City or town of residence: Francestown
How long have you lived in your House district? 28 years
Education: MEd – Secondary Mathematics
Occupation: retired educator
Organization to which you belong/have belonged: Did not answer
Public/government service: CASA volunteer, Francestown ZBA, NH State Rep
1. If you could pass one piece of legislation to help New Hampshire’s post-pandemic economic recovery, what would it be?
The pandemic has impacted individuals, families, schools, towns, and small businesses. In the months following the COVID outbreak, New Hampshire processed a record number of unemployment claims, had countless small businesses permanently shut their doors, and saw a dramatic increase in food insecurity in every county. I believe it will take years to fully recover from the effects on our economy. In the short term, the legislature should ensure unemployment compensation beyond the possible end of federal support and access to affordable health care for those who have lost their job through no fault of their own.
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?
It is no surprise that state education costs are rising, and state aid is shrinking. It is also no surprise that New Hampshire’s legislature has a long history of ignoring the Court’s rulings to provide an adequate education for all children, regardless of their zip code. For thirty years, we have been obsessed with maintaining small state government and willing to pass along the responsibility to fund our schools to the towns and local property taxes. When debating school funding, elected officials should ask if the current system is capable of providing the necessary revenue and services expected by the court and Granite Staters. The practice of “tinkering” with the adequacy formula will no longer suffice. We must look for new ways to ensure equity of access and fair taxation. We must look to changes in the StateWide Education Property Tax (SWEPT) in order to fulfill our obligation to pay for an adequate public education for all students.
3. Is there a role for the state in police reform? What specific reforms or changes, if any, should the Legislature make?
Nationwide, the criminal justice system is under scrutiny. We have seen systemic racism, the use of lethal force, a lack of training, and a reluctance to report police misconduct. In September, a statewide commission on police accountability recommended the creation of an independent agency to address complaints against New Hampshire law enforcement officers. The report called for the so-called “Laurie-List” be made public, the use of body and dash cameras, and changes to police training to improve relationships with the public. With the backing of Governor Sununu, the legislature should seek to: provide annual in-service training including implicit bias and cultural responsiveness; ensure compliance with best practices in codes of conduct and a duty to report misconduct; establish a community outreach position within the AG’s Office; and provide trained mental health professionals embedded in tactical response teams.
4. How can we make it more feasible for people on fixed incomes to stay in New Hampshire — and in their homes?
The northern New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are the oldest in the nation with median ages of 45.1, 43.0, and 42.8 years, respectively, and the costs of housing, utilities, and groceries all contribute to making it difficult for people, not just the elderly, on fixed incomes to stay in New Hampshire. Before the pandemic, many renters were paying almost half of their monthly income for rent in a very tight market and a growing number are facing eviction due to their inability to pay. Granite Staters pay an average of $480 per month for utilities (gas, electric, internet, cable, and water) ranking it sixth in the nation. The US Census Bureau reports eleven percent of children in NH are living in poverty, and twenty-seven percent are eligible for free and reduced-price school lunch, and in some districts, more than half of all kids qualify. Economic pressures on many individuals and families are severe and are likely to become greater. Elected officials must provide families with reasonably priced early childhood care, affordable post-secondary education, energy policies leading to cheaper and renewable energy, and robust incentives to build affordable housing.