House speaker's race is another thing money just can't buy
If you could win the House speaker's race with money, Wednesday's Organization Day contest would not even be close.
However, the voters have a say in who sits in the House, and the person who raised the least will be at the podium by noon and the person who raised the most will be sitting in the back row of Section 4 of Representatives Hall.
Current House Speaker William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, raised about $48,000 for his run for the lower chamber's top job and spent about $40,000. The expected new House speaker, Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, raised a little more than $3,000 and spent a little more than $1,000.
In between the two extremes was David Campbell, D-Nashua, who raised $10,000 and spent a little more than $9,000 in his attempt to become speaker.
Many State House lobbying firms contributed to O'Brien's campaign, as did several state and national businesses, political action committees and issues advocates.
Of the nine contributions of more than $1,000 O'Brien received, three were for the maximum of $5,000. One of the $5,000 contributions was from the National Organization for Marriage, a group that worked to defeat gay marriage in the state and pushed for its repeal during the last two sessions.
Another $5,000 contribution came from right-to-work advocate E. Brett McMahon of Bethesda, Md., an executive with Miller & Long Corp., one of the largest employers of construction workers in the Mid-Atlantic region.
O'Brien pushed for right-to-work legislation in both sessions that he was speaker, although the effort was unsuccessful, and is the prime sponsor of a bill to be introduced in the coming session.
The other $5,000 contribution was from The Collingsworth Co. of Portsmouth. The company is associated with former Gov. Craig Benson.
O'Brien received a $2,000 contribution from Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey, a Concord developer and former state GOP chairman, and two $1,500 contributions, one from Select Management Resources Corp. of Georgia, a pioneer in auto title loans, and the other from Green Monster Realty of Salem, which lists Corey R. Lewandowski, the state director of Americans for Prosperity, A Koch Brothers organization, as its agent.
Of the money raised, O'Brien sent $26,000 to the House Republican Victory Committee and gave substantial contributions to some key Republican House supporters, including Marilinda Garcia of Salem, former Speaker Gene Chandler of Bartlett, Laura Jones of Rochester, Lynne Ober of Hudson, Neal Kurk of Weare, Norman Majors of Plaistow, John Burt of Goffstown, Will Smith of New Castle, Edith Hogan of Nashua and Robert Fredette of Hillsborough.
Norelli took no money from lobbyists or political action committees. Her two biggest contributions, of $500, came from two individuals. She did receive a $250 contribution from former House Democratic Leader and state Sen. Peter Burling of Cornish.
Norelli devoted very little money to House candidates, instead spending her money on local Democratic events, document copies and mailers.
Campbell's contributors include several State House lobbyists, such as Dick Bouley and Paul Worsowicz, and New Hampshire PACs, including the Home Builders and Remodelers, and NH Motor Transport.
Campbell received three $1,000 contributions from individuals and a $500 contribution from former New Hampshire Motor Speedway owner Bob Bahre.
Campbell spent more than $7,000 of the money he raised on donations to House candidates and the rest on mailers and various other expenses.
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November Revenue: Some may be in for a big shock when they see the state revenue numbers for November, to be released Monday or Tuesday.
The figures will show a $50 million shortfall, which would certainly blow a big hole in the budget as we near the halfway point in this fiscal year.
The issue is the Medicaid Enhancement Tax, which hospitals have to pay on patient services. The hospitals are supposed to pay the tax in November, and budget writers were expecting about $105 million, but the figures will show that revenue source is about $48 million short.
The Department of Revenue Administration gave several hospitals extensions until December, which means budget writers will not know how the tax is doing until the end of next month.
The state and the hospitals argued over how much they had to pay last fiscal year after lawmakers decided to keep about $100 million of the money raised by the tax instead of returning it to the hospitals through the Disproportionate Share Program — or uncompensated care — as it had done since the tax was instituted, in 1991.
Another concern of budget watchers is business taxes. Although November is not a big collection month for business taxes, the business enterprise and profits levies appear to be several million short of expectations.
The communications tax is also behind, but budget writers expected that after eliminating taxes on Internet access earlier this year.
The rest of the state taxes, such as the rooms and meals and tobacco, appear to be pretty much on target for the month. At the end of October, state revenues were $6.1 million ahead of estimates and $17 million ahead of the previous year.
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A Little Irony: All Republican State Committee members will be asked to pay a $25 annual fee to show commitment to the party. The state GOP Executive Committee approved the fee when it met in November. The party will collect the fee by charging members to attend the annual meeting in January in Bedford.
The fee did not go over very well on the Republican Internet forum, prompting one party member to say, "I don't think they got the irony."
Rep. Lee Quandt, R-Exeter, a "union Republican" who fought his party and House leadership on the right-to-work bills during the past two years, asked those complaining: "If you don't want to pay dues, can you pay an agency fee?"
Agency fees to unions for negotiating and administering collective bargaining agreements is what right-to-work legislation would have ended for non-union members.
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No Special Elections Yet: The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Nashua Board of Aldermen will have to wait a little longer to request special elections to fill House seats in their respective cities.
Democratic Rep.-elect Stacie Laughton of Nashua resigned last week, and Manchester Democratic Rep.-elect Robert Thompson has said he will resign.
Some were hoping the requests could go to the Executive Council when it meets Wednesday, but the two seats will not be officially open until the 398 remaining House members are sworn into office by the Governor and Executive Council on Wednesday morning.
Once those seats are declared vacant, city boards can ask for special elections.
The council is scheduled to meet again Dec. 19, so that is the first time the councilors could act on the requests.
If that is the case, the special elections could be held early in February.