Is Governess Margaret Wood Hassan running the state or is she running for the U S Senate? It looks like that’s the question State Republican Committee Chair Jennifer Horn will be asking a lot in her out loud voice as plans for Hassan to give the keynote address at the America Votes two thousand fifteen State Summit later this month were revealed on Twitter. According to a statement issued by Horn, America Votes is a group that coordinates political activity for liberal organizations and supports liberal congressional candidates. Political insiders first learned of her pending trip via a tweet from America Votes’ New Hampshire lobbyist Paula Hodges. Horn said it was disgraceful that the state learned about Hassan’s political trip via Twitter and said quote “New Hampshire has a right to know when Governor Hassan is temporarily transferring her powers to leave the state for political travel.”
Last week, Horn submitted a Right to Know Request demanding information on Hassan’s out of state political travel, its costs to the taxpayers and whether or not she was following the law by notifying the Senate President of her absence so that the governor’s powers could be temporarily conveyed during her absence, as required by the state’s constitution. Hassan has invoked Executive Privilege to refuse the request, something not allowed by law, and drawn editorial fire from the Nashua Telegraph in the process. Quote: “If the governor attends a political fundraiser or some other event in another state, the people of New Hampshire should know that,” they wrote. “The dissemination of such information is one of the ways people can be sure that the state isn’t being run by an absentee governor or one who is being unduly distracted by political considerations.”
Meanwhile, back under the State House Dome, Senate Finance Committee Chair Jeanie Forrester, Republican from Meredith, is calling on Hassan to share how she plans to pay for the pay raises she proposed for state employees. Hassan and the State Employees Association are backing a new contract with annual two percent pay raises, following three raises COLA raises already given over the past two years. Hassan’s proposal would result in a ten point four percent increase in state salaries since Fiscal Year 2013, not counting the annual step increases already built into employee contracts. In fiscal year fourteen, Hassan’s raises cost taxpayers ten point six million dollars, in fiscal fifteen, that cost more than tripled to more than thirty three million dollars. Forrester said Hassan’s proposed pay raises would increase state payroll spending by as much as $40 million in the next budget. Little wonder Hassan’s out of state solidifying her Senate campaign. She needs to get out of town before the bill comes due for all this spending!
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Manchester Education Association President Ben Dick is looking to turn up the heat on the Board of School Committee regarding its decision not to administer the Smarter Balanced Assessment. That decision has prompted state Education Commissioner Virginia Barry to threaten federal funds not just for the city of Manchester, but for the entire state. In an email to teachers, Dick wrote quote “I know that in some cases people have trouble reconciling the potential philosophical issue of promoting a high stakes test. I want you to understand that I do not view this as promoting a high stakes test. The BOSC’s vote on Smarter Balanced has nothing to do with removing high stakes testing from our schools. They simply don’t want to use THIS high stakes test and in doing so they are risking funds that are desperately needed in our district. As far as I’m concerned, this is reckless and will potentially have a devastating effect on our students and our district. I hope that you’ll attend Monday’s meeting and help shed some light on this issue for the Board of School Committee.”
Referencing the five plus million dollars state officials said could be at risk for the balance of the school year should Manchester not use the Smarter Balanced Assessment, Dick said over one hundred staff could be lost, though he assured the teachers that they would be protected from layoffs for the current school year as the district is obligated to contracts through June thirtieth. He also said that, for the threats, the district hasn’t been told it will lose funding.
Finally this morning, a handful of news notes on stories we’ve been following. In what can only be seen as a rug pull from underneath, Cenergistic, the company that was granted a contract by the Windham School Board to modify the energy behavior of the Windam School District, withdrew late last week. Seems that getting a contract approved before it’s read by the board doing the approval or even the district’s legal staff wasn’t good enough for them. Kimberly Morin will have more detail in Hour three.
Voters in the Northwood School District’s deliberative session approved a Citizen’s Petition Warrant Article calling on the district to withdraw from Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessments and develop their own standards, beating back an amendment that would render it a meaningless question. Petitioners in Deerfield weren’t so lucky as a neutering amendment passed at its deliberative session.
And, more shenanigans were had in Hooksett over the warrant article asking voters to approve the long term, ten year, restrict contract with Pinkerton Academy. Seems that Board Chair Joanne McHugh and the other proponents of the contract figured out a way to remove the “not recommended” vote of the Hooksett School Board from the question on the ballot. Hooksett School Board member John Lyscars is accusing McHugh of working with legal counsel to figure out an end run around the board’s vote without the board’s approval and has produced email from her private account to support his allegations. Looks like he may have a point.
Parents in the Timberlane Regional School District may be surprised to find a new math curriculum on its way. Following Thursday’s deliberative session, which ended after Midnight, more than five hours after it started, the school board held a meeting, the agenda of which included a “first reading” of a new math curriculum. The materials for this math curriculum were sent to the board just three before board members were to arrive at the deliberative session. School Board Member Donna Green asked Board Chair Nancy Steenson to reschedule the item, but Steenson did not respond. Hey, it’s only a math curriculum, what’s the big deal?
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!