Innis, Sherman disagree on education, taxes
By Max Sullivan
HAMPTON — The race for state Senate District 24 will be decided Tuesday night as a former University of New Hampshire business school dean will face off against a Rye state rep. and local doctor.
Democrat Tom Sherman, a gastroenterologist and two-term Rye state rep., is facing Dan Innis of New Castle, a former dean at the UNH Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics and who previously ran for Congress. They are seeking to replace state Sen. Nancy Stiles, who represented District 24 for the last six years.
Senate District 24 includes Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Kensington, New Castle, North Hampton, Newton, Rye, Seabrook, Stratham and South Hampton.
Innis is running on a platform that states the “New Hampshire advantage” has been eroded by rising business taxes that have made the Granite State less competitive than Massachusetts and Maine. He believes his experience as the Paul College dean and as a local inn owner qualifies him to lead the state back to being the prime state to open a business in New England.
Sherman has said the current opioid crisis is his main concern if elected. He said the Senate’s 24 seats lack medical experience that will be crucial to deciding issues including funding for opioid treatment as well as Medicaid expansion, of which he is also a proponent.
Sherman disagrees with Innis about the state’s economy. He said at a forum Tuesday morning at the Old Salt Restaurant in Hampton that the state is doing “gangbusters.” Later this week, he cited a low unemployment rate, which dipped below 3 percent last month, as evidence of that.
Sherman also said he will not support new tax cuts. He said tax cuts are currently scheduled to kick in 2018 and would rather wait to see how they impact the economy.
Innis has said the low unemployment rate is misleading, as many jobs in New Hampshire are low paying due to the scarcity of qualified workers in the state.
“Yes the unemployment rate is low, but (business owners say) ‘I can’t find trained workers. That’s what I need,’” Innis said. “That’s where we need to go back to education.”
Sherman agrees with Innis on the need for trained workers in New Hampshire. He said he has heard the same complaint from business owners. However, he disagrees with Innis on how best to improve the education system.
Innis said he would like to see universities have less oversight from the state. At the Tuesday forum in Hampton, he said there may not even be a need for the University System of New Hampshire and that funding for the system could instead go straight to colleges.
“You don’t have to intervene to support education. You can partner,” Innis said. “Tom sees government as sort of mom and dad guiding us. I see government as something that’s necessary at some level but it should try to stay in the background as much as possible.”
Sherman said Innis is wrong and the state should be involved in how state money is used at universities like UNH. He said Innis’ view would leave to little accountability for universities using taxpayer dollars.
“To me, that’s not good stewardship of the public money,” Sherman said. “We do need to invest more in UNH, absolutely. Do we need to know where that investment is going? Absolutely.”
Innis has said Sherman has missed nearly 40 percent of his votes in Concord, calling Sherman a “part-time representative.” He said Sherman was “on vacation” during a vote on Medicaid expansion, one of Sherman’s key initiatives.
Sherman said the approximately 39 percent missed roll call votes comes from a week earlier this year in which he had “family matters” to address. He said he was told by House leadership that his vote would likely not impact the outcome of votes that week. He said he otherwise has a roll call voting record of approximately 91 percent in the House. Had he known his missed week this year would be used against him, he said, he would have gone to Concord.
“I’m not perfect, but to misconstrue it, after all the work I’ve done in four years, to focus on one week that has no impact on outcome, is to me really unfortunate,” Sherman said. “If this is all that he can come up with, I’m doing good.”
Innis said Sherman can “try to spin it however he wants, but it’s just spin,” calling him a “part-time representative.”
“Nancy Stiles had a 100 percent voting record,” Innis said. “Tom had 61 percent. Pretty big difference.”
Innis has also criticized Sherman for sending his children to private school, saying it is contradictory to Sherman’s support for Common Core. He said he is a product of city schools in Ohio, and that his children also have gone to public schools.
“I think it’s hypocrisy to try to tell us what our kids need when apparently what we’re giving them in New Hampshire isn’t good enough for Tom’s kids, and it honestly makes me mad,” Innis said. “I believe in public education.”
Sherman said his choice to send his kids to a private school has nothing to do with his support for improving public schools.
“If I put my kid in public school, private school, catholic school, and I choose to go and be a state representative or a state senator, that does not make a difference in calling for excellence in public education or my commitment to it,” Sherman said.
Source: Seacoast Online