Concord, N.H. – Senate Republicans’ yesterday passed an unbalanced budget that will hurt small businesses and middle class families, and take New Hampshire’s economy backward.
While Senate Republicans continue to push a partisan agenda, Governor Hassan made clear that she’s ready and willing to reach a responsible, bipartisan compromise that will keep New Hampshire’s economy moving in the right direction.
The Associated Press reported, “Democrats presented amendments to extend Medicaid expansion, increase mental health funding, and add an additional $3 million for substance abuse treatment. Each failed along party lines. Democrats chided Republicans for supporting business tax cuts rather than paying for these types of programs.”
NHPR reported that Senate Democrats criticized the plan for being “filled with ‘budget gimmicks’ such as unspecified cuts and includes favors for “special friends.’”
NHPR also reported, “Sen. Andrew Hosmer of Laconia says it’s irrational to not fully fund substance abuse treatment when there were 320 drug-overdose deaths last year. ‘One of them worked for me, good kids, good families, education. You say, how could they ever end up in this situation? Darcey S. said about her son that worked for me, every life matters, her son’s life matters. They didn’t have the resources they needed,’ he said firmly.”
The Concord Monitor noted, “One-third of the Department of Health and Human Services’ district offices, where residents can apply for Medicare and food stamps, could close under the state budget plan passed by the Senate yesterday.”
See coverage roundup below:
NHPR: N.H. Senate Approves 2-Year Budget Along Party Lines
After hours of debate and more than a dozen failed floor amendments, the Senate voted 14-10 along party lines Thursday to pass a $11.3 billion budget.
… Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn says such a budget is not in the best interest of New Hampshire citizens. “This process is 100 percent partisan, 100 percent Republican. We need a budget that meets our needs. That is fiscally balanced, that is politically balanced,” he said.
Democrats also claim the plan is filled with “budget gimmicks” such as unspecified cuts and includes favors for “special friends,” which refers to business tax cuts that will result in an estimated $19 million revenue loss in the next biennium.
… Another sticking point for Democrats is the exclusion of a state employee pay raise and the extension of Medicaid expansion, which were both included in the Governor’s version.
… Throughout the day, Democrats proposed several amendments on the floor aiming to restore funding for services such as mental health, winter maintenance and the renewable energy fund – all were rejected along party lines.
An emotional debate did; however, break out on an amendment calling for $3.1 million more for substance abuse treatment and prevention.
Democratic Sen. Andrew Hosmer of Laconia says it’s irrational to not fully fund substance abuse treatment when there were 320 drug-overdose deaths last year.
“One of them worked for me, good kids, good families, education. You say, how could they ever end up in this situation? Darcey S. said about her son that worked for me, every life matters, her son’s life matters. They didn’t have the resources they needed,” he said firmly. [Full story]
Concord Monitor: State budget plan calls for consolidation of HHS district offices
One-third of the Department of Health and Human Services’ district offices, where residents can apply for Medicare and food stamps, could close under the state budget plan passed by the Senate yesterday.
The spending plan calls for HHS to consolidate district offices to save $2 million over the next two-year budget. Offices in Claremont, Conway, Laconia and Rochester have been identified for possible closure, according to HHS.
The office consolidation was added to the state budget by the House, and it was not changed by the Senate.
… HHS has 11 district offices across the state. The offices are tasked with helping residents apply for food stamps, health care, Medicare and child care. The offices also serve as a headquarters for staff who check on foster care families and cases of abuse or substance abuse in the community.
The Laconia office serves nearly 30 communities including Holderness, Tilton, Ashland and Groton. The office has a 62-person staff and a caseload of about 12,000 people, according to HHS. [Full story]
AP: New Hampshire Senate passes $11.3 billion budget
New Hampshire senators voted along party lines to pass an $11.3 billion state budget Thursday, with Democrats failing at every turn to change the two-year spending plan.
… the budget does not include money to continue Medicaid expansion beyond 2016 or fund $12 million in state employee pay raises. Democrats also said the budget fails to adequately fund mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.
“Never pat yourself on the back for the things that you did do, but worry about the things you didn’t do,” Democratic Sen. Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester told his colleagues.
Democrats presented amendments to extend Medicaid expansion, increase mental health funding, and add an additional $3 million for substance abuse treatment.
Each failed along party lines. Democrats chided Republicans for supporting business tax cuts rather than paying for these types of programs.
“We can either provide treatment and save lives with the funding that we have or we can give tax breaks to the 1 percent of businesses in New Hampshire,” Democratic Sen. Molly Kelly of Keene said after introducing the substance abuse funding amendment. “It’s a trade-off. It’s a choice we have. What do you think the people of New Hampshire would say about that choice?”
Other Democratic efforts aimed to increase funding for the Department of Corrections, university and community college systems, and winter maintenance in the Department of Transportation. [Full story]
WMUR: New Hampshire Senate passes budget
… The big critique from Democrats, that the budget does not provide enough increases in several areas including mental health, drug abuse and higher education.
… Governor Hassan released a statement today that read in part, “I continue to have serious concerns that the Senate’s plan is unbalanced and will hurt families, undermine business growth and take our economy backward. The plan includes large tax cuts that will create a hole in this budget and budgets well into the future and relies on gimmicks that will ultimately leave the budget unbalanced.” [Full video]
Union Leader: Senate approves $11.33b state budget
Voting along party lines, 14-10, Republican senators approved an $11.33 billion two-year budget Thursday as the governor called for significant changes to reach a bipartisan compromise.
… However, the plan does not include money for a 2 percent pay raise for state employees, or for continuing Medicaid expansion beyond Dec. 31, 2016, when the federal government stops paying 100 percent of the costs.
Gov. Maggie Hassan said while the Senate budget is an improvement over the House plan, much more needs to be done to reach a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that moves the state forward.
… But Democrats assailed the plan as shortchanging New Hampshire citizens, giving tax breaks to big business that really cost $23 million, and failing to properly fund essential programs and services such as higher education that would also spur the economy.
Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, said while Democrats and Republicans may have agreed 80 percent of the time, the remaining 20 percent represents $52 million.
“What didn’t we do that we can do to make a difference in the lives of the people we represent?” D’Allesandro said. “Look at the things we didn’t do. What’s left on the table?”
Sen. Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, said lawmakers have been making tough decisions for years because there never is enough money, but this year is different.
“We do have a choice, and we’ve chosen to make cuts to the (business profits tax) and the (business enterprise tax),” she said. “We have so many other priorities; the 1 percent (of businesses) who gain would rather see us spend the money in other ways.”
… In emotional testimony, Democrats urged their Republican colleagues to increase funding for drug and alcohol abuse treatment and prevention and for continuing the state’s Medicaid expansion program.
Sen. David Pierce, D-Hanover, chided his colleagues for being unwilling to support reauthorizing Medicaid expansion beyond 2016.
“To yank away (from families) the coverage they have come to expect, that they enrolled in, is morally reprehensible,” Pierce said. “Why not, today, do the right thing?”
… Sen Andrew Hosmer, D-Laconia, told of an employee’s son who died from a drug overdose. “Every life matters,” he said. “Every life matters.” [Full story]