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Granite Staters Speak Out In Support Of Hassan And Budget Veto

Businesses, Advocates And Elected Officials Stand With Governor Hassan As She Fights For A Fiscally Responsible Budget That Protects Economic Priorities

Tom Strickland, owner of Sequoya Technologies Group in Peterborough, wrote in an op-ed, “My business is larger than 93 percent of the businesses in New Hampshire and these tax cuts will only save me $150 per year. That’s not enough for me to hire workers, buy equipment, or expand… What these tax cuts WILL do is result in even deeper cuts in critical state programs. The needs don’t go away when the program funding does. Those needs just shift to the community and that costs us all. Please keep my tax cut. I just can’t afford it.”

In a joint op-ed, Katie Robert, president of the New Hampshire Public Health Association and Kim Mohan, executive director of the New England Rural Health Roundtable, wrote, “The priorities embraced by the 2016-17 budgets, recently passed by the New Hampshire House and Senate, seem notably inconsistent with the needs of the state from a public health and public policy perspective… While these budget priorities are disconnected with the needs of the state overall, they would be particularly detrimental to the rural communities of our state, which make up 47 percent of the state’s population and cover 90 percent of its area.” 

In an editorial on the Supreme Court’s decision upholding access to affordable health coverage, the Concord Monitor wrote, “The New Hampshire Legislature, in particular, should see the writing on the wall and reauthorize the state’s [Medicaid expansion] program without delay.” 

Tym Rourke, chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention, Intervention and Treatment, told the Concord Monitor, “Reauthorization [of Medicaid expansion] has a big impact on treatment availability.”

In a joint op-ed, Senator Andrew Hosmer and Rep. Cindy Rosenwald wrote, “We stand with Governor Hassan in her decision to veto the fiscally irresponsible and unbalanced Republican budget, which we can only describe as a trail of false promises. You may have heard Republicans claim that their budget increases funding for critical priorities like substance abuse treatment, mental health services, and our seniors. But there’s one very big problem. Republicans’ fiscally irresponsible budget isn’t actually balanced, placing every single one of those priorities — and more — at risk.”

Rep. Timothy Smith wrote in an op-ed, “This year, the Senate started by considering tens of millions of dollars in new tax cuts for businesses with its very first bills – but no one has really looked at the long-term consequences of these cuts.”


See below for a roundup of additional coverage:  

From the Nashua Telegraph:

… Hassan made good on her threat and vetoed the proposed two-year budget, saying the tax cuts would blow a $90 million hole in future years in exchange for giveaways to big corporations.

“When I made this decision, which I didn’t do lightly, what I really stepped back to think about was the progress we’ve made over the last two years and the progress we need to continue to make so that we are a competitive 21st century economy – not just in this two-year cycle, but in all the cycles to come,” she said Thursday during an interview with The Telegraph editorial board.

… Hassan criticized the Republican budget for unpaid-for tax giveaways to mostly out-of-state corporations at the expense of other economic priorities such as higher education and public safety.

Her administration said the budget would not provide year-to-year increase to the university system and leaves New Hampshire vulnerable to losing young people looking at high price tags at in-state colleges. She also blasted the budget for failing to adequately fund substance abuse prevention and diverting infrastructure funds intended for road and bridge repairs.

Hassan said she is not against corporate tax reductions when done properly, but said Republican budget writers raided all the wrong funding sources to make them a reality.

“Philosophically I’m not opposed to doing it, but we do have to be able to pay for the very things that businesses all around the state tell me are their priorities,” she said.

Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, a Nashua Democrat and party leader in the House, said there is general agreement on spending priorities and she shares the governor’s concern about the unpaid-for business tax cuts.

“They would cost $23 million in this budget and $90 million in future budgets. The evidence that such tax cuts would drive higher economic growth just isn’t there,” Rosenwald said. “States like Kansas and Ohio have tried without success, and our own experience several years ago with a reduction in the tobacco tax rate also failed.” [Full story]

From the Associated Press:

Hassan said the budget would not provide any year-to-year increase to the university system, still funded below 2010 levels, or adequately fund substance abuse prevention. She said it also would force the Sununu Youth Services Center to cut a quarter of its budget; omit a modest cost-of-living increase for employees; divert funds intended for road and bridge repairs and underfund snow plowing and removal. [Full story]

From the Union Leader:

