Forum, May 5: Restore New Hampshire’s advantage

Saturday, May 04, 2019
Restore New Hampshire’s advantage

I want to thank the people who attended the Sullivan County education workshop in Newport. I appreciate the coverage by Valley News correspondent Patrick O’ Grady (“Education funding forum aims to ease property taxes’ load,” May 2). I would like to add a few important details mentioned and included in participants’ packages at the workshop.

The proposed House budget under review by the Senate Finance Committee provides critical relief to communities that struggle with property taxes, specifically public education costs. The proposed state budgets rescinds the 4 percent yearly cuts in state stabilization grants since 2017. These cuts have and will cost towns like Newport nearly an additional $2 per $1,000 on our already high tax rate. Additionally, the proposed budget includes increased per student adequacy funding and provides targeted assistance for schools.

Communities like Newport, Claremont, Franklin, Berlin and Charlestown, to name a few, have struggled economically for years. These communities have lost a significant percentage of their tax base as traditional manufacturing industries have left. This has forced an increase in local taxes, which has become a barrier for new industry and families alike to move to and invest in these communities.

I believe funding public education and ensuring that hard-working New Hampshire citizens can afford housing is not a partisan issue. Since the Claremont ruling some 26 years ago by the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which affirmed that public education is a citizen’s right and a state responsibility, the Legislature has been unable to find a workable solution, I believe because of politics. We all need to work together to find a solution to this crisis and move away from the regressive reliance on property taxes. I call it a crisis because 77 percent of New Hampshire children actually live in communities with below-average equalized property values. Please write and call your legislators and Gov. Chris Sununu. Together I believe we can restore the New Hampshire advantage to all of the state’s communities and all of its children.


Newport, N.H.

Lebanon’s roads are in disrepair

I don’t mean to sound mean spirited, but someone needs to tell the city of Lebanon that its roads are in horrible shape, similar to roads in a Third World country.

I am appalled at the cavalier way the city of Lebanon thinks it’s OK for citizens, and those visiting from far away, to have to put up with nursing their cars around each pothole and uneven strip of pavement. These areas include the Centerra development. I was riding my bike there two weeks ago and almost had a serious accident due to the uneven nature of the road surface. I was very lucky I was not injured.

These roads are a safety hazard for people as well as cars, which need alignment repairs, replacement of suspension struts, etc. Those who are more well-versed in car repair could add to that list.

Another area that needs significant repairs is Route 12A, where it runs past the shopping malls with Kmart, Walmart, JCPenney and Kohl’s. It is like trying to get through a minefield. I avoid shopping there.

I put in a call to the director of public works and didn’t hear back. Maybe there should be an article on this mess to find out why we are being subjected to driving on such shoddy roads. Maybe there are others who feel the same way. Maybe this is the city’s way of getting more business for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and local car repair shops.



Protecting biometric data an easy call

Rep. David Luneau’s bill to protect New Hampshire residents’ biometric data would continue the advanced and enlightened stance the state takes on its residents’ privacy rights (“Bill addresses biometric data,” May 1).

I was lucky enough to hear NBC reporter and author Cyrus Farivar speak at Dartmouth College the other day. He specializes in the ways technology erodes what we once considered inviolable privacy. A point he made several times was that government and the legal system play catch-up, and are often years behind the unintended uses of data. Essentially, the law closes the barn door after the horse is so long gone it’s in the glue factory.

Luneau is 100 percent right about biometric data. People who click through the thicket of approvals in order to use an electronic service or device should be protected from having their data sold to whoever comes up with the money. Even worse is the idea that by merely shopping at the mall, your scanned biometric data can be recorded and put up for sale. Pretty easy to decide which side of that one we’re on.



Birth control access in jeopardy

Even with insurance, families living at or under the federal poverty level may find birth control opportunities to be further limited due to product cost. The Trump administration has been attempting to expand religious exemptions to allow companies to deny free or low-cost birth control coverage to their employees (an example being Hobby Lobby).

If the Trump administration succeeds in this effort, low-cost or free birth control will simply be an unavailable option for those with insurance policies containing this exclusion. This could leave millions of men and women without inexpensive or free access to contraception, other than through “natural methods,” which have not been altogether historically successful.

In addition to potentially blocking reproductive health services, this has the potential of limiting other health care services, such as cancer screenings, to more than 2.5 million women. Please consider the consequences of your vote in the upcoming presidential election.