Budget reflects poorly on the residents of N.H.
It is my belief that a budget is a reflection of values and goals. But the New Hampshire House Representatives and Senate recently passed a budget that does not represent what is most valued by the people of New Hampshire: providing equal opportunity, creating new jobs and growing the economy.A lot has been made about this year’s state budget, specifically the harsh and unwise cuts to many essential services. In the House, pleas to restore funding fell on deaf ears; and in the Senate, they listened, restored some funding but did not fund at levels that protect our most vulnerable citizens during these tough times. Putting aside the many worthy programs that this budget cuts or eliminates, this budget is simply bad for business.As we continue our economic recovery, you would think the priority in any state budget would be to strengthen our local economy and to create an environment to attract businesses and create jobs.But the budget passed by the Legislature does the opposite.According to the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, the budget cuts almost $114 million from the University System of New Hampshire and almost $30 million from our community college system. By reducing our commitment to our higher educational system, we are setting off a chain reaction that would drastically alter our workforce and negatively affect our economy.Our community college programs are helping train the workers needed for these jobs and are helping to ensure that we keep the employers we have in our state and attract new businesses.Our university system is educating our future employers and workers. But, because of these cuts, tuition will rise dramatically and force our own young people to attend another school out of state or not attend college at all.Similarly, tuition hikes will keep students from out of state from attending our great colleges and remaining here in our state to help strengthen our work force and our economy.Either way, these cuts stop the progress we’ve made in educating and training the workers we need to get our economy back on track and to strengthen our economy in the future.Our young people deserve an equal opportunity to succeed, and it is our responsibility to ensure that this opportunity continues to exist.There is no doubt, particularly here in New Hampshire, that there is a strong link between a strong educational system and a strong economy. Investing in education is the smartest and wisest investment we as a state can make, and it gives us the greatest return on our investment: a strong and productive workforce that helps attract employers to our state.So, what will we be left with here in New Hampshire? A less-educated workforce that will force employers to take their businesses out of New Hampshire and turning away other good-paying jobs.The people of New Hampshire deserve a more responsible budget. And our economy needs a more sustainable budget.Sen. Molly Kelly, a Keene Democrat, represents District 10 in the New Hampshire Senate.