Senator Odell is Chairman of
the Ways and
Means Committee, a
member of the Energy, Environment and Economic Development
Committee, and the Finance Committee.
District 8 towns:
Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Claremont,
Gilsum, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury,
Newport, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity,
Walpole, Washington and Westmoreland.
On Thursday morning, Governor Lynch and his budget director, Kristyn
McLeod, briefed me on the spending cuts the Governor was going to propose to the Joint
Legislative Fiscal Committee the next morning. I would pass along the information to
the leadership in my caucus.
The reductions in spending go from $25 million at the Department of Health and
Humans Services to $41 at the Midwifery Council. Some cuts, like cancelling some
magazine subscriptions will not hurt; but $2.3 million or about a 1% reduction in
payments to nursing homes and long term care providers will be noticed. And that
reduction has a doubling effect. The $2.3 million of state funds is matched by $2.3 in
federal funds resulting in $4.6 million not going to the nursing homes and other
The overall reductions equal $53.6 million. Those affect the current fiscal year
which began last July and ends in June. The problem is that current projections indicate
that to have a balanced budget at the end of the fiscal year another $75 to $85 million in
cuts in spending will be needed if the budget is to be balanced by June 30.
The Governor brought his recommendations in the form of Executive Orders to
the Fiscal Committee. That is a body of 10 ... just 10 members out of our 424 member
legislature. There are five House members and five Senate members. The Fiscal
Committee came into existence years ago when the legislature met only every
Rather than call the legislature back into special sessions
to deal with financial matters, the Fiscal Committee was created. There are those who believe the entire legislature
should be involved in major decisions like cutting tens of millions from the budget. They
are going to get their chance. The Governor left the $75-$85 million needed in
additional cuts to the legislature when it returns in January.
How did we get into this financial crisis? Revenues estimates were too rosy by
tens of millions of dollars. And, the economic slowdown has impacted state revenue
streams including business taxes, real estate transfer taxes and several others. State
finances are going to be the central challenge for government over the next few
* * *
Do you remember where you were on Saturday morning? I will remember where
I was for a long time and I'll also remember how cold it was. I went on a tour of the
Lempster Mountain Wind Farm for the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association.
This was a early tour as public tours are not planned until next spring.
Ed Cherrian oversees the operation and hosted the tour. The farm "went
commercial" on November 10 after five years of planning and nearly a year of
construction. It is going through a shake-out period so that not all of the
12 turbines have been in operation at the same time.
To say the least, the turbines are huge. The towers are 250 feet high and the
blades, hollow and made out of fiberglass and epoxy, are 139 feet long. The blades move
slowly and need only winds of just six miles per hour to turn. There have been no bird or
bat strikes to date. Each of the turbines is programmed to maximize energy production by
"yawing" at the top of the tower and turning the blades.
And on Saturday morning, with 17 degree temperature and very strong wind, it was still exciting to stand and watch the blades turning and producing electricity
I enjoyed being part of the tour with others from New Hampshire who believe so strongly
that our future depends upon energy from wind and other renewal resources.
* * *
I went to Manchester last Tuesday to participate in the 2008 New Hampshire Volunteer Appreciation Night for the American Cancer Society. Cancer remains the
number one public health challenge for the country. The presentation of the recognition
awards showed the wide range of services provided to patients with cancer and their
families. The Cancer Society is a band of volunteers who raise millions of dollars in
New Hampshire while providing many services for patients.
Christine Nelson, of Sutton, received a prestigious Sandra Labaree Volunteer Values
Award for many volunteer efforts for the Society but especially for her leadership of the
annual Kearsarge-Sunapee Relay for Life fund-raiser. Yours truly was named 2008
Lawmaker of the Year for my efforts on funding the New Hampshire Cancer Plan and
other smoking prevention legislative efforts.
* * *
I wish for every family a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. For me, it is a
time to be thankful for renewed health in our family and many special acts of kindness by
so many over the past few months.
Sarah Josepha Hale is called "the Mother of the American
Thanksgiving." She was from Newport and was an influential literary and public figure. For
30 years she petitioned national leaders including several Presidents to issue a proclamation for a
National Day of Thanks. Finally, in 1863 at the midpoint of the Civil War, Abraham
Lincoln bowed to the persistence of Mrs. Hale. She may have reached out to Lincoln, a
quietly spiritual man, at a very timely point as he felt the war following the battles of
Gettysburg and Vicksburg was turning in favor of the North. For that, he must have been
New Hampshire State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301-4951