Budget Protest March 31 Could be Massive
Hundreds of firefighters, police, and other public sector workers, plus advocates for state-funded services that meet essential community needs, clogged the lobby, stairwells, and halls at the Legislative Office Building while the NH House Finance Committee prepared its final budget proposal this afternoon.
GOP leaders, who control the House’s 3:1 majority, have proposed deep cuts in programs that make a dignified life possible for thousands of disabled, elderly, and otherwise needy residents of the Granite State. Amendments to the budget include provisions to strip cities and towns from their historic responsibility to provide the means of survival to indigent residents who have exhausted all other means of support.
And, at the last minute, a proposal that would cancel provisions of public sector collective bargaining agreements upon their expiration has been added to the mix. In other words, workers who are covered by union contracts would become employed “at will” if contracts run out, thereby voiding salary, benefits, grievance procedures, and all other contractual provisions. This last ingredient is what aroused the hundreds of workers who crowded the Legislative Office Building today.
The House Finance budget will be presented to the House at a hearing next Tuesday and will go to the House membership for a vote on Thursday.
“Welcome to Newconsin”
Growing outrage is supporting publicity for the “Rally for New Hampshire,” to be held at the State House Thursday, March 31, at noon, to protest the House budget and call on the Senate to start over from scratch.
I followed a spirited group of firefighters to the office of the Speaker of the House, where they demanded the hearing be moved to a larger room, such as Representatives Hall. Hank Martineau, a Captain on the Manchester Fire Department, carried a sign saying “Welcome to Newconsin.”
Earlier this week, students from the vocational and technical program at Concord High School waved and cheered at rush hour traffic in a hastily called protest against budget cuts affecting vocational education.