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Republicans Force Through The NH Budget With Tax Giveaways To The Wealthy

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.”

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin 6-2-17: NH Budget, Edelblut-Croydon Bill, And Voting Rights

Bow, NH – June 2, 2017

Thursday, June 1, was a gorgeous day, easily the best weather we have had here in NH for some time. Clear skies by afternoon, warming temperatures, and no rain! In Representatives Hall in the NH State House, however, it proved to be a much drearier and depressing day, although not terribly surprising. On the final day to act on Senate bills, the Republican majority flexed their muscle and demonstrated anew that elections matter. Remember this, when your friends and co-workers tell you next year they are not bothering to vote because “it just doesn’t matter.” It does, and yesterday’s votes in the House prove it.

Edelblut-Croydon Bill   Over the course of seven hours, the Republicans in the House used their superior numbers to force through a number of objectionable bills. Headlining the parade were two bills which have garnered much attention here in this bulletin. SB 8, often termed the Croydon or the Edelblut bill, passed on what was nearly a straightforward party-line vote, and later in the day, the same party-line vote (with a few exceptions) led to passage of SB 3, the voter suppression bill. With regards to SB 8, proponents argued this was simply about giving students the best educational opportunities. What they never addressed were the glaring inequities, whereby private schools may now receive public funding but are under no requirement to accept all students. Those with special educational needs may continue to be excluded, as well as any other categories of students the school determines are not eligible for enrollment. In addition, the accountability of such schools is virtually non-existent, and the myriad requirements imposed on public schools by these same legislators are simply not applicable to private schools. Whether this legislation will withstand the inevitable court challenges remains to be seen, but what we witnessed yesterday was a major step forward towards privatization of public education, all done in the name of “choice.” The unanswered question of course is “Choice for whom?” Are such opportunities equally afforded to all? Can local districts take over the State’s responsibility to determine just what is an “adequate education?” These and many other serious questions remain.

Bad Day for Voting Rights   The second major piece of legislation was SB 3, which passed the House a bit later in the day. The debate was “full and robust,” according to one Republican speaker, with proponents denying that voter registration would be reduced by creating lengthy new forms for same-day registrants and threatening to send State, County or local officials to confirm your claimed domicile. Once again, they could not bring forward a single definitive example of voter fraud, but instead, resorted to citing how many voters in NH might also be registered to vote in another state. No surprise there—voter lists are only purged every few years, and when people move and register to vote in their new place of residence, they rarely inform voting officials in their previous town and state that they have moved. Think about it—when you last moved and registered to vote in your new town or city, weren’t you now registered in two places, at least for a year or two? But then, SB 3 would do nothing to solve this problem. In fact, SB 3 would require those who live in a domicile where they are not on the lease or mortgage to get proof of residence from the landlord or someone they live with, meaning their ability to vote is now dependent upon cooperation of a third party. Sound fair? Finally, in the most telling moment regarding SB 3, after the Republican majority passed the bill and characterized the debate as “full and robust,” that same majority refused to print the text of the debate in the permanent journal of the House, likely out of a concern that the resulting legal record would come back to haunt them in the future court cases and litigation that is certain to follow. Why give the courts the opportunity to determine legislative intent, when the proclaimed problems to be solved are either fictional or admittedly unresolved by the legislation?

Full-Day Kindergarten Funding   Finally, late in the day there was one bright spot, whereby a bipartisan majority soundly endorsed funding for full-day kindergarten. Now let’s be clear—this is still not full funding for full-day kindergarten. Instead of 50% funding at the paltry sum the State claims as covering an “adequate education,” this legislation moves the funding to just over 75% funding, meaning more monies flowing to towns, cities and school districts, but still not full funding. But, you take what you can get, and in this case, that meant also accepting provisions for legalizing keno in New Hampshire. Without the keno provision, the kindergarten funding would not pass, even though the two items are not related, so even many long-time opponents of casinos and expanded gambling swallowed hard and voted for the bill. Keno puts the kindergarten funding back into the Senate and eventually, a likely committee of conference to iron out House/Senate differences. If keno disappears from the final version of the bill, so be it, but at least increased funding for full-day kindergarten is still alive and kicking.

