Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – Native protestors decry passing of state finances

Governor Chris Sununu signed the state’s $ 13.5 billion budget that will fund the state for the next two years after the budget was biased and despite a wave of protesters in the capital on Thursday gathered.

Sununu praised the budget, saying it had, “Historic tax cuts, property tax breaks, and paid family medical leave in a single action are a win for every citizen and family in this state.”

House Bills 1 and 2, the budget and trailer bill, did not receive general support from lawmakers, as both bills were passed by Republican majorities in the US House of Representatives and Senate with strong democratic disagreement. While Republicans focused on property tax cuts and other tax cuts, including the abolition of interest and dividend taxes, the Democrats protested other aspects of the budget, including expanding the school voucher system, banning the discussion of “divisive concepts” in public schools and other state governments funded facilities and abortion restrictions.

Maddy Springfield, 23, of Rindge and 18-year-old Erin Weidner of Rindge were among the protesters who attended a two-hour rally at the State House Thursday, during which protesters sought an audience with the governor to veto the law .

Springfield said she was very concerned about the education impact that would result from the passing of the budget, including the expansion of the voucher system, which allows parents to use government funds for forms of education other than the public school system, and the ban of “divisive concepts”.

Sununu supported adding the ban on divisive concepts to the budget, saying it would strengthen anti-discrimination laws. The wording prohibits schools and public institutions from teaching that one race or gender is superior to another, and also prohibits teaching that a person is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, be it consciously or unconsciously”. However, critics say it does the opposite by eliminating conversations about discrimination and systemic racism in schools and getting in the way of things like implicit prejudice training for government-funded institutions, including the state police force.

Springfield said this was one of the aspects of the budget that led them to attend Thursday’s rally in Concord.

“It is scary and terrifying that we are not going to teach the truth about this country. As the state of New Hampshire, we’re taking 20 steps back, ”Springfield said in an interview with the Ledger Transcript. “It’s 2021 and we should be able to teach the truth about American history. I come from a family of teachers and education is one of the most powerful tools we have to change the world. “

Also controversial were aspects of House Bill 2, the “supporter” of the household, which provided for a ban on abortion after 24 weeks, except in cases where the mother’s health is at risk. The restriction makes no exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or fetal abnormalities, and requires that any abortion require an ultrasound to determine the gestational age of the fetus. The state must also consider programs to ensure that programs for abortion clinics and other services are both physically and financially segregated.

Weidner said she joined the protest mainly to protest against these regulations, which are the most restrictive in the state’s history.

“That has become an issue for me over the years,” says Weidner. “I can put myself in this position and it made me think about it and develop empathy for people in this situation.”

Weidner said it can be difficult to get such restrictions back once they’re in place.

Weidner said she also disagreed with the expansion of the voucher system, sometimes referred to as “school choice”.

The program allows parents to use the funds normally earmarked for K-12 public schools per student for private schools or homeschooling. Families who earn up to three times the poverty line in the country can use the funds for an alternative form of school for their child.

Weidner said that the state should focus on improving this education rather than deriving further funds from its own public school system.

Weidner and Springfield have both been part of local roadside protest rallies over the environment and climate change in downtown Jaffrey, but said the rally at the statehouse was the biggest protest they have ever attended.

“I loved being with people who thought like me. To hear some people in the crowd speak about their experiences and how these changes would directly affect them was great to speak to and hear their points of view. I enjoy further education and could hear these views, ”said Weidner.

Springfield said she and a group of local residents who were driving together for the protest stayed a little over two hours from about 10 a.m., sang, sang, and entered the state house when the majority of the rally dispersed after getting none had audience with Sununu.

Some rally participants stayed throughout the day, and at 5 p.m. five activists were arrested and charged with trespassing after allegedly refusing to leave the building when the building was closed for the day. Asma Elhuni from Lebanon, Alison Brokenshire from White River Junction, Dana Hackett from Laconia, James Graham from Lyme and Douglas Robertson from Keene were arrested.

Sununu signed the budget and the associated trailer invoice on Friday afternoon. The budget comes into force on July 1 and finances the state government until 2023.

Weidner and Springfield said the result was not unexpected and they were disappointed but not surprised.

“Even if it didn’t go as planned, we’re coming next year for these people. If they’re against what the citizens of our state want, we’ll just fight harder and see them in the ballot box, ”said Springfield. “I was born and raised here, and it’s a state I love. I want it to be a place where people can move forward and young people of all races and religions can thrive. “

“This is the first year I can choose, and it gives me more passion for choosing what I believe in,” Weidner agreed.

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