Another View -- Jack Flanagan: A legislative agenda of which the GOP and NH can be proudJACK FLANAGAN
January 06. 2015 7:31PM
EVERY TWO years, the people of New Hampshire turn their attention to the new Legislature and its majority party. What policy initiatives and campaign promises likely will be carried forward as part of the legislative agenda of that majority party?
Many of us campaigned on the simple, overarching goal of making New Hampshire an even better place to live, work, raise a family and do business. But achieving this goal requires careful work in a multitude of complex policy areas. In December, the House Republican Caucus gathered for the purpose of discussing problems facing New Hampshire and to set goals on how to best address these problems through good legislation. This collaborative discussion allowed the caucus members to voice their thoughts, suggestions and proposals based on the concerns they’ve heard from their constituents.
Through this discussion, the Republican caucus developed an agenda that covers several distinct policy areas, carefully prioritized in order to develop common-sense legislation that will address each of these areas.
The Republican majority intends to produce and support a fiscally responsible, balanced state budget without new taxes or fees. It will be a budget based on realistic revenue estimates, without any bonding or accounting gimmicks, and will not downshift costs to property taxpayers or raid dedicated funds.
We are committed to improving our state’s business climate by reducing and reforming our business taxes, which remain among the highest in the nation, and reducing burdensome regulations. We will promote policies to retain existing businesses and help them grow, as well as attract new businesses, thus helping our private sector create new and better-paying jobs.
We will work to find efficiencies throughout state government that will save taxpayer dollars while we also work to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. We will fight to increase accountability and transparency of all state agencies, programs and departments to ensure they are good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
We are committed to reducing our public employee pension system’s $4.6 billion unfunded liability and reform the system in a way that protects current retirees and taxpayers and ensures that we have a solvent retirement system for future generations.
New Hampshire’s rainy day fund has a balance of just $9.3 million, which is not enough to run our state government for more than two days. House Republicans will continue to identify ways to increase the fund balance, which, in turn, will bolster our state’s financial security and credit rating.
We will work to increase local control of education curriculum and testing and promote policies that increase parental involvement in their children’s education. We will also continue to support policies that promote school choice and maintain funding for charter schools.
We are committed to controlling the cost of higher education by working with our university and community college system to ensure that taxpayer dollars are applied in a manner that directly affects the quality and affordability of education for in-state students. A well-educated workforce will help attract new industry and help New Hampshire retain its college graduates and young professionals.
New Hampshire’s high energy costs hurt family budgets, increase the costs of goods and services, and impede economic growth. We intend to support legislation that eliminates unnecessary mandates that increase the cost of energy production. We also will work with local communities and utilities to find the best way to increase the supply and delivery of low cost energy options.
House Republicans are also proud to fight for preserving and increasing personal rights and liberties and reducing government overreach. We will ensure that the Second Amendment rights of our citizens are not infringed upon, and we will strive to preserve and protect the integrity of our elections and increase privacy protections for all citizens.
We are committed to supporting health care policies rooted in free-market principles that will increase freedom in health care decisions and lower insurance premiums for individuals and businesses. We will take steps to end our involvement in Obamacare Medicaid expansion and continue to find ways to enable the best health care access possible without unnecessary or unfunded state and federal mandates.
We believe this agenda accurately reflects many of the positions that Republicans campaigned on throughout 2014. We have listened to our constituents and they have expressed what they believe should be our priorities over the next two years. We look forward to continued input from the people who sent us to the State House as we work to apply common-sense, fiscally responsible solutions to our state’s evolving needs.
Rep. Jack Flanagan, R-Brookline, is the New Hampshire House majority leader.