Friday January 18, 2013

CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire’s Senate Democrats are focusing their legislative efforts on promoting policies that help create jobs.

Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen of Concord said Thursday the 11 Democrats in the Senate will work on legislation that helps businesses grow. She said Democrats believe that can be done by supporting education, training, innovation and maintaining the state’s infrastructure.

She gave few examples of legislation that will accomplish their goals and instead focused on broad themes.

She said Democrats support Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s call to double the tax credit for research and development to $2 million. Larsen later said another example of legislation to create jobs is a bill to allow unemployed workers to get training in how to start a business while on unemployment.

Larsen said the Democratic caucus has not taken a position on legalizing video slot machines to fund the goals. Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, is sponsoring a gambling bill that would raise money for education and highway improvements.

"It may be one (vote) that is an individual option," Larsen said.

Larsen also deflected questions about whether the Democrats support raising the gas tax and vehicle registration fees to pay for highway improvements. The House will be considering a bill to do that.

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Peggy Gilmour, D-Hollis, said businesses need a skilled and educated workforce. She said supporting education is not just an education issue, but also is a jobs issue.

Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, said Democrats are ready to work with their 13 Republican colleagues "to develop a fiscally responsible budget that meets the needs of the citizens and businesses of the state."

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Morse, a Salem Republican, said GOP senators also back increasing the research and development tax credit. Morse said the Senate has worked on many issues in a bipartisan manner in the past and he expects it will again over the next two years.

Morse, one of the sponsors of a Senate bill to legalize video slots, said the income from gambling is a better way to fund education and infrastructure than raising gas taxes or registration fees.

"Taxing and spending our way out of this is not the answer," he said.