To The Daily Sun,
The following is a letter in response to one sent to me from a resident of Laconia, and it bears publishing for all to read:
Thank you for your most courteous and respectful email, including your concerns and thoughts about the Belknap County budget for the Corrections Department. Please note that since you live in Laconia, you do NOT live in my district, which encompasses only the towns of Gilford and Meredith. You should probably direct your concerns to the representative(s) that cover the portion of Laconia in which you live. That being said, I will share with you some of my reasoning.
I believe that all of the Representatives from Laconia voted for the increased budget that would have included additional funding for the Corrections Department. However, the Belknap County Delegation or Convention includes all of the state representatives from throughout the county, not just the ones from Laconia. But they were in the minority when the budget was passed before the March 31 deadline and remained in the minority when a supplemental budget request was considered — that vote failed by virtue of a tied vote.
Under the state budget laws, the county commissioners, with the concurrence of the delegation, have the authority to move monies from one or more line items in the approved budget to other line items in the budget that have been allocated at least $1, so they could request approval to transfer more money into the Corrections Dept. line items from other areas, especially those that typically in most years do not spend all the money allocated to those areas.
So, the narrative that is being circulated as far as claiming that the majority of the delegation is refusing to fund the Corrections Dept. adequately is a false narrative.
The county budget that was approved by a majority vote of the delegation provided for increases in spending but overall no increase in county taxes. The budget proposed by the county commissioners, which failed to be approved, would have increased county taxes.
I ran on a platform and promise never to vote for an increase in taxes, and that is a promise I have consistently kept, whether in the county delegation or in the N.H. House.
As a further aside, I am very empathic with your personal situation. In my own family, we have experienced a severe drug addiction that we able to resolve only through great effort and expense, and our loved one is now in recovery and has been in recovery for about 10 years. My wife and I attended weekly meeting of Families Anonymous, a 12-step program for family members of loved ones with an addiction, for several years, and it gave us a great deal of comfort and understanding, as well as useful strategies for helping our loved one overcome his addiction.
Addiction is a major problem, irrespective of an addict’s drug of choice, be it alcohol, opioids or other substances. I believe the so-called “War on Drugs” has been a very expensive, dismal failure, with many non-violent young people being incarcerated for possession of small amounts of drugs that have been deemed to be illegal. I am not sure what the overall solution might be, but I have no doubt that drug addiction is an equal-opportunity plague on our communities, state and country.
The “bottom line,” in my view, is that if the county commissioners really want to fund the additional positions in the new corrections facility, they have more than adequate tools to do so without increasing county taxes.
Thank you again for contacting me.
State Rep. Norman Silber
- Written by Mike Mortensen
- Category: Letters
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