State Senator Molly Kelly called New Hampshire’s last-place funding of education unsustainable if New Hampshire is to remain competitive with the 49 other states who rank ahead of it.

Keene State College journalism students sat down with New Hampshire Democratic Senate member, Molly Kelly, in a press conference held on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Kelly explained that her involvement in the Senate has been centered around education, stating that education is the equalizer for equal opportunity and that the purpose of government is to “provide the resource and tools so that people can take care of themselves, each other, their families and their community.”

Students bounced off of this statement immediately and asked for Kelly’s thoughts on the fact that New Hampshire is ranked 50th out of all 50 states for funding towards higher education.

Kelly stated that this statistic has to be changed.

Karina Barriga Albring / News Editor: N.H. Senator Molly Kelly is a Keene State College graduate who visits KSC frequently. Here, Kelly stands at the Mason Library during an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of “I Have a Dream.”

Karina Barriga Albring / News Editor: N.H. Senator Molly Kelly is a Keene State College graduate who visits KSC frequently. Here, Kelly stands at the Mason Library during an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of “I Have a Dream.”

“We cannot sustain our economy if we continue to rank number fifty in the nation.  I see education as the wisest investment with the greatest return for the community and that’s not just for the individual but it’s a win-win for everybody,” Kelly said.

Increased funding for higher education is, as Kelly said, “an investment in the future and an investment in our economy.”

Kelly said she believes residents of the district she represents (District 10) value education the most for themselves and for their children.  “So, if we value education and we believe it is the future and the wisest investment, then we are going to have to fund it.”

Business profits and business enterprises are the biggest revenues being brought into the state, she said.  Kelly said N.H. cannot sustain the economy forever on those revenues alone if no college graduates are staying in N.H., working or finding jobs, because the state has such poor funding for higher education.

Kelly was asked about a bill that would bring a casino to New Hampshire that would bring in revenue towards higher education.  Kelly was for this bill when it was in the Senate.

She responded, “It came about at a time in the recession when there were so many cuts state-wide in particular in health and human services, in education and in mental health and those cuts I think were devastating to people, to individuals and their personal lives and it was devastating for higher education.”

Kelly continued, “I am not a real proponent of gambling.  I think we can do better than that but it was the only thing that was on the table at the time to be able to fund what I thought were unacceptable cuts.”

In the Republican-dominated N.H. Senate, most were for the option of gambling for revenue.  The House, which harbors more Democrats, wanted to explore other options for revenue and were highly opposed to going down the gambling route.

As a result, the gambling bill lost.  There are bills that may bring the question of a casino back to the table in the future but Kelly said, “We can do better than that.”

The press conference was taken in a different direction when participants asked about the Voter ID bill and how it could potentially affect college students.  Voter ID laws require a person to have some form of identification in order to vote or receive a ballot for an election.  This can affect college students who are from out of state (50 percent of all KSC students according to and therefore do not have a N.H. State license.

Kelly said this bill will keep coming up because of fear.  “It really comes from the Republican party and the Senate and the House who fear that [college students] like yourselves shouldn’t be voting or that you should have to go home to vote and that really, truly is who it is directed at students.”

Kelly made it a point to state she was not supportive of that legislation. Kelly went on to enforce that in the U.S., citizens have historically fought to knock down barriers so that everyone has access to voting.

“All of the Civil Rights Movement that we had to break down the barriers to voter registration, so why today would we put up a new barrier to voting when there has been not one incident of fraud? It’s based on fear and it’s a strategy to win elections.”

Participants were given the opportunity to pick Senator Kelly’s brain in regards to topics such as funding for higher education and voter ID laws.

Kelly began the press conference by sharing her background with students. Kelly completed her Bachelor’s degree at KSC and received her Juris Doctor of Law degree from Franklin Pierce Law Center.

While attending KSC, Kelly ran a women’s radio show which played women’s music and interviewed women.


Rachel Heard can be contacted at

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