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Teachers' contract wasn't negotiated in a vacuum; there are limits

To The Daily Sun,

I hope the Laconia City Council respects Laconia citizens enough to refuse to override the tax cap. The people of Laconia established the tax cap for a legitimate purpose. Until Laconia citizens remove or alter the tax cap, it should be honored.
Laconia citizens were wise to establish the tax cap to limit at least a portion of their ever increasing tax burden. Citizens of other cities and towns, many with stable or declining incomes, suffer as taxes inevitably rise year after year.
Laconia citizens need to remember that once a tax cap is violated subsequent violations become easier and greater, eventually making the tax cap meaningless.
The teachers' contract wasn't negotiated in a vacuum. The parties negotiating the contract knew about the tax cap and should have negotiated a contract that lived within its limitations. But they don't care about the tax cap, and they don't care about the hardships that their demands may have on workers who have to do a good job every day to keep their jobs. They only care about getting increasingly rewarded in their essentially permanent jobs whether they do a good job or not.
The proposed contract doesn't just provide parity with other school districts, it exceeds others. Every district has reasons why its employees deserve more money than others, and so other districts would use this Laconia contract as the rationale for demanding more increases. And so a few years from now the Laconia School Board will be back making the same arguments as today for why more increases are needed. This is simply a planned ratcheting up of pay and benefits for teachers without regard for their success in educating students.
IMHO the Laconia City Council's obligation is to live within the spending limits set by the people of Laconia, and it should tell the school board to renegotiate a contract that does the same.
Don Ewing
Meredith

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Why is HHS allowed to spend at a rate that exceeds their budget?

To The Daily Sun,

This is the 15th of my reports to the voters of Hill and Franklin on what is happening in Concord. I want to thank you for the numerous positive comments I received for last week's column on civility at the Statehouse and how we must first get our families right. This week was slow but a worthwhile example of how we do business in the state.

The House's session was an "emergency" session to fix a budget problem. It's a problem that we've known for probably 18 months but certainly at least six. Health and Human Services (DHHS) was supposedly going to be unable to pay bills to the tune of $66 million dollars they had overspent if we didn't do something. I am still not sure I understand fully how they got in this jam but it supposedly revolves around Medicaid. It seems that the original estimates for individual participation and overall costs were low. They (whoever is "they') underestimated the number of people who would qualify for aid and the amount we would be given in federal assistance (your tax dollars). To fix this according to the experts was to have DHHS use $33 million that had as "extra" money and that the state would kick in the remaining $33 million out of our current year's budget. This works well in a year when we have the surplus, but what if we didn't? Where would it some from this late in the fiscal year. It's simply lousy management.

I used to manage multi-million dollar programs and we set a budget at the beginning ... updated it periodically ... and knew on a weekly basis how we were doing. Why can't DHHS and House Finance do this. Why do they wait until the last minute? Why is DHHS allowed to spend at a rate that doesn't match the budget. DHHS and House Finance watched the train wreck happen and did nothing until the last minute. Granted, House Finance did have money identified to pay for it in next year's budget, but that is in six weeks! The bigger question is why DHHS was allowed to spend at a rate that did not fit their budget. Why didn't we tell DHHS 18 months ago that until they had additional money identified and approved, they needed to rein in their spending? I voted against it to say let's do our jobs and get the DHHS to do theirs. I am learning and not everything I see is good, but hopefully I can make a difference.
Please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 320-9524 with your comments or if you just want to talk.

Dave Testerman

N.H. State Representative
Franklin and Hill

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