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Who's O'Brien kidding?

Last modified: 7/29/2011 12:00:00 AM
Republican leaders in the Legislature, most recently Speaker Bill O'Brien ("This Legislature has delivered," Monitor Forum, July 23), have scrambled to the airwaves and op-ed pages to convince the public that the recently passed state budget will lower taxes and spur growth. People would be wise to consider these claims with a grain of salt, since the real effect of this budget, which just became law on July 1, will be job losses, increased property taxes and a reduction of services for our most needy citizens.

The speaker is taking credit for our already low unemployment rate of 4.8 percent, despite the fact that none of the Republican initiatives have even gone into effect yet. Democrats helped businesses weather the recession through job training, tax credits, NH Working and continued funding of services.

The Republican budget not only directly eliminates hundreds of public sector jobs, it eliminates private sector jobs as well. Home care providers, people who work with the developmentally disabled and many others in the social service industry will lose their jobs due to the cuts in state programs that enable those industries to operate.

A cut of more than $90 million in highway funding will have an impact not only on state highways, but on your local roads as well. This has already led Pike Industries to say it will be forced to lay off 100 workers.

More jobs will be lost in higher education. The Republican budget slashed funds to the university system by 45 percent and raised the already highest-in-the-nation tuition at UNH by more than $1,000 per year, ensuring layoffs of instructors and support staff.

What really brings jobs to New Hampshire is an educated work force. Rather than embracing what has been key to our economic success, this Republican legislature has made it more difficult for our young people to get an education and jeopardizes our ability to have the skilled and educated workforce companies need to grow and create jobs.

Skyrocketing healthcare costs are one of the biggest impediments to business growth. This legislature has all but guaranteed hospital costs are going to increase dramatically. The combination of new taxes on hospitals and other program cuts totaling more than $250 million will result in increased rates - forcing insurance premiums to rise - and, once again, the lay off of workers to make up for these cuts and taxes.

Finally, the speaker's claim of cutting taxes is disingenuous at best. Indeed, the only real tax cut was the cigarette tax, and we have already seen that the tobacco companies raised their wholesale prices. As a result, the consumer will save nothing, cigarette companies will make bigger profits, and the state will lose $14 million in revenue.

Your property taxes will surely rise, because the decrease in spending that the speaker claims includes more than $113 million in direct downshifting to cities and towns.

In the coming months we will see how the policies of this Republican legislature really affect the people of New Hampshire.

My prediction is that rather than the tax cuts and job growth that Speaker O'Brien touts, we will all see significant job loss and increases in our local property taxes to make up for lost aid to towns and organizations that give aid to our neediest.

(Rep. Terie Norelli of Portsmouth is the House Democratic leader.)


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