LYNCH BUDGET RAISES TAXES, BREAKS $10 BILLION SPENDING BARRIER

CONCORD – Gov. Lynch’s proposed budget raises taxes and breaks the $10 billion spending barrier for the first time in New Hampshire history. The budget also exposes a number of inconsistencies between what Gov. Lynch says and what he does:

Tax Increases: Gov. Lynch says he balances his budget “without new taxes” but he raises car registration fees bynearly 20 percent (from $31 to $37) and raises cigarette taxes by 28 cents per pack. Combined with the 28 cent increase passed earlier in the Lynch administration, Gov. Lynch will have more than doubled cigarette taxes, from 52 cents to $1.08 cents per pack.

Spending increase: The Governor’s proposed budget breaks the $10 billion barrier for the first time in state history due to a 9 percent increase in state spending. “It’s budget season in most New Hampshire towns, and if a town’s Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee came in with a budget that increased spending by 9 percent over two years, that budget that would likely be voted down at Town Meeting,” said New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Fergus Cullen, who is also a member of the Wolfeboro Budget Committee.

“I also find it ironic that, after Gov. Lynch singled out Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen’s budget request last fall as ‘unacceptable,’ Gov. Lynch now proposes spending more money than Commissioner Stephen had in his maintenance budget,” Cullen said. The Stephen budget called for $670 million in spending in fiscalyear 2006, and the Lynch budget includes $674 million in spending for the department.

Education Funding: Gov. Lynch says he wants state education funding to be “sustainable and predictable,” but he tinkers yet again with the funding formula, promising to increase every town’s allocation by at least five percent regardless of need. “Gov. Lynch seems to be trying to buy off his critics with more money for everyone,” Cullen said.