Groups Rally Against State Budget, Urge Lawmakers to Put Granite Staters First
Thursday, June 24, 2021
CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire lawmakers are zeroing in on this year's nearly 175 page state budget, but advocates for working families say policy items included in it are not aimed at helping Granite Staters.
Leah Cohen - digital engagement coordinator for Granite State Progress - noted there's an amendment prohibiting teaching about implicit bias or systemic racism, and a ban on abortions after 24 weeks with no exceptions for rape, incest or fatal fetal diagnosis.
And, she added, an expansive school voucher program, cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services, and corporate tax giveaways.
"These efforts to slide past these policy items - through a massive omnibus bill - is an effort to reduce transparency at our State House and prevent the public from participating in our democracy," said Cohen. "It's a form of disenfranchisement."
She added that while the White House has introduced plans to build a more equitable and sustainable economy, the Sununu administration and the Republican-controlled General Court are doubling down on policies for the wealthy.
Groups are rallying at the State House today as lawmakers hold the final budget votes.
Grace Kindeke - New Hampshire program coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee - said the so-called "divisive concepts" language is part of a national effort to not only stop conversations about systemic racism and sexism, but to shirk responsibility for addressing disparities.
"We have 1% of the population overly disproportionately represented in sentencing or in child seizures or in the homeless population or even in the graduation rates in our public schools," said Kindeke. "If we're not allowed to make those connections and gather that data, then we cannot actually address any of those issues."
Maggie Fogarty, also with the American Friends Service Committee as New Hampshire co-director, said tax cuts in the budget for businesses and wealthy folks - including reduced business profits and business enterprise taxes - add to that concern.
She noted that New Hampshire has a track record of passing off revenue shortfalls onto local property taxes.
"It's alarming to think about what this will look like at the very local level," said Fogarty, "both in terms of increased pressure on local taxes, but also on the kinds of cuts that will get made in response to the reduced revenue."
She said if New Hampshire would fairly tax the wealthy and corporations, there are so many improvements the state could make to people's lives - including increasing access to affordable housing and mental-health services and investing in roads, clean air, college affordability and public schools.
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