“People’s Budget” Coalition Urges NH Senate, House, to Pass State Budget That Invests In People and Communities
Organizations call for a state budget that invests in our communities’ health, education, recovery, opportunity, and vitality
CONCORD, NH – Members of the People’s Budget Coalition will gather on Wednesday, June 7th and Thursday June 8th at 9 AM ahead of the New Hampshire State Senate and House votes (respectively) on the budget, to advocate for a budget that adequately funds people’s needs, including education, housing, health care, and the environment, and to speak out against harmful spending like the funding proposed for the Northern Border Alliance.
“Granite Staters are not safer or better cared for when our representatives choose to divert much needed funds into unnecessary northern border enforcement and school voucher programs instead of funding affordable housing, public education, and healthcare to the amounts needed for state agencies to do their jobs well,” said Grace Kindeke, NH Program Coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee which convenes the People’s Budget Coalition. “Our communities deserve a state budget that values our health, education, and opportunity. We urge lawmakers to listen and prioritize investments that will strengthen New Hampshire communities and not rush to pass a budget that includes harmful provisions simply to score political points.”
Specifically, the coalition has sent letters to Senators and Representatives advocating for:
- Increasing public safety by removing Sections 477-480 regarding the Northern Border Alliance from the budget. The House removed a proposed $1.4 million originally included in the budget to establish a “Northern Border Alliance Program” and the Senate Finance Committee restored the funding.
- Maintaining changes to Section 49-51: $40 million of the proposed $50 million “deposit” on the construction of a new prison was pulled from the House version of HB 2. This is good news, and we urge Senators to oppose any effort to reinstate the money. Since 2014, New Hampshire’s prison population has declined 35 percent and crime has decreased over 31 percent, showing that we can safely reduce our prison population without harming public safety.
- Restoring House Passed HB 2 Sections 372-373: These sections would have appropriated $1 million to develop a real time system to ensure that individuals making bail determinations know whether an individual seeking bail is currently on release for another alleged offense. Unlike the one-size-fits-all SB 252 and SB 249, which have passed the Senate and would lead to the needless, mandatory incarceration of thousands of Granite Staters each year, this funding is a targeted approach to ensure that people are not granted bail without the court first knowing whether the individual is on release for another alleged offense.
- Restoring House Passed HB 2 Sections 441-442: These sections would have required state, county, or municipal law enforcement to provide the public with up to 24 hours’ notice when they find out that a federal agency intends to conduct an immigration checkpoint. This notice requirement would be similar to the advanced notice that is provided for sobriety checkpoints, which, as the Attorney General has noted, is important to “minimize motorist surprise, apprehension and inconvenience.”
- Retaining the provisions as passed by the House in Sections 157-162 that were added by Floor Amendment 20223-1336h, reinstating fiscal capacity disparity aid and aid targeted at high-need school districts. This aid had been cut by the Governor and House Finance Committee in their budget proposals and replaced with a formula that would have increased aid to wealthier districts while leaving more needy districts with less.
- Supporting the Senate Finance passed Section 138 Education Trust Fund. This undoes the harm done by the “Weyler Amendment” in the House passed budget. Removing Section 138 E referring to payments to the state’s school voucher program. The state has a constitutional duty to support public school districts that it still has not met, which is why the Education Trust Fund was created. Vouchers should not be funded from this source.
- Restoring the $75M in school building aid that was in the Governor’s budget, and further use this budget to commit to a comprehensive school funding solution that works for every student, property taxpayer, and community in New Hampshire, instead of continuing to downshift $2.3 billion of education expenses to property taxpayers every year, in violation of the NH Constitution. Every community deserves fully funded, quality public schools students and families can count on.
- Increasing funding for public transportation and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to electrify buses and bolster usage of our transit.
- Adding funding for grid modernization, weatherization, and energy efficiency to decrease energy costs for NH residents and decrease our overall demand for energy.
- Adding funding for utility cost support and expanding outreach to homes that cannot afford their electricity due to rising costs.
- Adding investments in renewable energy including incentives for homeowners to upgrade heating and cooling systems to heat pumps.
