Update on State Budget

An article submitted to the NHPHA e-Newsletter by Marie Mulroy, Past NHPHA President

As everyone knows, the State of New Hampshire has been operating without a budget since July 1st.    The Governor came out in late July with a compromise proposal with the hopes of getting the process moving.  The "compromise" proposal made some concessions on the business tax cuts, balanced by hikes in fees and tobacco taxes.  While the Governor has championed the reauthorization of Medicaid Expansion and included provisions in her original budget plan, the compromise proposal she offered did not attempt to remove program’s current expiration date of December 31, 2016.  Rather, the proposal would provide new funds to permit additional data collection related to the program.   However, this compromise was rejected by Leadership in the House and Senate.    It is not evident that  any compromise offer is coming from the House or Senate.   What does seem evident is that this will probably not get resolved before the September 16th voting in both the House and Senate when they come back into session to try and override the Veto.  Coming up with a solution may stretch out until October.

Publicly, the legislators are saying that they are waiting to see the Surplus Statement before moving forward.   According to Josiah Bartlett Institute, “In the budget process, the most important public document released is called the surplus statement. The surplus statement is an explanation of every major change a proposal — the legislature’s or the governor’s makes — and is a summary of the bottom line of the budget showing spending levels, tax estimates, and how the budget is balanced, as required by state law. Under our state law, the budget proposal does not stand as an island but must take into account the prior year that is ending as the new budget begins.”  This document will not be ready until late September or first of October and unfortunately we don’t think anything will happen before then.

NHPHA has been active with its partners to get the budget issue resolved.  On July 29th the Joint Fiscal Committee met and   NHPHA along with New Hampshire Citizen’s Alliance, the State Employee’s Union,  American Friends Services Committee and other partners were at the State House to urge that they start to work on getting a compromise budget completed.    The Committee did not take up any resolution efforts at that meeting, so the next meeting of this Committee will be again on August 26th at 10:00 AM and we urge members to join us to ask those members to resolve this impasse. Senator Jeanne Forrester also has set up three special “work group” meetings one of which is dedicated to DHHS issues.   This DHHS special workgroup will meet on August 24th.   We will get you more details as the date gets closer.

NHPHA has had an Op Ed and a Letter to the Editor published on the budget issue.

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