Legislators should look to the future

We must adopt policies that attract and keep more young people in the Granite State

It is said that a budget speaks to our priorities and values. As the Legislature continues to debate New Hampshire’s priorities we, the New Hampshire Young Democrats, would like to take the opportunity to propose the values for the New Hampshire that we aspire to live in.

It is important to us as young people, but it is also important to the future of our great state that we adopt policies that attract and keep more young people in the Granite State.

We believe that education is the most vital priority in the state’s budget. We strongly support adequate funding for higher education, including our community college system and our university system.

It is no secret that New Hampshire is second-worst in the nation for student debt loans following college, and 50th in the nation in support for our public university system. The community college system has made clear that, due to Senate Republicans’ cuts to the governor’s budget proposal, it will not be possible to reduce tuition. And Senate Republicans also cut funding for the university system, meaning tuition will rise.

The governor’s capital budget also included $4 million to move forward with commuter rail, which was removed by Republicans in the Legislature.

In order to attract and keep young people in New Hampshire and to grow our workforce, the New Hampshire Young Democrats join the business community — including the Manchester and Nashua Chambers of Commerce — in calling for the Legislature to act on commuter rail. We are disappointed that the Senate Capital Budget Committee slashed this funding and did not have the forethought to see what an advantage rail would be to bringing and keeping more young people.

With an educated workforce comes the need for affordable housing. For young families trying to start our their lives in New Hampshire, the cost of housing is too high.

According to data from NH Housing, the median gross rent for a two-bedroom was more than $1,100 per month in 2014, an increase of almost 80 percent since 1995. If we want to attract and keep young families in the Granite State — including bringing in graduates from schools in the greater Boston area — then we must offer a more economically competitive alternative.

Many young people choose to live in New Hampshire because of the strength of our communities, the unique rich culture and the incomparable beauty, but we recognize that our state is at risk of falling behind. In order to continue to grow and prosper, we must establish new priorities that will attract the next generation of young people to our great state. We ask the Legislature to take this opportunity to build the New Hampshire that will carry us into the future. 

Theo Groh of Manchester is vice president for public affairs for New Hampshire Young Democrats.

Categories: Opinion