So many issues face us. Kate can tackle them and make our community a better place.
On Affordable Housing
Let’s face it. We live in an area where real estate values are high and property taxes are equally as high. In many instances, housing costs are so high that those who work here are unable to live here. I am talking about many of those who serve our communities, like our police, our firefighters, our teachers and our nurses. A more diverse housing market, resulting in a more vibrant and diverse community would enrich us all.
High property taxes affect us all. I know of an individual who lived in the same house for many years and had seen the value of their home increase dramatically, only to find that they could no longer afford their property tax and were forced to sell at a loss. I would like to see an equitable solution for those people who suffer the unintended consequences of living in an area where real estate prices have risen so sharply.
On the Economy
We are facing a decline in the in-migration workforce at the same time as the current workforce is aging out. We are getting older as a state. Unemployment is very low at this time, but many of those jobs are in the service industry, where wages are lower. Economic indicators regarding future trends, such as cost of housing, student debt load, cost of energy, and cost of health care, are areas where we do not fare well and will require some serious attention as we plan for the future. We need to create higher paying jobs. Manufacturing has always been one of the strongest drivers of our economy and now government jobs and jobs in the area of health care are joining manufacturing as important areas. In addition, the so-called creative economy is beginning to play an important role in the state. These jobs are in the area of creation and dissemination of information. Attracting workers in this area is going to be important for us here. These people are usually educated, young-ish and have children. They are the faces of our future.
I believe that we owe it to all our children to provide them with a good education. Research has shown that early childhood education is critical for that child’s development and continued success in school. I have heard business people say that if they had a dollar to spend on education, they would spend it on early childhood programs.
Our school populations are falling and that is expected to continue. Given that we rank in the bottom third in the country with regards to state funding of education, we will be facing some serious issues around education: keeping quality of education high in the face of dwindling numbers and rising costs. We owe it to all our children to continue to provide them with the opportunity for a good education.
In 2018, we faced a bill that would have diverted funds from public education to the private sector, including religious schools and home schools, in clear violation of our constitution. This bill would have drained about $99 million dollars from public schools and sent that money to the private sector over the period of about 11 years. This would have had a devastating effect on the budgets of local schools as well as on property taxes, which would have increased substantially in order to cover this shortfall.
Public monies support public education. Taxpayer money cannot and should not be used to subsidize private education. People are free to choose what educational situation they want for their children, however, it is wrong for taxpayer money to be used to pay for it.
And with regards to energy, how the economy develops in the state is tied to cost of energy. We have some of the highest utility rates in the country. We do not have the typical energy resources of our own and consequently, we have been importing about 90% of our energy. Emphasis on clean energy is helping to change that. But it remains that the high cost of energy is a factor that businesses consider when looking to move to New Hampshire and subsequently where young people look to follow jobs. We have made progress in addressing these issues, but we need to continue on that path in the face of continuing resistance.
We know we need to increase our energy efficiency and at the same time protect the environment. The two are not mutually exclusive. When we take a power plant off-line, we need to find a way to replace that power, which we can do cleanly and efficiently. Working together we can common ground and agreement.
On the Environment
We are stewards of our land and have an obligation to guard and protect it. If we don’t, ultimately, it is not the land we destroy but ourselves. This requires long range planning. Future generations should be able to enjoy a walk on the beach and leave their footprints in the sand.
We are sensitive to specific environmental concerns. We are vulnerable to flooding because of storm surges, heavy rains and high tides. This is not going to go away and will likely worsen. It will serve us well if we can do what we can to prepare for this in advance rather waiting to do repairs in the aftermath. We need to think forward to solve problems instead of carrying a broom and dustpan in the wake of unfortunate events.
On Responsible Gun Ownership
“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.”
Some people focus on the phrase “the right to bear arms” to mean that anyone should be able to own guns. Other people focus on the phrase “A well regulated militia” to mean that the federal government cannot infringe on state’s rights to have an armed militia to protect itself from the government. It is unlikely the two sides will ever agree upon an interpretation, and trying to do so will get us nowhere. But there are common sense measure we can take.
My concern is not whether or not anyone can or cannot own a gun, but that they demonstrate basic competence. Also that they do not have a history which would suggest they should not have a gun.
There are several measures we can take that have wide support; requiring a background check for all gun sales; banning assault weapons, making devices such as bumpstocks illegal; insuring that individuals who have committed violent felonies, people with mental illness which impairs their ability to handle firearms, or individuals who have been identified as dangerous to the country do not have guns.
On Health Care
The Affordable Care Act has provided nearly 50,000 New Hampshire residents with health insurance they would otherwise be unable to afford. Also, due to the ACA, we now have options with regards to insurance providers. There are at least 4 in the state, with more likely to arrive soon. I support continuing the ACA and working to improve, not dismantling it down.
I believe that individuals are in charge of their own health care and free to make whatever decisions that are right for that person. I believe that government’s role is to provide access to care but not to participate in any decisions that any person needs to make. Those kinds of decisions should remain with the individual, that person’s doctor, and family members of the individual's choice. The government does not have a seat at that table. Specifically with regards to women, I believe that women are in charge of their reproductive health and should be free to make decisions that are right for them and their families.
On Long-Range Planning for the Future
We live in a state that creates its budget every two years and also has a two-year election cycle. This creates an environment in which it is difficult to make long range plans. We need to have the courage to plan for the long term regardless of how that plays out in the election years.
On New Castle Fire Safety Issues
It was a true heartbreak to lose the Tarbell House to a fire. We will never really know if the house could have been saved, but this event surely motivates us to evaluate our fire safety measures in New Castle. We need to consider how to improve fire safety and to think long range, and have the will to do what is needed. This may require that the town consider expenditures now that will provide fire safety in the future.
On the Opioid Epidemic
With regard to the opioid epidemic, it seems to be strongly related to the overuse of prescription drugs that are misused and over-prescribed. I support stronger control over the distribution of these drugs so that people cannot go from one doctor to another to get additional prescriptions. I think there may need to be more education around the dangers of these drugs. I also think there should be more options available to people who are dealing with addiction. We need to see this not as a character flaw but as a disease and treatment should be available to those imprisoned by addiction. Diminishing the stigma associated with substance abuse is a necessary step in helping us as a society to understand this is a chronic disease. I have great admiration for recovering addicts and their families who have had the courage to speak to this issue.
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