LACONIA — State Senate District 7 candidate Joshua Youssef said Wednesday during an interview at The Daily Sun that he would offer a fresh prospective to the Legislature because of his ability to make systems more efficient.
Among the things he would look at more closely would be the Department of Health and Human Services that he describes as "grossly inefficient" to eliminating the Board of Tax and Land Appeals in favor of allowing land and tax disputes to go to Superior Court.
"I am of the generation that understands technology but I'm old enough to know my history," he said.
Youssef is a favorite among the more conservative wing of the Republican Party. His strong libertarian bent is obvious during conversation and he has been endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus as well as by radio talk show host Niel Young, Laconia Representatives Bob Kingsbury and Harry Accornero and retiring Sen. Jim Forsythe.
He is being challenged for the GOP spot on the ticket by Bill Grimm of Franklin. The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Democrat Andrew Hosmer of Laconia in the general election in November.
Youssef is also embroiled in a lengthy court battle with his former wife over her request for increased child support payments. The issue has been made public in area newspaper largely because his ex-wife and her attorney have been providing information to the media and encouraging its publication.
It is Youssef's contention that he is and always has been paying his child support and that "he has always kept up with his duty" to supply the judicial system with the financial information necessary to make informed child support level decisions.
Describing the time since his 2006 divorce as a very painful roller coaster, he said all of his income has been declared in his tax returns and he has not deliberately misled the court as to the amount and sources of his income.
The charges by his ex-wife as to whether or not he has been truthful to the court and whether or not his sealed financial records will be made public is still pending in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.
Asked how old he is, the Laconia native responded, "Old enough to run for president (35)".
As to the reasons he is running for office for the first time and whether he has the time to dedicate to the job of state senator while running what his Website describes as the largest computer repair and upgrade franchise system — Same Day Computer — in New England, he said he does because he built a business model that doesn't rely on his being there all the time.
Speaking on the issues he feels are facing the state, he said education, jobs, health care and the economy are his top concerns.
He said he would lower the Business Profits Tax and the Business Enterprise Tax, which is based on a value-added system, but said he "hadn't done the math" as to how much. He said lowering taxes would bring businesses to the state.
He believes opening the health insurance market to a greater level of competition involves gradually reducing the number of coverage mandates imposed by the state — and that those actions would bring prices down.
"I'm not the kind of person who lops something off, though," he cautioned, adding he would favors solutions that do not result in severe shock to current systems.
He also said he would support some form of allowing health insurers to "cherry pick" its customers so more insurers would come to the state.
"(Health insurance policies) are a contract," he said. "I don't see why the government should interfere with a private contract."
Understanding that LRGHeathcare is by far the biggest employer in the area, he said he would likely not have supported the change in most recent biennial budget whereby the state Legislature did not return a portion of the taxes collected to attract matching federal Medicare funds. He said he thought the change was "too drastic."
As to education, Youssef said he would not have supported renovating the Huot Regional Technical Education Center on the campus of his alma matter. "Just because you've built a new building doesn't mean you've increased the level of education," he said.
He also thinks the education money should follow the child and is a big supporter of private schools, charters schools, and home schooling.
He said real "school choice" would mean schools would have to compete for students and the money to educate them. "I would require all schools to compete to survive," he said.
He also said the state should have the right to contribute nothing directly to public education, although he doesn't necessarily support the Legislature taking that course of action, and that schools should be locally controlled and supported.
He said the state university system should also become more competitive and he would "be comfortable with an entirely private system" of higher education.
He is completely against the Northern Pass project, saying he doesn't trust public utilities and the project will not provide lower cost energy to New Hampshire. He said he is especially concerned with prospect of eminent domain being used to grab privately held land in order to facilitate the bringing of Quebec hydropower into the state.
Summing up, Youssef said the "state is at a critical crossroads" and he believes the New Hampshire advantage is slipping away.
He said he is "an analytical problem solver with the skill to research for a sensible solution to raise the overall quality of life."