CONCORD, NH – As the clock struck midnight Thursday, the Senate finished a marathon session after some contentious debate producing a $13 billion two-year budget they hope Gov. Sununu won’t veto, and as expected it was praised or condemned along party lines on Friday.
Sununu released a statement: “I continue to have concerns with the Senate’s budget. Namely, the income tax, the increase to business taxes, and the $76 million structural deficit.”
Sununu said he hoped the House and Senate can come together in a Committee of Conference “to put forward a viable, balanced budget that does not raise taxes. The people of New Hampshire sent us to Concord to deliver a responsible budget, and I am committed to doing just that.”
Sununu, who has a competing plan with Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, calls the Democrats’ paid family leave plan an income tax.
The Senate Democrats insist there are no new taxes in the budget, saying it prioritizes mental health funding, child protection, substance use disorder treatment, education funding, healthcare and property tax relief.
“The budget is the most important piece of legislation the state considers — it impacts every single person in our state and is an expression of our values. Senate Democrats have built a budget New Hampshire can be proud of that will continue moving our state forward,” said Sen. President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester.
“Working together, we’ve passed a balanced budget that invests in mental health funding, addresses the opioid epidemic, protects the safety and well-being of children, prioritizes public education, supports law enforcement, and delivers much-needed meaningful property tax relief to New Hampshire cities and towns,” Soucy said.
House Republican Leader Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack, reacted to the Senate approving their state budget proposal in HB1 and HB2, calling it a “bad dream.”
“Granite Staters are waking up to yet another Democrat budget proposal that overspends, increases taxes and fees, raids dedicated funds, and creates a budget deficit. Just like in the movie Groundhog Day, we keep on having to relive this bad dream. Whether it is the House Democrat budget earlier this year, or the disastrous Democrat budget from 2009, they just keep repeating the same bad policies. This is the Groundhog Day budget and will put our state in the hole,” Hinch said.
Hinch said House Republicans weren’t shy in their opposition to the “outrageous” tax and spending increases included in the House Democrat budget in April.
“And I can’t say we’re that impressed with how Senate Democrats have come at those major points either. A tax is a tax, and the Senate Democrats have simply replaced the House Democrats’ money grabbing proposals with their own. Republicans won’t budge in our opposition to any budget that contains an income tax or provisions that jeopardize our economic growth. With business tax revenue currently $187 million above expectations, and contributing to a healthy surplus, we shouldn’t be asking our job creators for more and more money.”
House Majority Leader, Doug Ley, D-Jaffrey, applauded the Senate for their hard work.
“The House believes a significant boost to education funding is necessary to address the school funding crisis and provide property tax relief, a position that was reiterated just yesterday in the Cheshire Superior Court decision. I am optimistic that the legislature will come together on a budget that represents New Hampshire values and establishes a strong foundation for the future of our state.”
Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, added, “The Senate budget does more to support New Hampshire cities and towns than at any time in the last ten years — without implementing any new taxes. By implementing as-needed business tax reform, we make sure that businesses pay their fair share and the state is able to do as much for as many people as possible.
“This budget dedicates the greatest new state investment in local public schools in almost two decades and delivers $40 million over the biennium in unrestricted revenue redistribution that towns and cities can use to address any issue they believe needs additional funds.”
Sen. Dan Feltes, D-Concord, Majority Leader and Vice Chair of Senate Finance, said: “This is a balanced budget with no new taxes, no new fees, that finally addresses the many crises facing our families, our communities, and our state.”