House Republican leaders promise to work on economy
At a press conference Thursday announcing the Republican agenda for the 2012 session, House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt said lawmakers made very difficult choices last session to end the state's fiscal crisis and this year want to focus on job creation, making government more efficient and crafting an excellent education system.
'With 38,000 Granite Staters still searching for work, and others who have yet to reenter the workforce, we need to redouble our efforts to pursue policies that cause employers to hire,' he said, with about 20 Republican House members standing behind him.
But Democrats said Republicans continue to focus on social issues like gay marriage repeal, instead of jobs and the economy.
'My colleagues across the aisle relaunched their agenda for the 103rd time. Once again they claimed to be focused on jobs and the economy, when in reality the opposite is true,' said House Minority Leader Terie Norelli. 'In addition to the inordinate number of irresponsible bills forcing a Tea Party agenda on the State of New Hampshire and pursuing fringe issues, this week House Republican Leadership testified in favor of a bill that would harm our New Hampshire economy.'
She referred to House Bill 1282, which would end the workforce housing program.
Republicans said they want to reform the business tax structure, promote economic development and rein in agency rules and pass tort reform.
They also said they want to make government more efficient by eliminating bureaucracy, make government more user friendly and improve the state's bond rating.
Bettencourt said another key area is education. 'We will also ensure that all New Hampshire students have access to an education system that is based on excellence by expanding educational choices and introducing competition to improve public education,' he said.
Republicans are backing a bill that provides a tax credit against the business profits tax if companies contribute to an education scholarship fund for non-public schools.
Republicans are also backing bills to expand the pre-engineering curriculum in public schools and to allow school districts to offer higher education scholarships to high school pupils.
Also, the leadership backs a bill to give lawmakers final say over Department of Education rules and another allowing parents to remove a child from a school district that adopts the International Baccalaureate Program.