difficult to pin down and label politically. He stood firmly against a state sales or income tax and extended the reach of the death penalty in cases of home invasion, but he also signed into law a bill allowing gay marriage in New Hampshire.

"I've never thought of issues in terms of party," said Lynch. "I think of them in terms of what's best for the people of New Hampshire."

That unwillingness to adhere to party lines helped Lynch build coalitions in the state, he said.

Reducing the state's high school dropout rate to one percent is an example of the cooperation Lynch was able to encourage, not just from legislators, but from educators and administrators.

Lynch said that changing the age kids can drop out from 16 to 18 was simply setting the bar.

"But the dropout rate was lowered because of educators working together with us in a collaborative way, developing programs within schools to try to help students who were struggling with finding success in a traditional classroom," Lynch said. "The law was the goal, but keeping the kids in school fell to the schools."

Lynch also takes pride in the ability of New Hampshire's people to come together in times of crisis, such as the Alstead flood that killed seven in 2005, or the murder of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs in 2006.

"My worst day as governor was the day Michael Briggs was shot," Lynch said.

Funerals were also difficult for Lynch, especially those of soldiers who returned home to New Hampshire to be buried.

His brightest days were those spent with fourth-graders who came to visit him at the State House.

"Fourth-graders are so much fun," he said.

Lynch won't be attending the Granite State Legacy Awards ceremony; he'll be traveling out of state.

"I'm very disappointed I won't be there," he said.

Dr. Sylvio Dupuis, Donna Sytek, Carolyn Benthien and Claira Monier are also being honored at this year's awards, which will be presented Thursday, June 13, at 5:30 p.m. at The Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester.

Tickets are $45 and include hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. For reservations, call 206-7834 or email cdetrude@unionleader.com.

--------------------

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About Me

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Amherst, NH, United States
I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at jonathan_a_melle@yahoo.com

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The 81st Academy Awards - Oscars - 2009

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Actress Elizabeth Banks

Actress Elizabeth Banks
She will present an award to her hometown (Pittsfield) at the Massachusetts State House next month (1/2009). She recently starred in "W" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," and just signed a $1 million annual contract to be a spokesmodel for Paris.

Joanna Lipper

Joanna Lipper
Her award-winning 1999 documentary, "Growing Up Fast," about teenaged mothers in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Happy Holidays...

Happy Holidays...
...from "Star Wars"

Massachusetts "poor" economy

Massachusetts "poor" economy
Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest states, but it is also very inequitable. For example, it boasts the nation's most lucrative lottery, which is just a system of regressive taxation so that the corporate elite get to pay less in taxes!

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon
Hollywood Actress

Peter G. Arlos.

Peter G. Arlos.
Arlos is shown in his Pittsfield office in early 2000.

Turnpike OK's hefty toll hikes

Turnpike OK's hefty toll hikes
Big Dig - East-west commuters take hit; Fees at tunnels would double. 11/15/2008.

The Pink Panther 2

The Pink Panther 2
Starring Steve Martin

Police ABUSE

Police ABUSE
I was a victim of Manchester Police Officer John Cunningham's ILLEGAL USES of FORCE! John Cunningham was reprimanded by the Chief of Police for disrespecting me. John Cunningham yelled at a witness: "I don't care if he (Jonathan Melle) is disabled!"

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
The 44th US President!

Vote

Vote
Elections

The Bailout & the economic stimulus check

The Bailout & the economic stimulus check
A political cartoon by Dan Wasserman

A rainbow over Boston

A rainbow over Boston
"Rainbows galore" 10/2/2008

Our nation's leaders!

Our nation's leaders!
President Bush with both John McCain & Barack Obama - 9/25/2008.

Massachusetts & Big Dig: Big hike in tolls for Pike looming (9/26/2008).

Massachusetts & Big Dig: Big hike in tolls for Pike looming (9/26/2008).
$5 rise at tunnels is one possibility $1 jump posed for elsewhere.

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
My FAVORITE Journalist EVER!

9/11/2008 - A Show of Unity!

