Democrats want lower property taxes, higher business taxes

New Hampshire Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, D-Concord, discusses the Democrats’ legislative priorities for 2019 in the Legislative Office Building foyer, Wednesday afternoon.

CONCORD – Declaring he wants to replace “corporate handouts” with “property tax relief for hardworking Granite Staters,” New Hampshire Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, D-Concord, on Wednesday discussed the party’s 2019 platform.

As a result of the November general election, Democrats took control of both the New Hampshire Senate and House. In fact, all 27 members of the House representing the city of Nashua are now Democrats.

Wednesday, Senate Democrats released the provisions of their Granite State Opportunity Plan.

“There is no question that there is much work ahead of us in 2019 and beyond to continue moving our state forward,” Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, said. “If we are going to ensure New Hampshire is a place where everyone has the opportunities and resources they need to thrive, we’re all going to have to work together.”

Other priorities highlighted during the Wednesday press conference included addressing:

Raising the minimum wage;

Establishing paid family and medical leave;

Workforce development;

Mental health and substance use disorder treatment reimbursement rates;

Increasing the staff for the Division for Children, Youth & Families; and

Codifying protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

In a release issued in advance of the press conference, Soucy said, “In 2019, we will fight for a budget that works for everyone, provide education and workforce development opportunities at every stage of life, protect access to health care for Granite Staters including those with pre-existing conditions, make sure families can afford to put food on the table and keep the lights on while advancing the jobs of tomorrow through energy efficiency and renewable energy, and ensure no one is forced to choose between caring for a loved one and paying the bills by passing paid family and medical leave.”

The press conference took place at 1 p.m. in the Legislative Office Building, where Democratic senators gathered to listen as Soucy and Feltes unveiled their priorities for 2019. Soucy said despite New Hampshire’s unemployment rate being low, there are more than 10,000 job openings per month that employers within the state cannot fill.

Rather than sending tax dollars to “corporate special interests,” Feltes said Senate Democrats will instead be prioritizing the opioid epidemic, mental health, child protection, infrastructure, affordable child care, affordable and workforce housing and education.

“Senate Democrats know it shouldn’t be so expensive to live and raise a family in New Hampshire,” Feltes said. “Our economy should work for working families-not just the wealthy. We’re all better off when every Granite Stater has the tools to build a good life, including a living wage, affordable education and job training, and paid family and medical leave.”

He said this year’s paid family and medical leave proposal is a public-private partnership. Moreover, Soucy will continue her fight to establish and raise a New Hampshire minimum wage by submitting legislation for the seventh year in a row.

Additionally, legislation is slated to be filed to address the emergency room boarding crisis, which consists of 30 to 40 patients a day waiting for the appropriate mental health treatment they need.

Feltes also said the Division for Children, Youth & Families needs more employees because, he said, caseworkers are overwhelmed.

“The average caseload of a DCYF caseworker is supposed to be around 12 cases,” Feltes said. “Currently, caseworkers in New Hampshire are handling caseloads of up to 40 or more.”

In terms of the climate, lawmakers will look at legislation to increase net energy metering limits for customer-generators and encourage a growth in sustainable energy production. They said this will combat climate change and reduce energy prices and property taxes.

“From property tax relief to paid leave and protecting access to affordable health care, Senate Democrats have plans to address the needs and concerns of hardworking Granite Staters – we hope Gov. (Chris) Sununu will work with us to achieve these goals,” Feltes said.