Budget Next Steps  The House will meet again next week for a brief session but both House and Senate are now really focused upon committees of conference to iron out differences on specific pieces of legislation, including the budget passed two days ago by the Senate. That budget uses conservative revenue estimates to justify limiting spending increases, although monies were found to increase funding for charter schools (no such increases for public schools) and for funding a full-time publicist/spokesperson for Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut. The House will undoubtedly non-concur with the Senate’s budget next week on June 8, which means differences will be resolved in a committee of conference composed of select Senators and Representatives. If they could only smoke cigars in the State House or Legislative Office Building then we could truly say the budget will be worked out in a “smoke-filled room.”   Instead, the air will be clearer, but the results will still be murky.
In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin 4-8-17: Budget Failure And School Vouchers (Action Needed)

April 8, 2017

House Budget Fails   The deadline for the NH House to pass a state budget was April 6th. Despite having a 53-vote margin majority, the NH House Republicans failed to pass a budget to send to the NH Senate by the deadline for the first time in at least 50 years. The House met over two days and recessed on Thursday, April 6th with no budget. Speaker Shawn Jasper was unable to garner the votes of the republican caucus to approve a budget after the so-called Freedom Caucus in the House balked at the budget citing too much spending. The NH Senate begins the process of dealing with the budget. 

Town Elections The NH State Senate passed an amendment to HB 329 on Thursday that will give those towns who rescheduled their March 14th elections, due to the blizzard, an opportunity to have the local governing bodies (school board or selectmen) after a public hearing, ratify the results of the rescheduled elections. Minority leader State Senator Jeff Woodburn (D) has worked tirelessly on this issue since the chaos and confusion was launched on Election Day. Along with his colleague, Sen. Donna Soucy (D) and Majority leader Sen. Jeb Bradley (R), this solution was crafted to help the approximately 80 communities who needed to reschedule their elections. Unlike the failed attempt by House Speaker Shawn Jasper, there would not be the requirement of a town wide vote to ratify the results of the elections which include elected officials, bonds, budgets and collective bargaining agreements. The bill will now pass over to the NH House where one would hope it will be met with a quick passage so our towns and school districts can move forward with the work approved by local voters.

SB 193-School Vouchers (ACTION NEEDED!) The House Education Committee heard testimony this week on SB 193, the school voucher bill. I testified in strong opposition to the bill. I also presented thoughtful written testimony from the President of the Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers’, AFT#2348, Alex Luhtjarv. The testimony by members of the public was overwhelmingly in opposition to this scheme to defund public schools.

House Education Committee member, Rep. Linda Tanner (D) provided a synopsis of the hearing which underscores that testimony included the impact of funding cuts to local school districts and the important role played by our public schools, “I was never so impressed or proud of the educators, citizens, parents, school board association, disabilities community, the principals association, the superintendents, AFT’s Doug Ley, and all the parents and retired teachers for their statements to our committee. You told stories about your schools, your communities, your families and how they might be effected by taking money from the public schools and sending those students and dollars to private and parochial schools with no accountability, no oversight, no representation from the people who are sending their money through taxation while leaving the public system to be poorly funded safety net. You told how schools especially in small communities are the center of the community and a source of pride and civic involvement.”

Again, we know that this is a bill driven by out of state interests and will divert necessary public tax dollars away from our public schools causing an increase in local property taxes and/or reduced services to the public school students. We must be heard on this bill and do everything in our power to stop this attack on public education. Here is an AFT-NH HANDOUT VS. SB 193 on why we oppose SB 193. Please feel free to share far and wide and ask others join in our campaign to save public schools. Over the next two weeks, we need to make certain our opposition is duly recorded with our representatives.

Your Action Needed Now   So, if you have not already done so, please join us in opposing SB193 by completing the two following actions:

  1. The House Education Committee has scheduled the committee vote for Tuesday, April 25th at 9:30am at the Legislative Office Building, Room 207, 33 North State Street, Concord, NH. We still have plenty of time to reach out to committee members before they vote. You can email the full House Education Committee directly at HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. For more resources on this issue to assist you with writing a quick note, please visit our web site at: http://nh.aft.org/2017-nh-state-house-news#.