9/11/2008 - A Show of Unity!
John McCain and Barack Obama appeared together at ground zero in New York City - September 11, 2008.

John McCain...

John McCain...
...has all but abandoned the positions on taxes, torture and immigration. (A cartoon by Dan Wasserman. September 2008).

Dan Wasserman

Dan Wasserman
The deregulated chickens come home to roost... in all our pocketbooks. September 2008.

Sarah Palin's phobia

Sarah Palin's phobia
A scripted candidate! (A cartoon by Dan Wasserman).

Dan Wasserman

Dan Wasserman
Family FInances - September, 2008.

Mark E. Roy

Mark E. Roy
Ward 1 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Theodore “Ted” L. Gatsas

Theodore “Ted” L. Gatsas
Ward 2 Alderman (& NH State Senator) for Manchester, NH (2008).

Peter M. Sullivan

Peter M. Sullivan
Ward 3 (downtown) Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Jim Roy

Jim Roy
Ward 4 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Ed Osborne

Ed Osborne
Ward 5 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Real R. Pinard

Real R. Pinard
Ward 6 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

William P. Shea

William P. Shea
Ward 7 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Betsi DeVries

Betsi DeVries
Ward 8 Alder-woman (& NH State Senator) for Manchester, NH (2008).

Michael Garrity

Michael Garrity
Ward 9 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

George Smith

George Smith
Ward 10 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Russ Ouellette

Russ Ouellette
Ward 11 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Kelleigh (Domaingue) Murphy

Kelleigh (Domaingue) Murphy
Ward 12 Alder-woman for Manchester, NH (2008).

“Mike” Lopez

“Mike” Lopez
At-Large Alderman for Manchester, NH. (2008).

Daniel P. O’Neil

Daniel P. O’Neil
At-Large Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Sarah Palin for Vice President.

Sarah Palin for Vice President.
Republican John McCain made the surprise pick of Alaska's governor Sarah Palin as his running mate today, August 29, 2008.

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Amherst, Massachusetts.

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Amherst, Massachusetts.
Congressman Olver said the country has spent well over a half-trillion dollars on the war in Iraq while the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. 8/25/08.

Ed O'Reilly for US Senate in Massachusetts!

Ed O'Reilly for US Senate in Massachusetts!
John Kerry's 9/2008 challenger in the Democratic Primary.

Shays' Rebellion

Shays' Rebellion
In a tax revolt, Massachusetts farmers fought back during Shays' Rebellion in the mid-1780s after The American Revolutionary War.

Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore
Actress. "The Big Lebowski" is one of my favorite movies. I also like "The Fugitive", too.

Rinaldo Del Gallo III & "Superman"

Rinaldo Del Gallo III & "Superman"
Go to: http://www.berkshirefatherhood.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=699&cntnt01returnid=69

"Income chasm widening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"

"Income chasm widening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"
The gap between rich and poor has widened substantially in Massachusetts over the past two decades. (8/15/2008).

Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley

Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley
"The Bosley Amendment": To create tax loopholes for the wealthiest corporate interests in Massachusetts!

John Edwards and...

John Edwards and...
...Rielle Hunter. WHO CARES?!

Rep. Edward J. Markey

Rep. Edward J. Markey
He wants online-privacy legislation. Some Web Firms Say They Track Behavior Without Explicit Consent.

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan
She gained fame with her antiwar vigil outside the Bush ranch.

Olympics kick off in Beijing

Olympics kick off in Beijing
Go USA!

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall
In this May 1, 2008, file photo, a customer pumps gas at an Exxon station in Middleton, Mass. Exxon Mobil Corp. reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion Thursday, July 31, the biggest quarterly profit ever by any U.S. corporation, but the results were well short of Wall Street expectations and its shares fell as markets opened. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File) 7/31/2008.

Onota Lake 'Sea Serpent'

Onota Lake 'Sea Serpent'
Some kind of monster on Onota Lake. Five-year-old Tyler Smith rides a 'sea serpent' on Onota Lake in Pittsfield, Mass. The 'monster,' fashioned by Smith's grandfather, first appeared over July 4 weekend. (Photo courtesy of Ron Smith). 7/30/2008.

