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Bob Odell
State Senator
District 8

December 15, 2008

Senator Odell is Chairman of  the Ways and Means Committee, a member of the Energy, Environment and Economic Development Committee, and the Finance Committee.

Senate 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.

 


With the election six weeks behind us and another couple of weeks before committee hearings on new legislation begin, one might ask: What do you do with your time?

The answer is that legislators find plenty to do. There is much to be gained from informational meetings in Concord and just as importantly, tours and meetings right here in Senate District 8.

Senator Lou D'Allesandro (Manchester) and I met with the new Commissioner of the Department of Revenue Administration, Kevin Clougherty. Senator D'Allesandro chairs the Senate Finance Committee and I will chair the Ways and Means Committee for the next two years. The Finance Committee appropriates funds that the Ways and Means Committee projects will come into state coffers during the next biennium. As the state's tax collector, the Commissioner of Revenue Administration assesses revenue collected by his department and makes recommendations as to the amount of revenue the state can anticipate from the taxes he collects. Those taxes include business, tobacco, meals and rooms, communications and some others.

The decline in our national economy, increased state spending and the all too rosy projections on revenue for the current biennium are the ingredients that have put the state budget into a deficit situation. It is critically important that the next two-year budget beginning on July 1 has the best possible revenue projections to avoid a deficit recurring again. That is why it is so important to that the Senate Finance and Ways and Means Committees have a good working relationship with the Revenue Administration Commissioner.

We will need consistent recommendations on revenue provided to us in an orderly manner. Inconsistent information confuses legislators, allows poor information to have equal status with good information and unnecessarily sets up the budget process over or under estimate how much money the state will have available.

Governor Lynch, in choosing Kevin Clougherty, selected a proven and very experienced professional. He served for nearly 20 years as the Chief Financial Officer of the City of Manchester overseeing the city's financial renaissance including the development of the airport, Verizon Wireless Arena, new ballpark and historic Millyard District. Kevin began his career in state government as part of the state Performance Audit Program. While I was meeting the new Commissioner for the first time, Senator D'Allesandro has known him since Kevin was a youngster. Senator D'Allesnadro had him as a student when he taught at Bishop Brady High School more than 40 years ago. I have every confidence that we will have a very positive working relationship as we work on the next budget over the next six months.

* * *

   On Wednesday, I stopped by the Bluff Elementary School in Claremont during the noon hour to see the Everybody Wins! program. About 20 students in grades three to five give up their recess once a week so they can spend that time reading with a volunteer. Everybody Win! matches students with mentors including some retired teachers who return to the classroom for an hour each week. Principal Linda Brennerman is enthusiastic about the positive results as students and mentors find "enjoyment in the sustained reading experience." Not only do students get to read with volunteers who love reading, they find role models and new friends. Some students have been with the same mentors for three years.

Some of the funding for the Bluff School program comes from the Claremont Education Enrichment Program. That organization was the brainchild of Al Blake 10 years ago when he encouraged his Stevens High School class of 1949 to give and raise money for projects in the Claremont schools. Seeing the work of Al's group and the power of consistent volunteer interaction with the students at Bluff School it is easy to understand why it is called Everybody Wins!

* * *

That night, Claremont legislators were invited to participate in the City Council meeting. This is always a good opportunity for council members and their representatives in Concord to discuss key issues. One issue stands out. Stop the state from shifting expenses from the state level to municipalities, schools and counties where the costs must be paid through local property taxes.

* * *

The Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire has been holding seven "Legislative Plant Tours" around the state so that legislators have a good understanding of the challenges facing New Hampshire's manufacturers, especially in today's anemic economy. Sturm, Ruger hosted the tour for our region but in addition to local legislators there were some from as far away as the seacoast.

An economist, Brian Gottlob, led a discussion on the state's economy for the first hour. Manufacturing remains the most powerful sector of the state's economy for building wealth, because so much of the production is sold outside New Hampshire borders. But as with national indices on manufacturing, there has been a major decline in manufacturing jobs. Sullivan County over the last few years has seen a more rapid decline that in the rest of the state.

That discussion was followed by plant tour. I was there just a couple of months ago and I sense a company on the move, investing and modernizing manufacturing processes, with demand for their firearms products up. The tour was followed by a discussion led by Sturm, Ruger Vice President for Operations, Tom Sullivan, on comparative costs for a manufacturer to do business in New Hampshire measured against locations outside our state.

Bob Odell
State Senator
New Hampshire State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301-4951

Telephone:  603-271-6733
Email:  rpojr@aol.com


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