Rep Susan Almy
Ways and Means
Grafton District - 13
This is my 13th term as a member of the House from the City of Lebanon. I started on Election Law one term, then got one term on my first choice, Finance, where I was recruited into the first attempt to define an adequate education and pay for it at state level. We overturned an ITL on our income tax bill and passed it through House and Senate in 1999, but it came back from the Senate amended and failed in reconciliation. We were still fighting in Finance Div IV, and passed out pretty much the current mess of revenues for the Education Trust Fund you see today – except that the Rs in 2011, reacting to major donor town complaints, drastically reduced the statewide property tax that is now simply a pretend part of the state contribution to towns. This meant the General Fund had, for almost all years, pay money into our commitment to public schools to replace what had been lost.
In 2001, the two-term experiment of combining Finance and Ways and Means was terminated, and as the only Democratic member of Division IV other than Ranking Mary Jane Wallner who re-upped, I was sent to the restored Ways and Means Committee, where I have remained ever since. I first became chair in our sweep in 2007, and Finance and my committee took us, through extraordinarily hard work, through the Great Recession. We were rewarded for this in 2010 by the O’Brien-led Republican sweep, which gave both Senate and House Republicans two-thirds, veto-proof majorities for 2011-12. In the House that led to a total and Rule-less dictatorship. The public reacted very badly to the House antics and gave us control in the House only (the Senate had worked to look rational) in 2012. We lost again in 2014 and 2016, but because by the end of O’Brien I had forged good relationships again with my Republican counterpart, we have worked bipartisanly for most things since 2013. We all know which things are going to end up partisan, but we have cooperated to make good legislation.
I was educated at Swarthmore College (BA, 1968, Sociology-Anthropology, History) and Stanford University (MA, Ph.D.,1974, Anthropology – but with coursework in statistical surveys and tropical medicine, and my doctoral thesis comparing agricultural and health innovation in a small-farmer province of Kenya). I joined the Rockefeller Foundation for 12 years to work on reforming the Green Revolution and got detoured to Latin America, evaluating and supporting small farmer and women’s agriculture issues on the continent and then spending six years helping pull a Brazilian agricultural school from the 15th to the 20th century, acting as the central link for a student-faculty research project with extremely poor small farmers, and teaching a course at the main campus in Economic Research Methods. I managed to transit back to Africa through the University of Gainesville FL, accumulating some formal agronomic training from a valued colleague, and a job search, spent 4 months in the center of Zaire in one of its worse periods on a survey, then 5 years running the first African food crop research and extension program in the tropical rainforest, in Cameroon. From there I went to a three-year job in Madagascar helping train and set goals and evaluation for economic research and breeding-agronomic research in the national agricultural institute. That job was interrupted by two severe illnesses, and I came home in 1994, as I can no longer breathe Third World city air.
I was first elected to the NH House in 1996, by accident. I specialize in taxation, budgeting and evaluation as well as substance abuse prevention/ treatment and condominium association governance problems. It is a remarkable way to spend the rest of my useful life, though it has its downsides!
I joined the Lebanon Conservation Commission just before I was elected and am still there. I joined the Upper Valley Housing Coalition from its start to finish some years back, and shortly after another group of us formed the Upper Valley Housing First group, which focuses on the homeless and affordable housing for the least fortunate of us. I was put on my county executive committee and served there for 12 years, learning a lot about the place of the counties in our state’s system of services and a lot about NH budgeting from my first, Republican chair there. I have been on the ACLU-NH board for 22 years, chair for 6, and have run my homeowners' association for 21 years with a 5 year break. I kayak, garden and snowshoe when I can make time. My remaining sister and her husband spend about half the year in New Hampshire and are thinking of becoming citizens here soon.