As the political season winds down, the last item on the agenda is the operating budget for the next two fiscal years. The Committee of Conference voted for the passage of an $11 billion dollar budget without the benefit of one vote from the minority.
The budget did restore many services that were eliminated by the House. The Senate version was the budget that was accepted by the C of C. There are still a number of problems that must be dealt with, and the Governor has promised to veto the budget if changes aren’t made. Some significant moves made just before the vote were the addition of $15 million in revenue and the balance carried forward was increased to $49 million. There was no provision for the agreed upon pay raise for state employees, the reauthorization of Medicaid expansion, and a number of other loose ends.
One of the key points was the reduction in business taxes that will result in the loss of $20 million in revenue, and going forward, the loss could exceed $90 million. This, coming at a time when what business really needs is a reliable source of energy, priced properly, and an educated work force that can fill many jobs that at present go unfilled.
At a time when the economy is beginning to recover, the cost and availability of inexpensive energy is a key to the economic growth of our state. The business taxes can be dealt with at a future date when a robust economy is in place.
The conflict between the Governor and the Legislature will heat up over the next few days. The last time an operating budget was vetoed was in 2003. The State lived with a continuing resolution for a few months while a new budget was constructed. This was not a good situation. Hopefully, the Governor and Legislature can make a compromise that benefits all of the people in the state. The budget is the only piece of legislation we pass that has an effect on every person in the state. We can’t let the citizens of NH down by not doing the right thing.
Sen. Lou D’Allesandro is from Manchester and has represented the people of District 20 for nine terms. For the 2015-2016 legislative session he is Vice Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee and sits on the Finance and Capital Budget Committees. You can reach Sen. D’Allensandro at firstname.lastname@example.org