KEY TAKEAWAY: "Gov. Maggie Hassan made her priorities clear on Thursday: more spending, higher taxes, more state employees, and no real innovation. What a disappointment."
Hassan's budget: Short on priorities
New Hampshire Union Leader
February 12, 2015
Budgets are all about priorities, and Gov. Maggie Hassan made her priorities clear on Thursday: more spending, higher taxes, more state employees, and no real innovation. What a disappointment.
The budget contains sizeable increases in business and tobacco taxes. It relies on revenue from expanded gambling (keno, this time, rather than a casino). And it funds a hodgepodge of spending increases, as though the governor had a hard time deciding where to spend the state’s limited resources and just threw portions here and there so that no constituency would feel left out.
University System of New Hampshire (USNH) funding goes from $84 million this year to $87 million next year, then $94 million in 2017. But is that really the best use of that money?
While the governor gives USNH millions more (though far less than what the system requested), her budget cuts millions from the Division of Behavioral Health, the Division of Developmental Services, the Division of Family Assistance, and the juvenile justice and child support services in the Department of Health and Human Services.
The HHS budget grows a lot under Hassan’s proposal, but much of that is in Medicaid.
The governor dedicates $4 million to laying the groundwork for commuter rail (more about that in the editorial below). Would that money not be better spent on reducing wait times in the state court system, which gets only $2.4 million more in her budget, or shoring up the social services programs she cut?
The best that one can say for this budget proposal is that at least she had the guts to admit she needed tax increases to balance it. It surely will go nowhere in the Legislature.