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Family Policy

The priority we, as a state, place on equality of opportunity isn’t just a statement about our values. It is also the right thing to do economically, showing we are a place for young people to grow their skills, businesses, and families. This includes:

1) A firm commitment that New Hampshire’s women and families have full control over their reproductive choices. This includes access to contraception and reproductive services and clinics regardless of income level or geography. It is one of many reasons why Medicaid expansion is so important for thousands of New Hampshire families – it helps make safe, affordable, stable reproductive care available. Accessing a clinic should not be impeded; it is unacceptable that women seeking access be the target of harassment, intimidation, or violence.

2) Paid family leave. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act generally provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but Congress currently has little appetite for establishing paid family leave. Many states are moving in this direction, however, and a May 2016 poll showed 72% of Americans – including strong support from Democrats and Republicans – support paid family leave. It improves health care outcomes for mothers and children; reduces workforce turnover; and helps close the pay equity gap. As Governor, attracting young families and talent to New Hampshire will be among my top priorities.

Most American households are either single-parent families, or two-parent homes where both are working outside the home. We know that almost two-thirds of American households would struggle to cover a $1,000 emergency situation. So why do we tell our young families that giving birth to a child, or staying home when a child is sick, should create economic distress? Consider this, as well: 23% of American working women go back to work within 10 days of giving birth, almost entirely due to economic necessity. The United States and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries in the world that do not have some form of paid family leave, which is unacceptable.

A rapidly-growing number of American business leaders appreciate the need for paid family leave, and New Hampshire should reflect this modern reality, as well.

My plan provides a benefit of up to three months of paid leave, which can be used for the birth of a child, a long-term family illness, or an end-of-life situation for a close family member. I pay for it with a standard employee payroll deduction of less than one-tenth of one percent (.009%), which equates to about $29/year for the median income in New Hampshire. The money would go into a shared risk pool not unlike long-term disability. We can do this, and send a powerful message to young people across the country that New Hampshire is an outstanding place to start a family and start a business.

3) Expanding early childhood education to pre-K. New Hampshire was the last state in America to provide public funding for kindergarten, and we still fund kindergarten students at only half the amount of all other students. The only way full-day funding will pass in 2017 is because of unanimous Democratic support in the legislature.

Here’s the thing, though: Those politicians who think full-day Kindergarten is the end of the road, however, are missing what both research and other states’ experience is telling us: We must get to public funding for pre-K education. We are one of only six states without some form of public funding of pre-K, and the only one east of South Dakota.

Time and time again, I heard business leaders tell me that young families’ evaluation of local school districts is the single biggest factor in attracting them to New Hampshire. In another section of this website, there is more detail about the broader subject of education. However, in terms of pre-K education, the advantages are numerous:

Perhaps most important, the field of neurocognitive research is still in the early stages of understanding how best to use the early educational opportunity that is pre-K. One of the most important skills in a public official is the ability to separate causation, coincidence, and correlation. Research is quickly separating out what causes differences in performance among young children, as compared to what factors are simply correlative. We already have seen significant evidence that high-quality pre-K public funding improves outcomes for young children that can last a lifetime. As we better understand the science of early childhood development, communities will be better able to emphasize the skills in pre-K that most directly, causally, lead to academic success.