The Opioid Crisis and Mental Health

An area of concern that I have is the prioritization and access to Mental Health resources in New Hampshire. Mental Health is a large and complex topic encompassing suicide, the opiod crisis and depression.

New Hampshire has the second lowest rate of spending on substance use treatment and prevention, so it doesn't provide enough resources for those addicted to opioids to recover, including access to Narcan and needle exchange programs. Additionally the above average rate of prescribing high-dose opiods and extended release opiods is a contributing factor in this crisis. Primary care doctors, emergency care doctors, and specialty care doctors should all be educated in pain management guidelines and trained in addiction treatment as well as be allowed to administer medication to help treat the addiction.

In New Hampshire, the suicide rate increased by 48.3 percent between 1999 and 2016. That's the third-highest increase in the country, according to the CDC. New Hampshire is one of eight states in which the suicide rate increased by more than 40 percent. According to the CDC, 90% of all people who die by suicide have either a mental illness or substance abuse disorder. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in New Hampshire (after accidental injury) for individuals age 10 to 34. It is the fourth leading cause of death in NH for individuals age 35 to 54 (after accidental injury, cancer, and heart disease).

We need to do better in New Hampshire to provide mental health care education and preventative services in an integrated setting. We need to understand the links between poorly treated pain, depression and addiction, and suicide. We need to focus on and make connections with our service members and 110,000 veterans.

Education

“We hold that in this State a constitutionally adequate public education is a fundamental right. In so doing we note that “[t]he right to an adequate education mandated by the constitution is not based on the exclusive needs of a particular individual, but rather is a right held by the public to enforce the State’s duty.” Claremont I, 138 N.H. at 192, 635 A.2d at 1381.” Claremont II, 142 N.H. 462, 474

According to the NH DOE, the State's adequacy funding and all other state aid to education comprised about 32.5% of the total funding for K-12 education in 2016 - 2017. The average amount of state funding including tareted allocations, per pupil in 2016 - 2017 was $4,476, but the average actual annual per pupil cost was about $15,310. The percentage of the cost of K-12 education provided by the state government in New Hampshire is among the five lowest in the country.

Local funding, almost exclusively through property taxes made up 60.1% of all school funding in the 2016-2017 year. This means that property taxpayers are bearing an increasing and disproportionate burden of what is constitutionally the State's responisibility. Additionally property poor school districts often tax their residents at above average rates but generate limited revenue keeping their per pupil spending below average, even with state aid. This leads to cutting teachers and programs.

We must ensure that we are funding quality education for all of NH students according to the NH Constitution and at uniform rates throughout New Hampshire. Education is essential to self-government, "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." ~ Thomas Jefferson

College Tuition, Skilled Workforce, Highest exporter of HS Graduates going to 4-year colleges

In 2017-18, the average published tuition and fee prices for in-state students at public four year institutions range from $5,220 in Wyoming to $16,070 in New Hampshire. Even though the University System of New Hampshire has one of the highest completion rates and one of the lowest loan default rates in the country, the most recent Project on Student Debt report showed New Hampshire 2016 college graduates have an average debt of $36,367, one of the highest in the country.

A 2017 State Higher Education Finance report by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association showed that in 2015, New Hampshire allocated just 2 percent of its total state and local tax revenues to higher education. In 2016, state support for higher education was $93 per person, far behind the next-lowest state, Pennsylvania, which allocated $139 per person for higher education, the report found. The national average was $289.

New Hampshires high schools rate in the top three for college readiness (#3), math scores (#2) and reading scores (#1) AND as the number ONE exporter of four-year college-going students in the country. New Hampshire is one of only two states -- the other being Georgia -- that provides no designated, need-based aid to in-state students who want to go to college. New Hampshire also cut state funding in 2012 which has led to more students leaving the state for college.

According to the National Center on Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS), meeting the demand for educated workers in New Hampshire will result in:
 Higher wages for workers;
 Greater tax revenue for federal, state, and local
governments;
 Reduced need for government aid programs;
 More productive workers who boost employer profits and support higher rates of economic growth; and
 Higher levels of civic engagement.

In order to provide employers with a skilled workforce, we need to keep our talented students in New Hampshire! We need to provide top-notch programs in areas that our businesses need to suceed and grow. We need to consider 2-4 year colleges as continuing education for our students and we need to be sure we are finding ways to offset the costs of that education in order to retain the best and brightest. Education is tied to quality of life, the economy, and jobs.