AND

  1. Regardless of what happens in the Committee, SB 193 will be voted on by the full House after the committee vote. So let’s get ahead of this and contact your State Representative(s) by clicking the following one-click action to stop school vouchers!

Defeat SB 193           

The NH House and Senate will both next convene on April 20th. In the meantime, let us be sure to keep up the great work by letting your elected officials know that you are engaged and care deeply about the issues they are considering.

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President

Governor Hassan Signs Fiscally Responsible, Bipartisan Budget Agreement But Not Everyone Is Happy About It

 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.

New Petition To Uphold The Governor’s Veto Of This Reckless Budget

Sign the Petition (1)

Governor Hassan vetoed the Republican budget saying;

“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. 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.”

We must uphold Governor Hassan’s veto and end the unfunded tax giveaways written into this unbalanced budget.

We are calling on all of our elected representatives to vote and uphold Governor Hassan’s veto and force the leadership to work together and find a compromise that will keep New Hampshire moving in the right direction.

The Petition reads:

We believe that New Hampshire is moving in the right direction and this reckless budget will only take us backwards. We must end these unfunded tax giveaways to big business that will blow a $90 million dollar hole in our state budget.

We call on you, our elected representatives, to uphold Governor Hassan’s veto and work together to properly fund the needs and priorities of our great state. Priorities like rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, investing in our public schools, and providing the needed funds to combat the growing heroin epidemic.

Please sign the petition below or click here to sign.

 

  When you are done signing the petition, please send a letter to you state reps asking them not to fall victim to the “Kansas Tax Cut Trap” that will blow a $90 million dollar hole in our state budget. Click here to send your letter or fill out the form below.

 

 

NH Fiscal Policy Institute Highlights Failures Of Kansas’s Tax Cuts

Kansas Tax Cuts: Lessons for New Hampshire
Offers Legislators Context for Considering Impact of Proposed Business Tax Cuts 

Concord NH – In advance of next week’s vote on the state budget, more than 50 legislators gathered in Concord today to hear a first-hand account of the wide-reaching impacts of Kansas tax cuts and to consider the consequences of similar efforts to reduce taxes here in New Hampshire. Hosted by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, “Kansas Tax Cuts: Lessons for New Hampshire” sought to help policymakers develop a deeper understanding of the effect tax cuts are having on families and communities in Kansas and to demonstrate the failure of tax cuts to produce promised economic growth, the main argument offered in favor of lower business tax rates in New Hampshire. 

“Throughout the debate over business taxes, we’ve been told tax cuts are necessary to make New Hampshire more competitive and to boost its economy. Yet, as Kansas’ experience makes clear, tax cuts are no guarantee of job growth. Choosing tax cuts over investments in education and infrastructure will lead the state into a downward spiral,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. 

The event featured a panel discussion and presentation by Kansas Center for Economic Growth Executive Director Annie McKay and Senior Fellow Duane Goossen. Mr. Goossen was the Kansas state budget director from 1998 to 2010 and served seven terms in the Kansas House of Representatives.

“A misguided plan to cut taxes for Kansas businesses in the name of job growth resulted in a tax shift, which increased taxes on hardworking Kansas families. Lawmakers promised Kansans ‘pro-growth’ tax policy, but all this plan delivered was an increase in the number of families struggling to make ends meet,” said Annie McKay. 

Proponents of business tax cuts suggest that business taxes in New Hampshire are out of line with other states and that tax cuts are needed to make the Granite State more competitive. The budget plan approved by the legislature in June included multiple changes to New Hampshire’s business tax structure, changes that would drain more than $20 million out of the FY 2016-2017 budget and more than $100 million out of each future budget, once fully implemented. Governor Hassan vetoed the budget in part due to the impact this revenue loss would have on future budgets.

“Kansas went from annual budget surpluses to massive deficits as a result of these tax cuts, which were promoted as necessary to support businesses and to increase economic growth,” said Duane Goossen. “These tax cuts left the state unable to balance its budget, led to a credit downgrade for the state, and forced increases in other taxes and fees for average citizens. What’s more, Kansas’ job growth rate continues to lag the region, and businesses and families have left the state due to its lack of investment in important public services.” 

