Sen. Kevin Avard: Progress on energy, education, and mental healthBy SEN. KEVIN AVARD
August 19. 2018 10:58PM
AS YOUR STATE senator, I worked on many bills this session and have continued to be an active and leading voice on behalf of District 12 in Concord.
This year, the Senate was able to make significant strides toward increasing energy diversity and saving money on energy bills for New Hampshire consumers. We passed two bills that save money, encourage locally-produced power, protect the state’s timber and biomass industries and promote in-state, diverse and renewable fuel sources for increased electricity generation. We also eliminated the electric consumption tax for all ratepayers, providing some relief from the high cost of electricity as part of the state budget.
I was proud to sponsor a bill that increased the cap on the size of net metered projects, which would have made it easier for businesses and municipalities like Nashua to use renewable energy to lower costs thereby increasing tax revenues and lowering local property taxes. This legislation had strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and House. While I am disappointed that this legislation was vetoed, I will continue to fight for energy cost-saving legislation like this in the future.
Education also remains a top priority of mine. We passed legislation that empowers local school boards to adopt the curriculum that works best for their town, as well as allowing students in towns without public schools to choose a nonsecular private school that best suits their educational style and needs. We know that the educational outcomes of our children improves with early childhood education, and I am particularly proud that we were able to expand public, full-day kindergarten to communities across this state.
We took important steps to improve school infrastructure by appropriating an additional $10 million on top of the nearly $18 million in last year’s budget. These funds will help local schools improve safety, provide critical upgrades, and bring high speed internet to those schools without it.
In addition, New Hampshire has one of the lowest unemployment rates in its history. We have led the way growing jobs, increasing business growth and expanding our local economy by reducing burdens on small business and creating a competitive, welcoming business climate.
In the last two budgets, we’ve passed business tax cuts and as a result have seen state revenues grow. Taking steps like this restores confidence in our small businesses and removes the burdens hindering growth.
We’ve also sent $37 million in road and bridge funding back to communities in the budget, in addition to $30 million sent back to communities for red list bridge repairs this session. Making sure we have the safe, reliable infrastructure is an important factor in bringing and developing new business in our state.
While we’ve focused on bolstering economic growth, we have been cognizant of the needs in our communities for substance abuse treatment and mental health care.
Increasing substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery measures has been a goal in many aspects of our work. We’ve increased resources that will extend into our communities and we hope will push back on this devastating substance abuse crisis, including greater drug interdiction, creating recovery friendly workplaces and transforming the Sununu Youth Services center into a youth drug treatment facility.
Mental health treatment and care has also been a top priority for the Legislature, and we’ve expanded transitional housing resources and rapid response units to improve access to care in our communities.
We are proud of the fiscally responsible decisions made by the Legislature and our ability to address some of the most important issues facing our communities. I am eager to continue working hard next year for the citizens and businesses throughout Senate District 12 and the Granite State.
Sen. Kevin Avard, R-Nashua, represents District 12.