19 Apr Republican House Budget Fails to Pass
Author: Rep. Suzanne Smith, Grafton 8 representing Plymouth, Hebron and Holderness
This past week was to be an exciting, if long week at the State House. The House Finance Committee’s budget was to be voted on by the full House membership. The Finance Committee worked for 2+ months to come up with a budget which would not raise ANY taxes or fees and would try to satisfy the many needs of our constituents (children, families, developmentally disabled, those in need of substance abuse funding, retirees) and our infrastructure (municipalities, roads, bridges, etc.)—the list is endless.
I voted NO on the Finance Committee’s budget bills, which came before us this week in the NH House. I was joined by a vast majority of Democrats, who wanted to see the State taking better care of its citizens, and by the new “House Freedom” caucus, which wants to see the State stop funding just about everything.
Some of the reasons I voted NO are:
- The budget cut funding for the Governor’s Commission on Prevention, Treatment and Recovery by $6.5 million, which would have come from the profits of alcohol sales in the state (the alcohol fund has been underfunded in every budget).
- The budget underfunded Domestic Violence Services by $1 million. This money would go directly to NH’s crisis centers. (Voices Without Violence is our local crisis center.)
- Community Mental Health Services is underfunded by $10 million.
- Underfunded the Developmental Disability System by $47 million, which will continue the waitlist for services—potentially 380 people—the highest number in at least 10 years.
- The budget cut $256 thousand from heating expenses from Glencliff Nursing Home in Warren—a nursing home for individuals who also have a mental illness or developmental disability.
- The budget eliminates funding for targeted full-day kindergarten from the Governor’s proposal.
There were a few items that Democrats advocated for and were included in the budget, but overall, I could not in good conscience vote “Ought to Pass”.
The Republican majority prides itself with putting together a budget without raising any taxes and fees. How can they manage to do this? Well, first, this budget raids RGGI—a dedicated fund that helps consumers cut energy costs. Second, Alcohol Fund monies should be going towards substance abuse treatment, where it is truly needed. Instead that money will, once again, go to the General Fund. Third, the House passed KENO, a form of gambling popular in Massachusetts, which will potentially bring in money, if it passes the Senate.
Unfortunately, many of the cuts in the budget (such as domestic violence cuts) mean that the State is not eligible for federal matching funds.
What next? The Senate has already begun work on their version of the budget, and it will need to come to the House once they have finalized their deliberations. By June 30, it is hoped that NH will have a budget which will get us through the next 2 years. Stay tuned.