Concord, N.H. – With time running out for the New Hampshire Senate to develop its budget, pressure continues to mount on Senate Republicans to restore budget cuts to critical economic priorities including transportation, investing in higher education and supporting the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
See coverage roundup below:
Foster’s Editorial: The road ahead may get rougher
… common sense tells us that if our highways and byways are as bad as our readers believe they are, we could be in real trouble down the road.
That’s because road maintenance and repair expenditures have been cut significantly in the two-year state budget recently passed by the N.H. House.
Specifically, the budget proposes spending $4.8 million less on snow removal, $12.4 million less on equipment upgrades and $14.7 million less on paving over the next two years, according to state transportation officials.
State Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, is concerned about the cuts. He believes that if they are carried through to the final state budget, it will mean the elimination of some of the approximately 80 maintenance sheds around the state.
… We won’t argue that the DOT needs stable funding, but we don’t think it should come at the expense of making the state’s roads worse than readers already believe they area. [Full editorial]
Monadnock Ledger-Transcript: Parents worry as HHS budget unfolds
… Renee, 38, was born with Coffin-Siris syndrome, a rare genetic disease that causes significant developmental disabilities. Now, Renee’s parents, Kathy and Mike Washburn of Greenville, anxiously watch state budget proceedings and hope that, at the end of the day, their daughter will be able to continue her independent life.
This year, the House proposed a budget that increases the Health and Human Services budget by $141 million. The additional monies, however, include the settlement of two lawsuits, one involving the state’s mental health resources — $27.3 million — and another involving an increase in the amount the state reimburses hospitals for uncompensated care.
These costs meant other areas had to give, and the developmental disabilities budget was reduced by $26 million. The agencies that use those funds lose much more, according to Alan Greene, executive director of Monadnock Developmental Services. Greene said the funds would have been matched by federal dollars, meaning that while the state saves $26 million, the agencies lose $52 million in support.
… It’s a familiar song-and-dance for the Washburns. When Renee was 16, they placed her on the wait list to receive state services, despite knowing that she would be in the public school system until she was 21. But even after she graduated, it would be another 11 years before the Washburns had access to state funding that allowed care providers to help Renee throughout the day, provide respite care for her parents, and eventually allow her to move into an apartment with a caregiver who helps guide her days.
Kathy said that her greatest fear during each budget season is the loss of that funding, and, she fears, all the progress her daughter has made.
On Tuesday, Kathy testified at the budget hearings, asking that the Senate restore funding proposed by the governor and cut by the House for developmental disabilities, early intervention services and to fully fund the wait list of people awaiting services from the state. It’s not the first time she’s testified in front of the Legislature, and it likely won’t be the last, she noted — Health and Human Services are often eyed for savings during the budget crafting process. [Full story]
Nashua Telegraph Op-Ed: Restore money for rail
J. Christopher Williams is president and CEO of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce. Michael Skelton is president of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.
The Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce recently joined together to advocate for the New Hampshire Senate to restore funding in the governor’s budget that would allow the State to continue pursuing passenger rail in southern NH along the Capitol Corridor. Our joint letter of support that was recently sent to the Senate Finance Committee was cosigned by 30 companies based in Nashua and Manchester.
Nineteen of those companies that signed onto this letter are from the Nashua area and include companies like Integra Biosciences, C&M Machining Products, Parallel Wireless, J. Lawrence Hall, and W.H. Bagshaw.
Together with the Manchester Chamber, our two organizations represent more than 1,500 businesses across Southern New Hampshire that employ tens of thousands of our state’s residents and generate millions in economic activity. The Nashua-Manchester corridor also serves as the economic backbone of our entire state; as goes the economic output of our region, so goes the rest of New Hampshire.
Therefore, economic growth along the Nashua-Manchester corridor is important to the overall growth of our entire state’s economy.
The New Hampshire Capitol Corridor rail project could have a transformative impact on New Hampshire’s economy by positively impacting the Nashua-Manchester corridor. We urge the Senate to restore the $4 million in capital funding previously earmarked for the Capitol Corridor’s project development phase. This next phase would allow the state to appropriately vet the feasibility of rail expansion by completing the necessary engineering and environmental analysis of the Capitol Corridor project. If full funding is unavailable, we ask the Senate to consider a phased-funding approach for the project development process.
… At the top of this piece, we specifically referenced companies like Integra Biosciences, Parallel Wireless and C&M Machining Products – just a few of the many companies who cosigned this letter to the Senate, and just a few of the many other companies across our region that understand they need those benefits described above – the ability to attract more young workers in the coming years, along with housing and other mixed-use developments that would sprout around the rail stops and therefore provide appealing places for those workers to live, work and play.
Companies like Integra Biosciences and Parallel Wireless do business around the world, and their work itself is cutting-edge within their respective industries. The 30 companies that signed onto this letter are real-world examples of business entities currently based in southern and who understand our state’s future economic livelihood relies upon connecting New Hampshire’s infrastructure into the rest of New England. Our Manchester-Nashua- Lowell corridor represents the single densest area of population in the entire country that is not currently served by rail. This is not a fact of which our state should be proud, nor is it a fact that speaks well for the ability of our area to attract in the future more companies like those referenced in this editorial and which signed onto our letter of support.
We implore our state senators to consider restoring the $4 million in funding to allow the project development phase of the Capitol Corridor rail expansion project to move forward. Completing this phase will allow for a complete understanding of the costs and benefits of rail expansion and allow policymakers and the public to have the facts needed to consider this important economic opportunity for New Hampshire. [Full op-ed]