Boutin, Kelley square off in Senate race
David Boutin (R) editorial board. October 26, 2012. Running for re-election as state senator for District 16.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »
Kathleen Kelly ; Thursday, October 25, 2012.
(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »
Republican Sen. David Boutin of Hooksett knocks on lots of doors to convey his message of fiscal restraint and nonpartisanship.
Kathleen Kelley, a Democrat from Manchester, wants to talk about education, a subject she’s passionate about above all others during this election season.
The candidates from District 16 – covering Bow, Dunbarton, Candia, Hooksett, and Manchester Wards 1, 2 and 12 – spoke with the Monitor editorial board in separate interviews.
They ran against each other two years ago as well.
Boutin, the incumbent, has a resume that includes winning a special election to the Senate early in 2010 and then earning a full term nine months later. He served in the House of Representatives from 1996 to 2000 and returned from 2008 to 2010. He currently chairs the Capital Budget Committee and is vice chairman of the transportation committee.
Boutin is a retired real estate appraiser and site developer who’s proud of the budget he helped create.
“We focused on revenues and came up with something reasonable and supportable, which drove the formation of the budget,” Boutin said. “We came up with a budget that is tough, and there were some tough choices and painful adjustments that had to be made.
Boutin supported cuts to the university system, over a veto by Gov. John Lynch. He did not see the change, however, in negative terms, instead saying that lawmakers struck a balance between the need to educate and the need to save.
“There are great things, and part of it is what we did in the capital budget,” Boutin said “My hope is that we were pretty much on target with what we projected for revenue, so we can take comfort from the fact that we weren’t screwballs off the mark.”
Elsewhere, Boutin believes money for a new women’s prison is long overdue. He said he’s spoken with Lynch several times over the past two years about conditions at the prison, in Goffstown.
“If you have been inside the women’s prison, you know it’s disgraceful,” Boutin said. “We need to do something about that, and that’s one of my legislative priorities.”
Boutin did not say how he’d pay for a new or upgraded facility, adding he’s open to either private or state ownership.
And while Democrats are often against privatization, Boutin was quick to point out that he’s in step with the other side of the aisle on many issues and sometimes disagrees with members of his own party.
Like the time, Boutin said, that the University of New Hampshire suggested providing lawmakers with a report detailing educational funding needs over a period of several years.
“I thought that made sense,” Boutin said. “Some of my counterparts on the other side of the wall didn’t think so, but I did.”
Boutin said he’s worked with Democratic Sens. Matthew Houde, Lou D’Allesandro and Sylvia Larsen on legislation related to concussion policy in high schools, tax credits for research and development, truancy and funding for the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.
“We may disagree, but maybe we’ll come to some sort of compromise,” Boutin said. “I’m hoping in the next legislative session we can get back to that.”
While Boutin is against an increase in the gas tax, saying the public doesn’t want one, he supports expanded gambling in the form of full service casinos, similar to Foxwoods and built in the same manner as some of the state’s old, grand hotels. This, Boutin said, would pay for maintenance.
“To support that, I would want up to 70 percent of revenue to go into a newly formed road and bridge improvement fund,” Boutin said. “Others want it to go to education, but that’s not my position.”
It is, however, Kelley’s favorite topic. She’s the owner of a small insurance business and served 10 years on the Manchester School Board. She said she’s running, in part, because of Boutin’s voting record, which she said took funding away from the education system, most notably Children in Need of Services, or CHINS.
“I know how important the CHINS program was in Manchester,” Kelley said. “It gave an opportunity for troubled children who won’t go to school to get assistance from the state for a replacement school. Those are the kids who go in the front door and come out the back door.”
Kelley also favors expanded gambling as a revenue source, but the bulk of the money, she said, should help improve schools, not roads.
“It doesn’t have to be 100 percent,” Kelley said. “We can see where our needs are and figure out a formula, but education is the area where we should be growing. We shouldn’t be asking how to reach the minimum standard. We should be trying to get everyone to want to be like us.”
The state, Kelley said, lags far behind the rest of the country in funding its educational system. She wants smaller classes, higher pay for teachers and more focus on children learning. The lawmakers in power, Kelley said, failed to do this.
“They said it was my way or the highway,” Kelley said. “They didn’t sit down and say how can we best solve this problem. They said if you don’t take cuts, we’re going to freeze your spending, and that’s what they did and it wasn’t a responsible way to do it. It’s not fair to students who want to get an education.”