The first full year of tax cuts in Kansas resulted in greater revenue loss than the three years of the Great Recession combined, a revenue shortfall that is jeopardizing funding for education, roads and bridges, and other components essential to a strong economy. Efforts to close the Kansas budget gap also put added pressure on local governments and forced many areas to raise property taxes in order to maintain basic levels of service. In fact, 67 counties enacted property tax increases to offset the added cost of downshifted responsibilities. Property taxes increased by as much as 20 percent in some counties, and 17 of the 20 counties with the highest increases were rural. 

“As the Kansas experiment demonstrates, tax cuts that drain state resources have far reaching impacts for families, communities, and state economies. New Hampshire cannot afford to follow Kansas’ perilous path,” said NHFPI Executive Director Jeff McLynch.

“New Hampshire already lacks sufficient resources to meet its needs,” added McLynch. “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 ensuring a strong economy and shared prosperity for all in the Granite State.”

Democratic Legislators Offer Fiscally Responsible Compromise Budget Proposal

Governor’s Proposal Includes Business Tax Cuts on Faster Timeline While Protecting State’s Long-Term Fiscal Outlook and Ability to Support Critical Economic Priorities 

CONCORD – In an effort to reach a fiscally responsible, balanced and bipartisan budget agreement, Governor Maggie Hassan today offered a compromise proposal that includes and accelerates business tax cuts while also protecting the state’s long-term fiscal outlook and ability to support critical priorities such as combating the heroin crisis, holding down the cost of college tuition, continuing to strengthen and increase access to health coverage, and maintaining our roads and bridges.  

“Over the past several weeks, I have met with business leaders and citizens across New Hampshire, and while businesses would of course like to pay lower taxes, they also recognize – as the bipartisan business tax commission has said – that there are other critical priorities that we must support, including investing in higher education, substance abuse prevention, health care, and transportation infrastructure,” Governor Hassan said. “This plan would allow us to do both: lower business taxes and ensure that in the future we do not have to make significant cuts to those critical priorities.”

Governor Hassan’s proposal lowers the Business Profits Tax to 7.9 percent for the 2016 tax year, three years earlier than the Committee of Conference budget, while increasing the threshold on who has to file and pay the Business Enterprise Tax, eliminating the tax completely for 5,500 small businesses. The Governor also includes funds to address the concerns raised by House Bill 550 and calls for stronger public process with additional public hearings on the language in August. The compromise proposal would also eliminate the Committee of Conference’s attempt to double count 2015 dollars to balance Fiscal Year 2016. 

To offset the business tax cuts and the use of carryforward funds, the Governor’s compromise proposal would increase the cigarette tax by 21 cents – still lower than neighboring states– and include parity for e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. It would also increase the state portion of motor vehicle registration fee by five dollars and close a tax loophole restoring the Taxpayer Protection and Fair Documentation requirements to the state’s tax code, ensuring that all taxpayers are treated fairly. 

With these steps, the Governor’s compromise proposal would strengthen efforts to combat the heroin crisis, providing $5.7 million in additional funds over the Committee of Conference budget for substance abuse prevention and treatment. Following a recommendation by Senior Director for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Jack Wozmak, the compromise proposal also moves up extension of substance abuse benefits to the existing Medicaid population to January 2016, and provides additional funds to support other efforts, such as a drug court in the City of Manchester. 

The compromise proposal also adequately funds winter maintenance for highways, restores travel and tourism funds, and includes the modest cost-of-living pay increase for state employees that was previously negotiated in good faith. 

Governor Hassan’s compromise proposal also recognizes that Republican legislators want to take up reauthorization of the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program – which is providing coverage to more than 41,000 hard-working Granite Staters – outside of this budget. It does not remove the sunset for expansion, but it includes funds for the legislature to collect data on the program in the interim and ensures that funds are available to move forward if the program is reauthorized at a later date. 

