Active with the Activists
By ARNIE ALPERT for InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – As members of the House Finance Committee prepared for their first public hearing on the new state budget Tuesday afternoon, 20 activists called for a “budget that invests in our communities’ health, education, recovery, opportunity and vitality” and taped their “NH People’s Budget” proposal to the front door of the State House.
“Stop telling us how broke we are,” said Dr. Debbie Opramolla, chair of the NH Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) and a veteran of fights over adequate funding for services that meet the needs of people with disabilities.
“We want investments in New Hampshire in education, in families, in the care and well-being of all of our people, in transportation, in the environment. We can fund those investments when we finally in this state tax people according to their wealth and to their ability to pay,” explained Maggie Fogarty of the American Friends Service Committee, who led a short rally by the State House steps.
Other participants came from 350NH, the Kent Street Coalition, Granite State Organizing Project, Granite State Progress, Change for Concord, NH Voices of Faith, and other groups.
Going around a circle, participants called out the groups’ 18 demands, starting with, “Invest in recovery from COVID-19” and ending with “fairly tax the wealthy and corporations which operate in New Hampshire,” with points in between related to compensation for state workers, funding for public schools, support for people with disabilities and their families, affordable housing, investment in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities, and more.
Without getting into the weeds of budget-making, the activists were making two key points. First, it is time to move away from a typical process in which worthy groups advocate for their own interests and settle for “crumbs,” as Dr. Opramolla put it. Second, proposals to cut business taxes are ill-timed and unnecessary in a state as wealthy as New Hampshire.
“It’s inhumane to choose to leave people without what they need for housing, food, health care,” said the Rev. John Gregory-Davis of the Meriden Congregational Church before going up the steps and taping the two-page “People’s Budget” document to the State House’s front door.
“The Reformation in NH has begun,” he said.
“We’re not going away. This is not one and done,” added Dr. Opramolla, with another prod for everyone to weigh in on the budget in the coming weeks.
At this point, a uniformed State Trooper who had joined the activists by the doorway, informed them that taping anything to the building is a violation of State House rules. Having made their point and with no plans to risk legal consequences today, the activists peeled their manifesto off the door and went on their ways.