o Lamontagne, Smith Endorse O'Brien's Plan for $400 Million in Additional Cuts
CONCORD - Speaker Bill O'Brien and Republican leaders should tell the people of New Hampshire exactly where they plan to cut another $400 million from the state's budget - and Republican gubernatorial candidates should make clear whether they endorse the plan, Democratic legislative leaders said today.
"Legislative Republicans already cut funding for higher education in half; cut services for seniors and people with disabilities; and cut funding for hospitals in order to pay for their tax giveaways to big tobacco and tax evaders," said Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, a member of the House finance Committee. "The people of New Hampshire deserve to know what Republican leaders plan to cut in order to pay for their next round of tax giveaways."
O'Brien told the Nashua Telegraph yesterday that if re-elected Speaker, he will cut another $400 million from the state budget in order to fund tax cuts. O'Brien was not specific about where the funds would come from. But in order to pay for tax cuts, the reductions would have to come from the general or education fund budgets. In Fiscal Year 2013, the state is expected to spend $1.84 billion in non-statewide property tax funds on the general and education budgets.
"Ovide Lamontagne has praised the leadership of Bill O'Brien and pledged to work with him as Governor," said Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen. "So Ovide Lamontagne - and Kevin Smith - should tell us now if they support Bill O'Brien's radical new plan, and if so, they should tell New Hampshire what they would cut."
At the Coalition of Taxpayers picnic in July, Lamontagne said: "We need a governor who can work with Bill O'Brien..."
O'Brien is proposing cutting $200 million a year from the state budget, but he has yet to say where. Wiping out the entire Corrections budget, one of the state's biggest general fund expenses at about $100 million per year, would only get him halfway to his goal. In 2013, the remaining funding higher education is $54 million for the University System of New Hampshire $29.2 million for the Community College System, or only about 40 percent of the way to Bill O'Brien's goal. Eliminating meals and room distributions to communities and building aid ($102 million) would still only get O'Brien halfway to his goal.
New Hampshire current business tax rates were set by a Republican legislature more than a decade ago.
"Will they eliminate all funding for higher education, pushing through another double-digit tuition increase? Will they cut additional aid to cities and towns, raising local property taxes? Will they cut health care for seniors, people with disabilities and children? The people of New Hampshire deserve to know," said Senator Lou D'Allesandro, who serves on the Senate Finance and Ways and Means committees.