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Thousands Expected at State House Rally Today

March 31, 2011

CONCORD, N.H. - Organizers say they expect thousands to gather outside the State House at noon today to call for the House and Senate to scrap a budget proposal that contains deep cuts to social service agencies.

They say the cuts would do serious damage to New Hampshire's "safety net." Educators, law enforcement and state employees are among a wide range of stakeholders upset about the cuts. Rally organizer Sarah Aiken says the message is "lean, not mean."

"We don't mind having a budget that is fiscally responsible and lean, but you can't cross the line and go too far, where it's devastating."

The $10.4 billion budget for the two years beginning July 1 would spend about 450 million less than Gov. John Lynch proposed. Republican House members say the governor's revenue projections are too high.

Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, says the proposed budget would make it more difficult for Granite State residents to get a college education, find or keep a job, or care for family members in their own homes. He predicts a large turnout for the rally.

"People from all walks of life, whether police and firefighters, whether working people who rely on child-care programs in the state, all coming together to talk about the fact that this budget is not good for the state, and it really is worth starting over again and sort of re-evaluating where we go from here."

The idea for the rally materialized less than a week and a half ago, Aiken says, and has taken off.

"Absolutely fantastic in such a short period of time. I'm really excited about communities getting together to make the point that we need to take care of our own. That's the New Hampshire way."

The rally is scheduled to start at noon. Police have closed the streets that run alongside the Capitol to accommodate the crowd.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NH