To The Daily Sun,
Articles in The Daily Sun on Tuesday and Wednesday reporting on Monday's meeting at the county were limited in their coverage. So it is useful to summarize the meeting in order for readers to get a complete picture.
A number of actions requested by the commissioners to transfer appropriations for non-group health insurance purposes were approved essentially as submitted. The group health insurance lines, however, caused concerns.
There are 15 lines in various departments for this purpose. When the county budget was approved on March 4, 2014, the delegation first agreed on a total of $2.594,925 for that purpose (1/10 of the overall county budget). The commissioners were asked to spread that amount among the departments as required for reporting to the state. The commissioners declined to do so, leaving it to the convention. The commissioners had proposed $3,154,725 for this purpose.
As the year progressed, all recognize that numbers of employees and their type of coverage change, causing the department needs to go up or down. On Sept. 29 the delegation approved commissioner requests to transfer $3,000 and $7,448 OUT of group health insurance lines, thereby reducing the overall amount appropriated for group health insurance. Why did the commissioners request this? I don't know.
On Oct. 16, The Sun reported that the commissioners had decided to request transfers, and also reported that their administrator said that some line-items for health insurance are in surplus and the county could end the year spending less for premium contributions than the convention budgeted. (I read "could" as meaning possibly, not definitely). Yet their requests to be considered on Oct 27 to transfer into group health insurance lines included $94,978 to come from appropriations for purposes other than group health insurance purposes and only $10,292 from a surplus group health insurance line. The latter amount was easily approved by the convention, but the discussion indicated that the other group health insurance shortfalls should first come from the surplus already identified in other group health insurance lines, without tapping the appropriations for other important purposes. It first appeared that this would take some time for a revised request, but then it was indicated that a short recess would suffice. Surprise! After a 20 minute break, the commissioners came back with a excellent detailed spreadsheet with a proposed $34,000 transfer out of an identified surplus in one group health insurance line to five other lines for the same purpose. That was easily approved.
Of more significance, was that the spreadsheet also listed the current projected year-end requirement for all departments, information not previously provided. Amazing what can be produced in 20 minutes. We now know that after further surplus transfers from this purpose we'll have only $19,400 shortfall, far short of the $540,394 difference between what the commissioners had proposed for the budget and what the convention had appropriated. The small actual shortfall should be able to be addressed. Had the original proposal been approved, that extra $500,000+ appropriation would have been sent to the towns and added to the tax bills of the county residents. In other words, at budget time the convention estimated low by less than 1 percent while the commissioners estimated high by 21 percent.
Of note is that in 2013, when similar concerns and allegations were made, that the actual need for group health insurance ended up at $43,139 LESS than what this convention had appropriated.
Also of note, because it appeared that many of the crowd on Monday were concerned most about the nursing home, the final request from the commissioners asked to transfer $34,000 out of a nursing home line with only $3,000 going to another nursing home department. We concurred with their plan because the nursing home departments are not the ones coming near to their current appropriations.
Bottom line: cut the hype! There is not a crisis.
By the way, Dave DeVoy, a candidate for commissioner understands the above; his opponent apparently doesn't because he simply parrots the words, allegations, and personal attacks of the current commissioners.
Representative, District 3
Last Updated on Thursday, 30 October 2014 09:16
To The Daily Sun,
I was alarmed and concerned when I read a recent letter by Mr. Tony Boutin outlining how unions are "bankrupting" our society. Then I read about corporate profits growing at a rate five times faster than wages (obviously written by the liberal press). In this country, we have the painful comparison of the highest corporate profit margins in history, combined with one of the highest unemployment rates in history. We also have the lowest wages in history as a percent of the economy.
Further research indicates that the strength of these profits is directly related to the weakness in employee hourly wages, which are still growing at just a 2 percent nominal pace — obviously no need to be represented by a union. After paying off their investors and CEOs (the head of a typical large public company is earning between $10 million and $15 million a year). I'm sure these corporate profits will soon be "trickling down" to the working class.
We've developed inequality so extreme that it is worse than at any time since the late 1920s. As it stands, workers are no more upwardly mobile then they were 50 years ago, while corporate profits are accelerating without having to incur increases in labor costs — shipping jobs overseas. As wages fall below the level necessary to provide for a home and family, corporate cash piles have never been bigger, either in dollar terms or as a share of the economy. The labor market, meanwhile, is still millions of jobs short of where it was before the global financial crises first erupted over six years ago.
Until companies can be convinced to pay people and invest more aggressively, this stagnation will continue. But I'm sure these jobs, along with better wages, will soon come "trickling down." In the battle between wages and corporate earnings, my money's on the corporations to wind up as the winners with even bigger shares.
In his letter, Mr. Boutin provides us with the perfect example as to why unions are necessary. He represents the attitude of most conservatives that public unions, representing the working class, are "raping" the American taxpayer (apparently union members don't pay taxes). Despite what conservatives try to promote, a just and democratic society depends on a healthy and free labor movement and they have been a positive force in society. Working people have a collective voice at work and a means to equality, fair treatment and economic security.
In countries where there are free and active trade union movements, there are more democratic, transparent and representative forms of government. Unions, and the right to collective bargaining, make a major contribution to higher economic productivity to the benefit of the community as a whole.
