By Shawn Jasper
When Republicans took control of the state legislature back in January, we made clear that our goal was to bring transformative change to state government to make it live within its means and to provide a sustainable government that encouraged economic growth.
To date, the House has delivered on its word of transforming government. While we still need to work with the Senate to bring this change to the citizens, we have certainly passed a number of bills that have been historic.
Any discussion of transformation begins with the passage of the constitutional amendments that will protect taxpayers and restore local control of school funding.
Our education funding amendment was the first time such a measure has passed the House of Representatives, after 15 years of trying. That is a momentous accomplishment, and we are now closer than any legislature has ever been to giving the citizens of New Hampshire the chance to vote to restore control of education funding to elected officials, and not unelected judges.
As important as that was, the other constitutional amendment passed by the House would have an even more profound impact on ensuring limited government here in New Hampshire.
CACR 6, would require a 3/5th supermajority to raise taxes or bonds, preserving our low tax status for generations. By raising the bar for those who want to grow government to add to the burden on New Hampshire taxpayers, we will force state government to live within its means.
These two amendments would bring durable change to the face of New Hampshire, but House Republicans did not stop there. We also delivered on immediate efforts to rein in government by passing an honest, balanced budget.
When we started the budget process, we have shifted the debate away from tax and fee increases, away from more borrowing, away from more downshifting onto local property taxpayers and towards using responsible revenue numbers.
The House has delivered on this promise of bringing fiscally responsible government to New Hampshire by passing a budget that doesn’t raise taxes and meets our citizens’ needs.
In addition, the House has passed considerable legislation to get our economy moving forward. New Hampshire is overregulated, so we have approved 30 bills to cut red tape on employers to help them grow.
Republicans supported a small business tax reduction to help grow jobs. We also cut taxes on cigarettes and lottery sales to help our retail stores regain our competitive advantage against other states.
The House also voted to repeal the state’s cap-and-trade program that drove up electricity costs and passed Right to Work legislation to attract new business and jobs here.
Taken together, this is a formula for robust economic growth and making New Hampshire a magnet for businesses.
Beyond that, Republicans have improved public safety by voting to expand the death penalty to cover home invasions, keeping violent and sexual felons from early release and allowing individuals to use force to protect themselves when threatened.
The House restored parent’s rights by passing legislation making sure that they are notified before a minor child receives an abortion. At the same time, we enhanced flexibility by lifting a number of regulations for school district, so they can focus on teaching students, not cutting red tape.
We also brought transparency to state government by moving legislation to put the state’s checkbook online, making more records public and using open source software so that the public has more access to their government.
While there are a number of other specific accomplishments, the one we are most proud of is how we have changed the culture here in Concord. The entire tone has now shifted in support of limited government, reducing taxes and growing our economy. The laws we pass and the state’s budget will reflect these values from top to bottom.
The public should also be very proud of the House for the willingness of representatives to take on big challenges. Throughout this entire session, we have tackled a number of problems that have vexed the legislature for years: an education funding amendment, making the tough decisions to fix the structural overspending in the budget and passing retirement reform.
This has been by far the most productive House session in my seventeen years of experience, and the credit goes to the members who came to Concord with a number of promises that they made to the voters when they ran for election last year.
Today, we can say those promises were kept.
Rep. Shawn Jasper, of Hudson, is House Deputy Majority Leader.