Thursday, February 19, 2015

I'm Back

I’m back.

As you know, I was involved in a serious car accident in November. I had a crushed femur, 4 compression fractures in my vertebrae, and a bunch of broken ribs. This resulted in 2 surgeries, a 2-month hospital stay, and in ongoing physical therapy. I’m hoping to be walking again by spring. I’m feeling pretty fortunate – I didn’t die! I was also really lucky to learn that I have the best friends and the best support system anyone could hope for.

Enough about me. On to the legislature!

The big news so far this year was the O’Brien vs. Jasper upset vote for Speaker of the NH House. Former Speaker Bill O’Brien was so sure he was going to be Speaker again that he was boasting about it in the press. His supporters were negotiating deals on committee chair positions.

Then he lost. The libertea crowd lives in a bubble. They only talk to each other. This insularity leads them to believe that their rabid ideology is far more popular than it actually is; that they are far more popular than they really are. O’Brien made a lot of promises to be a different sort of speaker this time – one with an open door policy, and presumably one that wouldn’t close the House gallery to the people, or deny reporters access to his press conferences. Those promises fell on skeptical ears. 

On the day of the election, O’Brien tried to change the rules so that he could be king. Then he failed to get a majority in the first vote. After that, Republican Shawn Jasper entered the contest. Jasper managed to secure bi-partisan support, and finally won the speakership. O’Brien had a Rumpelstiltskin style tantrum, declared himself the real leader, and opened an office across the street from the State House to. …lead, or something. The libertea crowd has been calling conservative Republican Shawn Jasper a RINO and a (gasp!) Democrat ever since. If this sounds childish, that’s because it is.  O’Brien went to the Iowa Freedom Summit last month to mumble into a microphone and announce that he is the current Republican NH House Leader, which probably came as a surprise to Rep. Jack Flanagan who actually holds that position.

The O’Brien cabal is now doing all that it can to subvert the process. Bills that come out of committee with a unanimous or near unanimous recommendation (like a vote of 15-0 that the bill ought to pass) go on the Consent Calendar, which is a section of the House voting session that is usually pretty quickly dispatched by voice votes. Occasionally a representative will pull a bill off Consent, to try to sway his or her fellow legislators that the recommendation is wrong, and this bill deserves greater consideration. The libertea crowd has begun pulling everything off Consent in an effort to slow down the process. They know they aren’t going to change the outcome, but they can obstruct and delay, and that’s the goal.

The Speaker assigns the seating in the House chamber. Jasper sat the most obnoxious members of the libertea crowd  in the middle of what is called “Murderer’s Row” in the middle section of the chamber. Murderer’s Row is a reference to the 1920’s NY Yankees batting line up. In the case of this particular legislature, it’s a lot of angry men wedged in together, forced to climb over one another to get to the podium to speak. They heckle, make sexist remarks about women, and they plot their next moves in the obstruction and delay derby that appears to be their idea of how to best serve their constituents. Lucky for them, their constituents appear to vote solely on the basis of party affiliation, and pay no attention to how effective their state representatives actually are.

This is a budget year in the biennium, so the predictable talk about revenue and budget cuts has already begun. Given how little revenue NH raises to run the state, it’s interesting to watch the GOP try to starve the state even further. The Senate recently passed a bill to eliminate the concealed carry permit. This will create an approximate annual loss of a million dollars to the state, which bill sponsor Senator Jeb Bradley blithely dismissed as unimportant in an interview with NHPR. Given Bradley’s sudden toadying up to the gundamentalists, the lack of concern for revenue, and recent spate of mountain climbing publicity, it’s likely that Bradley has plans to run for higher office in 2016.

The bill to reduce the amount of the business profits tax from 8.5% to 7% would reduce revenue to the state by $60,000,000 in 2016. A bill to exempt businesses doing business as a proprietorship from the business enterprise tax would decrease revenue to the state by $17,100,000 in fiscal year 2016, and unknown amounts in the future, according to the fiscal note attached to the bill. Another bill to exempt proprietorships from taxation under the business profits tax would decrease state revenue by $17,025,000 in fiscal year 2016, and unknown amounts in the future. SB 6, a bill to increase the research and development tax credit against the business profits tax would decrease state general fund and education fund revenues by $500,000,000. Add in the million dollars from Jeb Bradley's gun bill and we're looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of $600,000,000. 

