THE NEW HAMPSHIRE economy has emerged from the pandemic stronger than ever. We have the lowest unemployment in decades, more revenue than expected, and our Rainy Day Fund at its highest level in history. While the accomplishments of Republican leadership in the Legislature have paved the way for this success, we must not be complacent. The national economic forecast is bleak due to failed federal policies and failed leadership in Washington. We are facing record inflation, historically high gas prices, and continuous supply chain issues. It is going to take Republican leadership to steer the ship and weather the storm coming as a result of the rudderless federal government.
It is no secret that Granite Staters are facing a rough winter ahead, with rising electric rates and fuel prices. However, it is absolutely accurate to say that without Republican state leadership over the last two years that ratepayers would have seen even larger increases. Republicans rejected bills to eliminate RGGI rebates and to expand net metering, both of which would have increased rates more than $100 million. Also, after the elimination of important energy efficiency programs by the state Public Utilities Commission, the Legislature restored them while ensuring ratepayers are protected. We are also looking at fossil fuel alternatives, such as safe and clean next generation nuclear energy, and looking to reduce regulations that contribute to artificially high electricity prices.
On top of those accomplishments, our fiscally responsible budget cut taxes for all New Hampshire residents and still ends the biennium with a surplus of several hundred million dollars. With that surplus we are looking for ways to give that money back to you, the taxpayer, through programs like assisting with paying your energy bills this winter.
Families are worried about more than that. They are worried about their children, which is why we are proud to have passed Education Freedom Accounts. Education is not one-size-fits-all, and many of our students were struggling to keep up. The goal is having each child in our state succeed in their studies and achieve their full potential, regardless of how or where they are educated.
We cannot stop there, which is why one of our main objectives in the coming term is to increase choice, transparency and efficiency in our school system. I think it is pretty clear that when children need help, their best chance of getting it is when their parents know what is going on. As has already been stated in previous court cases, “It is not educators, but parents who have primary rights in the upbringing of children.”
Democrats believe that giving parents the final word on their child’s health, education, and welfare is dangerous. They don’t believe that it is the basic job of being a parent. Educators and parents should be partners in a child’s education, and parents should not be misled or left in the dark regarding their children’s activities.
In the budget, Republicans finally passed legislation to make us a truly income-tax-free state by phasing out the Interest and Dividends Tax. This will be a huge benefit to our retired citizens who may rely on that type of income to pay their ever-rising bills. We reduced taxes on our business community — again — realizing that helping them cut the cost of doing business directly relates to their ability to create jobs, invest in capital equipment, and take care of their employees. Lastly, we allocated $100 million to offset the Statewide Property Tax burden on property tax payers across the state.
Smart budgeting and smart fiscal management pay dividends to our state and its citizens. Rest assured that as we are confronted by the devastating consequences of federal policy, having Republicans in control in Concord will ensure we continue to build responsible state budgets, minimize tax burdens, and promote pro-jobs and pro-economy policies that will get us through it.
As families and businesses across the state will need to tighten their belts, the state government must do the same. We cannot allow Democrat control of the Legislature to grow state spending and drain our Rainy Day Fund. We cannot allow them to repeal successful programs, such as Education Freedom Accounts, which gives families options of where to send their children to school, and we cannot allow them to pass programs that will increase electric and fuel rates when they are already at astronomical levels. Just remember when you go to polls this November that Republicans want government out of your everyday lives, Democrats want to control it.
House Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R-Auburn) represents Rockingham District 4, consisting of Auburn, Chester, and Sandown.