HB 25, making appropriations for capital improvements: This is the third budget bill brought before the House. This bill provides for the capital expenditures for the next two years. The money appropriated by this bill will end up being bonded by the state. As with HB 1 and HB 2 the Governor provides recommended projects. The Public Works and Highway Committee is responsible for developing the capital budget. Each department requiring capital investments or improvements goes before the Public Works and Highway Committee and identifies their needs and the committee determines which projects are going to be funded.
The adjutant general received both state and federal money to repair and replace facilities used by the National Guard. The federal government will contribute $7.225 million and the state will contribute $2.125 million. The Department of Administrative Services was provided $8.354 million for repair of state buildings. This includes repair of the State House Dome, new software for the House of Representatives voting system, and roof repair at various facilities across the state. The New Hampshire building at the Eastern States Expo will get a new roof.
The largest and most costly construction is of a new 224 bed women's prison. HB 25 requires the prison to be sited on state lands adjacent to the men's prison, unless an alternate location is deemed necessary. There is also a provision that the prison could be expanded to 350 beds for future needs.
As in every capital budget there is money for the renovation of two Career Technical Centers. The two approved this year were for Whitefield and Salem. The Department of Education must receive approval from the capital budget review committee before money can be spent on these facilities. Department of Environmental Services received money for dam repairs and reconstruction along with money for the state revolving fund for water and wastewater projects.
The Department of Health and Human Services will receive both state and federal funds to make safety improvements to the Glencliff Home, improvements to several data systems and additional psychiatric crisis beds. The Department of Information Technology will receive money for several data systems. The Liquor Commission has been given the go ahead to construct new retail stores in Salem and Epping, and make renovations to other liquor stores. The payment for these bonds will be made from the liquor commission funds.
The Department of Resources and Economic Development will receive funds for state parks improvements, replacement of the entrance of the Sherman Adams Building on Mount Washington, repair of the Hampton Beach Seawall. The Department of Safety will be provided money for radio interoperability infrastructure. The Secretary of State will receive money for shelving replacement and fire suppression. The Department of Transportation will receive money for the 5 percent match for Federal Aviation Projects, matching funds for public transit bus and freight rail along with money for underground fuel tank replacement, deferred maintenance on welcome centers and a new patrol shed in Derry. The Veterans Home will receive money for equipment upgrades.
The Community College System and the University of New Hampshire were granted money for capital projects which will be paid for by student fees.
The vote on HB 25, the Capital Budget was 285 in favor and 68 opposed. All of your representatives voted in favor. The bill now goes to the Senate where it will once again go through the process and then the Senate will craft its own capital budget.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 02:17
Gold was hit pretty hard the last few weeks. Investors in the paper version of the shiny metal decided it was time to take some profits. Or did they?
Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 22:51
The attack in Boston fills the news and a common thread runs through our thoughts: "Why here, why in the heartland city of America?" Such questions are an essential part of terror precisely because they have no reasonable answer, as Lenin said during the Russian revolution, "The point of terror is to be unknowable. The point of terror is terror."
My introduction to terror came in 1967. I was teaching school and a friend had occasional muttered conversations on the telephone. I asked who he was talking to and he said they were talking about terror operations and he was considered an expert on the subject. I said, "What's to know? Either you're there when the bomb goes off or you aren't," and I gave him the line from Lenin. He said, "That's what they want you to think, but there's quite a lot you can know about terror," and he explained three kinds of operations.
Type A is a fund-raiser. Terrorists have expenses like any other kind of business, but they don't make anything they can sell, so they kidnap a prominent person and hope to sell him back to his own people. Type B is also a transaction. One side has someone the terrorists want back, so they kidnap a person of comparable value and trade. Type C is a bomb in a crowd, it's a statement of presence, "We're here and we're bad."
