Concord, NH – Republicans in the House and Senate today called upon Governor Lynch and leaders in the Democrat-controlledHouse and Senate to develop a cost-saving contingency plan for the state budget in the likely event the state loses a pending Supreme Court case involving $110 million used to balance the budget.Republicans offered to work with Lynch and legislative Democrats on the plan, a so-called Plan B, but made it clearPlan B should focus on budget reductions and not further tax and fee increases or accounting gimmicks.
"The state is facing a multi-million dollar problem, one that can only be fixed by reducing spending," stated House Republican Leader Sherm Packard (Londonderry). "It is irresponsible and ill-conceived for any memberto suggest adding more taxes or fees onto the backs of our citizens in this economic climate; we all owe our constituents more than that."
As a starting point for the process, Republicans asked Governor Lynch to share with them the cost-saving ideas generated by department heads, at Lynch's request, earlier in the year. While developing his proposed budget last fall, Governor Lynch directed department heads to submit proposed budgets that held spending to 97% of then current levels.
"We believe the professional managers hired to run state departments are in a strong position to make the types of cost-saving recommendations that should be considered when developing a Plan B," said Senate Minority Leader Peter Bragdon (Milford). "They have already done the work. Having access to their ideas would be a great starting point to develop a fiscally responsible budget.”
“Doing nothing, which appears to be the case right now, is a very dangerous and irresponsible decision. With revenues down 15% from their rosy estimates and an adverse ruling from the Supreme Court, a lack of a Plan Bcould only mean hasty decisions will be made. Hasty decisions are what put us in this mess; more hasty decisions will only further burden our citizens," concluded Bragdon.
The current state budget relies on $110 million taken from the reserves of a private medical malpractice insurance fund known as the Joint Underwriting Association, or JUA. A Belknap County Superior Court judge ruled in July that the raid on JUA funds was unconstitutional; the case has been appealed by the state and is now before the Supreme Court.
Articles referring to Governor Lynch's request for 97% budgets from department heads can be found:
Ø As reported by the Associated Press, September 9, 2008, http://tinyurl.com/nzgzwg
Ø As reported in the Concord Monitor, January 8, 2009, http://tinyurl.com/mmebac
Ø As reported in the Concord Monitor, February 5, 2009, http://tinyurl.com/lthytq