Concord, N.H. – Despite New Hampshire Senate Republicans’ rhetoric, the truth is their budget continues to cut critical priorities and would undermine the state’s ability to lay the foundation of a new generation of economic growth.
Ignoring calls from the business community, Senate Republicans voted against continuing the state’s successful bipartisan Medicaid expansion program and against moving forward with commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester.
The Senate Republican budget also includes cuts to community-based mental health services and substance misuse treatment.
And even with these cuts, it's not clear how Senate Republicans will balance their plan without fiscally irresponsible budget gimmicks.
See coverage roundup below:
AP: N.H. Senate committee rejects $4 million for commuter rail study
A push to extend commuter rail from Boston into New Hampshire hit a snag Thursday when a state Senate committee rejected plans to spend $4 million to study the expansion.
The vote fell along party lines, with Republicans on the Senate Capital Budget Committee rejecting the proposal and Democrats championing it.
… The $4 million was initially included in Gov. Maggie Hassan's capital budget for an environmental and engineering assessment of the project.
… Hassan said expanding rail would attract more workers and families and better connect New Hampshire to the rest of the region. Democratic Sens. Molly Kelly of Keene and Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester agreed.
"We are talking about investing so that we can bring in greater economic development and stability," Kelly said.
She referenced earlier testimony in support of rail from an executive at Dyn, a Manchester-based technology company. Bringing rail into New Hampshire could better help companies like Dyn attract young workers from Boston, she said.
"We're trying to balance what we need today and what we need tomorrow," Kelly said. "What I heard from the gentleman from Dyn is that we would need (rail) today." [Full story]
Union Leader: “D’Allesandro argued the program is working as planned”
D’Allesandro attempted to continue Medicaid expansion beyond December 2016, restore funding for the state’s drug czar, extend the Certificate of Need health facility board two years, and give home- and community-based health service providers a rate increase, but was thwarted 4-2 by the Republican majority.
… D’Allesandro argued the program is working as planned, with fewer uninsured people using hospital services and emergency rooms, while reducing uncompensated care for hospitals.
“We put this program in place and it is working,” he said. “We ought to keep it in place.”
… Senate budget writers also restored funding to the mental health system the House had reduced, but told health and human service officials to take the money from new services the state will have to provide to meet a legal settlement on the state’s mental health system. [Full story]
Daily News of Newburyport: NH Senate Democrats oppose funding cuts
With the town and region suffering a plague of drug use and related deaths, New Hampshire Senate Democrats this week took their Republican colleagues to task for cutting the proposed funding for the state Office of Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Health.
According to a press release from two senators on the Senate Finance Committee, if the cuts are not restored, it will harm the state from both a public safety and economic standpoint.
“This office funds a key position that ensures that we are strengthening our treatment and prevention efforts (in) a common-sense way to ensure that the state is responding effectively to the substance misuse epidemic,” said District 7 Sen. Andrew Hosmer, from the Lakes Region.
“All session long, we have seen the outcry from our communities for help dealing with this epidemic,” said Manchester Democrat Lou D’Allesandro, “and funding in this area should be a priority for all senators, not one that is open to cuts that go beyond the House (of Representatives’) draconian budget.” [Full story]