Thursday, March 31, 2011
Is This What You Voted For?
Let us harken back to the halcyon days of 2009. Back to the time when the group known as the Tea Party (who originally called themselves Teabaggers) came into being. We now know that this is an astroturf project, funded by the Koch brothers, but back then, this group of “grassroots” activists received a disproportionate amount of media attention. The attention was uncritical, and unquestioning. No one ever seemed to wonder why, it was, that these noble patriots, so concerned about deficit spending, remained silent during the entire Bush administration, while the invasion and occupation of 2 countries was being put on a credit card, totaling somewhere in the $2 trillion range. Not a peep out of them then. Their outrage didn’t manifest until a black guy got into the White House.
Back in 2009, these “grassroots” activists began to appear at the town hall meetings of congresswomen and men. They showed up at Carol Shea-Porter’s town hall meetings to shout her down. They showed up at the NH State House and shouted and behaved badly at committee meetings and house sessions. All the while, the complicit media painted them as outraged patriots, instead of ill-behaved thugs. They came to events wearing guns in an effort to intimidate the non-gun toting crowd, and did a lot of blathering about their second amendment rights. They carried signs talking about watering the tree of liberty – a clear call to violent action, that eventually resulted in a number of lives lost in Arizona, and the shooting of a Congresswoman.
You voted many of these people into office in NH in 2010. Teabaggers, Free Staters, and John Birchers have all been enfolded into a NH Republican Party that my father wouldn’t recognize as the party he supported during his lifetime. They ran for office on the promise of cutting spending and creating jobs. They had no plan for job creation, and no intention of developing one. Their plan was to remake the state of NH in their own image – a very Free Stater image. When Craig Benson (the one term GOP Governor that the NH GOP never, ever mentions) invited the Free Staters to come here, they announced their intention was to come here and take over the state, eliminating the government, and seceding from the union. Welcome to 2011, folks. They’re here, they’re in charge, and they’re on their way. This may not be what YOU had in mind when you voted for all those R’s on the ballot.
You were sick of your property taxes going up. Because of NH’s regressive tax structure, we have an over-reliance on property taxes, one that disproportionately affects middle and low-income people. A teacher, earning $30,000 a year, with property taxes of $5,000 is paying $16.7% of their income in taxes, compared with the person earning $60,000 a year with the same tax rate. They’re only paying 8.3 percent of their income in taxes. Our state’s 27,000 millionaires are paying even less of their income in property tax, which is why NH is a tax-free haven for the wealthy.
You were sick of your property taxes going up, so you voted for the people who are currently working on the state budget. The bad news is – your property taxes are going to go up, because they’re cutting spending and passing the buck to towns and counties. In late night votes, with last minute amendments, in secret – with a speaker that has instructed that debates NOT go in the House journal, where we the people could read them, is a budget so reckless that it will require decades to undo.
One amendment drops the pay for the county Registrar of Probate to $100 a year. The Consumer Protection Bureau is eliminated. Funding for domestic violence programs is slashed, as is funding for substance abuse treatment (something we weren’t big on funding to begin with). The state prison in Berlin will be closed. Some 100 court employees will be laid off.
As for education – we don’t need no steenkin’ education. This budget cuts dropout prevention and votech programs. It cuts funding for the state university system – and we should all remember that NH already ranks a firm 50th in the nation for state spending on post-secondary education. Special Ed funding is reduced to the lowest possible legal level.
This budget also eliminates the ServiceLink program. It ends catastrophic aid to hospitals, which helped hospitals defray the cost of uncompensated care, repeals juvenile prevention programs and ends incentive grants for such programs, and eliminates the Division of Safety Services within the Department of Safety. The Division of Safety includes the Marine Patrol, which in addition to providing boater safety education also aids in rescuing boaters in trouble. The Division of Safety also oversees the safety of ski lifts and amusement rides. Who cares about safety, anyway? Perhaps it’s fortunate that the budget also eliminates funding for foreign tourist promotion. They aren’t going to want to come here. No one is going to want to come here.
This budget also contains massive cuts to developmental disabilities programs, reinstitutes the wait list, and drastically cuts mental health spending. House Finance Chair, Ken Weyler, who attended the Martin Harty School of Sensitive Public Commentary, said earlier in the week that mental health providers encourage people to become patients for life, in order to maintain public funding. Weyler further stated that a woman who went for help with post-partum depression would become a “patient for life” where in reality, she would no longer need services after a year, “once her baby became more animated.” Representative Weyler received his MD from the Allied Pilots Association.
NH already ranks 48th in the nation in state expenditures per person. It’s always a source of pride when we can take a back seat to Mississippi, and clearly we will be, for some time to come.
In short, we have a budget that eliminates jobs rather than creating them, and creates more problems for the judicial system, while cutting funds for it, and will definitely create more incarceration, while closing a prison. This budget ensures that fewer of our children will be educated, and that the most vulnerable among us will be tossed to the curb.
Is this what you voted for?
published as an op-ed in the 4-1-11 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper
© 2011 sbruce
Posted by susanthe at 10:53 PM