A concern both Mr. Boutin and I share, is the unpreparedness of American students to compete in the global market, although I strongly believe that he is less concerned with the quality of education then he is with fighting unions. Boutin offers the overly simplistic political solution that poor student achievement is the result of unions and the teachers that belong to them. He and fellow conservatives know that teachers vote overwhelmingly Democratic. But they do so, not because they're union members, but because the combination of low pay and intellectual inquiry in this profession attracts liberals. And since most union members now work in the public sector — a group Boutin obviously distains — the campaign against unions has become a front in the larger conservative war on government.
I would argue that much of the problem with public education stems from political agendas. Public schools are not required to answer to parents, but they do need to heed the words of politicians and school board — all of whom have their own political agenda. It would not be an exaggeration to say that these agendas are weakening the entire system. Schools and teachers are frequently forced to deal with supposedly brilliant education plans thought up by state legislatures, judiciaries, and bureaucracies. The taxpayers are expected to foot the bill and put these plans in motion. By shutting out the interfering politicians and giving the power to the parents and teachers, true accountability may come about.
There is no one size fits all for education, yet that is what most students receive. Gifted students often take the same classes as students who need extra help — a disservice to both.
In many rural schools, there are very rarely AP (advanced placement) courses or other academic options that will allow students to excel. Good teachers — yes, Mr. Boutin, there are many excellent teachers — aren't given the opportunity to be creative because they are forced to follow plans that have been laid out for them.
Where is the money going? All too often, top administrators and those who run the schools have no personal risk involvement and no incentive to cut costs. As we have seen, in many cases when a school does poorly that school receives even more funding.
One essential part of this equation is parenting. Parents who invest time and effort into the education of their children are far more likely to raise children who succeed in schools than parents who are too busy or disinterested to provide involvement. Children who grow up in homes which put large amounts of pride and effort into educational achievement are statistically more likely to achieve because they are pressured to work hard. Parents who ensure their children are regularly attending school, earning good grades, and displaying appropriate conduct are positive examples. Studies have shown that students, with parents more engaged in their children's schooling, score 2 1/2 grade levels higher than students with uninvolved parents.
While teachers are important, parents are the most powerful force for change. This can be accomplished by demonstrating a thirst for knowledge, compassion for others, and a strong work ethic. Other cultures excel because parents respect the importance of education and demand excellence from their children.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 October 2014 11:01
To The Daily Sun,
A Democrat candidate recently wrote that "Grafton District 9 voters should be informed on the issues and where the candidates stand on the issues."
Indeed they should. That is why informed voters can be expected to cast their ballots for Republicans on Nov. 4. The problems we have today, particularly those which force single mothers to work three jobs to support their families, are the result of harmful policies favored by Democrats.
For instance, Obamacare has destroyed jobs and forced employers to limit the hours that remaining employees can work. Similarly, high property taxes are the result of enthusiastic overspending by past Democrat majorities.
Yes, the voters of Grafton County District 9 should be informed. The Democrats are hiding from their record of overspending and raising taxes, and want to fool the voters again. That is why I am asking for your vote for Bob Hull on Nov. 4. In fact, I suggest that this year, we all should "just vote Republican."
Thank you for your support and responsible voting.
Robert "Bob" Hull
Candidate for State Representative, Grafton District 9
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 October 2014 10:57
To The Daily Sun,
Tom Dawson does not need a win on Nov. 4. He already has a most satisfying life. He has been happily married to Cathy for 46 years. They have a daughter and son who are both doing well personally and professionally. He has an earned doctorate in education. He has been the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal. He has served on the Laconia Board of Education for nine years, and has recently retired as professor of Fire Technology at the Lakes Region Community College.
It is likely that a firefighter taught by Tom has helped save some of you readers from harm.
I have known Tom and his family for 40 years, as pastor and, then, friend. When Tom runs for state representative it is not an ego trip. Tom is running simply in order to serve. We need a person like Tom as a state representative and a member of the Belknap County Convention.
I nearly forgot: Tom is not running because he has an ideological ax to grind. He has indicated to me that he will vote the issues and not the party line.
The Rev. John S. Allen
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 October 2014 10:52
To The Daily Sun,
Surprisingly, former Congressman Frank Guinta says he regards providing more money to fund a higher level of mental health services in New Hampshire as an important responsibility for a member of Congress.
I say surprisingly because Mr. Guinta is a Tea-Partier who was adamantly opposed to federal funding for state and local programs and projects. He voted to terminate the TIGER grant program used to replace the Memorial Bridge between Portsmouth and Maine. So how would Guinta add funding to increase services? Maybe, as he said about autism research, towns could hold fundraisers?
Fortunately we already have an able and caring U.S. Representative, Carol Shea-Porter, who has consistently supported improved mental health services. Congresswoman Shea-Porter voted for the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (now law), mandating insurers cover mental health services as they cover physical health services. Recently, she also got research funded for a promising therapeutic service-dog training program to address PTSD.
Wondering what Frank Guinta did to improve mental health care while in Congress? Not a thing.
Guinta's words don't match his dismal record. I'll be voting for Carol Shea-Porter on Nov. 4 because we need an honest, caring representative.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 October 2014 10:49