Thursday, August 11, 2011

Magical Thinking

The NH Dept. of Transportation (DOT) announced this week that due to cuts budget cuts, they are going to cut back on plowing some roads between the hours of 9pm and 4am, and allow the snow to accumulate to between 5-7 inches before sending some crews out to plow. DOT spokesman Bill Boynton pointed out that the legislature cut the DOT budget by 11.5 percent. They lost 42 employees. The budget for sand and salt was cut 25 percent.

This story sparked a huge outcry, and one of the loudest voices of outrage came from Rep. Gene Chandler, who called the DOT plan “unacceptable.” If it weren’t so tragic, this kind of magical thinking would be hilarious. When you cut revenue and spending, there will be consequences. Apparently he thought that those consequences would happen in some other guy’s district.

This reaction will become increasingly common as the budget cuts eliminate more programs and services. Rep. Fred Leonard of Rochester was very sad to learn that the draconian county budget cuts he supported caused the elimination of the Strafford County Cooperative Extension Program. Another case of magical thinking.

The GOP mantra for decades has been “NH doesn’t have a revenue problem, NH has a spending problem.” Like many lies that are repeated often and loudly, this has become “fact” in the NH lexicon, and oft repeated by the NH media, in their role as NHGOP stenographers. It’s a simple reality that running a state costs some money. NH has been doing it on the cheap forever, as one can see by looking at the legislature. We pay them nothing, and this year in particular, we’re getting exactly what we pay for. The current legislature is comprised of far right Republicans, Tea Partiers, Free Staters, and John Birchers. The Free Staters are the libertarians that GOP Governor Craig Benson invited to move here. Their earliest manifesto called for the FSP to move to NH, take over the state, and dismantle our state government. Perhaps the members of the Free State Project will show us how a libertarian paradise would work, by pitching in to plow this winter.

Rep. Chandler ran for Speaker again this past year, figuring the corn dust from 2004 had settled. He lost to Tea Party Republican Bill O’Brien. (Reminder: Rep. Laurie Pettengill supported O’Brien. Umberger and McCarthy supported Chandler in the speaker race.) Representative Chandler was given the position of “Speaker pro Tempore” in the O’Brien administration, which makes him part of the O’Brien Teabaglican team. Chandler worked on this budget. He fought for it, defended it, and ultimately he voted for it. For him to boo hoo about the budget cuts now that they’ve come home to roost in his district is the very definition of hypocrisy.

The NH Republicans who ran for office in 2010 all spoke often, and loudly about job creation. So far, they’ve created one job – the guy who was hired to be O’Brien’s policy advisor. Instead, they’ve actually created job losses. There are the 42 DOT jobs that were lost, and at least 450 jobs lost in hospitals in the southern part of the state, with 750 more coming at Dartmouth Hitchcock, all because of the state budget. So far, that’s over a thousand jobs lost, with more on the way. When the unemployment rate goes up, will these proud Teabaglicans claim responsibility for the fine work they’ve done?

In 2012, the O’Brien House will be focused – not on jobs, but on social engineering. The far right nanny staters have so far filed 57 pages of LSRs (legal service requests, or proposed legislation) for 2012. Rep. David Bates (R. Homophobia) wants to turn NH into a referendum state, so that we can enjoy the same kind of idiocy we see with referenda in California and Maine. He also wants desperately to overturn our marriage equality law, which is widely supported by NH residents. Rep. Jerry Bergevin is a one-man nanny state machine. He wants to legislate the teaching of the Bible in our public schools and change abortion laws. Rep. Dan Itse is bringing back his bill to form a state army, despite the fact that it will cost the state over $100,000 a year. Susan DeLemus wants to eliminate the DMV’s motorcycle safety program, and ensure that presidential candidates are required to provide proper documentation to satisfy her need to prove they aren’t from Kenya. Rep. DeLemus and several others also want to ensure that NH doesn’t receive any federal aid grants or dollars. Rep. Norm Tregenza wants NH to urge Congress to: withdraw from the UN, to call for an audit of the Federal Reserve, and to withdraw from NAFTA. Each LSR costs approximately $1500, which means Norm Tregenza has just spent $4500 tax dollars on nonsensical bills that will never go anywhere. Tregenza also wants to reduce the rooms and meals tax over a 5-year period. Someone should warn him that if he continues to reduce revenue sources, he might have to cut back on filing nuisance legislation.

Perhaps if the current legislature were forced to reel in their increasingly bizarre proposed legislation, we’d have enough money in our state budget to plow our roads.

This was published as an op-ed in the August 12, 2011 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.

The credit for the picture goes to the Eagle Tribune newspaper

© 2011 sbruce


DissedBelief said...

I first became aware of our revenue cuts to winter plowing in the Conway Daily Sun. I was aghast that Gene Chandler had the unmitigated gaul to start screaming about this. I'm so glad you eloquently laid out in this article Susan, the hypocrisy of the GOP. The NH sect has become much more like a cult, with it's customary lunatic followers. The only thing left for them to propose, would be to secede from the Union and establish an independent state, run much like the communities of David Koresh, Jim Jones and many recent others who also don't believe in government, abortion, one wife unions and who are instructed by "their" God that sexual relations with children is just fine. Our GOP is very much beginning to look like fanatics. I can't imagine what their backgrounds or brains must be like to have reached this lowly place, but I fear for us all. Their deep love of business is clearly not going to get us out of this mess, probably, because it put us here in the first place. Mitt Romney for one should consider spending his vast fortune on some other venture, since having bred so many children, but not supporting financial assistance to parents less fortunate, places him in the same cocoon of hypocrisy.

Thomas Maher said...

Referendum idiocy? Being from Maine, I may need some help on this one.
The referendum process can be used or abused but I feel that it does put the tools of government closer to the people.
If another voice said what you said, I would be frothing, since I respect you, I ask for justification.

susanthe said...

Mr. Maher: Your legislature passed a marriage equality bill. You know the rest. That's my justification.

Referendum may have been intended to put the tools of government closer to the people - but now - it puts big money in the hands of tools, the kind of tools who lie and manipulate voters. I do not want that to happen in my state. I wish it hadn't happened in yours. My daughter lives in Maine. She called me one day to ask "what's all this stuff about teaching homosexuality in public schools?" This is a woman who knows better than to believe in that kind of nonsense, but - she heard it over and over and some of it began to penetrate and cause her to question the things she knows to be true.

That's also my justification. I love Maine. I'll probably move there within the next 5 years. I just hate referenda questions.

Bonnie Rusell said...


Thanks! Reading you from California, please know you are appreciated for your work, and writing style. Thank you. P.S. You're mentioned in the archives section of

Aamer Waqas Chaudhary said...

Whither people-friendly, for the masses governance?