Concord—An overflowing room full of taxpayers and lawmakers heard several experts lead a thought provoking discussion on controlling government spending today in Concord. Coming on the heels of a “tax summit” held by the House Ways & Means Committee less than a week ago, House Republican Leader Sherm Packard opened the forum by reminding the attendees that the State does not have a revenue problem, but rather a spending problem. “The standing room only attendance today is a clear indication of how many people are genuinely concerned with the spending that has been going on at the State House over the past three years,” said Packard. The House has witnessed an increase in General Fund Spending of nearly 25% over the last two bienniums.
Senate Republican Leader Peter Bragdon also pointed to the increased spending in running both chambers of the legislature. “If leadership cannot control their own spending, how can we expect them to control spending for the rest of the State? We need to first look inside and make necessary changes as to how we are spending money at the State House,” said Bragdon.
Included among the speakers was Steve Norton, the Executive Director of the NH Center for Public Policy Studies. “The primary dynamic for the last 20 years in New Hampshire is that we have spent more money than we have raised. Every two years, we have to reassess our tax structure in order to meet the demands of what we want to spend,” said Norton.
Charlie Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, told the audience, “There are two ways to fix today’s $200M shortfall. That’s to either raise taxes or cut spending.”
Former Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services John Stephen told the gathering that the State can do a much better job of controlling spending. “We need to take control of the spending issue soon. We must make a commitment to run government the way other states have been running government---by cutting spending.”
The nearly three hour long discussion on government spending concluded with Rep. Packard telling the audience that cutting spending would be the focus of State House Republicans for the next year. “The testimony that we have heard today supports our belief that spending is a very serious problem in the State House,” he concluded. Packard also said that State House Republicans will not only continue to keep the issue of spending on the forefront but intend to hold another forum on the issue during the upcoming House Session.