RGGI, Retirement, and Balancing the New Hampshire Budget
It was a busy week at the New Hampshire State House, and New Hampshire Watchdog continues to provide unmatched coverage.
RGGI in New Hampshire: The First Two Years
The New Hampshire House overwhelming votes to take the state out of the two-year old Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Grant Bosse examined how the program was working, and how New Hampshire was spending its revenues in his in-depth report RGGI in New Hampshire: The First Two Years.
House Should Cut Both Halves of The State Budget
Charlie Arlinghaus tackled the massive challenge of balacing the state budget, and points out that it can't be done without cutting all areas of state spending, including state aid to cities and town. Read his Union Leader column.
"The Governor’s draft of the state budget presented last week will serve as a good first draft but with many further decisions left to be made. It highlights two significant areas of disagreement with the House over local aid programs and revenue estimates. In New Hampshire, the Governor presents his draft of a budget on February 15 followed by the House and then the Senate revising it. Going into the process, I had estimated a deficit of approximately $820 million based on current obligations and a tax baseline of the current year revenue estimates."
Union Packs State House for Retirement Reform Hearing
The week ended with a packed House hearing a Senate proposal to reform the New Hampshire Retirement System. Josh Elliott-Traficante files this on the scene report at New Hampshire Watchdog.
"More than 450 people, most of them unionized state employees, packed Representatives Hall in Concord today for the first public hearing on a sweeping reform of the New Hampshire Retirement System. The Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee heard public testimony on SB 3, a package of reforms designed to shore up the underfunded system, sponsored by Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro).
Bradley addressed his opening remarks on the bill to state employees. “This is about the numbers. Not your service.” He said the two main goals of his bill were to ensure the stability and viability of the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS), and to equitably spread the unfunded liability facing it. Bradley blamed the shortfall on decisions by the NHRS itself, such as skimming excess investment income in good years to set up a Special Account to pay for additional retiree benefits. But said the current contribution rates for municipal employers, 14% for teachers, 30% for police, and 35% for fire, are simply unsustainable.
SB 3 would raise the minimum retirement age for police and fire from 45 to 50, which Bradley says would put New Hampshire on par with neighboring states. It would also prevent employees from applying unused vacation time and voluntary overtime towards their pension benefits, and expand the basis for pension amounts to the last five years of an employee’s career, rather than just the final three."
Read the full story.
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