He said not much that can be done about Type C terror. The identity of the victim is random, you're unlikely to see anything coming, and not much can be done in defense or deterrence. In the other two types, however, a dead hostage has no transactional value and targets can take fairly bold steps to improve their chances, So, he said, watch out for anyone who doesn't seem to fit in, maybe their clothes don't seem right for the setting, things like that. The important thing is to spot the situation and decide to do something, but speed is essential. Once an A or a B type starts, the target loses half his chance in the first few seconds. So decide quickly and exploit the situation to your advantage.
Fifteen years later I was driving in Italy with two ski team people, one of whom had been in the headlines, and familiar situations became unusual. In a place where everyone was in ski clothes, one man looked like a store keeper. Two days later there was another stranger, in a world of Vibram, he was wearing street shoes and slipping and sliding on the packed snow. A little later there was another misfit and he kept looking at me.
Three days later a big car passed us, then abruptly swung across in front of us and jammed on the brakes. I was able to jam on my brakes quickly enough to avoid locking bumpers and the black car pulled away fast. Several days later another car pulled up beside my car and a "lillipop" was stuck out the window. These have a handle about two feet long with blades on the end that spin in the slipstream of the car. Then the driver swerved at me as if he was trying to push me onto the shoulder, and I had to pull off the road. Another man got out and called "Passporto, passporto!"
This cannot be refused, you have to show your passport, so I held mine against the window and he waved it off. Then he pointed to the woman sitting next to me, I held up her passport and he waved that off, too. Then I held up the other passport and he became very excited and one of the women said, "Uh oh, better lock the doors." The men pulled at the handles hard enough to rock the car, but they couldn't get a door open and they got back in their car and drove away.
Earlier that week several pairs of skis were stolen from our cars while we were having dinner, so I went to a police station to get theft-report forms for our insurance company, and while I was there I described the strange events of recent days. One of the men said, "That was the Red Brigade."
The Red Brigade was organized in the 19th century and now the embassy men went back over the days prior to the hit and strung together the incongruous people I'd noticed. They were advance men making sure of our identifications and learning our modus operandi, and the police said we did the right thing, and it worked.
There was also a moment during Reagan's "evil empire." I had an errand in the Eastern Bloc and I went to their embassy in Vienna and the process went on much longer than it should.
I finally decided that they weren't going to give me a visa, but I was on deadline and I really had to get across the border, so I went to an American embassy and I thought of an offer they couldn't refuse. I'd say that the World Cup tour is coming to America for the year-end finals and the Czech women were good skiers and good friends of ours, Jana Soltysova and Olga Charvatova and Ivana Valesova and Sasha Marasova, and I hoped nothing would interfere with their trip.
The ambassador said, "That's diplomatic thinking, that'll work." A few minutes later I was in the Czech embassy and they set out cakes and slivovitz strong enough to drive a rocket to the moon and stamped my passport.
I went back to our embassy to thank them for their help and one of the men said this is the way ground-level diplomacy works. When the Kremlin wants to send a signal, they screw down access to Eastern Bloc nations. Then he told me that he'd usually have some kind of trading leverage to open the door, but things had been pretty tough lately and he'd used up all his trades, so be careful.
Two days later I was walking along a sidewalk and I was taken firmly in hand. I have many Czech friends and I like the country, but this turned out to be the Soviets in more ground-level diplomacy. Washington had just released a speech that Moscow didn't like and they told the KGB to pick up an American, it would send a message, and I was convenient. The KGB people steered me inside to a scene that was straight out of the movies, a small room with a bright light in my face and a man with a gun and questions: What's the capitol of South Dakota? (Pierre.) Which river flows into the ocean farther east, the Mississippi or the Missouri? (The Missouri doesn't reach the ocean.)
Grammar school geography was 40 years behind me and the Soviets were tougher than Miss McCarthy, but I remembered enough to satisfy the people quizzing me and they opened the door.
Most terror is still home made, though, and I keep thinking about a few dollars worth of gun powder from a fireworks store and a handful of bolts from a hardware store and the message they sent to our multi-billion dollar defense budget.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 04:22
We needed this past week, with its moments of introspection, its reflections on national purpose, its symbols of national concord. Many of them, of course, occurred in Boston, site of terrorism in 2013. One of them occurred in Dallas, site of tragedy in 1963.
