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Eight New Hampshire candidates run for four seats in Rockingham 21

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October 31, 2012

New Hampshire

By Tyler King

CONCORD, New Hampshire: Eight candidates are running for the four seats in the Rockingham 21 district of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Frederick C. Rice (R) and Kenneth Sheffert (R), both freshman incumbents, are seeing re-election in the district.

Rockingham 21 (4)

Democratic Party September 11 Democratic primary:
Republican Party September 11 GOP primary:

November 6 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Robert Cushing, Jr.
Democratic Party Dick Desrosiers
Democratic Party Mike Edgar
Democratic Party Chris Muns
Republican Party Tracy Emerick
Republican Party Joseph Korowski
Republican Party Frederick C. Rice
Republican Party Kenneth Sheffert

The Hampton Union asked each candidate to complete a candidate questionnaire, answering seven questions in the areas of gambling, Right-to-Work legislation, Medicaid, same-sex marriage, budget cuts and more. Candidates were asked to keep their responses to 150 words or less.[1]

Seacoastonline reported on candidate responses to Question 5: What, if any budget cuts made in the last legislative session would you restore and why? How would you pay for it?[1]

Here are their responses:

[edit]

I would return money taken from the cities and towns that downshifted costs upon the local property taxpayers, restore funding to the university and community college systems, and repair the huge holes in the safety net that has been shredded by the legislature, including: programs for victims of domestic violence; Head Start, Child Care and Family Planning; help for those living with a mental illness or developmental disability; vocational and job training for the unemployed; and aid to nursing homes and Alzheimer's care. I support an increase in the cigarette tax as a way to increase revenues. I will sponsor legislation to create a unified corrections system in the state and use the savings from that reform to help with education. We don't need 11 different corrections systems with duplications, inefficiencies and lack of uniform policies. With the state relying on property taxes to fund education, we should not be paying to incarcerate criminals with our property taxes.

I would restore the budget cuts made to the university system and reinstate the scholarship fund as well as the cuts made to Planned Parenthood. I believe in a zero-based balanced budget. To achieve this budget and restore funding of the state's responsibility to provide for the safety, health and education of its people, increases in revenue as well as decreases in cost are needed. Providing incentives to do business in New Hampshire, improving our education system (kindergarten through bachelor's) and improving our infrastructure will create jobs and increase revenues. Ensuring a healthier public will decrease costs. On general principle, I would reinstitute the 10 cents tax per cigarette pack cut by the last session. My review of the budget shows that the appropriations for many departments should be questioned as to their actual needs.

I fundamentally disagree with the approach the current legislature has taken on a number of issues, including the altering and funding of Education and the Children in Need of Services. I also disagree with the refusal to take Medicaid money for the Disproportionate Share Hospital Program that reimbursed hospitals for their provision of Medicaid to uninsured patients and the cuts in the Department of Transportation among others. It is essential that decisions that affect the people of this town and the state are made with the input of all stake holders, and are not made in isolation by extremist House members. I acknowledge that the N.H. budget is very complicated and that there are no simple answers. I will work with both sides of the aisle to look for ways to raise the revenue necessary to keep vital programs intact that benefit the people of this state.

Many cuts impacted those who are the greatest at risk the most. The cuts also created new "self-inflicted" problems for N.H. families and businesses. For example, all five of Hampton's state representatives voted in favor of cutting financial support to UNH and N.H. Community Colleges by $55 million, making it more difficult for kids from New Hampshire to go to college here and attract new businesses to New Hampshire. We need to restore this funding as an investment in our future and I would do so by: reversing the Legislature's decision to reduce cigarette taxes. This will return $20 million in lost tax revenues to the state; eliminating the education tax credit for businesses, this will restore $3.4 million in lost tax revenues; encouraging school administrators to sharpen their "budget pencils;" looking to generate some additional revenue through small increases in some fees.

At this writing I am getting up to speed on the details of budget cuts. I am not prepared to be specific at this time. Philosophically, I agree with the budgeting approach that was taken which was to determine the taxes, fees and fines that would come into the state and fund essential activities. This is opposed to deciding how much to spend and then deciding how to increase taxes, fees and fines to burden the citizens and businesses.

It has been my experience that the only successful budget models that I have implemented were based on "zero-based budgeting." Simple "budget cut restoration" is not an approach that I am willing to take when charged with the task of fiscal responsibility. It appears that we got into this matter of budget cutting because some previous leaders did not follow the fundamentals of responsible fiscal management. If elected, I would like the opportunity to look at the budget as a new document, with the expectation that it will be founded upon results-based goals while protecting the hard-earned tax dollars of all of our citizens. Like our own personal finances, we need to forecast our expenditures based upon achievable goals, that includes a balanced budget.

Last session's budget cuts were the direct result of $850 million of uncontrolled overspending by the previous Democrat-controlled legislature without first ensuring that there was a reliable means to pay for those expenditures. We are required by law to balance the budget, so in the last term it was first determined what the revenues would be before the Finance Committee crafted a budget that would not exceed those revenues. This resulted in significant but painful cuts in many areas that were not what we wanted to do but rather what we had to do. In the next term, it is likely that different ways will be found to balance the budget through greater efficiency and cost savings, rather than by raising taxes or making large cuts in essential programs. I will not vote to spend what we do not have.

First, legislators of both bodies need to determine how much revenue will exist in the next biennium. When the process is complete spending decisions can then be made. If revenue increases, I would consider education programs before other issues. But if the revenue is expected to decrease, the more difficult decisions will be required.

See also

References

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