Views from the towns of District 9
in beautiful New Hampshire.
PRIORITIES TO CREATE PROSPERITY
When we have a prosperity machine running properly, business and tourism revenues will grow. Welfare, prison, unemployment and education overhead costs will shrink. We will recapture more of the dollars NH residents send to Washington. As a result, we will have the funds to seed the future, maintain current infrastructure and care for those who cannot care for themselves.
What Is Government that's Smart, with Heart?
Smart government engineers systems that manufacture prosperity; government with heart assures that those systems help all to thrive, even children who cannot vote. Surprisingly, that is not how many legislators think. Instead, they consider the NH budget as a basket of hand-outs to be doled out. As a Republican finance chair explained to me, "This year we'll give tax cuts to small business because last year we gave colleges back some of the money we cut the year before that." There is little consideration of the combined results of their hand-outs. The only strategic goal mentioned is the ALEC mantra: "Cut taxes, cut spending and cut government."
Early in my entrepreneurial career, I was fortunate to have a mentor who taught me that you cannot grow a business (or an economy) by cutting costs. It is business revenues and employee salaries that create money flow within the economy. The sources of prosperity in New Hampshire are the businesses which sell products and services outside the state or which draw tourists into the state. Theses companies, such as NH Ball Bearing, Millipore and Hitchener, provide the revenues that then flow to local suppliers and to employees. Even my husband's and my start-up, MobileRobots Inc, brought millions of dollars into NH every year. And best of all, exporting companies pay wages 18% higher than others, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.
Only then, once money comes into the state, do programs for buying local help keep wealth here. Only when the flow of outside money increases do local businesses thrive as they supply food and fun, autos and appliances, to locally shopping employees and employers.
My goal is to create a system that feeds prosperity, based on facts. Fact: cutting taxes and dampening wages does not create prosperity: as of 2014, California had the highest taxes and the fastest economic growth. Wisconsin and Iowa cut taxes and their neighbors grew faster than they. States that have adopted minimum wages have not seen economic decline.
What creates prosperity? Governor Lynch used to invite business leaders annually to tell him how to help them. Every year, they cited the same top two items: first, more talented, skilled employees and second, better, more reliable, less costly infrastructure for transportation, communication and energy.
How do we build our pool of talented, skilled young people in the state? We need to reverse the policies of the legislature that have driven young folks out of the state over the last decade! This means adopting a competitive minimum wage, keeping college costs down and building business-education partnerships. It means targeting a few key growth industries for extra R&D. It means zoning so affordable housing is possible, yet without degrading the environment that makes us all want to live here. It also means assuring that the infants and children born in the state receive the nurturing that builds the brains and bodies needed to become contributing adults. And it means creating an image of vigor and vibrancy that attracts young singles and families.
How do we improve our infrastructure? Again, we need to reverse the regulations passed by the legislature to maximize utility and communications company profits instead of providing the utilities and communications that companies need to compete in a global economy. First, amend the regulation that bars towns from bonding broadband improvements. Unravel accounting messes in the department of transportation that let legislators use the excuse that they are already adequately funded. Fact: 31% of NH's bridges were structurally deficient in 2014 and 54% of NH's roads are in poor or mediocre condition, according to NH Business Reviews 2016 Book of Lists. Yet gasoline taxes continue to decline because of declining driving and alternative fuels so we must find an alternative way to fund highway maintenance and safety. Will this replacement tax reduce our state's prosperity? No, it will make it possible for employees to get to work and businesses to transport their products.
These are examples of actions that can create prosperity in NH. It is not a bucket of hand-outs to constituents, but a system to build economic growth and then to assure that it reaches all. Such actions do not come from ALEC or other outsiders' agendas, or from sheep-like legislators who bleat and repeat them. To get government that's smart, with heart; we must change our legislators.