New Hampshire protests union-busting, punitive budget

New Hampshire is already 48th out of 50 in per capita state spending. Today, 5,000 people rallied against a disastrous budget that would make huge cuts and remove collective bargaining rights from public workers.

Remember that New Hampshire is small-just 1.3 million people in 2009. A protest of 5,000 people is massive given the size of the state; in fact, the partisan Republican Union Leader said it was:

the largest at the State House in several decades, rivaling rallies against Seabrook and for former President Ronald Reagan -- included former lawmakers, clergy, law enforcement and emergency responders, social service providers and their clients, organized labor, arts organizations and artists, and activists from about 140 state organizations.

The bill has drawn opposition that's both deep and broad. A Concord Monitor editorial says:

Today, the New Hampshire House will vote on a budget so heartless in its approach to the poor, the disabled and the mentally ill as to be immoral. Should it become law, New Hampshire will be a different state, one that under the guise of "personal responsibility" replaces the social compact with the survival of the fittest.

The budget was crafted by the House Finance Committee, which took a hard-hearted budget submitted by Gov. John Lynch and, with a few notable exceptions, made it much worse. Both budgets are built on the premise that the state must live within its means. But both Lynch, a Democrat, and the House Republicans artificially cap those means to justify the abnegation of state responsibilities.

And the Nashua Telegraph:

We're not sure what we find more disturbing: That House Republican leaders want to take a jackhammer to the state's collective bargaining laws or that they chose to do so through a 70-word amendment in a 146-page budget trailer bill, rather than through separate legislation that would have been subject to its own public hearing and up-or-down vote.

At the rally, former Republican state representative Liz Hager spoke and:

drew a cheer when she said the state budget must protect vulnerable citizens and acknowledge basic roles of government.
"We are here to say the Senate must start over," Hager said

Fat chance of that, but New Hampshire has a chance to hold off the worst: Gov. John Lynch can veto, and a strong enough show of opposition (this should help) could stave off an override.

Daily KOS, Fri Apr 1 2011
Byline: Laura Clawson

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