The images of what happened in Boston already have been seared into the national psyche. The image of what happened in Dallas Thursday is fresher, and while ceremonial rather than spontaneous, it was a powerful statement about the noblest American values: Duty. Service. Reconciliation. Unity.
Last Updated on Friday, 26 April 2013 00:15
HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues and expenditures. It is the second part of the House budget bill. It enables the execution of the budget. It is often referred to as the trailer bill and identifies the source of funds necessary to implement the budget. The bill accepts the Ways and Means Committee revenue estimates. The Ways and Means Committee estimated $1.399 billion in FY 14 and $1.444 billion in FY 15 for the General Fund and $819 million in FY 14 and $825 million in FY 15 for the Education Trust Fund. The revenue to meet these dollars comes from taxes and fees that are paid to the state.
There were two major tax increases included in HB 2, one was an increase in the cigarette tax by 30 cents and a road toll (gas tax) increase of 12 cents the increase is 4 cents per year or a total of 8 cents during the biennium the diesel tax goes up at 2 cents per year. Also suspended were new business tax credits that were to take effect 1 July 2013. There were no additional funds allocated for school building aid and a moratorium was placed on new charter schools. It also repeals the education tax credit program created in the last session. The bill increases the cap on what counties must pay to support nursing home residents that are being paid for by Medicaid. The cap is lower than the one proposed by the governor, but higher than what was in the last budget.
HB 2 creates a new office of Innovation and Efficiency to help ensure that state government functions are streamlined. It also fully funds in FY 15 the delayed/deferred drinking water, waste water and land fill projects. This funding has a direct effect on Conway, North Conway, Bartlett and Birch Hill. The Liquor Commission goes from a three-member commission to a single commissioner appointed by the governor and approved by the executive council. There is a new scholarship for members of the National Guard. The bill includes provisions to implement expanded Medicaid which will provide medical coverage to low income residents who are currently not eligible for Medicaid.
Rooms and Meals tax distribution goes back to the formula that is currently in the RSAs but is limited to the amount received in 2013 for the cities and towns. Additionally, a portion of the rooms and meals tax will also go to the Department of Resources and Economic Development, Division of Travel and Tourism. Revenue Sharing with the cities and towns is also suspended. How this is worded in HB 2 is as follows: Notwithstanding any provision of the law to the contrary, RSA 31-A, relative to revenue sharing with cities and towns shall be suspended for the biennium ending June 30, 2015. This language can be found throughout HB 2 and is used to suspend programs that are not going to be funded. Another example of the notwithstanding is for Health and Human Services. Notwithstanding any provisions of the law to the contrary, for the biennium ending June 30, 2015, the fiscal committee of the general court and the governor and council may authorize the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services to accept and expend additional revenues in excess of $100,000 that are in addition to the budgeted amounts, from any source, which become available to the department; provided, that such expenditures do not increase eligibility standards or benefit levels.
There are a total of 170 different sections to the bill. You will find study committees on the gas tax, how to sustainably fund water and waste water grants, how to sustainably fund uncompensated care to the hospitals, a Cost Containment Commission is established to review retiree health care benefits for employees hired after July 1, 2013 in light of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and recommend a cohesive plan outlining cost effective health plan models, a Medicaid Enhancement commission is established, and a committee is established to study both the realized and potential effects of Charter public school funding options on the state's economy and existing revenue base. These are just some of the committees and commissions that will be working over the summer to complete their work as identified in HB 2.
There were several amendments proposed on the floor of the House to HB 2, however none of them passed. Representatives Butler, Buco, White voted in favor of HB2 and Representatives Chandler and Umberger were opposed.
HB 2 like HB 1 has gone to the Senate for their deliberations. I expect there will be changes made throughout the bill. In June the House and Senate will get together in a Committee of Conference to work out their differences and by June 30 HB 1 and HB 2 will become law.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 02:42