Al Gore, Jr.

Al Gore, Jr.
Al Gore issues challenge on energy

The Norman Rockwell Museum

The Norman Rockwell Museum
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

"Big Dig"

"Big Dig"
Boston's financially wasteful pork barrel project!

"Big Dig"

"Big Dig"
Boston's pork barrel public works project cost 50 times more than the original price!

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
My favorite journalist EVER!

U.S. Rep. John Olver, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Selectwomen Stephanie O'Keeffe and Alisa Brewer

U.S. Rep. John Olver, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Selectwomen Stephanie O'Keeffe and Alisa Brewer
Note: Photo from Mary E Carey's Blog.

Tanglewood

Tanglewood
Boston Symphony Orchestra music director James Levine.

Google

Google
Chagall

Jimmy Ruberto

Jimmy Ruberto
Faces multiple persecutions under the Massachusetts "Ethics" conflict of interest laws.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
Obama vows $500m in faith-based aid.

John McCain

John McCain
He is with his wife, Cindy, who were both met by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (right) upon arriving in Cartagena.

Daniel Duquette

Daniel Duquette
Sold Mayor James M. Ruberto of Pittsfield two tickets to the 2004 World Series at face value.

Hillary & Barack in Unity, NH - 6/27/2008

Hillary & Barack in Unity, NH - 6/27/2008
Clinton tells Obama, crowd in Unity, N.H.: 'We are one party'

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Wanna-be Prez?

WALL-E

WALL-E
"out of this World"

Crisis in the Congo - Ben Affleck

Crisis in the Congo - Ben Affleck
http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/popup?id=5057139&contentIndex=1&page=1&start=false - http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=5234555&page=1

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
NH's Democratic returning candidate for U.S. Senate

"Wall-E"

"Wall-E"
a cool robot

Ed O'Reilly

Ed O'Reilly
www.edoreilly.com

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
World Champions - 2008

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
J.D. Drew gets the same welcome whenever he visits the City of Brotherly Love: "Booooooo!"; Drew has been vilified in Philadelphia since refusing to sign with the Phillies after they drafted him in 1997...

Joe Kelly Levasseur & Joe Briggs

Joe Kelly Levasseur & Joe Briggs
www.2joes.org

NH Union Leader

NH Union Leader
Editorial Cartoon

Celtics - World Champions!

Celtics - World Champions!
www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_18_08_front_pages/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_17_08_finals_game_6/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_17_08_celebration/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_15_08_celtics_championships/

"The Nation"

"The Nation"
A "Liberal" weekly political news magazine. Katrina vanden Heuvel.

TV - PBS: NOW

TV - PBS: NOW
http://www.pbs.org/now

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone
List of Twilight Zone episodes - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Twilight_Zone_episodes

Equality for ALL Marriages

Equality for ALL Marriages
I, Jonathan Melle, am a supporter of same sex marriages.

Kobe Bryant leads his time to a Game 5 victory.

Kobe Bryant leads his time to a Game 5 victory.
L.A. Lakers holds on for the win to force Game 6 at Boston

Mohawk Trail

Mohawk Trail
The 'Hail to the Sunrise' statue in Charlemont is a well-known and easily recognized landmark on the Mohawk Trail. The trail once boasted several souvenir shops, some with motels and restaurants. Now only four remain. (Caroline Bonnivier / Berkshire Eagle Staff).

NASA - June 14, 2008

NASA - June 14, 2008
Space Shuttle Discovery returns to Earth.

Go Celtics! Game # 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Go Celtics! Game # 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.
Boston took a 20-second timeout, and the Celtics ran off four more points (including this incredible Erving-esque layup from Ray Allen) to build the lead to five points with just 2:10 remaining. Reeling, the Lakers took a full timeout to try to regain their momentum.

