Concord, N.H. – Republicans in the legislature continue to take heat for budget proposals that fail to meet the state’s economic needs, including failing to adequately fund substance misuse treatment and not continuing the state’s successful Medicaid expansion program.
The Concord Monitor editorial board wrote, “A seemingly sensible, but woeful, statement by Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Sen. Jeanie Forrester explains why New Hampshire is falling behind. ‘I would like it to be more,’ Forrester told Monitor State House reporter Allie Morris. ‘But this is what we can afford.’”
The Monitor noted that despite claims from Forrester and Republicans in the Legislature that the state can’t afford to adequately fund critical priorities like substance misuse treatment, “they want to reduce business taxes under the failed theory that it promotes business growth. That will guarantee a continued state inability to keep its promises and meet its obligations.”
The Monitor also points out that Republicans’ dedicated fund raids may be unconstitutional.
In a joint op-ed, House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff and Rep. Mary Jane Wallner wrote, “We were glad to hear that Republican senators agreed that the budget passed by the New Hampshire House was unacceptable. But, in trying to fix the House’s mess, Senate Republicans passed a budget that doesn’t actually do what they say it does… Now it’s time to work together to pass a responsible budget that actually funds the priorities it claims it does.”
See full roundup below:
Concord Monitor Editorial: Budgets of unmet needs, raided funds
… A seemingly sensible, but woeful, statement by Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Sen. Jeanie Forrester explains why New Hampshire is falling behind.
“I would like it to be more,” Forrester told Monitor State House reporter Allie Morris. “But this is what we can afford.”
Forrester was defending the Senate’s decision to once again default on its obligation to dedicate 5 percent of state liquor store profits to substance abuse treatment.
… In fact, funding for the past four years has been roughly the same amount. … The result: more deaths, more crime, more broken families and higher welfare and corrections costs.
But back to Forrester’s statement.
Many of the deaths were in her district, and the senator knows that more needs to be done.
… Forrester’s statement was just another version of the Republican “live within our means” mantra. Mention revenue, in the state with the sixth-highest per capita income in the nation and Republican legislators sit down, put their hands over their ears and begin chanting, “La, la, la, la, la.”
To make matters worse, they want to reduce business taxes under the failed theory that it promotes business growth. That will guarantee a continued state inability to keep its promises and meet its obligations.
Neither budget includes money to continue the expanded Medicaid program that has allowed some 40,000 low-income adults to have health insurance, many for the first time.
… The budget the governor will either veto, sign or let pass without her signature will probably include money from raids on several dedicated funds, a practice former Concord mayor and constitutional savant Martin Gross and others say is clearly unconstitutional.
Recipients of grants from the state’s renewable energy fund, which has been raided in the past and will be to a smaller degree in the new budget, are debating whether to sue to prevent the raid. [Full editorial]
Nashua Telegraph Op-Ed: Time to come together on the budget
By Reps. Steve Shurtleff and Mary Jane Wallner
To pass a budget that truly meets the needs of our state requires both parties to put partisanship aside and work together to get things done.
No one political party has a monopoly on good ideas, and it’s crucial that both parties work together during the budget process to develop a responsible budget that will make progress for our people, businesses, and economy.
Back in February, Gov. Maggie Hassan presented a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that makes strategic investments to lay the foundation for a new generation of economic growth, without a sales or income tax.
Unfortunately, House Republicans took a very different approach, passing a strictly partisan budget that prompted outcry from all corners of our state.
We were glad to hear that Republican senators agreed that the budget passed by the New Hampshire House was unacceptable. But, in trying to fix the House’s mess, Senate Republicans passed a budget that doesn’t actually do what they say it does.
The Senate budget misleads the people of New Hampshire about what priorities are actually being funded, while relying on gimmicks that leave the budget unbalanced.
Senate Republicans claim to have restored critical services for our state’s most vulnerable citizens, including Meals on Wheels and services for individuals who experience developmental disabilities. But the reality is that their budget gimmicks – including things like magical savings estimates and unrealistic projections – place all of these services at risk.
Take for example, funding for mental health services. After claiming to “restore” $6.25 million in mental health funding, senators actually told the department to cut $6.25 million from the landmark mental health settlement the legislature approved last year, threatening critical services.
And when it comes to substance misuse treatment, senators used accounting tricks to try to hide the fact that they actually cut $3 million from the governor’s proposal for substance misuse treatment.
That’s to say nothing of their failure to adequately fund public safety, higher education and their decision not to continue our bipartisan Medicaid expansion program.
While even Senate Republicans agree that our state’s Medicaid expansion is working exactly as intended – if not better – their budget places 40,000 Granite Staters at risk of losing their coverage and creates uncertainty in the insurance market that could lead to higher rates for all of our people and businesses.
Though the Senate claimed we couldn’t afford to invest in priorities like Medicaid expansion and higher education with proven results for economic growth, they expressed no concerns about giving unpaid-for tax giveaways to big businesses, blowing a huge hole in our budget.
We believe the approach laid out in the governor’s fiscally responsible proposal would be the best way forward for our state. That said, we appreciate that passing a budget requires compromise, and as we enter the committee-of-conference process, we stand ready to do just that.
The good news is that Democrats and Republicans agree on many of the critical priorities that must be met for our economy to thrive. Now it’s time to work together to pass a responsible budget that actually funds the priorities it claims it does.
The people of New Hampshire didn’t send us to Concord to point fingers or engage in political gamesmanship. They sent us to Concord to solve problems and get results for our state.
We’ve come a long way together throughout this budget process, and it’s time to get ourselves over the finish line.
New Hampshire’s families and businesses are depending on our ability to work together to pass a budget that keeps our economy moving in the right direction, and we look forward to working with our Republican colleagues to do exactly that.
Rep. Stephen Shurtleff, D–Penacook, is the New Hampshire House Democratic Leader; Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, D–Concord, is the ranking Democratic and former chair of the House Finance Committee.