This is fiscal irresponsibility of on an epic scale. If all of these bills pass, NH will be in a mess. It will take decades to recover.

The libertea crowd is under the impression that once they eliminate business taxes and unions, then companies will be lined up at the door to relocate to NH. This is further evidence of the bubble. NH property taxes are outrageous. We do not invest in education. Our energy costs are exorbitant, and we have the 11th worst infrastructure in the nation. It’s clear to any company considering a move that we don’t invest in our state, so why would they?

Will the bubble burst? Stay tuned.  

Edited to fix the numbers - thanks Tony Schinella!

This was published as an op-ed in the February 20, 2015 issue of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper. 


Cynthia Melendy said...

Thanks for the reality check, Susan! What shall we do with this bunch?

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Susan! Thank you for this update on the GOP freak show. Our local news doesn't cover it nearly enough. I think they want people to stay ignorant. Boston news covers their state house very nicely. Exactly what is NH media trying to hide from us? "Move along now, nothing to see here..."

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you went through a horrendous experience and wish you a complete recovery. Keep up the good work! - Londonderrylaura

Anonymous said...

So glad you are back. I have great respect and admiration for your courage and realize what an ordeal you have been through. I so agree with everything you've said. Keep up the good work and good luck with your continued physical recovery.

Anonymous said...

You have been missed. I asked at the Sun about you but they said they didn't know. I just had a bad feeling and am terribly sorry you had to go through such a horrendous experience. So glad you have solid support. Continued blessings for 100% healing.

So many live a bubble it seems. The cartoon with the elephant is pure poetry (does the elephant have a case of gas? We can only hope). I'm not optimistic however, because it seems that more and more I'm living in an environment that mimics the brownshirts in the late 1930's Germany. Most states in our land do not invest in infrastructure and it bodes poorly for our future as a powerful and respected nation. We have fallen miserably behind nearly every single European country as well as nations such as Japan. We're in trouble. But no matter to those whose only concern are their pathetic so called "ideals" which utilize more emotion and histrionics than grey matter.

Monica R. Derr said...

Hurray! Susan is back!! It is only by the talented pen of yours that we can stomach the nonsense of NH politics, especially the growing insanity of Mr. wannabe speaker. So glad you have not lost your spunk and sharp wit. Monica

Brian Loudermilch said...

It's Nice to have you Back. I Hope that your recovery isn't too Painful.

Your observations regarding this state's Budget process are perfectly accurate.

It doesn't take much effort to look at the fiscal situation of states like Kansas and Wisconsin and understand that they are in serious Trouble.

Apparently, Our Teahaddist representatives want to duplicate those same Mistakes here at Home.

Anonymous said...

LOL "We do not invest in education."??? I guess perhaps those property taxes you bitch about are NOT high enough? We "seniors" are living on cat food because NH can't stop paying $100K/year consultants from the UN to indoctrinate our kids.

~ Teacher

susanthe said...

NH ranks a firm 50th in the nation for state spending on our university/college system. Yep. Mississippi spends more than we do. By a lot. If there were 100 places, NH would still be dead last.

Take that to your tinfoil bunker, anonymous "teacher."

SnowDog991 said...

"The libertea crowd lives in a bubble. They only talk to each other. This insularity leads them to believe that their rabid ideology is far more popular than it actually is; that they are far more popular than they really are."

The same is true with Lefty ideology: your ideology. The truth is that the average person doesn't really care about politics, and therefore doesn't want things to change very fast at all. The average person is afraid when anyone with strong political motivation gets into power.

susanthe said...

You might have a point if "lefties" had any kind of political power in NH. I suspect you're conflating "Democrats" and "lefties" but one of these things is not like the other.