This was published as an op-ed in the May 11, 2012 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper, in Conway, NH. The East Conway Road that I mention extends from East Conway to Fryeburg, ME. It's been in dire need of repair since I moved to NH in 1984.
Blue HampshireA new report from the Carsey Institute at UNH shows that more people are leaving the state than moving in. In 2001, there were more people moving to NH than leaving, but by 2010, the trend was reversed and some 2,200 left the state. This report confirms the findings of demographers Peter Francese and Lorraine Stuart Merrill who published “Communities and Consequences: The Unbalancing of New Hampshire’s Human Ecology, and What We Can Do About It” in 2008. The book pointed out that NH’s population is aging, and essentially unfriendly to young families. The reverse migration is proof.
NH begrudges every dime it spends on education. Why would anyone move here (or stay here) with a young family, knowing that education is hated here because of our regressive tax structure? Then there’s higher education. NH spends less on our public colleges than any other state in the union. We’re so far in last place that if we tripled what we spend, we’d still be in last place. Last year a lot of states made cuts to their university systems. NH may be in 50th place for investing in our colleges, but we’re number one in spending cuts! NH cut 41% of the state funding to our colleges. The closest other state was Arizona, who cut a measly 25%.
Our students leave here with the highest burden of college debt in the country. It’s why the best and brightest students of NH don’t stay here when they graduate. There aren’t enough jobs for them, and the potential for opening their own businesses in a state that doesn’t invest in infrastructure is very, very limited. Our state’s 27,000+ millionaires seem to be failing in their role as “job creators.”
Speaker of the NH House, William O’Brien, announced this week that he wants to eliminate a further $400 million from the state budget next year, if voters are foolish enough to send him back. The last budget shaved some $30 million off the DOT budget, in a state that has the 11th worst infrastructure in the nation. Folks will recall that the DOT planned to deal with these cuts by cutting back on plowing snow on some secondary roads. Rep. Gene Chandler, ever mindful of covering his own political heinie, charged in and “fixed” the situation, just as he’s doing now with the East Conway Road. Lucky for the Speaker Pro Tempore, we had a light winter, and some of those unspent DOT funds are being used to patch up East Conway Road. There’s certainly not enough money to actually fix it – nor will there ever be as long as we vote for the new, even more offensive breed of Republicans who are currently running our state. Don’t forget for a moment that Chandler is part of the O’Brien junta’s leadership team. He’s defended O’Brien, shilled for the dreadful budget passed in 2011, and will do the same, if voted in for another term. In past years, Chandler made sure a whole lot of money went to straighten and “fix” roads in Bartlett that really didn’t need fixing, while doing nothing for roads in other towns. If Conway voters send Gene back to Concord, they’ll continue to get exactly what they deserve. In the meantime, be sure to ask him for a look at the Speaker’s plan to cut $400 million more from the state budget.
It’s difficult to imagine why young families don’t want to move to a state that hates education and infrastructure, isn’t it?
In other legislative news, once again the clown car that is the NH GOP is providing us with more entertainment. NH state legislators have an email system. They can send and receive emails from constituents, and they can send out group emails to their fellow legislators through this system. State Rep. Jerry Bergevin of Manchester has been sending out some questionable commentary recently to all of his fellow legislators. Bergevin, you may recall, is the same fellow who filed a bill to create a “Terry Schiavo Day” in NH, and an anti-evolution bill. Bergevin wanted to teach evolution as a theory, but also to ensure that children were taught that the people who came up with the theory were atheists. He told the Concord Monitor that the Columbine school massacre was the result of teaching evolution. Another of Bergevin’s bills would have provided a “religious” exemption for those who wanted to refuse to provide services to gay folks. In other words, legalizing his own brand of bigotry, with a side order of piety.
Bergevin’s latest hobbyhorse is medical marijuana, and he’s been sending emails out to his colleagues calling them “Potheads” for exploiting the sick and trying to legalize “dope.” He mentions that he’s experienced pain from health problems, but only taken prescription medications. Bergevin predictably found a way to insert some ugly anti-gay commentary into his email. Best of all, however, were his comments on the upcoming elections. Here’s a direct (unedited) quote:
“RHINO republicans Hunting season is about to begin and I Love hunting for these its going to be a Great Kill this year !”Given the quality of his prose and his level of punctuation, those prescriptions he touted haven’t yet expired. The Speaker of the House and his Charlie McCarthy (aka Majority Leader DJ Bettencourt) have so far made no comment on Bergevin’s offensive, and vaguely threatening commentary, so one is left to assume that Bergevin’s comments are supported by his colleagues and the House leadership.
Once again, the Freebaglican legislature proves to be nothing but an embarrassment to our state. Despite their claims to be focusing on job creation, instead, they’re creating a climate that virtually ensures that businesses will be fleeing the state. The state’s unemployment rate has increased since the O’Brien junta took control.
Decent roads, bridges, and communications infrastructure are vital to the economic future of our state. Will we vote for the future in November, or will we continue to cling to the failed policies of the past?
Fun Fact: William Loeb – the dead Republican who still dictates NH policy from the grave, lived in a mansion in Pride’s Crossing, a wealthy enclave in “Taxachusetts.”