Today, the New Hampshire House and New Hampshire Senate voted to approve the state’s two-year budget. The vote 198-69 in the House and 14-9 in the Senate, were mostly along party lines.
The Governor and the rest of the NH Republican Party are praising the budget because it contains “no new taxes” and additionally cuts taxes for businesses saying that will somehow magically create jobs. What they conveniently avoided talking about are the cuts to job training programs that businesses say are necessary to train workers for the vacant jobs available right now.
There are also cuts to the state’s nursing home budget, decreased funding to the NH University system that will lead to higher tuition rates, less money for drug treatment rehabilitation services, less money to fight the growing opioid epidemic, and so much more.
The House Democrats were angry that the Republicans forced these massive cuts through to give big business more tax breaks.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff:
“This budget is a major disappointment for New Hampshire. Democrats repeatedly expressed our desire to work with the majority on a bipartisan budget that upholds New Hampshire values, and at every turn we were ignored as House leadership turned to the far right of their party to craft their plan.”
“Democratic proposals to adequately fund mental health and developmental disability services, and to provide sufficient funds to take on the opioid epidemic, were moderate and reasonable.”
“The decision by House budget writers to ignore Democratic proposals, and instead include poison pills like the Hyde amendment, a Medicaid waiver requirement that will likely end the state’s successful Medicaid Expansion program, and the inclusion of further tax cuts for big business, solidified Democratic opposition to what could have been a bipartisan proposal.”
“This budget isn’t even honest or transparent with taxpayers. Hundreds of millions of dollars in spending, which was purposely left out of the budget to achieve an artificially deflated bottom line, will now be determined through the ten member Fiscal committee.”
“The gimmicks, harmful policy choices, and lack of a serious long-term investment in our state all make this budget unacceptable to House Democrats.”
Representative Mary Jane Wallner:
“This budget represents a missed opportunity to make the investments our state needs to stay competitive and grow our economy. At a time when our business community is begging for an educated workforce as their top priority, this budget fails to invest in education and cuts state revenues for years into the future.”
“At a time when the opioid crisis continues to grow, with more deaths and more deadly drugs hitting our streets, we have failed to make the investments needed to effectively combat this harmful epidemic.”
“New Hampshire’s successful Medicaid Expansion program currently provides health care for over 53,000 Granite Staters. This budget puts that program at risk of being ended based on the decisions of bureaucrats in Washington.”
“The Republican majority could have worked with Democrats to pass a bipartisan budget that works for all New Hampshire citizens. The fact that they chose an ultra-conservative tact at every opportunity sets our state back and is a disappointment to all who support responsible, bipartisan government.
In the Senate, the vote was strictly down party lines. The Republicans steamrolled Democrats to force this draconian budget through.
Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield) released the following after the vote:
“Today, Democrats stood united with working families and their priorities by voting against the Republican budget. Even though we approached our Republican colleagues many times in the spirit of compromise and offered countless amendments to make the budget reflective of the needs of real people in our communities, our efforts were rejected at every turn. The Republican budget agreement caves to the wealthy elite and short-changes those who are most in need.”
“It’s a grave mistake to force the people of New Hampshire to line the pockets of corporations while the critical investments our state so desperately needs go unmet. In good conscience and good faith, Democrats are not able to sign off on a budget that diverts funds away from our state’s critical substance misuse and mental health crises for the sake of more reckless business tax cuts. This budget continues a troubling pattern of forcing the working people in our state to pick up the bill.”
NHDP Chair Ray Buckley released the following after the budget votes:
“Governor Sununu’s reckless and dangerous budget will take New Hampshire’s progress and turn it into disrepair. The governor wants to give corporations a tax cut they never asked for. By doing so, he’s denying businesses the workforce training they did ask for.
These tax cuts are paid for by underfunding programs like the alcohol fund, DCYF, and the developmental disability waitlist. The governor may think these tax cuts are no big deal, but they’re a big deal to the people in the state who are seeking refuge from abuse and addiction or who need help with a disability.
This budget will deny them the resources they desperately need to stay afloat.
Corporate tax cuts will make students and their parents dig deeper for a tuition check. This governor, for lack of attention to detail, is blindly leaning on his ideology to solve problems that require the kind of serious attention he is too apathetic to give.”
So once again the New Hampshire Republican Party, led by their Trump loving Governor, Chris Sununu, have shown the people of New Hampshire that they only care about giving more money to big business and the rest of us can suck it.
After the initial publication of this post the NH Fiscal Policy Institute released their statement on the NH Budget. The statement highlights just a few of the programs that will be directly effected by the cuts in the NH Budget.
“The state budget passed today by the New Hampshire House and Senate makes important strides in funding for critical health needs in the state, increasing capacity in the mental health system, boosting funding for child protection, and providing compensation rate increases for direct health service providers,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute.
“Importantly, the budget increases the thresholds for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits to 60 percent of federal poverty guidelines and provides annual adjustments to ensure benefits will keep up with inflation. This change will make a real difference for families who struggle to afford basic needs.”
“Policymakers also increased the state’s Rainy Day Fund to $100 million, which will provide a solid foundation in the event of an economic downturn or fiscal crisis,” noted Shea.
“At the same time, the tax changes in this budget reduced available revenue by $23.7 million and left policymakers with fewer resources to address needs that would have provided benefits to all New Hampshire residents and businesses, such as increasing funding for schools, roads, and other public infrastructure, and making higher education and workforce training more accessible.”
“The tax rate reductions passed in this budget increase the risk of reduced revenue for future years, and may limit the state’s ability to address future needs,” added Shea. “While this budget makes some important strides, the state may continue to fall behind in areas that are essential to ensuring a strong economy.”