NH Watchdog Shut Out of Budget Briefing

This Week at New Hampshire Watchdog

*Avoiding Gridlock- Free Forum*Lynch Offers Budget Fix*Why won't they put the state's largest contract out to bid?*New Hampshire celebrates Tax Freedom Day*And: Why is Governor afraid of NH Watchdog?

Avoiding Gridlock

The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy will address one of the most complex, expensive, and misunderstood problems in New Hampshire government next week.  The free panel discussion, “Avoiding Gridlock-Planning Today for NH's Transportation System Tomorrow", will address the thorny challenges of how Granite Staters get around, and how to pay for roads, rail, and bridges.  “Avoiding Gridlock” will be on Monday, April 12th from 9am to 11am at the Holiday Inn on North Main Street in Concord.

Panelists for this lively forum will include:

Harry Blunt, President, Concord Coach Lines

Rep. David Campbell (D-Nashua), Vice Chairman, Public Works

Michael Izbicki, Executive Director, New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority 

Randall O'Toole, Cato Institute Transportation expert and author of the new book "Gridlock: Why We're Stuck in Traffic and What to Do About It."

Josiah Bartlett Center President Charlie Arlinghaus will moderate.

Lynch Budget Fix includes cuts, taxes, and transfers

(CONCORD) At a closed door briefing with invited members of New Hampshire’s press corps, Governor John Lynch today unveiled his proposed fix to the Granite State’s mounting budget crisis. Lynch projects that the package of spending cuts, tax increases, and new federal revenue will total $220 million over the next two years.

The Lynch proposal claims $14.3 million in cuts for Fiscal Year 2010 and another $69.7 million for FY11, but includes $25 million in University System maintenance from the state’s General Fund to the Capital Budget. In the current budget, Lynch pushed to transfer state Building Aid from the General Fund to the Capital Budget as well.

The Lynch package also anticipates an increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) and includes a $.20 per pack increase in the state’s Tobacco Tax, projected to raise $12 million over the next two years.. The overall budget fix includes repeals of the state’s controversial LLC Tax and Camping Tax. Bills to remove those taxes has cleared the State Senate and await action in the House. The proposal would also establish a Commission to study New Hampshire’s business taxes, and directs the Lottery Commission to issue a report on running Fantasy Sports Leagues by November. (FULL STORY)

State’s Largest Contract Should be Open to Competition

By Charles M. Arlinghaus
From the print edition of the Union Leader

The administration wants to award the largest single contract in the state without any bidding or competition. We have a spending freeze that requires permission to purchase a desk chair or take a $75 trip to a meeting in Vermont but for a $16.8 million contract to administer more than $250 million in annual benefits all other potential bidders are being told there is no longer a competitive process and we’re not interested in competition.

In October 2003, the State of New Hampshire self-insured its medical benefits for state employees and retirees. The State assumes liability and financial responsibility but those benefits are still administered by a traditional insurance company under a contract. (FULL STORY)

New Hampshire Taxpayers Mark Tax Freedom Day

(CONCORD) New Hampshire residents heading to work today will be putting money into their own pockets, rather than Uncle Sam’s. According to the Tax Foundation, today marks Tax Freedom Day in the Granite State, the day after which the average taxpayers has earned enough to pay their local, state, and federal tax burden for the year.

April 6th is just short of the national average, as the study ranks New Hampshire has having the 28th highest tax burden in the nation. The Tax Foundation calculates that Americans as a whole won’t earn enough to pay off our taxes until April 9th.

Alaska and Louisiana residents marked Tax Freedom Day on March 26th this year, with the lowest overall per capita tax burden. Connecticut residents, facing the highest tax burden in the country, will have to work an entire month longer to should their tax burden, and won’t mark Tax Freedom Day until April 27th. (FULL STORY)

NH Watchdog shut out of budget briefing

(CONCORD) When Governor John Lynch presented his latest plan to balance the state budget to a select group of State House reporters this morning, New Hampshire’s leading budget watchdog wasn’t allowed in the room.

Shortly before the Governor arrived at the Executive Council Chambers for his budget press conference, Press Secretary Colin Manning asked reporter Grant Bosse to leave, claiming that he “wasn’t part of the media.” Bosse, who is credentialed by both the State House and State Senate, as well as the U.S. Congress, insisted that he should be allowed to cover a press conference being held in a public building. Manning said that the event was for “invited members of the press”. Bosse serves as Lead Investigator for the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a non-profit think tank based in Concord, and has provided extensive coverage of the New Hampshire budget since Governor John Lynch presented his budget recommendations to the Legislature in early 2008. Bosse also provides a weekly legislative report on radio station WGIR’s “Charlie Sherman Show”. (FULL STORY)

Read the best coverage of the New Hampshire budget crisis at New Hampshire Watchdog, and tune in Friday mornings at 7:40am to the "Charlie Sherman Show" on AM610 WGIR.