The new Lynch Budget

Concord Monitor ran a story today discussing the new Lynch budget for NH.  I'd like to share some highlights from the story found in full HERE along with my comments.

Gov. John Lynch unveiled his stark budget plan on Thursday, proposing the state close a prison, courts and liquor stores and lay off about 300 workers to shepherd New Hampshire through the deepening recession.

Shocking but as they say the devil is in the details.

Lynch estimates New Hampshire needs to close a $550 million spending-revenue gap in the budget for the two years starting July 1. That's in addition to measures in his plan to close this year's books in the black by using surplus funds, federal stimulus money and the state's savings account.

His budget counts on $230 million in stimulus funds to pay for Medicaid over three years. He would use another $160 million in stimulus funds to make up for the state suspending and reducing aid to communities $187 million. Lynch notes that communities also will get $123 million in additional school aid over the life of the budget.

Here's were we start to see the real details.  He's not cutting as much as hoping for more handouts from Obama... ie money taken from your left pocket in federal taxes so he doesn't have to be the bad guy taking them from the right pocket.

Also he's cutting back money local towns currently get to the tune of $187 million then giving them $123 back in "additional school aid".  This comes down to the state giving towns $64 million less in funding.  That's money you will now have coming out of your front pocket in local taxes.

He is projecting no growth in state revenues and instead is using cuts and some tax hikes to cover spending.

Property values are shrinking, people are spending less and traveling less.  Projecting no growth is an understatement.  And if Gov Patrick to our south has his way and implements new tolls on our border and finds a way to tax our businesses out of profits then you can bet your hat that we'll see a drop in state revenue.

"We are disappointed that the governor continues to oppose serious consideration of changing the state's revenue options, including a broad-based sales or income tax," said spokesman Mike Barwell.

I highlight that word for a reason.  If you take the time to look at the income tax bills and other new tax bills submitted in Concord this year they aren't seeking to change the state's revenue, they are seeking to hit up the people of this state with additional taxes.

Lynch wants to cap frequent New Hampshire E-ZPass commuters' monthly fees at $30.

Read this as a tax increase.  Raising tolls would be controversial so he's trying to hide the fact that they are increasing taxes here by playing around saying they'll cap fees, when what they are doing is eliminating any EZ pass discounts.  Only those who are hit by tolls nearly every day such as many Merrimack residents would ever see a total of $30 fees for a given month.

He would also institute a $10 road improvement surcharge on vehicle registrations to shore up the highway fund.

Tax increase!

He proposes leasing land near state liquor stores, including welcome centers in Hooksett and Hampton, to fast food or other companies to improve services.

This is interesting but I'd be interested in the details.  For instance who would build the facilities to house these fast food and other companies?

"If we are honest, these welcome centers are not very welcoming. They are old, run down and lack many of the basic amenities that people expect," he said.

Sales pitch for the state to build new facilities!

He would raise the cigarette tax 35 cents per pack to $1.68. The tax that was just increased by 25 cents in October. He wants a new 10 percent tax on charitable gaming winnings above $600. The tax on renting rooms and dining out would rise .75 percentage points to 8.75 percent.

The cigarette tax is nothing more then a tax on the poor since lower income people smoke at higher rates then anyone else.

The tax on rooms and dining is going to deter people with already tight budgets from coming here.  This will do nothing more then lower our state's revenue, not increase it.

In a move sure to raise Republicans' ire, Lynch proposes bonding school construction aid. Republicans objected that the aid should be in the operating budget and not borrowed when Lynch pushed through bonding aid last year.

Pushing off debt onto our children.

Other then trimming 300 positions of the state's 11,500 employees and closing down under performing liquor stores (which shouldn't be a state business in the first place) I'm just not seeing much being done to curb the out of control spending.  When I dive into real numbers I wouldn't be shocked to see that once again we're being hit with spending increases and what the public sees as budget "cuts" turns to be nothing more then a shell game with local aid being cut (which will have to be made up on the local level) and more reliance being put on the federal government.