“I have vetoed the budget passed by the legislature because it is unbalanced, makes false promises about what it funds, and gives unpaid-for tax giveaways to big corporations, many based out-of-state, at the expense of critical economic priorities, including higher education, health care, public safety and transportation,” Hassan said in her veto message. “The long-term impact of these unpaid-for corporate tax cuts will create a more than $90 million hole in future budgets, further eroding our ability to encourage economic growth.” [Full story]

From NHPR:

Hassan said she hopes negotiations will start immediately. “I urge the legislators to meet with me as soon as possible so we can begin discussions on how we can build the kind of budget that is critical to our economic future,” she said Thursday at the State House. [Full story]

Governor Hassan Reiterates Intention to Veto Fiscally Irresponsible Budget, Supports Continuing Resolution

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement today after the legislature voted to pass the Committee of Conference budget proposal, as well as a continuing resolution:

“The Republican budget is unbalanced, dishonest about what it funds, and includes unpaid-for corporate tax cuts that create a more than $90 million budget hole in future budgets at the expense of critical economic priorities, and I will veto it when it comes to my desk. While I am not philosophically opposed to business tax cuts, we cannot undermine our economic future and jeopardize priorities such as affordable higher education, access to health care, safe roads and bridges, and combatting the substance misuse crisis facing our state by not paying for those cuts.

“I have repeatedly offered compromises to address the unpaid-for corporate tax cuts, and will continue to do so, but we cannot enact a plan that would create a $90 million dollar hole in future budgets that will undermine our ability to fund the services we all agree are critical to our people, families and businesses.

“Despite our disagreements on the budget, I appreciate the legislature’s efforts to pass a continuing resolution, and I will sign this measure to keep state government open. Moving forward, I continue to encourage legislative leadership to return to the table and negotiate in good faith to develop a fiscally responsible, balanced budget, and I remain ready, willing and able to sit down with them at any time to reach a true compromise that builds on our progress of the last two years and honestly supports the priorities that are critical to keeping our economy moving forward.”

The NH Budget Battle Rages On As GOP Passes Unbalanced Budget And Continuing Resolution

Concord, N.H. – Today New Hampshire Republicans pushed through their unbalanced budget that would blow a $90 million dollar hole in our state budget.

“The irresponsible Republican budget is unbalanced, gives unpaid-for tax giveaways to big, out-of-state corporations, and blows a $90 million hole in the budget at the expense of critical economic priorities like education, health care, transportation, and public safety,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn. “And while my Democratic colleagues and I would have preferred a continuing resolution that built on our areas of agreement and offered a productive step toward compromise, we are glad Republicans worked with us to ensure that state government remains open.”

Senate Democrats offered an amendment to the continuing resolution that would have authorized state agencies to spend 96 percent of the first six months of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. The floor amendment would have addressed concerns that the Republican budget is unbalanced and allowed for funding increases to home care providers, for substance abuse, mental health and charter schools, travel and tourism promotion and public schools. The amendment was defeated along a party line vote.

“What began as a special, 11th hour tax loophole for one company, and one former Governor with a profit-sharing interest in that company, has evolved into a major tax loophole that could allow all stock transactions by businesses and corporations in New Hampshire to be entirely tax-free. This tax cut is not accounted for in the budget, which is another reason why the budget is unbalanced. This far reaching tax change goes way beyond what the Business Tax Study Commission recommended to be reviewed to help start-up companies,” said Senator Dan Feltes.

When asked about the $90 million hole Republicans would blow in the budget in order to give unpaid-for tax giveaways to big corporations, Republican Speaker Shawn Jasper said that $90 million “is insignificant” in New Hampshire’s budget.

“The fact that Shawn Jasper thinks creating a $90 million hole in the budget for unpaid-for corporate tax giveaways is ‘insignificant’ underscores why Republicans have absolutely zero credibility on fiscal responsibility,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Aaron Jacobs. “A $90 million budget hole is bigger than the state budget for the community college system, and it is New Hampshire’s families, small businesses and economy that would pay the price for Republicans irresponsible and unpaid-for tax giveaways.”

Govenror Hassan threatened to veto this unbalanced budget and has been steadfast in her opposition to these tax giveaways.  The passage of a continuing resolution does mean that the threat of shutting down the government is gone but the budget battle rages on.

