I consider myself a moderate. I prefer working to find common ground on difficult issues rather than arguing partisan talking points. And I simply don’t know enough about many of the issues that will come before the Legislature to have hard and clear answers on every question that will arise; on many issues, I will want to seek advice from people who know more than I do—including constituents. That said, Merrimack District 9 voters are entitled to know my views on some of the more significant issues likely to come before the Legislature in the next session. Here are my thoughts on:
- Jobs and the Economy—This should be the Legislature’s highest priority. We need to encourage private-sector job creation through measures such as the R&D tax credit—which would have passed in the last session had the House not tied it to a completely unrelated piece of social legislation previously killed by the Senate. And we need to stop making public-sector lay-offs in a sluggish economy; the education and health services cuts made by the Legislature have forced hundreds of lay-offs among teachers and health care workers. It’s time to focus on jobs and economic growth, and give the social issues a rest.
- Taxes—If elected, I will not vote for a broad-based sales or income tax in the next session, because it is not clear to me that we need one. But I will not take the anti-income tax “Pledge” either (or any other pledge, for that matter), because I am not prepared to decide in advance how we should solve problems that have not yet presented themselves, and without any input from constituents. I oppose Constitutional Amendment CACR 13 for the same reason: I can’t see tying the hands of future legislators who may have to deal with problems that we cannot imagine. None of us likes paying taxes, but that is the way we pay for needed services (like roads, bridges, and public schools) that cannot be provided efficiently or appropriately by the private sector. In every session of the Legislature, just as in our annual Town Meetings, we have to find the right balance between the public services we need and our ability to pay for them.
- Health Care—This past Legislature made severe cuts in funding for public health, with the result that thousands of New Hampshire women will be denied family planning and other basic health care services, hundreds of seniors have had access to Medicare services threatened or denied, and many low-income families have lost access to Medicaid services. Mental health, disability and CHINS services have been dramatically cut, creating long wait times or service denials for patients who need the kind of care that many of us take for granted in order to live productive lives. I believe that moving promptly to implement the Affordable Care Act by expanding Medicaid with federal dollars is the best way to insure that all New Hampshire citizens have access to basic health services.
- Education—We know that education is the key to good jobs at good wages, yet in the last session the House slashed funding for public education from kindergarten to the state university system. We need to treat public education for what it is—an investment in our children and in the future of our state. I support the right of families to opt for private education or home schooling if they so choose—but on First Amendment grounds I oppose the use of public tax dollars to support private and religious education, regardless of whether it is called “vouchers” or tax credits for “scholarships.”
- Church and State—I’m a Christian, but my faith is personal, and I fully respect the First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom and separation of church and state. The Canterbury United Community Church has been my church home for the last 30 years, but while we are between settled pastors, I have enjoyed worshipping as a guest with other congregations in both Loudon and Canterbury.
- Right-to-Work—I oppose so-called “Right-to-Work” legislation, which is associated not with the kind of good jobs we want in New Hampshire but with low wages and union busting. It is out-of-state organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), more than New Hampshire businesses, that are pressing for Right-to-Work laws. The New Hampshire businesses on which our advanced economy depends need skilled, educated workers, not low-paid ones.
- Second Amendment—The Second Amendment gives every American the right to keep and carry arms: “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” But as Justice Scalia has noted, this right is subject to limitations imposed by state legislatures and upheld by the Supreme Court. I believe guns are useful in many places: in the home, to defend loved ones and property; in the woods, for hunting; and at shooting ranges, to name just a few. I do not believe it is necessary or helpful for private citizens to carry guns in schools, on university campuses, in hospitals, in churches, in movie theatres or other crowded venues in the “public square,” or in the courts (including the Legislature, which is our General Court). In these places, reason and persuasion, rather than force or the threat of force, should prevail.
- Increasing the Minimum Wage— Alone among New England states, New Hampshire has no minimum wage of its own (it was repealed by the Bill O’Brien Legislature in 2011). The result is that New Hampshire defaults to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, making us the lowest minimum wage state in the region. There are at least three good reasons for re-establishing our own state minimum wage and increasing it to $10 an hour in three annual steps – first to $8, then to $9 and finally to $10. First, over the medium term, it would increase consumer demand, give the economy a shot in the arm and lead to more jobs, not less. Second, it would reduce welfare payments directly and taxes indirectly. Third, it would be the right thing to do for New Hampshire’s working families, who, after accounting for inflation, have not had a raise in a long, long time. Read More.