Twenty-seven economically developed countries have a higher percentage of its population covered under a healthcare policy and the United States and State of NH needs to make up for this unfortunate deficit. Hospitals and physicians bear the burden of this lack of coverage and patients/beneficiaries delay healthcare until their illness reaches a more critical (and expensive) state. This is both morally wrong and economically inefficient.
In addition, we need to modify our healthcare reimbursement system away from 'pay for volume' to 'pay for value' so that we can provide better quality care at a lower cost and are reimbursed accordingly.
We need to emphasize all three. It is important that large profitable corporations bear a larger share of the tax burden as they have cushions that enable this support while sparing poor and disenfranchised individuals and families from this burden.
Income inequality is a growing problem and we need to restore a vibrant middle class to serve as a fiscal foundation to a stable economy.
Finally, we need to have a minimum wage and educational subsidies at a par with the rest of the country so that we don't lose needed talent (particularly among the young and mobile) to other states. There is a paradox here in that investment in human capitol will result in a stronger economy, a lower tax burden and a skilled labor force that stays in NH.
The affordable housing crisis will inevitable become exponentially worse due to the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. There is no one magic bullet for the affordable housing crisis, which will require a multitude of actions.
Restrictive town zoning ordinances have played a key role in perpetuating the housing shortage in NH, with more communities unwilling to allow for multi-unit dwellings for fear that this could damage a town’s rural character. Proposals have been put forth that would utilize state (and federal) incentives to limit the use of minimum lot sizes, and to require developers of large projects to set aside of number of units as affordable housing.
I believe that our current system of financing public education through property taxes is a very inequitable system that fails our less affluent communities. Right now, a town such as Berlin NH, one of the poorest states in NH with an average property value of $200,000 has one of the highest property tax rates in the state. In contrast, New Castle, with an average property value of $1,300,000 has one of the lowest tax rates. This puts an unfair burden on low income communities.
Non-profits such as the NH Housing Finance Authority and the Mt Washington Valley Housing Coalition will play a key role in promoting partnerships between communities and the private sector. They can navigate and broker relationships that will benefit NH.
The number one thing that can be done to promote racial and social injustice in our state is to elect more individuals of color and from different socio economic groups at all levels of government. This starts at the local level on school boards, town governing boards, and those elected to the state legislature and the governor’s office.
Companies in our state need to improve hiring practices in order to promote diversity in the workforce, as do our police departments, state agencies and community organizations. Only when communities are represented people of color and different walks of life can we begin to address social justice.
Mental Illness and addiction are two major issues facing the north country, Carroll & Coos Counties have the highest suicide rates in the state, which itself is one of the worse in the region. COVID has driven up suicides, and relapses in addiction, trapping children and spouses in homes with abusive and otherwise unhealthy environments.
The need for healthcare, especially mental health and addiction is growing exponentially.
But, we lack providers in the north country; and that is the first hurdle to get over, before we can even offer healthcare for all.
To do this,
1 - Expand Telemedicine,
2 - Attract new providers,
3 - Increase NH's ability to create and retain our own providers.
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I believe that the NH Advantage, of no sales tax and no income tax is critical to maintaining a vibrant economy in our state.
I am not a CPA and my background is not in tax law, and we have an employee housing issue not necessarily a wage issue in the MWV, so of the items on your list I would prefer to focus on eliminating any income inequality in the State of NH. No one should ever receive a lower wage, because of their gender, race, age, or other discriminatory factor; equal pay for equal work.
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The Government should be encouraging home building.
A few items that can be addressed are zoning regulations, or allowing families and trusts to release limited amounts of land, without tax burden, for development into new housing; because land with a home is more useful to the state and the employees. Most zoning regulations that prohibit the construction of affordable housing units are town and community level barriers; a review of such barriers across the state, may help the citizens of those towns, petition their local officials to adjust their local zoning rules, to allow more housing to be developed.
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Choice. As the pandemic rages around the world, we should be expanding options for schooling, not restricting them; charter schools are public schools that can help alleviate the burden on classroom size and density, thus increasing the safety within the classroom.
Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences tells us that not all students thrive in the same environments; many require different modalities and settings for a successful education. One of our children requires expensive gadgets to learn, one requires outdoor classrooms, and one requires a library card; each has a different cost, and thus to me equitable education does not necessarily mean a set dollar amount. We must focus on successful outcomes, and encourage those.
Overt actions are most certainly here; but luckily, they are fewer and further between than most places in the nation; and therefore, we do not see it or hear about it. That makes it is easy for us to believe that it does not happen.
Thus, the first step is to have the hard discussions about it. To tell the stories, to hear the truth, and talk about the facts on the ground. Yup, it will make you angry, and feel ashamed for our community, but it is best to expose this infection, before it can spread.
We must encourage conversations. We must increase our educational efforts; and most importantly, we must continue to live the best lives possible, being as welcoming as we can to people that are not like us.
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