NHDP - Senator Sylvia Larsen, Speaker Terie Norelli's Remarks on the Republican Budget Proposal

Concord - Below are remarks as prepared for delivery by Senator Sylvia Larsen and House Speaker Terie Norelli responding to the Republican budget proposal as a press conference this morning.


My name is Sylvia Larsen, and I am the State Senate’s Democratic Leader.

Thank you all or joining us here today to discuss the Republican’s proposed budget.

Budgets are about priorities.  What services will we invest in and which ones will be cut.  Both the Governor and House proposed budgets invested in the priorities they told the people of New Hampshire they would invest in.

And they did it using the revenue sources they said they would use.

What we found out last week was that the Republicans’ budget does not share those priorities.

While paying lip service to fully funding CHINS – Children In Need of
Services and programs for the developmentally disabled, Republicans have left our Health and Human Services Department with a 40 Million dollar hole.

It is as if they promised to do a job, but stopped 40 million dollars short of completion.

The result is undeniable.  Lacking the resources, HHS will be forced to make painful cuts to critical programs important to families across the state.

The irresponsible decisions didn’t end there.

Republicans also included a back of the budget cut that will force a massive number of layoffs - the State Employees Association estimates 700 jobs will be lost. Those are 700 of your friends and neighbors, who will be out of a job if this budget were to take effect. They didn’t specify who should be laid off, or even what department. Instead they are demanding the Governor make that difficult decision.

They are passing the buck, ducking, dodging, darting and diving away from the hard choices.

This reckless move will cost hundreds of New Hampshire workers, taxpayers, mothers, and fathers their jobs.  It is a reversal of the promise to improve the economy and make jobs a priority.

These hardworking men and women will go home to the families their salary used to support, not knowing where their next paycheck will come from, how they will feed or clothe their family or help their child afford an education.

The loss of their job won’t be because of poor performance. And it won’t be because of changes in the needs of the state.  It will be solely the result of Republican legislators.

This is particularly distressing to me because many of them will be my constituents, residents of Concord, along with Henniker, Hopkinton and Warner.

And before Republicans cry out that there was no alternative, there was.  As I mentioned before budget are about priorities.  We could have found the resources to avoid these painful mass firings.  The Governor’s proposed increase in the cigarette tax would have covered it.

Two years ago, Terie and I stood together in opposition to a Republican super majority budget that we couldn’t stop from devastating our state.  It made cigarettes cheaper and college more expensive.  While our students’ tuition went through the roof, the big out of state tobacco companies raised cigarette prices pocketing the tax cut for themselves.  New Hampshire lost out twice.

We cannot afford to make those same mistakes again.

I sincerely hope that my Senate colleagues on the other side of the aisle will reverse course before Thursday, or short of that be willing to come to the table at a committee of conference and compromise.

Now let me turn this over to my good friend Terie Norelli.


Thank you Sylvia.  My name is Terie Norelli and I am the Speaker of the New Hampshire House.
The Senate Republicans finally released their budget several days ago. Unfortunately, due to the lack of much public discussion, it took several days to fully comprehend what impacts it would have for our state, for our families, and for our small businesses.

The House Finance Committee toured the state listening to the people of New Hampshire.  Hearing their priorities.  And putting together a responsible budget that invested in our state and our citizens as best we could.
Sadly, Republicans in the Senate did not do that.
Instead, it appears that what is best for the people, the families and the small businesses of New Hampshire is not as important, to the Senate as ideology.
The Republican budget does not move forward with the expansion of Medicaid, despite an independent study that concluded New Hampshire would benefit greatly from the infusion of $2.5 billion into our economy, create 700 jobs, and save the state $92 million.
The federal government will provide 100 percent of the funding for the first three years and no less than 90 percent thereafter.  Despite cries to the contrary, the federal government has historically fulfilled its commitments to the Medicaid program, even increasing funding during tough economic times.
Expansion is good fiscal policy.  And it is good health policy.
Other states that have expanded Medicaid have found that those who were able to enroll had significantly better mental health, with a 30% reduction in depression.  And they found that Medicaid virtually wiped out crippling medical expenses among the working poor.  The percentage of people who faced catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenditures was cut by 80%.
These are real savings both in dollars and in lives that New Hampshire could realize with expansion.  Healthier, more financially secure families and economic growth for the state – that’s why very conservative Republican governors like Chris Christie, John Kasich, Rick Scott and others are moving forward with expansion.
Unfortunately, Medicaid expansion isn’t the only place New Hampshire families and small businesses took a back seat to ideology.
While Senator Larsen has already mentioned the potential mass layoffs, another damaging cut to the economy is the elimination of funding for the successful Green Launching Pad.  This is a public private partnership that enables local start-ups to bring green solutions to market, strengthening the economy and boosting job creation. Also eliminated was the Governor’s office of Innovation.
These are the kinds of commonsense priorities that support the Granite State economy that we should be looking to expand, not eliminate.
Like my good friend in the Senate, I too hope that Republicans come to the committee of conference ready to compromise, because their budget needs to be improved in order to build a more innovative economic future and protect the health and well-being of Granite Staters.
Thank you and we would be happy to take any questions you have.