CONCORD – Members of the Democratic Senate Caucus released the following statement after the Senate passed Senate Bill 7, legislation to restrict access to food assistance services in New Hampshire, with an amendment to establish a workforce readiness and access program:
“There are times during debate on the Senate floor when we find ourselves incredulous at the debates we are having,” said Senator D’Allesandro. “Today’s vote on Senate Bill 7 was one of those moments. Today our Republican colleagues called for a vote to pass legislation that severely limits access to nutritional resource programs for the 139,730 food insecure people in our state, many of whom are veterans. We find this legislation unconscionable and the antithesis of what New Hampshire represents, and have heard such from a broad range of our constituents.”
“Remarkably, in the same breath, our Republican friends asked us to vote to include an amendment on the bill to support the Granite Workforce program, a watered down version of former Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work program,” said Senator Feltes. “The goal of this amendment is purportedly to address barriers to employment such as substance abuse, lack of access to affordable childcare and insufficient skills training. But here’s the thing: you don’t get credit for helping financially insecure people in our state find work while simultaneously vilifying those same people for needing help with their basic needs in the meantime. That effort rings hollow and disingenuous.”
“We just turned down federal funding for the most needy in our state. New Hampshire is on a race to the bottom in federal funds per person. We’re already in the bottom 10 states. This will downshift food stabilization to already burdened local communities,” added Senator Kahn.
“Our colleagues say this legislation ‘strengthens’ the food stamp program, but we’re not sure who exactly is being ‘strengthened’ when thousands of Granite Staters will soon find themselves unsure of where they will find their next meal. And as for the so-called Pathway to Work, they’re forgetting one critical element: it’s really difficult to look for a job when you’re hungry,” said Senator Hennessey. “We must remember that the best measure of a community has always been how we treat the least advantaged among us. We pledge to continue to fight for the dignity and support of all Granite Staters, no matter their tax bracket, where they live or the challenges they face.”