“The Republican budget is unbalanced, dishonest about what it funds, and includes unpaid-for corporate tax cuts that create a more than $90 million budget hole in future budgets at the expense of critical economic priorities, and I will veto it when it comes to my desk,” said Governor Hassan. (Full Statement)

“We’re proud to stand with Governor Hassan as she continues to fight for the long-term economic interests of our state, and the priorities that will move New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy forward, including affordable college tuition, safe roads and bridges, access to quality and affordable health coverage, and protecting our communities,”  said Woodburn.

“We must return to work immediately, and I urge my Senate colleagues to work together with Governor Hassan and members of both parties to pass a responsible, balanced budget that actually funds what it claims to,”  said Woodburn.

“Finding consensus requires both sides to be willing to compromise and I hope that we can all agree that we need to find a solution that supports our families and small businesses, keeps our economy moving in the right direction, and expands opportunity for all,”  concluded Woodburn.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute has also been an outspoken opponent to the tax giveaways to out of state corporations.

New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch issued the following statement:

“What is most notable about the budget passed by the legislature today is not what it would do for New Hampshire over the next two years. Rather, the budget is more remarkable in what it lacks — and in its implications for New Hampshire’s longer-term future.

“Absent from the legislature’s budget are provisions to keep New Hampshire’s landmark Health Protection Program in place beyond 2016, creating uncertainty for enrollees and providers and putting the state at risk for losing millions in federal funds. Absent are more thorough responses to trends that could imperil New Hampshire’s economic future, such as sharp declines in support for public higher education; New Hampshire’s low level of support for higher education leaves students with debt burdens that are among the highest in the nation. Absent too is funding for the previously agreed upon state employee contract.

“Absent, most critically, is more than $20 million in state revenue due to short-sighted business tax cuts, as well as any plan for accommodating the much larger revenue losses they will produce in the years ahead. These tax cuts will leave future legislators with the daunting task of deciding how to come to grips with the loss of more than $65 million in revenue in FY 2018-2019 and more than $90 million in FY 2020-2021.

“We hope policymakers can come together soon to craft an alternative budget that is fiscally and socially responsible and that puts New Hampshire on a path toward a more prosperous future for all.”

Related: NH Building Trades Condemn Irresponsible Republican Budget

NH Building Trades Condemns Irresponsible Republican Budget

Building Trades

Concord – House and Senate Republicans passed a fiscally irresponsible, gimmick-laden, dishonest budget today that will harm New Hampshire’s working families.

NH Building and Construction Trades Council President Steve Burk issued the following statement:

“Today’s Republican budget is a disaster for working families that does absolutely nothing to create good paying middle class jobs for Granite Staters. This budget hands out a massive tax cut to big out-of-state corporations that will blow a $90 million hole in our budget. We know from what has happened in Kansas that huge tax cuts don’t pay for themselves. To the contrary, they cause job losses, decreased revenue, and economic damage. Republicans are playing politics with our economy rather than doing the people’s business, and New Hampshire is worse off for it.

What’s even worse, this Republican budget reneges on a fairly negotiated contract with our state employees. This is a breach of trust that undermines the credibility of our government and hurts working families. The people of New Hampshire deserve better.

Governor Hassan should veto this irresponsible budget, and Republicans should negotiate in good faith to find a path ahead that funds critical priorities like job creation, education, health care, transportation, and public safety.”

The NH Building and Construction Trades Council is an organization of more than 20 New Hampshire labor unions in the construction industry, representing more than 3,000 working men and women.

Tax Expert Agrees That Cuts To Business Tax Will Not Create NH Jobs

National State-Tax Expert Michael Mazerov Outlines Why Business Tax Cuts Will Not Produce Economic Growth for New Hampshire          

Concord, NH – Nearly 50 New Hampshire legislators gathered in Concord today to learn about the impact business tax cuts have had in other states and why such tax cuts are ineffective as a strategy to foster economic growth. Hosted by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, the event featured nationally-recognized state tax policy expert Michael Mazerov, who outlined research regarding the relationship between state taxes and economic performance.

“Preserving high-quality state and local services needed by businesses, especially education and infrastructure, should be the primary economic growth strategy for states – including New Hampshire – to pursue,” said Mazerov.

Mazerov’s presentation examined the relationship between taxes and economic growth, explored the impact business tax cuts have had in other states, and discussed the effect tax cuts can have on states’ ability to invest in education, infrastructure, and other areas vital to a vibrant economy.

“What really explains most of the relative rate of job growth among states is their ability to nurture and ensure the survival of the small number of start-ups that develop an innovative technology, product or business model,” said Mazerov.

