Speaker O'Brien defends jobs record
CONCORD — House Speaker William O'Brien said Thursday that thousands of jobs have been created since Republican regained control of the Legislature.
“The facts about New Hampshire's economic recovery are clear. Since Election Day last year, 3,700 more residents have found jobs and our unemployment rate has dropped by 14 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor,” O'Brien said. “We now have among the lowest percentage of unemployed in the nation, but we still have more work to do.”
On Wednesday, members of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO and other community groups delivered about 100 petitions to O'Brien's office calling for lawmakers to focus on job creation in upcoming special legislative sessions.
The event, a “No Jobs Fair” in front of the State House, sought to draw attention to the loss of jobs instead of the creation of jobs under what organizers called lawmakers' “radical budget.”
But O'Brien defended the budget lawmakers approved for the next two years.
“Our efforts to balance our budget and to help our employers with lower taxes and reduced regulations are giving them the confidence to create good, new jobs,” O'Brien said. “Furthermore, as taxpayer-funded government employment shrinks, we still need to continue to build an environment where the private sector can flourish.”
During Wednesday's event, New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie said, “The people of New Hampshire elected their representatives last November with the mandate to strengthen our economy. Instead, Speaker O'Brien resorted to political games, bullying tactics and attacks on the workers of this state, leaving behind a shoddy record of job creation that has done nothing to address the real needs of Granite Staters. New Hampshire businesses, workers and families cannot afford to see the same thing happen again.”
MacKenzie noted 10 hospitals have laid off hundreds of workers, and statewide thousands of jobs have been lost due to the budget lawmakers approved in June.
O'Brien countered that job growth should not depend on government funded jobs.
“What the union bosses that organized this event don't take in to account is that healthy job growth includes the creation of those outside of only government funded jobs,” O'Brien said.
The speaker also alluded to right-to-work legislation that passed both the House and Senate, but was vetoed by Gov. John Lynch. Lawmakers have yet to take up the veto, although a vote was scheduled and then postponed by O'Brien near the end of the legislative session.
“A Right to Work law in New Hampshire will give a major boost to the state's economy and job creation,” O'Brien said. “It also will allow more opportunity for our young people to stay and work and raise families.”
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