CONCORD – After signing Senate Bill 9 – the fiscally responsible, bipartisan budget agreement – Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement:
“This fiscally responsible, bipartisan, compromise budget addresses the central concern that I had with the original budget – unpaid-for tax cuts – by including important safeguards that will help ensure long-term fiscal responsibility and protect our ability to support critical economic priorities in the future. It puts in place a trigger contingent upon state revenues meeting certain targets, ensuring that revenues are at levels that would at least sustain the current budget before additional tax cuts go into effect. It also allows the next legislature to determine what spending or revenue offsets should be made to pay for those additional tax cuts if they go into effect.
“In addition to the safeguards on the business tax cuts that will help us maintain fiscal responsibility, our compromise agreement also includes the previously negotiated modest cost-of-living increase for our hard-working state employees. While this agreement is not perfect and fails to include even higher levels of funding for substance misuse and the immediate reauthorization of the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program as I proposed, it reflects many of the priorities I laid out in February – funding for mental health, to combat substance misuse, for economic development and for public safety.
“I want to thank Senate President Morse, Speaker Jasper and legislators from both parties who worked over the past few months to reach this fiscally responsible, bipartisan compromise. We still have much work to do to combat the heroin crisis, encourage innovation, support job-creating businesses and attract and retain more young people in New Hampshire, and I look forward to continuing to do that work together. But today, I am proud to sign this fiscally responsible, bipartisan budget compromise into law to help keep our state moving forward.”
The legislation is contingent on an override of the Governor’s budget veto, which the Governor asked Democrats to support if Senate Bill 9 passed.
Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn also praised the passage of the fiscally responsible budget compromise:
“The passage of the budget compromise is exactly why our constituents sent us to Concord: to work together across party lines to find bipartisan solutions facing our state. While this agreement isn’t perfect and does not contain everything that Senate Democrats would have liked, it is a fiscally responsible, bipartisan path forward that invests in and safeguards critical economic priorities, such as combating the heroin crisis, higher education, roads and bridges, and health care.”
“The budget contains most of the priorities that Governor Hassan laid out in her budget proposal in February. I’m grateful that under the Governor’s leadership both sides were able to come together like we did two years ago to develop a responsible budget that meets the needs of our people, businesses, and economy.”
“We can all be proud of this compromise, there is still much to be done as we move forward. And while I had hoped that reauthorization of the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program would be included in a final compromise, I appreciate and thank my Senate Republican colleagues for committing to take up reauthorization legislation as soon as we return in session in January. This is a vitally important program, not only because it is working to reduce health care cost-shifting onto our hard working families and businesses, but it is the single most important step we can take to combat the heroin and substance abuse crisis facing our state.”
However not everyone was jumping up and down over this new compromise. Jeff McLynch Executive Director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute remains “concerned” about these cuts and their long term effects on “New Hampshire’s ability to invest in public services” and the fact that the budget compromise does not include the reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program that provides healthcare to 41,000 Granite Staters.
“Governor Hassan and members of the New Hampshire legislature should be commended for working together to craft a budget that seeks to meet the needs of all New Hampshire’s citizens and, in particular, for ensuring funds are available to support the previously agreed upon contract with state employees.
“While the agreement ratified today conditions future reductions in the rates of the business profits and business enterprise taxes on attaining a particular revenue threshold, NHFPI remains concerned about the long-term impact of such reductions and the effect they will have on New Hampshire’s ability to invest in public services like education and infrastructure that are critical to the state’s economic future.
“It should be clear from the past nine months of budget deliberations that New Hampshire already lacks sufficient resources to meet its needs. Reducing revenue still further will only make it harder to maintain our roads, educate our children, and provide health, safety, and other public services essential to a strong economy and shared prosperity for all in the Granite State.
“Hopefully, the bipartisan collaboration that produced today’s agreement lays the foundation for the expeditious reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program in early 2016. More than 41,000 Granite Staters now participate in that program. Swift action will be needed to ensure they maintain access to affordable health coverage and that hundreds of millions of federal funds continue to flow into the state’s economy.”
We will see if the Republicans hold true to their word that they will pass a bill to reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program or are they making more false promises to get tax cuts that we do not need to give.