Public education is always a top issue in state and local politics, and it is even more so in New Hampshire right now. There is a concerted effort among New Hampshire's current leadership to undermine public education. So called "educational freedom" accounts steal millions in tax dollars from public education and redirect public resources to private and religious institutions without oversight or restrictions, putting more and more of the cost of education on the local property tax. The "divisive concepts" law threatens teachers' freedom of speech and restricts the information our students and can be taught.
Without question, a high-quality public education is essential to the well-being of our communities. Public investment in education always provides a positive return. In New Hampshire today, there is a lot of concern about the way schools are funded and how that affects our communities and the quality of the schools in property-poor areas of the state. With an aging population, it is essential to realize that an exceptional educational system is one of the biggest factors considered by businesses when deciding where to locate and by young families when deciding where they want to live and raise their families. It is vital that we find a way to adequately fund our schools that is fair to every community.
Even as our property tax bills continue to rise, the state has repeatedly cut corporate taxes as companies earn record profits, reduced the meals and room tax, and eliminated the interest and dividends tax. According to New Hampshire Business Review, New Hampshire relies more heavily on property taxes to fund state and local government than any other state, and it's going to get worse. The property tax in New Hampshire is an inherently regressive tax that puts an inordinate burden on the poor, the young, and the elderly. The result of this disproportionate tax load is that property poor communities are forced to close schools and offer fewer opportunities to their students. Young people wishing to stay in New Hampshire or relocate here are often priced out of the housing market, and the elderly on fixed incomes are unable to stay in their homes. Finding a better system that takes some of the pressure off property taxes is essential to the continued health and development of New Hampshires evolving economy.
In the past, statewide taxes paid for 30% of school building aid and New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS) contributions. Today as New Hampshire has significantly cut the business profits tax, the enterprise tax, and room and meals tax, funding for both school building aid and NHRS has fallen to essentially zero. In 2022 the legislature agreed to fund 7.5% of NHRS contributions for one year, with no guarantees for subsequent years. These are just a couple of examples of the state "downshifting" responsibility to local communities and property taxes. Even a portion of state funding known as the Statewide Education Property Tax (SWEPT) is nothing more than a state-mandated property tax that is fully funded locally but claimed as a "state contribution."
In an aging state with significant taxation issues, healthcare should be a major focus of New Hampshire's policy makers. New Hampshire is the second oldest state in the US, with an average age of 43. This fact has significant long-term policy implications, not the least of which is healthcare. As we get older, our spending on healthcare increases dramatically. According to RegisgeredNursing.com, our healthcare spending increases from less than $3000 per year from age18-44 to over $6400 per year from 45-64 to over $11,300 per year after age 65. Without a change in recent demographic trends, an aging population means increasing pressure on healthcare capacity and access to services, such as assisted living and nursing facilities. With two out of every three nursing home residents on Medicaid, the burden of funding will fall squarely on a shrinking population of younger residents.
Reproductive Health - A Woman's Right to Choose
In 2021 Republicans passed the first abortion ban in New Hampshire's modern history. Until this law was passed, it was understood in New Hampshire that decisions about healthcare belonged between a woman and her physician. Although the ultrasound requirement and lack of exceptions for rape, incest, and fatal fetal anomalies make this law incredibly restrictive, it is the impact it has on other serious medical issues that can arise in pregnancy. One major impact of the 24-week ban affects woman experiencing a miscarriage in the third trimester when the ban takes effect. Doctors cannot deliver what they know to be appropriate medical attention to their patients out of fear that they will be charged with performing an abortion and be subjected to criminal charges that could lead to 7 years in prison and a fine of $150,000. If they act too soon, they may go to prison. If they act too late, the mother could die. A legislature cannot anticipate and legislate all of the medical issues that could arise. That's why this law and the laws around the country that ban abortions without exception are dangerous.
Common Sense Gun Laws
Far from anti-gun, Dan grew up hunting and target shooting with his family. Additionally, Dan has voted for legislation that gives responsible gun owners increased freedom. Nevertheless, Dan recognizes the urgency of common-sense gun legislation, such as "red flag" laws that help keep guns out of the hands of persons who are potentially a danger to themselves or others. Additionally, it is critical that we protect innocent people from the epidemic of public mass shootings and never let a school shooting like Sandy Hook or Uvalde happen in New Hampshire. Prohibiting "ghost" guns and enshrining gun-free school zones into state law are high priorities.