Amanda Elizabeth Toll
City or town of residence: Keene. I grew up in New Hampshire and have spent almost my whole life here.
How long have you lived in your House district? 6 years
Family: My five-year-old son Isaac
Education: M.Ed. from University of Massachusetts Amherst and B.A. from Hampshire College
Occupation: Small business owner / yoga teacher / mother
Organizations to which you belong/have belonged: American Civil Liberties Union, Holistic Moms Network, Rights & Democracy, Cheshire County Democrats, Beit Ahavah Reform Synagogue
Public/government service: Single Mother Support Group Organizer, Women’s March Host, Former Cheshire County Holistic Moms Network Leader
1. If you could pass one piece of legislation to help New Hampshire’s post-pandemic economic recovery, what would it be?
Raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage is the most essential thing we can do to help our state recover from COVID-19. New Hampshire’s current minimum wage is the federal rate of $7.25. NH is the only New England state to have a minimum wage under $10/hour. A minimum wage worker, putting in 40 hours/week, is only grossing $290/week; it is impossible to live even marginally well on this wage, and it provides no disposable income. Making sure folks are not living in poverty is a worthy cause in and of itself, but making our minimum wage a living wage will also allow workers to make purchases that will help to boost our economy as it recovers.
Additionally, as a small business owner, I know it is imperative to support our local businesses and we need to give as many grants and loans to support them working with the federal government.
2. New Hampshire’s school-funding formula is once again before the N.H. Supreme Court. Whose responsibility is it to fix this problem and how?
I support the State Supreme Court’s “Claremont Decision”, which makes clear that the state’s constitution obligates adequate funding of education. The legislature must assure equitable funding of all our public schools, no matter how poor the district. Further, it is the court’s responsibility to ascertain whether the legislature has accomplished this. All children, regardless of race, gender, parental income, or disability, are entitled to a quality education, and the current disparities between wealthy- and low-income school districts are both unacceptable and unconstitutional. I see this as an issue of reproductive justice, which is one of the key elements of my platform. Not only should each person be able to decide when they do – or do not – want to have children, but they should also be assured that the children they do bring into the world have equitable access to the education that will prepare them to be active participants in our democratic system.
3. Is there a role for the state in police reform? What specific reforms or changes, if any, should the Legislature make?
The legislature should take an active role in police reform, working to root out systematic racism, ensure transparency and accountability, and to make sure police aren’t given the undue burden of dealing unilaterally with problems that are really outside of their scope (homelessness, mental illness, addiction, etc.) Police are public employees, and the public has a right to know if these employees, being paid for with tax dollars, are doing their jobs well. One example of a step to take towards more accountability would be to make the state’s “Laurie List” public; it should be treated as public record under the state’s right-to-know law. We can also make public any reports on police shootings that result in serious injury or death. We can end the practice of non — disparagement agreements, and remove qualified immunity. Finally, police should be required to train in advanced methods of de-escalation, and undergo implicit bias training.
4. How can we make it more feasible for people on fixed incomes to stay in New Hampshire — and in their homes?
New Hampshire needs to stop giving tax breaks to large, out-of-state corporations, and start investing in education and critical social services. Further, we need to stop shifting the burden of taxation to the local property tax payer, which is a tremendous problem for those on fixed incomes. We must create more opportunities for people from all walks of life to build lives and raise families here. How do we do this? By taxing corporations fairly, and using that money to make our state a place with vibrant recreational spaces, access to public spaces like libraries, and home to excellent public schools. We can make New Hampshire a destination, a place where local businesses can thrive, and where people from all backgrounds (immigrants, people of color, women, and LGBTQIAGNC+ folks), feel warm and welcomed. By doing this we will attract new people to New Hampshire, broadening our tax base and allowing us to shift the burden from residents on fixed incomes.