Gubernatorial Candidates On Issues
- The Budget
- The Pledge
- Collective Bargaining
- Education Funding
- Medicaid Expansion
- Public Pensions
- Same Sex Marriage
- The Northern Pass
- Medical Marijuana
Q. The state budget is going to be a big issue for the next governor. Are you envisioning big changes in terms of spending? How much and what for?
The state budget should reflect our focus on encouraging economic development and job creation. Cost savings achieved through consolidation, modernization and privatization of some state functions, as well as through budget reforms such as zero-based budgeting, should be invested in targeted incentives designed to help our employers expand, innovate and hire new workers.
I also believe the state must look towards restoring cuts made to the disproportionate share program, which funds care for the poor at our state’s hospitals and fully funding the waiting list for individuals with disabilities; the state cannot ignore its responsibilities to cover some of those costs.
This Tea Party legislature has made extreme cuts to the state budget, hurting our state’s ability to compete. As Governor, my budget will put New Hampshire back on the right track by focusing on restoration. My priorities will be beginning to restore the drastic cuts to education, particularly in the area of higher education, and our hospital system, with a focus on our mental health system, which faces serious challenges.
Q. Why did you sign/not sign the Pledge? Do you see any future circumstances that would prompt the state to consider a broad-based sales or income tax?
I have pledged to veto any broad-based sales or income tax and do not envision a scenario under which implementing a broad-based tax would be necessary. Our status as the only state in the Northeast without such a tax makes us exceptional and is the cornerstone of the New Hampshire Advantage.
I believe it is important to be clear with people about where I stand on the issues that are important to them. People want and deserve to know what candidates will do once elected, and that is why I am honest and clear with people about where I stand. As Governor, I will veto any bill that restricts a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. I will veto efforts to repeal measures that protect New Hampshire’s environment. I will veto any attempt to repeal marriage equality. And I will veto any broad based tax because I know we can fund our priorities without one. I know that because that is what we did when I was in the State Senate. I believe instituting such a tax would be the wrong move for our economy and for our middle class families, who are struggling to make ends meet and get ahead.
Q. Do you support limiting collective bargaining rights for state employees? If so, to what extent?
I would not support legislation limiting the ability of employees to join a union. In the same way, I strongly support Right to Work legislation, which will allow employees to make that choice freely. I will have an open door and a seat at the table for representatives of our public employee unions as we address major budget and policy issues including pension and state government reform.
The rights of employees to engage in collective bargaining with their employers is a fundamental right, which I strongly support. As Governor, I will veto so-called “right-to-work” legislation which is aimed at dismantling unions.
Q. What role should the state have in providing and funding an education for every child?
Pursuant to Part II, Article 83 of the New Hampshire Constitution, the state has a duty to provide an adequate education and guarantee adequate funding to provide an education to each educable child in New Hampshire. The state should be able to delegate to its political subdivisions (such as school districts, cities and towns) it’s duty under Part II, Article 83 to restore local control over setting educational policy and funding education. The state should do so while providing targeted aid to those cities and towns which do not have the fiscal capacity to fund the provision of an adequate education.
I strongly supported CACR12, which would have accomplished these goals, and the passage of a Constitutional Amendment to address education funding will be a top priority of my administration.
Finally, the State must stand up to the federal government and demand the full funding of the IDEA program for special education, which has been woefully underfunded at the expense of the state, cities, and towns since it was first enacted more than 30 years ago.
The state has a constitutional responsibility to make sure that every child in New Hampshire, regardless of where they live, has the opportunity for a quality education. I am proud that as leader in the Senate, I helped passed a school-funding plan that increased state funding for our schools, made public kindergarten available to every child in New Hampshire, and ended 15 years of school-funding lawsuits. The current legislature has currently frozen state aid to schools. As Governor, I will work to ensure that we provide necessary funds to public schools, and continue efforts to direct more aid to communities with greater needs.
Q. Do you support expanding the Medicaid program in New Hampshire, as outlined in the Affordable Care Act? Why or Why not?
No. The Medicaid program was designed to provide access to care for individuals with disabilities, poor women and children, and the low-income elderly. It was not intended to be used as a catchall insurance program for able-bodied working adults and is not designed to absorb the increased demand for services from a large number of new enrollees.
Instead, I would seek maintenance of effort waiver under Medicaid so New Hampshire can have the flexibility to innovate. Concurrently, I would seek a block grant of additional dollars to be awarded to the State under the ACA in amount equal to the federal contribution anticipated under the Medicaid expansion scheme. By waiving the maintenance of effort requirement and using block grants, New Hampshire would have the flexibility to design a comprehensive, market-based health care delivery system to contain costs, improve quality and expand access through a high risk pool and private insurance exchange to use private insurers to cover these additional lives.
We must review associated costs and determine how to implement any expansion to ensure that it is in the best interest of New Hampshire. Additionally, I would accept federal funds for the purpose of ensuring access to health insurance for more New Hampshire citizens.