Sal DiMasi

Sal DiMasi
Speaker of the Massachusetts State House of Representatives

Kelly Ayotte - Attorney General of New Hampshire

Kelly Ayotte - Attorney General of New Hampshire
http://doj.nh.gov/

John Kerry

John Kerry
He does not like grassroots democracy & being challenged in the 2008 Massachusetts Democratic Party Primary for re-election.

Tim Murray

Tim Murray
Corrupt Lt. Gov. of Massachusetts, 2007 - 2013.

North Adams, Massachusetts

North Adams, Massachusetts
downtown

Howie Carr

Howie Carr
Political Satirist on Massachusetts Corruption/Politics

Polar Bear

Polar Bear
Global Warming

Elizabeth Warren - Web-Site Links

Elizabeth Warren - Web-Site Links
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Warren & http://www.creditslips.org/creditslips/WarrenAuthor.html

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
Consumer Crusader

Leon Powe

Leon Powe
Celtics forward Leon Powe finished a fast break with a dunk.

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett reacted during the game.

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo finished a first half fast break with a dunk.

Teamwork

Teamwork
Los Angeles Lakers teammates help Pau Gasol (16) from the floor in the second quarter.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant took a shot in the first half of Game 2.

Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins (right) backed down Lamar Odom (left) during first half action.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
The Boston Symphony Orchestra performed the national anthem prior to Game 2.

K.G.!

K.G.!
Garnett reacted to a hard dunk in the first quarter.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce reacted after hitting a three upon his return to the game since leaving with an injury.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Kobe Bryant (left) and Paul Pierce (right) squared off in the second half of the game.

James Taylor

James Taylor
Sings National Anthem at Celtics Game.

John Forbes Kerry & Deval Patrick

John Forbes Kerry & Deval Patrick
Attended Celtics Game.

Greats of the NBA: Dr. J, Bill Russell, & Kareem!

Greats of the NBA: Dr. J, Bill Russell, & Kareem!
Attend Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis
The actor (left) and his date were in the crowd before the Celtics game.

John Kerry

John Kerry
Golddigger attends Celtics game

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Ends her 2008 bid for Democratic Party nomination

Nonnie Burnes

Nonnie Burnes
Massachusetts Insurance Commish & former Judge

Jones Library

Jones Library
Amherst, Massachusetts

Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton

Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton
2008 Democratic Primary

"US vs Exxon and Halliburton"

"US vs Exxon and Halliburton"
U.S. Senator John Sununu took more than $220,000 from big oil.

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
4- U.S. Senate - 2008

William Pignatelli

William Pignatelli
Hack Rep. "Smitty" with Lynne Blake

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke
Federal Reserve Chairman

Gazettenet.com

Gazettenet.com
www.gazettenet.com/beta/

Boys' & Girls' Club

Boys' & Girls' Club
Melville Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Denis Guyer

Denis Guyer
Dalton State Representative

The Berkshire Eagle

The Berkshire Eagle
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Carmen Massimiano

Carmen Massimiano
Williams College - May 2008

Larry Bird & Magic Johnson

Larry Bird & Magic Johnson
www.boston.com/lifestyle/gallery/when_the_celtics_were_cool/

Regressive Taxation! via State Lotteries

Regressive Taxation! via State Lotteries
New Massachusetts state lottery game hits $600 million in sales!

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
"Luciforo"

John Barrett III

John Barrett III
Long-time Mayor of North Adams Massachusetts

Shine On

Shine On

Elmo

Elmo
cool!

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce kissed the Eastern Conference trophy. 5/30/2008. AP Photo.

Kevin Garnett & Richard Hamilton

Kevin Garnett & Richard Hamilton
Kevin Garnett (left) talked to Pistons guard Richard Hamilton (right) after the Celtics' victory in Game 6. 5/30/2008. Reuters Photo.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce showed his team colors as the Celtics closed out the Pistons in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. 5/30/2008. Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis.

Joseph Kelly Levasseur

Joseph Kelly Levasseur
One of my favorite politicians!

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
In the Big Apple: NYC! She is the coolest!