Chris Sununu and Dan Feltes Answer 4 Questions Vital to Voters Age 50+

Posted on 10/14/20 by Pam Dube

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In this year's New Hampshire Gubernatorial race, incumbent Republican Chris Sununu is facing challenger Democrat Dan Feltes. To understand how they plan to create a workplace for all ages, create livable communities, and expand home- and community-based healthcare. AARP New Hampshire asked each candidate to answer four key questions in 60-second videos. Here are their responses, with transcripts:

1. What steps are you taking to adopt new ways of working for an intergenerational workplace and take advantage of the experience and expertise of older employees? Are there opportunities to collaborate with private sector and community partners to create workplaces for all ages? 

NH Gubernatorial Workplace for All Ages Answers

Chris Sununu
Here in New Hampshire we are blessed with one of the most experienced workforces in the country, a point of pride that I highlighted in this year's State of the State. Our older population gives us the advantage of constantly being ranked as having one of the most educated workforces in America. As governor, I rebuilt our state's Human Rights Commission, and I established a Civil Rights Unit within the attorney general's office. That's in order to address all claims of age discrimination within the workplace, and we can do it quickly and effectively. And as the state battles the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that workers 65 and older, they're part of the population that's most vulnerable to COVID-19. This is a major reason why we put strong guidelines in place that require businesses to make the workplace safe for the older workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dan Feltes
Well, thank you to AARP and all your volunteers and everybody who works so hard on all these issues, something that I've worked on as a legal-aid lawyer for about a decade. I represent a lot of middle-income families and senior citizens, including the Senior Citizen Law Project, having the opportunity for economic opportunity for senior citizens. And there's a few things that we can do. Number one, job training, ramp up the public-private partnerships. We had a bill, Senate Bill Two, that was vetoed in 2019. We put part of that into the budget. Part of that included specific outreach to senior citizens. We need to do that. We need to ramp that up. We also need to make sure that we reflect the current challenges right now. Paid family and medical leave insurance is critical to move forward on. It's a bill I sponsored. And also breaking down the regulatory barriers to allow healthcare workers, nursing, nursing assistants to reenter the workforce. We need them right now. So those are just a few things that we can do.

2. What steps will you take to ensure all Granite Staters have access to safe and affordable housing, adequate transportation options and services that allow people to remain in their communities as they age? What steps will you take to ensure all Granite Staters have access to livable communities?

NH Gubernatorial Livable Communities Answers

Dan Feltes
Well there's a number of things we need to work on, including housing. We made some progress at the state house, bipartisan accessory dwelling unit legislation that I had led on. Were able to get that through. We capitalized and built off of the Affordable Housing Fund. That's going to be critical to expanding the options around the state. We do have a housing crisis before COVID-19. It's even worse now, so we need to ramp up affordable workforce housing, number one. Number two, we need to make sure we increase those partnerships with our community action programs, including on transportation and transportation services and the state needs to play a better role at doing that. It's something I worked on and helped with as a legal-aid lawyer working with community action agencies and helping low-income seniors get access to services. Number three, we need to make sure that we protect senior citizens. That means we need to go forward with the Vulnerable Adult Protection Act bipartisan legislation we worked on that was vetoed. Living safe, secure life in your community means that you need to be safe, period. So we've got to get that done.

Chris Sununu
Ensuring that Granite Staters have access to safe and affordable housing, as well as adequate transportation, has been a top priority of my administration. Last year I put forward bipartisan legislation to increase access and create incentives for affordable housing. I've continued to invest in our local bus systems so that many Granite Staters who rely on these everyday services have an everyday connection to their communities. We permanently expanded access to telemedicine so that folks can continue to receive critical healthcare from the comfort of their own homes without ever having traveled to the doctor's office. I will continue to fight for adequate housing for our seniors and others on fixed incomes.

3. How will you increase the number of qualified home health workers and the resources available to family caregivers?

NH Gubernatorial Home Care Resources Answers

Chris Sununu
Family caregivers are some of our unsung heroes. They do incredible work, and they deserve immense recognition. I was honored to receive AARP's Capitol Caregiver Award, one of only five governors in the country, for my work in supporting home-based services. As governor, I increased rates for important community-based health care services, which will allow folks to remain in their homes. I created a new division within state government, the New Hampshire State Commission on Aging, which is charged with finding new ways to help family caregivers support people in their homes. My administration is committed to advocating for policies that promote New Hampshire seniors and their caregivers.

Dan Feltes
Well, I think it involves three core things, financial independence, in-home support, and key common-sense policies like paid family and medical leave insurance. In terms of financial support, we were able to make bipartisan progress. I led the way on importing safe, low-cost prescription drugs from Canada, capping out-of-pocket expenses for persons living with diabetes at no more than $30 per month. We were able to get that done working together with AARP and other stakeholders this past session. That's one of many forms of financial independence that we need to pursue. Second, we need to make sure that we build off of this budget, the most progressive budget in state history. We've got to build off of it, protect it and build off it with in-home and long-term care support, including with activities of daily living. And third and finally, we need to make sure that caretakers and caregivers who are contributing so much right now are treated with respect. That's why paid family medical leave insurance is so important. It was vetoed. We would get that done with me serving as governor.

4. How will you protect and expand services that allow more seniors to live independently in their homes and communities?

NH Gubernatorial Independent Living Answers

Dan Feltes
As a legal-aid lawyer for about a decade right out law school up until serving the state senate, I helped get access to CFI and other programming and long-term care supports with activities of daily living and other services meant and designed to make sure that seniors can live full and inclusive lives in our community and age in place. So we need to ramp that up. The last budget we did that, the most progressive budget in state history, in part by closing loopholes for big corporations to invest in healthcare, invest in education. We need to continue down that pathway, support our healthcare workforce, support it with Medicaid reimbursement-rate increases, and support it with attracting and retaining the workforce of tomorrow to do the job by expanding the student loan repayment program, among many other initiatives. This is fundamental to that belief that we are all in this together. We need to make sure that we support aging in place and make sure that we support safe communities.

Chris Sununu
As governor, I've made maintaining law and order a top priority to keep our neighborhoods safe and secure. I believe in the ability of seniors to remain in their homes and with their families due to the strong and important sense of independence and quality of life that it provides. In my state budget, I propose to increase funding by over $8 million to fully fund the home and community-based waiver. We also ensured that the Meals on Wheels program would continue to have adequate funding to make sure that those relying on those important meals would have the needs available to them. We fought for more affordable housing options and when legislation crossed my desk that would have raised electric rates on our seniors and those on fixed incomes, I said, "No," because turning on a light switch should never be a financial worry. I'll continue to advocate for policies that keep everyday costs low and allow seniors to live independently.

AARP is committed to ensuring voters have the information they need to cast their ballot this year. That is why we are publishing the AARP Asks the Candidates voter guide series, so candidates can share their plans on issues important to 50-plus voters.

AARP has a proud 34-year history of nonpartisan voter engagement and does not endorse or oppose candidates or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.

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