Repeal New Hampshire’s “Evergreen” Law

The Union Leader is reporting that the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee has voted 4-1 to repeal the state’s “evergreen” law (Senate Bill 1).  The evergreen law automatically extends public employee contracts regarding compensation packages in the event that the contract is allowed to expire without a new one to take effect.

The evergreen law deserves to be repealed because, first and foremost, it effectively puts the will of public employees ahead of the will of taxpayers.  Public employees work on behalf of the taxpayer not vice-versa.

Additionally, the public employee union has little incentive to come to the negotiating table if the circumstances don’t favor them.  For instance, suppose a town is facing a budget crisis and needs to cut spending.  The unions, realizing their compensation is on the block, could simply let the existing contract expire without negotiating a new one knowing the evergreen law mandates the provisions of the old contract.

This point was raised in the article:

Municipal and school officials from Bedford, North Hampton, Milford and Portsmouth testified in support of the repeal, saying it makes it difficult to get unions to negotiate new contracts, especially in difficult economic times.

Not discussed in the article, but really important, is that the repeal of the evergreen law, if enacted, would be the first small step of many big ones required to get New Hampshire’s pension crisis under control.