Once more, into the breach

With apologies to Tennyson, the day before yesterday, I filed for re-election. Serving in the NH House has been an extremely worthwhile experience. I have the honor of being the Governor’s appointee on the Interagency Council on Homelessness (appointed by Gov. Hassan, reappointed by Gov. Sununu). I’ve been the Chair of the House Transportation Committee for 4 years. During that time, I’ve led efforts to modernize the state’s thinking about transportation modalities. I created a test monitoring program for driverless vehicles, because they are here now. We created a new commission to review public transportation projects, focusing on new methods and technologies. Most of all, it has given me satisfaction every time I was able to help a constituent navigate a problem with the state. I have more to give, and hope that the voters of Sullivan County District 11 give me the chance again.tomssteve

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School Funding Formulas – Charlestown

The challenge with a funding formula is that there is always a winner, and a loser. For years, education fund formulas have been political footballs in Concord, with little emphasis on finding a fair transparent method (my personal opinion). If you live in Charlestown, you’re painfully aware of this. Your portion goes up while Walpole seems to gain an advantage.  You also lose $100,000 (approximate) per year because of an adjustment 8 years ago designed to eliminate “donor towns”.

I can’t fix that. The votes here are not enough to change it, because the votes from districts that would get less outnumber us. I was able to get around $133,000 in “extra” money for Charlestown to put towards roads and bridges to make it even, but that still isn’t fixing the problem.

Changes to the district apportionment formula have to be voted on by the district. The district towns won’t vote for changes that benefit Charlestown at their expense. You need more tools and leverage. You can’t even threaten to leave the district, because they can vote to not let you go.

Here are bills with my name on them that are trying to help.

HOUSE BILL 1814 – AN ACT relative to additional education grants to municipalities for the purpose of restoring reductions in stabilization grants.

Read it at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/m_billtext.aspx?billnumber=HB1814.html

This freezes the $100,000 reduction in aid until a committee working on a new formula completes its work. This critically important to Charlestown. The fight for this bill is not going well. I need your help. Email the Finance Committee at HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us and tell them how much this is needed here. You can also call 603-271-3165. Please be nice to the overworked secretary who answers the phone. It isn’t her fault.

HOUSE BILL 1469 – AN ACT relative to the dissolution of cooperative school districts.
HOUSE BILL 1594 – AN ACT relative to the disposition of property upon withdrawal from cooperative school districts.
HOUSE BILL 1598 – AN ACT relative to the vote to withdraw from a cooperative school district.

This trio would make it easier for Charlestown to withdraw from SAU60 and allow you to retain your school buildings. I’m not saying we should do that. Fall Mountain is a pretty good district. The point is, the other towns know that you can’t leave. If you could, it would sure change the conversation when it is time to negotiate who pays what.


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Thanksgiving, brought to you by New Hampshire

Thanksgiving is a very appropriate holiday to have, given the times we are in. People are so quick these days to assume malicious intent, when more often we are just misunderstanding each other. It was thought that a reflective day of giving thanks would be a calming, unifying day after the Civil War. It was a New Hampshire citizen who pushed for the Thanksgiving holiday.Fall-Cornucopia-550

Newport’s own Sarah Josepha Hale made Thanksgiving our third national holiday national holiday in the United States. Thanksgiving had been celebrated in New England, but not elsewhere. Each state scheduled its own holiday, some as early as October and others as late as January. It was largely unknown in the South. Her advocacy for the national holiday began in 1846 and lasted 17 years before it was successful. In support of the proposed national holiday, Hale wrote letters to five Presidents of the United States: Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln. Her initial letters failed to persuade, but the letter that she wrote to Lincoln convinced him to support legislation establishing a national holiday of Thanksgiving in 1863. The new national holiday was considered a unifying day after the stress of the American Civil War. Before Thanksgiving’s addition, the only national holidays celebrated in the United States were Washington’s Birthday and Independence Day.

So today, give thanks, give someone the benefit of the doubt, and maybe mend a fence.


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