“As providers, health care professionals and other stakeholders tell me, the single most important step we can take in battling the opioid crisis is reauthorizing the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which is already providing substance abuse services to thousands of Granite Staters,” Governor Hassan said. “I have heard from Republican legislative leaders that they are not willing to act on reauthorization in the budget, so this proposal does not move forward with reauthorization at this time.”

 “Although we will reluctantly agree to wait to take up legislation reauthorizing expansion, we must do everything that we can between now and then to provide certainty about the future of the program and ensure that we have the data that the legislature needs,” Governor Hassan added. “We must reauthorize this critical program as quickly as possible to continue bringing tens of millions of dollars in federal funds into New Hampshire to increase our substance abuse treatment capacity.”

The Governor is encouraging the legislature to work in August so the full legislature can take up a compromise budget when they return on September 16.

“This proposal is a compromise, and it is an effort to address the real concerns of Republicans and Democrats in the legislature,” Governor Hassan said. “It provides Republicans with what they have indicated is their highest priority – cutting corporate taxes – in a faster timeframe while addressing concerns about long-term fiscal responsibility and protecting our ability to support critical economic priorities.” 

“While people on both ends of either party may still want a different plan than the one I am proposing, this plan attempts to address the concerns of both parties in order to reach a common-ground that has enough votes from both sides of the aisle,” the Governor added. “I hope that this proposal can serve as a basis for bipartisan compromise and negotiation.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn and House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff issued the following statement on Governor Hassan’s fiscally responsible compromise budget proposal:

“Passing a responsible budget requires compromise and we thank Governor Hassan for her leadership in proposing a fiscally responsible plan that seeks to address the concerns of both parties while still meeting the needs of New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy.” 

“While the Governor’s proposal doesn’t contain everything we wish it did, it represents a true compromise by including Republicans’ top priority – business tax cuts – while offsetting the tax cuts to preserve our ability to invest in critical economic priorities like combating the heroin crisis, holding down the cost of college tuition, maintaining our roads and bridges, and protecting access to quality, affordable health care.”

“With the legislature scheduled to be in session in September, it’s imperative that our Republican colleagues come back to the table now so that we can pass a responsible, compromise budget on September 16.”

 

Republican Legislature Tries To Cover Up Kelly Ayotte’s Political Budget Meddling

Concord, N.H. – Republicans in the legislature are trying to cover up Kelly Ayotte’s political meddling in New Hampshire’s budget, refusing to release any records in response to the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s Right To Know request concerning Ayotte’s interference in the budget process.

See coverage roundup below:

Union Leader: House and Senate deny Democrats’ right-to-know request for records

Citing a 2011 opinion by then-Attorney General Michael Delaney, the House and Senate declined to release information sought by the state Democratic Party on budget decisions.

Democrats sought information that State Party Chairman Raymond Buckley claimed would show that U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte interfered in the state budget process in order to inflict political damage on Gov. Maggie Hassan, a potential challenger to Ayotte for the U.S. Senate seat next year. 

Buckley sought phone, email and calendar records of GOP House and Senate leaders and their staff. 

But Senate Legal Counsel Richard Lehmann, writing for both the House and Senate, said in Delaney’s 2011 opinion he declined to open “legislative and staff emails to unfettered public access.” 

… Democratic officials said Republican legislators are disregarding the constitution to protect Ayotte in denying their right-to-know request. 

“It’s disturbing that Republicans in the legislature are willing to completely disregard New Hampshire’s constitutional requirement of transparency in order to cover up the efforts of Kelly Ayotte and her allies to politically meddle with the state’s budget at the expense of New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy,” said state Democratic Party press secretary Aaron Jacobs. “Regardless of who runs against Kelly Ayotte, it’s wrong that Ayotte’s allies clearly have been pushing the state legislature to politicize the budget process in a desperate attempt to rescue her vulnerable re-election prospects. Legislative leadership should release this information immediately.” [Full story]

 

WMUR: State Senate legal counsel denies Democrats’ request for communications records 

The legal counsel for the Republican-controlled state Senate declinedTuesday to turn over to the state Democratic Party individual lawmakers’ and legislative staffers’ emails, citing an opinion by the state attorney general. 

Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley last week submitted a right-to-know request to state Senate President Chuck Morse seeking “all communications records of yours, your staff or the Senator Leadership Office” with U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, her official staff, campaign staff and any paid consultants. 

Buckley charged that Ayotte’s “political operation” meddled in the state budget process in an attempt to cause gridlock at the State House “with the goal of scoring political points” against Gov. Maggie Hassan, who has been mentioned as a possible Ayotte opponent in her 2016 re-election bid. [Full story]

 

NH1: Landrigan: NH Senate lawyer rejects bid to disclose individual emails, calls, calendars of GOP senators

The State Senate’s lawyer ruled the New Hampshire Democratic Party has no legal access to emails, telephone calls or calendars of GOP senators to see whether Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, meddled in their feud with Gov. Maggie Hassan over the state budget.

 … A Democratic Party spokesman said legislative leaders should give up the records in the interest of transparency. 

“Regardless of who runs against Kelly Ayotte, it’s wrong that Ayotte’s allies clearly have been pushing the state legislature to politicize the budget process in a desperate attempt to rescue her vulnerable re-election prospects,’’ Press Secretary Aaron Jacobs said.

“Legislative leadership should release this information immediately.’’ [Full story]

ICYMI: Irresponsible Republican Budget, Failure to Continue Medicaid Expansion Has Drug Treatment Expansion Plans on Hold

Concord, N.H. – As Republicans continue to play political games with the state budget and refuse to negotiate with Governor Hassan in good faith toward a responsible, compromise budget, irresponsible Republican budget and failure to continue Medicaid expansion “has drug treatment expansion plans on hold.

The Monitor reported that Friendship House in Bethlehem “is looking to hire additional staff in each of the three counties it serves – Coos, Grafton and Carroll – and add more space to its 18-bed treatment facility, but won’t commit until the future of Medicaid expansion is certain.”

WMUR also reported, “Governor Maggie Hassan’s budget called for millions in substance abuse treatment, and while Republicans increased funding as well, it fell short of what the Governor had asked for.”

See coverage roundup below:

WMUR VIDEO: Coverage of Disagreements Over Substance Abuse Treatment Funding

Anchor: “The budget battle in Concord stalling funding to fight the heroin epidemic. Governor Maggie Hassan’s budget called for millions in substance abuse treatment, and while Republicans increased funding as well, it fell short of what the Governor had asked for. Cuts to business taxes remain a major sticking point and the impasse continues.”

Senator Soucy: “We need to do more, we need to keep working, we need to get back to the table to negotiate a more meaningful budget for the people of New Hampshire.”

Concord Monitor: Political uncertainty of expanded Medicaid has drug treatment expansion plans on hold

… But uncertainty about Medicaid expansion’s future is creating pause at a time when advocates say action is critical.

“If you want to build more capacity, you have to have means to pay for it,” said Tym Rourke, chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery. “No provider is going to expand services because there’s no guaranteed mechanism to pay for care.”

… “Agencies are transforming how they do business to accept folks who now have coverage for their addiction,” said Abby Shockley, executive director of the New Hampshire Provider’s Association. “It’s hard for them to go through all of this infrastructure development, to hire new staff and expand services when they have a lot of uncertainty.”

… The Friendship House in Bethlehem is the only state-funded residential treatment center in the North Country, and officials there see Medicaid expansion as the way to serve a growing need.

“Everybody knows heroin is a problem,” said Michael Coughlin, CEO of Tri-County Cap, which oversees the Friendship House. “We hear all over the North Country the need for more resources. We want to be able to put those in place.”

While the center is beginning to hire more staff, it is holding back on more costly infrastructure investments – like increasing the number of treatment beds – until lawmakers determine the fate of Medicaid expansion.

… the Friendship House is looking to hire additional staff in each of the three counties it serves – Coos, Grafton and Carroll – and add more space to its 18-bed treatment facility, but won’t commit until the future of Medicaid expansion is certain.

… “We will do it if this Legislature keeps this expanded Medicaid alive,” Coughlin said. “Clearly the need is here in the North Country.” [Full story]

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]

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