The negative effect of tax cuts on economic growth is well illustrated by the state of Ohio. Between 2005 and 2015 Ohio implemented numerous tax cuts intended to promote economic growth, yet during this ten-year period the state’s employment rate experienced no net growth while employment increased by 5.8 percent nationally.

“The business tax cuts contained in the Committee of Conference budget would severely constrain New Hampshire’s ability to make critical investments,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “Phasing such tax reductions in over time simply puts difficult tradeoffs onto future legislatures, with no plan for accommodating the loss in revenue.”

Michael Mazerov is a senior fellow with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, based in Washington DC, where he focuses on state tax and budget policy. Prior to joining CBPP, Mazerov served as director of policy research for the Multistate Tax Commission.

NH Democrats Stand United As Gov. Hassan Intends To Veto The GOP’s Reckless Budget

Governor Says Republican Budget is “Unbalanced, Dishonest about what it Funds, and Includes Unpaid-For Corporate Tax Cuts that Create a More Than $90 Million Budget Hole”

CONCORD – Calling the nearly finalized Republican budget fiscally irresponsible and unbalanced, Governor Maggie Hassan today reiterated her intention to veto it if it comes to her desk as it is.

“Their budget is unbalanced, dishonest about what it funds, and includes unpaid-for corporate tax cuts that create a more than $90 million budget hole at the expense of critical economic priorities,” Governor Hassan said. “It is also left unbalanced by relying on misleading budget gimmicks. It double counts fiscal year 2015 dollars, it does not adequately fund basic services and it does not honestly fund the services we all agree are critical to our people, families and businesses.”

In February, the Governor presented a fiscally responsible, balanced budget – without a sales or an income tax – that was transparent and honest about how it supported critical economic priorities such as making higher education more affordable, strengthening public safety, ensuring access to affordable health care, and repairing roads and bridges. Unpaid-for tax cuts and budget gimmicks that leave the near-final Republican budget unbalanced threaten the state’s ability to support those priorities and keep New Hampshire’s economy forward.

“Their unfunded corporate tax cuts will create a significant hole in this budget and budgets well into the future – making college tuition more expensive; hurting our ability to ensure workers can access health-care without financial ruin; leading to unplowed, unsafe roads for commuters and businesses; and failing to adequately address substance misuse in the midst of a heroin crisis,” Governor Hassan said. “This fiscally irresponsible approach undermines our economic future, putting out-of-state corporate special interests ahead of New Hampshire’s families, small businesses and economy.”

Governor Hassan has been at the table with Republican leadership, and she has been clear throughout the process about her priorities and that she believes there is room for compromise to find common ground and achieve a bipartisan budget that addresses the shared priorities that legislators from both parties agree on.

“Our families deserve better. Our businesses deserve better. And the hard-working people of the Granite State deserve better. Republicans need to join me in putting New Hampshire’s families, businesses and economic interests first, and to get back to work immediately, prepare a continuing resolution and negotiate in good faith to develop a fiscally responsible, balanced and bipartisan budget that builds on our progress of the last two years to keep our economy moving forward.”

House and Senate Democrats Stand Strongly with Governor Hassan Against Republicans’ Fiscally Irresponsible, Unbalanced Budget

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff and Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn released the following statement in support of Governor Hassan’s fiscally responsible budget leadership:

“Governor Hassan proposed a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that makes smart investments in critical economic priorities like higher education, health care, roads and bridges, and public safety, without an income or sales tax.”

“But Republicans chose instead to put forward an irresponsible plan that blows a $90 million hole in the state’s budget to benefit big, out-of-state corporations at the expense of New Hampshire middle class families and small businesses.”

“We’re proud to stand with Governor Hassan as she continues to fight for the priorities that will move New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy forward, including affordable college tuition, safe roads and bridges, access to quality and affordable health coverage, and protecting our communities.”

“We look forward to working with our Republicans colleagues when they decide to put partisanship aside and actually negotiate in good faith to pass a responsible, bipartisan budget that meets the needs of our state.”

Gov Hassan Continues to Stress the Need for Responsible, Compromise Budget at Nashua Chamber of Commerce

Governor Hassan: Business Tax Cuts Must Be Paid For, Cannot Come at the Expense of Critical Economic Priorities

NASHUA – At the Nashua Chamber of Commerce State of the State breakfast, Governor Maggie Hassan continued to stress the importance of working across party lines toward a compromise to pass a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that keeps New Hampshire moving forward by supporting critical economic priorities like higher education, public safety, health care, and a modern, safe transportation infrastructure.

