November 01, 2012COUNTY — Wolfeboro Republican Jeb Bradley is being challenged in his campaign for re-election to his Senate District 3 seat by Brookfield Democrat Jeff Ballard. Senate District 3 includes Albany, Bartlett, Brookfield, Chatham, Conway, Eaton, Effingham, Freedom, Hale's Location, Hart's Location, Jackson, Madison, Middleton, Milton, Moultonborough, Ossipee, Sandwich, Tamworth, Tuftonboro, Wakefield, Waterville Valley, and Wolfeboro.
We sent both candidates a set of questions and feature their responses, in their own words, below.
Why are you running for election?
Jeb Bradley has been serving in office, or running for office for more than 22 years. There is no way that anyone can serve that long and not lose sight of the big picture, especially in New Hampshire where elections are held every two years. You get in a mode of constantly campaigning and not serving the people. Senator Bradley was elected to a leadership position and failed to act as a leader. While those in his party were distracted with issues like carrying guns in the State House, repealing Kindergarten and the minimum wage and calling that all bills introduced include references to the Magna Carta, Senator Bradley stood idly by. He should have used his leadership role to help refocus the attention of the Legislature to issues which affect all of us in District 3, like the lack of bread winner jobs in our district, rising property tax rates, and access to affordable healthcare.
District 3 deserves a State Senator who will keep his eye on the big picture and not lose sight of the best interest of the voters in District 3.
What qualifications or experience will you bring to this position?
Every experience I have had in my life has better prepared me to be a State Senator. The New Hampshire Legislature works well because people from every walk of life serve there. The State Senate tends to lack the diversity of the State House and I would like to help change that. I grew up in poverty, I witnessed the struggle my parents faced, but I always saw how they gave back to the community and volunteered in church and the community as a whole. No matter how bad they had it they always knew someone had it worse.
I saw the very positive effect government can have on your life when I attended college on the GI Bill and retraining grants. The government made an investment in me and it has more than paid off since I have put so much more back into the system than I ever took.
Looking at your opponent's voting record, which bills he sponsored or voted for in the 2011-12 term do you find objectionable and why?
I am opposed to the School Voucher law which allows companies to give a $3,500 voucher to a student to attend either a public school outside of their district, or a religious or private for-profit school. When vouchers are given out the company can take a $3,500 tax credit and the school district where the child was enrolled receives $3,500 less. That means the local town has to come up with an additional $3,500 to pay for the remaining students education. This forces taxpayers to pay for a child's education at a religious school, or even worse, it forces taxpayers to pay extra taxes for a child to go to a for-profit school.
I was disappointed that Senator Bradley voted with special interests to table the online drivers education bill. This bill would have had a huge positive impact on struggling families of Carroll County. $650 is a lot of money for the working poor to pay for their child to receive the training needed. Sadly in Carroll County there are families which depend on their teenage children to help with bills and to put food on the table. This bill would have made it easier for these teenagers to enter the work force in seasonal jobs which Carroll County has so many of.
If you are elected what would be your top three priorities for the next biennium?
1. Finding ways to partner with business and education to ensure our citizens are well educated with the training they need to bring new business to New Hampshire. We do not need to raise tax rates, we just need to improve the economy which will raise revenue.
Bringing stability back to New Hampshire is key. Stability breeds growth. When you have a legislature saying kindergarten causes crime, that we need guns in the State House, and introducing other extreme radical bills New Hampshire is rattled to the core. Would you want to move your company to a state cutting education, proposing signs warning you that you are about to enter Massachusetts or inviting Orly Taitz to try and have the President removed from the ballot.
I would work across the aisle with all North Country representatives and senators to advocate for the North Country. We need to bring high-speed internet to all of New Hampshire. That is the best way to ensure we are as business-friendly as possible. I would work to help bring low-impact manufacturing and other skilled labor to the region. Call centers would be very affordable to build in the North Country due to the low cost of doing business with low real estate prices and the lower wages needed to support a family here as opposed to a major metropolitan area.
Would you vote to restore the 10-cent cut in the tobacco tax?
Yes. Making smoking more affordable and education less affordable is wrong for New Hampshire.
Are there any other issues or legislation you would advocate that voters should know about?
I would like to change the birth month requirement for any permits or licenses such as car inspections, driver's licenses and car registration if your birth month falls within the winter heating season. It would be optional for people to take advantage of. For those who change to a new month they would be divided evenly among May-June-July.
If you can, please give a brief statement of why voters should send you to Concord to represent them for the next two years?
The voters of District 3 can trust me. At the end of the day, I feel it comes down to the trust that they can place in me. I face so many of the same problems as they do and I will think through my decisions to have the least possible negative impact on their lives. I won't be voting on party lines, I will be voting for District 3.
Why are you running for re-election?
Public service has always been important to me. It has been an honor to serve in the New Hampshire Senate for four years and work with people on both sides of the aisle to solve problems New Hampshire confronts. My priorities have been job creation, fiscal responsibility, ending donor towns and reforming government programs such as Medicaid and the N.H. Retirement System so as to enable our state to remain competitive, attractive to small business and a great state to live, work and raise a family in. As a former small business owner myself, I know how important tax and fiscal policy, health care costs, regulatory policy, and energy costs are to job growth. I am proud to have been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and have earned the "Champion of Business" designation from the Business and Industry Association the statewide chamber of commerce for my 100 percent pro-jobs voting record.
