Responses to Governor Hassan's balanced budget proposal

Conservative baseline revenue projections:

“Republicans aired few complaints yesterday about Hassan’s baseline estimates for revenue from traditional state levies like the business profits tax, the business enterprise tax, the meals-and-rooms tax and the interest-and-dividends tax.

“Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican, said Hassan should be praised for ‘very conservative revenue estimates. That’s very good.’”

“In all, her budget estimates revenue from those taxes will increase 2 percent in 2014 from the current year, and rise 1.9 percent in 2015 from 2014.”


Pragmatic Investments in Priorities to Build Innovation Economy

James Pindell, WMUR Political Scoop:

“[T]he spending side is pragmatic.”

“At the same time, Hassan didn’t propose spending increases that were out of the ordinary.”

“The $2.7 billion budget is only a 7 percent increase on the austere Republican budget passed two years ago that Hassan heavily criticized on the campaign trail as being too austere.”

“She only restored funding to a few programs, partially restored funding for others and continued not to fund a number of programs.”

“‘I thought her suggestions were very innovative, and I’m looking forward to working with her,’ said Sen. Nancy Stiles, a Hampton Republican and chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education and Human Services Committee.”

“‘There’s some things that I think all of us can support: more funding for the (developmental disabilities) wait list, mental health programs, CHINS, the community health center. These are some priorities that Republicans have had for a long time,’ said Sen. Jeb Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican.”

Rep. David Kidder, a New London Republican, was pleased with the boost for community colleges.

“‘From my perspective, as a state, we get a huge bang for the buck from community colleges,’ he said. ‘That is where we need to be spending the money. Those kids who come out of there get jobs and stay in New Hampshire.’”

“[Republican Senator Rausch] said he is pleased the governor has money in her capital budget for career and technical training centers to help educate people for the workforce.

“‘That is a great vehicle,’” Rausch said. Hassan also promised to modernize state government, streamlining agencies and cutting red tape. An advisory commission would help guide those efforts.”

One high-end, highly regulated casino:

“State Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, said that remains to be seen, but she favors gambling over taxation as a revenue source because it is a voluntary activity and could help fill the gaps when it comes to funding needed programming in the state. She noted that her constituents in Seabrook, where there is already a greyhound park and poker room, are eager to expand their gaming offerings.

"‘I thought she gave a very nice presentation today. I was very pleased to see (Hassan) putting some thought and energy behind a number of different issues,’ she said.”

“‘There are so many important things in the budget that we want to see,’ said House Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff, a Penacook Democrat. He cited money for education, the disabled, a women’s prison, the elderly and the less fortunate, all of which are included in Hassan’s budget.

“Shurtleff said he continues to share law enforcement’s concerns about crime associated with a casino but hopes those misgivings can be addressed with legislation. ‘I think at the end of the day, Democrats will get behind the governor and support her,’ Shurtleff said.”

“She called Senate Bill 152, the bipartisan Senate gaming bill from Sens. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, and Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, ‘a good starting point.’

“The bill meets several of Hassan’s conditions, aired on the campaign trail, for a casino: a bid process, local approval through a binding referendum, oversight through state agencies. The proposal calls for the Lottery Commission and state police to regulate a casino.

“The bill, which provides for up to 5,000 slot machines and 150 table games, is headed to a Senate hearing Tuesday at the Statehouse.

“‘She’s done the right thing,’ Morse said.”

Sen. Jim Rausch, R-Derry, a co-sponsor with Morse and D’Allesandro, thought Hassan’s backing would get expanded gaming through the Legislature.

“‘I’m very encouraged expanded gambling will pass this session,’ Rausch said.

“‘We have the votes to pass this in the Senate. I look forward to attending the ceremony where Gov. Hassan signs SB 152 into law.’

“Rausch, who last year successfully sponsored a financing mechanism to finish the I-93 widening, said gaming revenues would accomplish that goal and fund work on the highway in 2016 and beyond.

“‘The timing is perfect,’ he said.”

Cigarette tax:

“State Rep. Aboul Khan, R-Seabrook, the owner of Richdale Convenience Store, said he thinks increasing the cigarette tax is a good way to increase revenue in the state.

“‘It will not harm at all any sale of cigarettes in New Hampshire,’ Khan said, noting that the state already has ‘a lot lower prices’ compared to neighboring states.

“He noted that when a previous Legislature reduced the tax by $1 per carton, cigarette companies raised prices by the same amount the next day.

"‘So it didn't gain anything,’ he said. ‘This is a very small amount.’"

Medicaid expansion:

“Others praised Hassan for expanding the Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act that is projected to bring the state's hospitals and health care providers more than $2.5 billion in federal money over the next seven years.

"‘Gov. Hassan recognizes that Medicaid expansion would be a great benefit to New Hampshire's economy as well as to working families, communities, health care providers, and businesses across our state,’ said Tom Bunnell, policy consultant for VOICES for Health.”


Mental health funding:

“[F]unding for increased mental health care seemed to earn bipartisan support.”

“‘This is a big step forward,’ said Roland Lamy, executive director of the New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association. ‘The fact that the governor seems to support the priorities of the 10-year plan is critically important . . . (But) we’ve been very vocal over the fact that we’re in an immediate crisis. This is a great step, and a strong recognition that there is a problem for the people of New Hampshire.’”