“As the Committee of Conference on the budget moves forward this week, I remain committed to working with Republican leadership to reach a compromise, fiscally responsible budget that moves New Hampshire forward,” Governor Hassan said. “We will continue to be willing to negotiate productively throughout the week.”

Governor Hassan said she has serious concerns that the current Senate budget proposal is unbalanced and contains expensive tax cuts primarily benefiting large out-of-state corporations while under-funding key priorities including education, health care, public safety and roads and bridges.

“My budget proposal is honest about what we can afford to do and it is focused on keeping New Hampshire moving forward by supporting critical economic priorities like higher education, public safety, health care, and our roads and bridges,” Governor Hassan said. “On the other hand, the plan proposed by Republicans prioritizes tax cuts for large businesses, mostly headquartered out-of-state, without paying for those cuts, creating a $90 million hole in our budget at the expense of the priorities that are essential for our families, small businesses and economy.”

Governor Hassan said she understands that business tax cuts are among the Senate’s most important priorities and that she is willing to work with Republican legislative leaders on a proposal to cut the business taxes, but only if those reductions are paid for within this budget and do not come at the expense of priorities such as higher education, public safety, health care and transportation.

“I have made it clear to Republican leadership that I am not philosophically opposed to their proposal to lower the business taxes and that I believe we can find common ground, but those cuts must be paid for and cannot come at the expense of our state’s long-term financial health or at the expense of the priorities that are critical to the success of people and businesses – holding down the cost of college tuition, making sure our workers can access health-care without financial ruin, and keeping our roads plowed for commuters and businesses,” Governor Hassan said.

Governor Hassan has made clear that she believes it is a critical to have a transparent and honest balanced budget that moves away from gimmicks such as back-of-the-budget cuts and unrealistic “assumptions” to ensure that the state can deliver on the promises made in the budget. In addition to the reauthorization of the state’s bipartisan health care expansion program that is providing coverage to more than 40,000 hard-working Granite Staters and the new contract for state employees, ensuring an adequate budget for the Governor’s priorities include higher education, substance misuse and mental health, the Departments of Corrections and Transportation.

“First and foremost, the budget must be balanced and honest. I recognize that we may not agree on every spending priority, but we cannot promise to spend money that isn’t there,” Governor Hassan said. “Continued reliance on these irresponsible budget gimmicks will put our state on perilous financial footing and undermine the legislature’s constitutional duty to balance the budget.”

The Governor closed her remarks by reiterating that while she continues to negotiate with Republican legislative leaders, any final agreement will require compromise from both sides.

“I am committed to negotiating in good faith to reach a compromise budget, but I need willing negotiating partners on the other side,” Governor Hassan said. “We can pass a responsible, bipartisan budget that invests so that we can stem troublesome demographic trends and build a brighter economic future with more opportunity that will allow our people to climb the ladder of success. We have done it before, and we can do it again.”

The GOP In The NH Senate Push Their Utterly Disgusting Budget Through To Committee Of Conference

The New Hampshire Senate recently passed their version of the budget, right down party lines. Their budget reduces taxes on corporations and slashes funding to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Senate has also voted to cut funding to the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP) formerly known as Medicaid Expansion, effectively booting 40,000 low-income families off their healthcare.

Senate Republicans would rather show working families that they care more about a few hundred businessmen than 40,000 hard working Granite Staters.

The NHHPP is already showing great progress as New Hampshire area hospitals are reporting a 20% drop in uninsured emergency room visits.

Governor Maggie Hassan said, “Reauthorizing this bipartisan program beyond the end of 2016 is critical for the health of our people and our economy, as uncertainty about the continuation of the program could lead to rising rates for all consumers. Uncertainty about the program’s future could also cause insurers to decide not to offer coverage in New Hampshire in 2017. We must work together to find a bipartisan path forward.”

This budget is pushing New Hampshire in the wrong direction. Forcing people off their healthcare to give tax breaks to a few select corporations.

“In light of the Department of Revenue Administration’s new findings that the Senate’s proposed tax cuts will primarily benefit a small number of very large businesses operating in the state, we should be especially concerned that these revenue losses will simply flow out of the state with no benefit to New Hampshire,” wrote the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “There is no guarantee that these tax cuts will produce jobs or economic growth for New Hampshire, but they will leave the state with fewer resources to invest in the things we need today to keep our economy strong: good schools, safe roads, a healthy workforce, and public services that support the state’s current high quality of life.”