To lower the cost of health care, I will continue to support more competition and tort reform, as well as initiatives to increase the transparency of medical costs and quality of medical outcomes. I will continue to support efforts to lower the cost of energy and increase availability of renewable resources. I am committed to protecting our environment. And I will work to balance our state budget without gimmicks, borrowing for operating expenses, inflated revenue projections, higher taxes on businesses or an income or sales tax.
What do you consider your three greatest legislative achievements?
I sponsored SB 147, bipartisan legislation signed by Governor Lynch, which moves Medicaid patients into a managed care delivery system. The governor projected my legislation would save $16 million in the current budget while also improving care for patients by encouraging preventative care over emergency room treatment as an example.
I also sponsored SB 3 pension reform legislation that was incorporated into the 2011 budget, which the governor allowed to become law. N.H. taxpayers confronted $4.7 billion of unfunded costs driving up property taxes now and in the future. While there are multiple causes for this staggering $4.7 billion shortfall, it could no longer be ignored as previous legislatures had done. The reforms in the legislation primarily affect new employees. However non-vested (less than 10 years on the job) public safety workers will have to work up to 25 years rather than 20 years before retiring and won't be able to add as much unused vacation and sick time to inflate the value of their pension. All employees must contribute more to their benefit, which remains a guaranteed benefit. Lastly there are new restrictions on retired employees drawing a pension and returning to a public sector job – so called double dipping. There were no changes for current retirees. Overall these reforms were fair to employees, retirees, and taxpayers and were long overdue. Postponing reforms would have only made the pension problems worse.
Lastly, I also co-sponsored legislation which was incorporated into the 2011 budget that Governor Lynch allowed to become law. This legislation made changes to the education funding formula blocking the return of donor towns – something vitally important to the Lakes Region and Carroll County. Had that formula not been changed, ten Carroll County communities would have become donor towns and been on the hook for nearly $7 million.
I also sponsored an innovative tort reform initiative, renewable energy legislation that enhances opportunities for existing renewable suppliers, and legislation that will diminish the abuse of prescription medications.
If you are re-elected what would be your top three priorities for the next biennium?
New Hampshire needs a long-term solution to the education funding dilemma. While we blocked the return of donor towns in the last Legislative session, there is no guarantee that the funding formula could not change in the future leading to the return of donor towns. My top priority in the next session is the same priority I had this session: protect taxpayers from donor town status. I will continue to support passage of a constitutional amendment that would allow for targeted education funding and would remove any need for donor towns. Further, if we fail to resolve education funding, New Hampshire will face the prospect of an income or sales tax. I believe that an income or sales tax would undermine New Hampshire's ability to grow jobs and attract new businesses.
I also believe that New Hampshire needs to examine how our high business tax rates reduce our competitive position relative to other states. If the economy improves and revenue increases to the point New Hampshire can fulfill its funding obligations, we should look to reduce over time the Business Enterprise Tax and the Business Profits Tax.
Additionally, I look forward to co-sponsoring again with Senator Jim Luther SB 205 which modernizes our laws that govern the creation of corporations. SB 205 passed the Senate but did not survive in the House. A bipartisan companion bill, SB 203, which I sponsored, updated our LLC laws. SB 203 was also a top priority for the business community because it enhances a business owners' ability to form an LLC and improves New Hampshire's attractiveness for small business growth. SB 203 was signed by Governor Lynch. Next year we need to pass SB 205 to enhance state's competitive position regarding creation of corporations in our state.
New Hampshire also needs to focus on lowering health care costs. My tort reform legislation SB 406 creates a voluntary "early offer" settlement process that should reduce litigation and lower medical liability costs. A prospective repeal of the "certificate of need" review process should lead to more medical providers and greater competition. New Hampshire should insist upon far greater transparency for medical provider costs as well as quality of care metrics so that patients are informed users of medical services. I will introduce this as legislation. I will also continue to support insurance coverage for issues such as autism and midwifery and I will continue to support woman's health care choices.
Would you vote to restore the 10 cent cut in the tobacco tax?
I voted against the tobacco tax reduction in SB 40. When the tobacco tax was later lowered in the budget, which the Governor allowed to become law, there was a provision also added in the budget to return to the higher tax level should revenue fall short. I supported that provision and because of it, I expect the tax will automatically revert to the 10 cent higher rate.
Are there any other issues or legislation you would advocate that voters should know about?
I look forward to sponsoring legislation that will lead to greater disclosure of independent political expenditures by outside groups. Similar legislation passed the Senate in 2012 but was not adopted by the House. I expect this will be an opportunity to find bipartisan cooperation.
Please give a brief statement why voters should send you back to concord for another two years.
It has been an honor to serve New Hampshire in different capacities. I have tried to work in a way that benefits our state and all its residents. I was twice named Citizen of the Year by the N.H. Veterans of Foreign Wars for my efforts on behalf of veterans. The Business and Industry Association named me one of the 2006 recipients of the N.H. Advantage Award for my work to save 5,000 jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. More recently I was named 2010 Legislator of the Year by the N.H. Association of Counties, 2011 and 2012 Legislator of the Year by Home Builders and Remodelers Association of N.H. and 2012 Legislator of the Year by New Futures, a non-partisan organization that works to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. I have also recently been honored by the N.H. Medical Society for leadership affecting health care and the N.H. Municipal Association for leadership on public pension reform legislation.
I look forward to serving another term in the New Hampshire Senate and continuing to work in a bipartisan fashion for New Hampshire residents.