Our Turn: Two major questions heading into the State of the State address

Published: 2/15/2018 5:43:17 AM

We look forward to hearing Gov. Chris Sununu’s State of the State address today. In particular, we are interested in hearing real proposals in response to these questions:

1.) Last year, we lost over 6,000 jobs in New Hampshire. How does Gov. Sununu propose to stem the tide of the thousands of jobs lost under his tenure?

2.) Will Sununu propose anything new to combat our worsening opioid epidemic?

New Hampshire was one of only two states nationwide to lose jobs in 2017. In fact, New Hampshire lost over 6,000 jobs last year. Since Sununu took office, NASCAR moved one of its events out of New Hampshire, Liberty Mutual eliminated 810 jobs, and Sam’s Clubs in Seabrook and Manchester have both closed their doors, forcing hundreds of employees to wonder where their next paycheck will come from. Those are just some of many examples.

While Sununu struggled to keep Granite Staters employed, every other state in New England actually gained jobs last year. Most of the job losses came after Sununu’s budget went into effect. His budget gave out-of-state corporations a $100 million tax break instead of helping with workforce development and job training, something workers and businesses across the Granite State say is desperately needed.

We will continue to advance legislation to attract, retrain, and skill up our workforce. We also continue to advocate for a working families property tax credit. Rather than embracing a bipartisan path forward, Sununu embraced a partisan budget that prioritized additional tax breaks for the wealthy elite that will cost New Hampshire’s budget close to three quarters of a billion dollars by 2026.

Even Republicans in Kansas have backed away from these failed economic policies, recognizing they don’t drive up opportunity, they only drive up property taxes. And that’s something middle class Granite Staters are getting hammered by. The simple fact is this: Sununu’s fiscally irresponsible tax breaks for big corporations, many of which are headquartered out-of-state, like Amazon, did not drive growth or job creation. New Hampshire has lost thousands of jobs. And, without meaningful help for our communities, New Hampshire is facing skyrocketing property taxes in exchange for these tax breaks for big corporations.

Will Sununu learn from Kansas and reverse course, like Republicans in Kansas did? We’ll find out today.

We’ll also find out if Sununu proposes anything new to combat our opioid epidemic. New Hampshire continues to have the second worst opioid public health problem in the country with the second worst treatment capacity to deal with it. Sununu’s budget was a missed opportunity to meaningfully address the opioid public health epidemic. It was also a missed opportunity to make real progress on child protection – something worsening in this epidemic. But, his budget spent much more on additional tax breaks for big corporations, many with headquarters out of state, than it did on combating our opioid epidemic, or on child protection. Under Sununu’s budget, New Hampshire is on track to spend less on treatment and recovery services than in Gov. Maggie Hassan’s last term. We need to step up our efforts to combat this public health epidemic, not backpedal. That’s why we have proposed to use a portion of Rainy Day Fund to combat this opioid epidemic. It’s a rainy day right now for the opioid epidemic, and we hope Sununu will recognize this in his address today.

We look forward to working together with Sununu, but we must first be honest about job losses and the opioid epidemic. We cannot cherry-pick data points to gloss over these real problems. And we cannot tackle problems with simple political talking points. We need real solutions. We hope Sununu and our Republican colleagues will work together on the ideas we have proposed, as we look forward to working with them on any ideas they may propose. It shouldn’t be about who gets credit, it’s about whether we all get real results for the people we all serve.

(Jeff Woodburn of Whitefield is Senator for District 1, and Senate Democratic Leader. DonnaSoucy of Manchester is Senator for District 18, and Deputy Democratic Leader. Dan Feltes ofConcord is Senator for District 15, and Democratic Policy Leader.)


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