This would blow an $80 million dollar hole in the budget and force even more cuts in the future. “These proposed reductions in business tax rates will reduce revenue by more than $80 million per biennium when fully phased in, with no plan to replace the lost revenue,” said the NH Fiscal Policy Institute.

Republicans in the Senate are pushing to make New Hampshire more like Kansas and New Jersey whose tax cuts have resulted in massive cuts to education funding, credit downgrades, and ultimately tax increases on working families.

To add further insult to injury, the NH GOP will be starting a “countdown clock” to shutting down the New Hampshire Government.

The [finance] committee said state government would be forced to shut down at midnight June 30 if a budget is not approved.”

“It’s extremely disappointing that New Hampshire Republicans are sending such a clear signal that they are not willing to compromise during the Committee of Conference process and are threatening to shut down the government if they don’t get their way. Enacting a balanced, fiscally responsible budget will require Republicans to compromise with Democrats – not just with Bill O’Brien and the Tea Party,” said Ranking Democratic Finance Committee members Representative Mary Jane Wallner and Senator Lou D’Allesandro in a joint statement.

Shutting down the government is not a viable option either. It will cause unnecessary harm to thousands of state workers who be forced to lose their paycheck because Republicans are unwilling to work with Democrats to craft a fiscally responsible budget that truly helps New Hampshire families.

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, though at this moment it seems unlikely.




Community Leaders Urge Lawmakers To Reverse Cuts To NH Budget In Committee Of Conference

Community Leaders Call for Further Progress toward a State Budget that Builds a More Healthy, Secure, and Prosperous Granite State         


Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, Image by NHFPI

Concord, NH – Prior to the start of the Committee of Conference on the FY 2016-2017 state budget, community leaders and concerned citizens gathered today in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building to outline critical issues that the committee should address in order to build a more healthy, secure, and prosperous Granite State.

“Some progress has certainly been made in responding to the concerns voiced by hundreds of citizens at public hearings on the budget, but further advances in the coming days are both possible and essential,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, in opening remarks.

Speakers highlighted five issues that are among those conference committee members should address and urged members of the House and Senate to work together to craft a state budget that best meets the needs of New Hampshire’s citizens.

The reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, also known as Medicaid Expansion, was included in the Governor’s budget, but removed from both the House and Senate versions. The program is set to expire on December 31, 2016, and without reauthorization, more than 40,000 individuals will lose access to affordable health care.

“Physicians see the Health Protection Program working for our patients and we encourage the legislature to include the necessary funding for reauthorization in the state budget,” said Dr. Travis Harker, family physician and past president of the New Hampshire Medical Society. “New Hampshire cannot afford to walk away from its low-income citizens. For our patients and for the health care system in New Hampshire, it is critically important to reauthorize and fully fund the New Hampshire Health Protection Program now.”

In 2014, advocates secured a landmark legal settlement regarding the provision of mental health services in New Hampshire, including supported employment and housing, mobile crisis response, and assertive community treatment teams. Yet neither the House nor the Senate versions of the budget provide the level of funding for mental health services recommended by Governor Hassan.

“Today New Hampshire’s mental health system sits at a cross roads. This biennial budget will determine whether the system can move ahead or whether it will continue to flounder,” said Ken Norton, executive director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) New Hampshire. “As the Committee of Conference begins deliberations, we urge that the health and well-being of all of our citizens should be our number one priority and, toward that end, we as a state commit to providing funding and supports to rebuild our community mental health system.”

New Hampshire currently faces a substance misuse epidemic. In 2014, more than 300 Granite Staters died from drug overdoses, while close to 100,000 are in need of treatment for substance use disorders. Beyond the tragic loss of life, this epidemic imposes very real costs on the state’s economy, its health care system, and its courts and correctional systems.

“As we have seen the death toll from our state’s opiate epidemic rise, communities and leaders from across New Hampshire have been calling for action,” said Timothy Rourke, chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery. “Now is the time for the conference committee to demonstrate the leadership required to tackle this epidemic, which is killing citizens, threatening public safety, and damaging our economy. The Governor’s Commission looks forward to a state budget that reflects the evidence-based fiscal policy required to address this immediate and real threat to our quality of life.”