Q. Do you support moving the public pension system to a defined contribution plan for public employees?
Yes. Despite significant efforts to reform the state pension program, we face a systemic problem. We must transition away from defined benefit plans. With my own law firm and then during my time as Chairman of the Board at St. Mary’s Bank, we successfully transitioned from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. As governor, I will seek to do the same for all new state employees and those whose retirement benefits have not vested. In so doing, I believe it is critically important all employees have a say in the redesign of the program and that it be primarily focused on new employees or those who voluntarily join in order to have more individual control over their retirement planning.
No. It is clear that moving to a defined contribution plan would cost the state, cities and towns more than a billion dollars, which would be bad fiscal policy for our state. As Governor, I will respect the state’s legal and moral responsibility to meet our commitment to workers.
While this will not be a legislative priority of my administration, I would sign a bill repealing the same sex marriage law provided it grandfathered all existing marriages and included provisions for civil unions for both same-sex and opposite sex couples. I would also support legislation calling for a non-binding ballot question to allow the voters of New Hampshire to weigh in on this issue in 2014.
No. I’m proud of the role I played in helping pass marriage equality in New Hampshire, and as Governor, I would veto any effort to repeal it.
Q. Do you support the Northern Pass project? How do you weigh the availability of clean energy versus environmental concerns?
It is important that we as a state, and as a nation, increase our energy supplies in order to enhance our energy security, lower consumer rates and increase consumer choice. At the same time, we must balance those interests with protecting New Hampshire’s environment and tourism industries, as well as the fundamental private property rights of our citizens.
To date, the Northern Pass project has yet to demonstrate a clear benefit to New Hampshire’s electricity consumers. Also, given the importance of tourism as one of our State’s primary industries, particularly in the North Country, another significant concern that must be fully addressed is the potential impact of the proposed transmission lines on New Hampshire’s environment and natural beauty.
To that end, I do not believe the Northern Pass project should not go forward unless: (i) there are definitive and substantive benefits for New Hampshire, such as a power purchase agreement; (ii) it lowers New Hampshire electric rates; (iii) the aesthetic, environmental, and economic concerns of the North Country are fully addressed such as burying the transmission lines; and (iv) it is fully vetted through a rigorous and open siting process at the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee.
I oppose the current Northern Pass proposal. I do not support the use of eminent domain by a private company, and am glad the legislature acted to prohibit such activity. I agree with Governor Lynch that before moving forward, any Northern Pass proposal must be supported by the communities to be affected. Our scenic views and natural landscapes are among our most valuable assets as a state. They are essential to tourism and our economy and we must make sure we protect them. As a state we need to undertake a vigorous review process of any proposal – and make sure there are significant opportunities for public voices to be heard. Like many New Hampshire citizens, I am waiting to see what the next proposal will look like, and if the concerns that communities have been really taken into consideration. I continue to believe that burying the lines would be a more appropriate approach. We must also continue to look home-grown energy sources, such as the new biomass plant under construction in Berlin.
But the question posed starts in the wrong place. Here is where I would start. Any major energy project faces competing interests and challenges: jobs and the welfare of our citizens; protection of the environment and our natural resources for future generations; and energy policy in the state.
New Hampshire needs an energy policy and strategic plan that encourages entrepreneurship, energy development and good jobs for our citizens while respecting the need to protect our natural resources and heritage. We need to assess and review our current dependence on foreign sources of energy, examine the sources of domestic energy and determine the best integrated energy policy and plan for our citizens. We need to set clear criteria for assessing all projects like this, looking at both short- and long-term benefits for us all. Maine, NY and Vermont have insisted that projects of this nature meet the needs in their states and New Hampshire should do no less.
Q. Should marijuana be legalized in New Hampshire? Under what circumstances?
I would support the legalization of prescribed medicinal marijuana through a state regulated dispensary or other tightly controlled distribution system. I do not support the decriminalization of marijuana for recreational use.
While serving in the State Senate, I voted to support a bill that would have allowed patients suffering from cancer or certain other debilitating disease to use marijuana for medicinal purposes if recommended by a treating physician. As Governor, I would evaluate any bill permitting the use of medically prescribed marijuana closely to ensure that the method of distribution is safe and tightly regulated, and would consult with relevant stakeholders, including the law enforcement and medical communities.
Q. Should New Hampshire allow expanded gambling? If so, to what extent, and where?
Only at Rockingham Park. I view the possible redevelopment of Rockingham Park as an economic development issue for the greater Salem area and southern New Hampshire. As long as local support continues for bringing casino style gaming to Salem, I would be open to legislation authorizing a single license for a facility at the Park provided such legislation adequately addresses public safety and other social concerns and directs the state portion of any new revenues towards either reducing taxes or meeting existing obligations, not new programs or further expansions of state government.
I would support one highly regulated, high-end casino that could compete with the casinos being built in Massachusetts. I believe we can do this in a way that protects our state’s brand as a family friendly state with a great outdoor recreation economy. And we can use some of the revenues to address the safety and social challenges that come with gambling, while also generating jobs and revenues that will fund schools, health care and economic development.