CONCORD, NH – Governor Maggie Hassan on Nov. 24 presented an Executive Order during a meeting of the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee calling for an $18 million general fund budget reduction.
The Joint Legislative Fiscal committee approved the Executive Order in a bipartisan vote.
“Last year, members of both parties came together to enact the most bipartisan budget in more than a decade, without a sales or income tax,” Governor Hassan said. “But as we continue to deal with the revenue shortfalls and increased caseloads at Health and Human Services, we must take strategic action to keep the budget balanced. It has taken thoughtful and careful consideration to develop these reduction plans, with a focus on avoiding unnecessary harm while minimizing the impact on the functions of state government and our responsibility to provide critical services to the people and businesses of New Hampshire.”
According to the order, which you can read here in its entirety, the executive order was issued by Hassan after determining that projected revenues will be insufficient to cover budgeted expenditures.
Although the state finished Fiscal Year 2014 with a nearly $20 million surplus, due to significant shortfalls in business tax and interest-and-dividends tax revenues that have persisted since tax law changes that were passed two years ago went into effect in the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2014, Hassan directed state agencies in October to submit plans to reduce their budgets.
Overall, the reductions total more than $18 million dollars in general funds. They include reductions from vacant positions, reductions to Catastrophic Aid and reductions to Department of Resources and Economic Development’s advertising and marketing budget, as well as reductions to information technology.
The reductions also attempt to minimize the impact on the Department of Corrections, the Office of Veterans Services and to the Veterans Home, focusing on protecting vital public safety and public health services.
In addition, the university and community college systems made significant reductions, but agreed to do so without raising tuition.
The Department of Health and Human Services is continuing to make significant cuts to ensure that its budget stays within its appropriation. The Governor’s Office will continue to work with the department to finalize these plans, and the department will outline the steps that they are going to take at a later date.
Meanwhile, the freeze on generally funded hiring, equipment and out-of-state travel that Governor Hassan issued in May, as well as the direction to state agencies to delay large expenditures, will remain in effect.
While these reductions represent a significant step in ensuring a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2015, there will be additional items that will require approval of the full legislature. This includes any reductions to the budgets for the Legislative and Judicial branches, and proposed legislation will be presented in the coming weeks.
“In 2013, we passed a bipartisan budget that made real progress for the people and businesses of New Hampshire – fostering economic development, helping keep our young people in state by freezing tuition at our public colleges and universities, and by expanding opportunities for all of our citizens, including people with mental illness, at-risk children and people with development disabilities,” Hassan said.
“Despite the challenges posed by continued caseload growth and shortfalls in revenues from business taxes and the interest and dividend tax, it is in that same spirit that I will work with you and our state agencies to ensure a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2015, while also keeping our bipartisan commitment to moving the State of New Hampshire forward,” Hassan said.
Information for this story provided by the governor’s office.