Protect expanded Medicaid and add services like dental care and at-home caregivers for elder care. We should also build additional capacity for mental health facilities so that treatment decisions can be made quickly and correctly without warehousing patients in crisis at our local hospitals. The state should improve the hub and spoke model for individuals in need of drug abuse care while in crisis situations. Additionally, increase the capacity and location of sober housing as well as provide additional affordable housing so that individuals going through rehabilitation can break the connection with the people who they were using drugs with.
I would take advantage of all of those options by reducing the burden of property taxes on our cities and towns through mandating that the state return revenue sharing (rooms and meals taxes) back to communities. I would also make certain that the minimum wage is increased to $15 per hour in order to lessen income inequality. Additionally, I would focus on our University system to encourage the creation of high tech majors, partner with industries that would ultimately establish local businesses that would provide high-paying jobs and careers to graduates so that they would remain in-state.
New Hampshire has differing housing needs. Subsidies could be provided by the state to developers that would allow for workforce housing in towns with high costs of living that are dependent on industries and services with wages too low to allow those workers to live within them. Senior housing is also needed in some communities and needs to be addressed. Regardless of the types of housing being built, a balance of housing that would accommodate seniors as well as young families is needed to assure a vibrant, healthy community in an aging New Hampshire.
Although the federal government should take the lead on setting quality national standards, New Hampshire state government needs to equilibrate the per student costs throughout the state to meet state constitutional requirements. The state should cover the entire cost of our public schools because the local taxes that towns must raise in property taxes give rise to an unequal and intense burden to taxpayers. I would support the return to donor towns and receiver towns. Public education also needs to better address the capabilities and desires of the students. I would advocate for a pre-K to 10th grade track for all students, and target 2 pre-graduate tracks for students interested in pursuing an academic degree or an interest in the trades.
I would hold frequent Town Hall meetings throughout my Senate district with a focus on pending legislation and emergent issues. I would invite all parties to participate and assure that all opinions are welcome. I would also receive, review and respond to correspondence sent to me that are specific to pending legislation, and use these in formulating a vote that is in line with the voters that put me into office. This vote may or may not be consistent with what benefits my party. This is something I’ve been doing throughout my 30-year career in state government, where the NH public takes precedence over personal desire.
As a state, we've already done much by providing Medicaid health coverage for the indigent (approx. 50,000 NH residents.) To bring private sector health insurance costs down, we need to allow consumers a choice of insurance coverage - different types of plans for different consumers. This will bring new entrants to the health insurance marketplace, which will in turn reduce the cost of health insurance. We did it in 2003-2004, and it worked.
I voted for legislation that provides treatment for addiction and mental health. We do need to continuously review, refine and improve these programs to capture as many afflicted as possible, and to ensure that programs are cost-efficient.
Our state had the strongest economy in its history until the Covid-19 pandemic. Unemployment was effectively zero, and wages and productivity were increasing. As we've reduced business taxes, businesses have grown, providing new jobs and increased wages and benefits for workers. We need to continue eliminating needless regulations, streamline licensing procedures (I introduced legislation to do so) and get past the pandemic. I don't support increasing the minimum wage, because it has been proven to harm those it's intended to help.
We will need prudent management to deal with reduced state revenues, and as a 2-term member of Ways & Means and Finance, I have the experience to provide it.
State government should carefully address systemic impediments to sensible housing development.
I was prime sponsor of SB557-FN (2018) and SB306 (2019), creating a Housing Appeals Board (HAB) to provide expedited alternative to litigation which was the only option for projects rejected by local land use boards. The HAB reviews local decisions for compliance with state and local workforce housing statutes within 180 days. NIMBY and abuse of the legal process have killed numerous workforce housing projects and exacerbated our critical housing shortage. I received the 2018 legislative award by NH Housing Action, a consortium of 80 housing advocacy groups, for sponsoring the HAB legislation.
As a member of my local School Board, I am very familiar with our education funding system. Current state adequacy funding is based on student population, which has declined by about 20% since peak enrollment in 2002-2003, creating higher tax burdens for communities because fixed and operating costs continue to increase as state revenues decrease. The funding model needs to be revised to compensate for this, but communities also need to generate efficiencies within and between proximate school systems. Regionalization and hybrid distance learning will be part of the solution. The Education Funding Commission report, due December 1, 2020, will provide recommendations, and I will carefully review it before considering legislation.
"Benefits to my party" is not a metric when making decisions as a State Senator, as evidenced by my sponsorship of legislation and votes on such issues as HB4 (budget trailer bill, vote was 23-1, I was the 1), death penalty repeal, biomass, energy net metering, Medicaid dental benefits, Housing Appeals Board, and others. My calculus is to ensure that all decisions and votes are ethical, constitutional, fiscally prudent, effective, sensible, and solve problems that are in the purview of state government.