Neither the House nor the Senate included funding for the state employee contract in their versions of the budget, although the necessary funds were included in the budget put forth by the Governor. Funding cuts enacted in prior budgets have resulted in the loss of numerous positions with associated responsibilities shifted to remaining employees.

“New Hampshire state employees go to work every day prepared and motivated to provide high quality public services whenever and wherever needed. We get the job done if it snows on Sunday night or Wednesday morning to ensure every motorist arrives safely to their destination,” said Ken Roos, first vice president for the State Employees Association/SEIU Local 1084. “Public workers across our state are asking our legislators to build a budget that provides the resources New Hampshire needs for a safe and prosperous future.”

Business tax cuts contained in the version of the budget approved by the Senate would severely constrain New Hampshire’s ability to make critical investments. Based on the latest information available from the Department of Revenue Administration, business tax cuts would drain away much as $23 million in state revenue during the FY 2016-2017 budget cycle; once fully implemented, the tax cuts would reduce revenue by more than $90 million each biennium.

“As both the experience of other states and academic studies demonstrate, cutting taxes in this manner would not produce jobs or bolster economic growth,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “Instead, cutting taxes would leave New Hampshire unable to meet the needs of residents, visitors, and businesses alike. They would leave New Hampshire unable to support the well-trained labor force and robust physical infrastructure that bring employers to New Hampshire and keep them here. They would leave New Hampshire unable to provide the good schools, vibrant communities, clean parks, and other amenities that make the Granite State a place people are eager to visit and proud to call home.”

In conclusion, McLynch added: “Consequently, I am hopeful that as conferees go about the difficult task of completing the FY 2016-2017 budget and as they strive toward a goal that we all share — a thriving and expanding economy – they will set aside plans to reduce business taxes and instead give priority to the public services that can serve as the foundation for a more healthy, secure, and prosperous Granite State.”

SEA/SEIU 1984 Encourages Committee of Conference to Produce a Better Budget

A statement by Richard Gulla, President, SEA/SEIU Local 1984

It’s been written that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  This adage fits well with the NH Senate budget that was pushed through along party lines – the legislature continues to cut revenue and then tell us we cannot afford to invest in our state.

Over the next few weeks, legislators from the NH House and Senate will work to iron out the differences in their respective budgets. Unfortunately for NH citizens, neither budget meets the basic needs of the state; and the finished product is likely to reflect that.

The Senate budget severely underfunds the state’s community college and state universities; underfunds substance abuse programs; does not provide enough support for those living with mental health issues; does not provide for snow removal; and downshifts even more costs to towns and municipalities.  Their budget also includes the closure of Health and Human Services district offices in four communities – Conway, Claremont, Rochester, and Laconia; some of the communities in greatest need.

The Senate also failed to honor the collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated in good faith between the State of NH and the State Employees’ Association of NH (SEA/SEIU1984).  In fact, the Senate Finance Committee did not even discuss the contract in committee, even after Sen. Lou D’Allesandro requested that it be discussed more than once.  Despite several meetings between Senate leadership and SEA/SEIU 1984 representatives and assurances made by the Senators, the collective bargaining agreement for thousands of hard working state employees was not given the opportunity it deserved – to be heard and discussed. This disrespectful treatment of workers is disappointing, frustrating and disheartening.

The proposed budget provides a solid look at what today’s GOP supports: lower taxes for big out of state businesses and as a bonus they are adding language in another bill for a special tax break for former Governor Benson and his wealthy friends at Planet Fitness. If you are keeping score at home, it is tens of millions of dollars for the wealthy and corporations and zip for working families and people in need.

Ordinarily, our organization is bipartisan. We do not care if an elected leader is a Republican, Democrat, or Independent – if he or she supports public sector workers and the services they deliver to NH citizens, we are friends. At this time, though, it must be clear to even the most casual political observers that we are facing an ideological assault that is unprecedented in its agenda and harmful to our citizens.  Every cut to expenditures and every cut in revenue is designed to hack away at our infrastructure; infrastructure that in many cases was built by the Republican party of yesterday – a party that believed in investing in our children, families and communities. They are bulldozing our future and then congratulating themselves because they cut needed services.

We cannot afford to continue doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results. We call upon our legislators to take this opportunity in committee of conference to build a budget that both parties can support, by funding these critical services and the hardworking people who deliver them every day.  Otherwise, the budget next year will look much like the budget this year, and all the budgets before it.

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