- Ensuring a NH government of, by, and for Granite Staters by keeping current campaign finance limits, and removing line item #595 from the budget. This amendment would allow for unlimited campaign contributions to candidates or candidate committees, allowing out-of-state elite donors and wealthy interest groups to drown out the voices of everyday Granite Staters and pay for policy. NH’s government belongs to the people, and local Granite Staters should be making decisions about local matterns in our state.
- Ensuring permanent reauthorization of expanded Medicaid, which now has a proven track record of benefits for the state, as well as widespread support from businesses, hospitals, and other health care providers.
Campaign representatives expressed their support for a People’s Budget for New Hampshire:
Lisa Demaine, Co-Executive Director, 350 New Hampshire
“If our state elected officials truly value a future for the next generations, they will prioritize investments in renewable energy, grid modernization, utility bill aid, energy efficiency, and public transportation. Every Granite Stater, from our southern cities to rural folks, needs a sustainable and livable future. We demand that our elected officials listen to those struggling to pay their utility bills, those who want to use public transit, and those who want to work in clean energy.”
Olivia Zink, Executive Director, Open Democracy Action
“Ensure a NH government of, by, and for Granite Staters by keeping current campaign finance limits, and removing amendment #2023-2021s or line item #595 from the budget. This amendment would allow for unlimited campaign contributions to candidate or candidate committees, allowing out of state elite donors and wealthy interest groups to drown out the voices of everyday Granite Staters and pay for policy.”
Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Campaign Director, Granite State Progress
“Every student, from Nashua to the North Country, deserves the same opportunity to learn and thrive in fully funded, strong and inclusive public schools. Our state budget currently puts property-rich towns ahead of others instead of investing in our state as a whole. It’s time for our elected officials to make the budget priorities that are best for all Granite State students. We also must stop sending hard-earned tax dollars to unaccountable school privatization schemes that are allowed to discriminate against students.”
Sebastián Fuentes, NH Movement Politics Director, Rights & Democracy
“There is no evidence unauthorized crossings are happening at the New Hampshire Canadian border. We cannot allow racist fearmongering about immigrants to enable the expansion of government surveillance and policing at the border. Giving immigration enforcement capabilities to local law enforcement is dangerous, negligent, and will cause harm to businesses and communities. The North Country of New Hampshire does not want this. This is just a screen to get political points. The Senate must follow the House’s lead in rejecting this funding and the politics of fear and division.”
Frank Knaack, Policy Director, ACLU-New Hampshire
“No one has been able to show any evidence of any unauthorized border crossings in New Hampshire, and yet lawmakers are still using fear-based rhetoric to justify a massive expansion of police power and surveillance at taxpayer expense. Worse, the policies they propose have been shown in study after study to have negative impacts on public safety. We urge state lawmakers voting on the budget this week to oppose this dangerous proposal.”
Deb Howes, President AFT-NH “Every Granite State student deserves a fully funded public school where they feel welcome, can learn and thrive. Our students deserve small class sizes, expert teachers, learning support from paraeducators and robust curriculum that will prepare them for this century.”
“The Senate budget proposal has some positive things, like restoration of the Education Trust Fund which shows the Legislatures’ intention to protect state funding for public education from competing with non-education programs. It would go further in showing that commitment if the Senate removed the controversial school voucher program which pays for private education, homeschooling and other private education related expenses through a debit card like system from the restored Education Trust Fund.”
“The Senate’s public education aid and grants formula does not provide enough funding for towns with low property tax bases but not large populations such as Berlin, Franklin, Rochester and Claremont. We need a formula that meets the needs of all the students in our public schools, not just the large cities and property wealthy towns. The House funding formula is fairer, getting more help to more students in more districts who need it. I urge the Senate to work in the best interest of the 165,000 public school students who are relying on them. Now is the time to put us on a better path and come closer to actually keeping that commitment to cherish – and fund – public education laid out in the NH Constitution.”
The NH People’s Budget Campaign formed during the 2021 budget process to address concerns over an unfair and inadequate state budget. The campaign includes diverse voices from the American Friends Service Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union, NH Youth Movement, the NH Council of Churches, 350NH, and NH Voices of Faith, among other organizations. Members advocate for an inclusive and equitable state budget and create opportunities for New Hampshire residents to engage in the state budget process and make their voices heard. Read the full campaign demands here.