THE SOAPBOX Stand up. Speak Up. It’s Your Turn.
The New Hampshire Senate recently passed their version of the budget, right down party lines. Their budget reduces taxes on corporations and slashes funding to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Senate has also voted to cut funding to the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP) formerly known as Medicaid Expansion, effectively booting 40,000 low-income families off their healthcare.
Senate Republicans would rather show working families that they care more about a few hundred businessmen than 40,000 hard working Granite Staters.
The NHHPP is already showing great progress as New Hampshire area hospitals are reporting a 20 percent drop in uninsured emergency room visits.
Governor Maggie Hassan said, “Reauthorizing this bipartisan program beyond the end of 2016 is critical for the health of our people and our economy, as uncertainty about the continuation of the program could lead to rising rates for all consumers. Uncertainty about the program’s future could also cause insurers to decide not to offer coverage in New Hampshire in 2017. We must work together to find a bipartisan path forward.”
This budget is pushing New Hampshire in the wrong direction. Forcing people off their healthcare to give tax breaks to a few select corporations.
“In light of the Department of Revenue Administration’s new findings that the Senate’s proposed tax cuts will primarily benefit a small number of very large businesses operating in the state, we should be especially concerned that these revenue losses will simply flow out of the state with no benefit to New Hampshire,” wrote the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “There is no guarantee that these tax cuts will produce jobs or economic growth for New Hampshire, but they will leave the state with fewer resources to invest in the things we need today to keep our economy strong: good schools, safe roads, a healthy workforce, and public services that support the state’s current high quality of life.”
This would blow an $80 million dollar hole in the budget and force even more cuts in the future. “These proposed reductions in business tax rates will reduce revenue by more than $80 million per biennium when fully phased in, with no plan to replace the lost revenue,” said the NH Fiscal Policy Institute.
Republicans in the Senate are pushing to make New Hampshire more like Kansas and New Jersey whose tax cuts have resulted in massive cuts to education funding, credit downgrades, and ultimately tax increases on working families.
To add further insult to injury, the NH GOP will be starting a “countdown clock” to shutting down the New Hampshire Government.
“The [finance] committee said state government would be forced to shut down at midnight June 30 if a budget is not approved.”
“It’s extremely disappointing that New Hampshire Republicans are sending such a clear signal that they are not willing to compromise during the Committee of Conference process and are threatening to shut down the government if they don’t get their way. Enacting a balanced, fiscally responsible budget will require Republicans to compromise with Democrats – not just with Bill O’Brien and the Tea Party,” said Ranking Democratic Finance Committee members Representative Mary Jane Wallner and Senator Lou D’Allesandro in a joint statement.
Shutting down the government is not a viable option either. It will cause unnecessary harm to thousands of state workers who be forced to lose their paycheck because Republicans are unwilling to work with Democrats to craft a fiscally responsible budget that truly helps New Hampshire families.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, though at this moment it seems unlikely.
Matthew Murray is founder of the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message, and oversees the NH Labor News Facebook page. Follow @NHLabor_News on Twitter.
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