U.S. Senate candidates Governor Maggie Hassan and Senator Kelly Ayotte participated in a forum focused on workplace policies that impact New Hampshire’s families and economy.
Manchester, NH – Local business leaders, parents, and community members asked each candidate questions about the issues that most affect them and their families. New Hampshire families today are working harder and putting in longer hours than ever before, making it increasingly difficult to both be there for their families and make ends meet. The cost of living in New Hampshire is higher than in most states, at 17.1 percent above the U.S. average at the beginning of 2015.
The candidates differed in their responses to a variety of questions posed by panel members ranging from issues such as guaranteeing paid family and medical leave to raising the minimum wage.
On guaranteeing paid family and medical leave
Hassan: “When we are welcoming new life into the world or needing to take time out to care for a loved one – maybe it’s someone with addiction or maybe it’s an aging parent – we certainly shouldn’t have to choose between doing that and earning our living. And this is a difference between my opponent and me in this race. I support guaranteeing paid family leave, and she has voted against that.”
Ayotte: “If we can set up a [federal] backdrop to allow states to create those kinds of programs, I think that it is best if the state designs what it should be for leave in their state…”
On raising the minimum wage
Hassan: “Look, no person working full time should live in poverty. It’s both a moral issue – it’s also an economic issue for all of us … So, I do support raising the minimum wage.” She later specified that she supports a gradual increase to $12 an hour.
Ayotte: “When I look at an issue like minimum wage, this, to me, is one where we have to look at the particular proposal … I’m open to raising the minimum wage. I want to make sure that when we do that, we’re also not reducing employment opportunities as we do it.”
Kerry Norton, a Registered Nurse, shared the importance of paid leave for individuals recovering from substance abuse. “I work with families every day who are working hard to get treatment for drug addiction and want nothing more than to get back on their feet. I see parents and siblings who want to support a family member, but can’t afford to take any time off work. No one should have to choose between their health and their job,” Kerry said in an advance statement.
“We have one of the most closely watched senate races here in New Hampshire, and voters deserve to know where each candidate stands on the issues that affect their family and community,” said Amanda Sears, Director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy and moderator of today’s forum. “We heard today that business leaders, parents, and hardworking individuals in the Granite State all want a fair shot at the American Dream and are relying on policymakers to build a path to a family friendly economy.”