NH House Finance Committee Budget Hearing Quick Recap

Yesterday, Monday, March 18, 2013 the NH House Finance Committee had their budget hearing from five to eight in Rochester at the Rochester Community Center. People filed in quickly as the hearing start time came close and the seats filled and more were added to accommodate the large crowd. During the hearing the committee heard from dozens and dozens of concerned citizens. Groups and individuals filled the three hour hearing period and I can say it made me very proud to attend the hearing and listen to so many impassioned citizens. Most were from the immediate surrounding towns and cities, but there were quite a few that had come the further reaches of the state. The committee was quite firm in following hearing response protocol, so the audience was asked several times not to clap or show support or emotion. Most were there to ask for support for our NH safety net(like HHS, Community Partners, etc.)and the programs that safety net provides to our elders, those who have been abused and those who are physically and mentally challenged. Many recounted personal stories and conveyed just how much our safety net helps not only those that use it regularly, but all of us in the state. I don't know how anyone could ignore them. The removal of the waiting list was in the front of many people's minds when they spoke. There was also a focus on trying to keep programs funded in the budget that deal with youth development, mentoring, counseling, and drug prevention. There were many expressing support of Land and Community Historical Investment Program (LCHIP) and the opportunities it presents to communities for cultural and historical preservation and advancement. Several people spoke about restoring funds for UNH to the budget. Several people stood up and strongly asked the committee not to accept gambling as a solution as it has been heralded or consider it a revenue source as proposed by the current budget. Of course there were two people preaching austerity, as tired and heartless as that line of thinking is. Now it's up to the committee to make the difficult choices and hopefully help take care of our people for the next cycle. I hope they listened last night and choose wisely.