State Senate Democrats Outline 2013 Legislative Priorities: VIDEO
Officials will focus on innovation, investment, and job creation.
Ten of the 11 Democrats currently elected to the state Senate held a press conference on Jan. 17, to outline what they hoped to focus on during this year’s legislative session.
On the agenda were economic growth initiatives, worker skill improvements and employment opportunities, commerce and export advancement, and infrastructure investments, like broadband and rail.
They also made a commitment to approve a balanced budget with “stable, low taxes and targeted investments,” while at the same time would attempt to support businesses with a “streamlined” tax and a predictable regulatory environment.
According to Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, Democrats main focus will be to create and approve “a fiscally responsible balanced budget that meets the needs of the citizens and businesses of our state.” She noted that Democrats would also be supporting expanded educational opportunities, training, and infrastructure investment.
State Sen. Peggy Gilmour, D-Hollis, said Democrats were sent to Concord to focus on “bringing people together” and “moving New Hampshire forward.” She said Democrats would also target educational improvements so that businesses had skilled and educated workers. Gilmour also commended the goal of “doubling the number of (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) students that graduate by 2025 and make achieving it a state priority.”
State Sen. Andrew Hosmer, D-Laconia, whose family owns the AutoServ dealerships, said business expansion – and supporting Gov. Maggie Hassan’s “Innovate NH” initiative – would be part of the Democrat's priorities. He said the Senate would quickly approve and make permanent an R&D tax credit for the state.
While the senator’s legislative priorities were broad and sweeping, they were also light on specifics on how they would accomplish the initiatives and all shied away from commenting on specific proposals and legislation like casino gambling.
The senators, as an example, were asked, by a show of hands, whether or not they supported a 12-cent gas tax increase. None of the senators raised their hands, including state Sen. David Pierce, D-Etna, a co-sponsor of the proposal in the Senate.
Larsen said there was a lot of infrastructure work that needed to be completed by the state and revenues would be needed for road repairs.
“I think that a lot of folks recognize that about 70 percent of our roads are in poor or bad condition,” she said, “and it’s one which we need to focus on because it’s an investment in our economy.”
After asking her to respond to the concerns of business owners, including Concord restaurateurs who were concerned about higher commodity prices affecting their businesses and how a higher gas tax might not match the Democrat's objective of stabilizing the business environment, Larsen said senators would be weighing the pros and cons of the proposal.
“You will see us develop positions as we go along,” she said.
Later, Pierce was asked why he didn’t raise his hand even though he was a co-sponsor of the gas tax increase bill and he stated in an email that his vote would depend on the bill’s “form and content when/if it comes out of the House,” noting that “any individual legislator sponsors may be amended by a legislative committee and chamber in a way the sponsor did not intend and would not support.”