We Stand Ready To...

The New Hampshire House of Representatives failed to pass a budget for the first time in decades, and relinquished the duty of establishing a budget to the Senate. The House will get another up or down vote on the budget later but right now Republican House Majority Leader Dick Hinch of Merrimack is trying to deflect blame from his party by trying to assign some responsibility to the Democrats for this loss even though Republicans control all three branches of government in New Hampshire.

There were many items in the Republican budget that Democrats found attractive and we were willing to work with the leadership to develop a budget that would pass the entire House.

The budget that failed included Constitutional Carry, more oversight of the University System of New Hampshire—even though it’s governed by an extraordinarily qualified board of community leaders, educators and business people—and permitting school boards to ship children to nonsectarian private schools if there is a public school around to serve a child’s needs. One doubts that Representative Hinch will find many Democrats with these priorities, especially when the Republicans insist on including reforming election laws to “prevent drive-by voting” and no funding for full day Kindergarten.

The Ways and Means Committee heard many bills this term that offered more tax credit for business on the claim that this will encourage business to either expand or move here to NH. These pitches always sound good but the real reason business is having a tough time expanding here is because our current work force isn’t big enough to fill the jobs that require technically savvy people. We have talented workers of all ages here and our colleges are doing a great job of education and training. We just don’t have enough. It’s not about more tax breaks.

Democrats didn’t support the budget even though it included some Democratic priorities, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the clear priorities of the Republican Party that insists on more oversight of our public educational system and restricting voting, among other things.

Representative Hinch said in a recent opinion piece published in the Manchester Union Leader that the “House Republican Majority in Concord is committed to building a coalition that will ensure that our Republican principles are represented in the legislation that we pass and the people of New Hampshire have confidence in the Legislature and their state government."

We now have to wait and see what the Senate will craft but here’s hoping that the Senate got the strong message from House Democrats that there are some items on which compromise will be tough.


NH House Rejects ...

Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 177-169 to defeat HB 2, the state budget proposal recommended by the House Finance Committee.

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following statement after the vote:

“Democrats opposed this budget because it fails to support the priorities so important to the people of New Hampshire. At a time when Granite Staters see the opioid crisis as the most important problem facing our state, this budget proposal fails to adequately fund the services that are so desperately needed to stem the tide of addiction.

Despite clear direction on the funding needed for developmental disability services, this budget could leave us with the biggest waitlist for essential services in a decade.”

“In the face of strong bipartisan support, including from our state’s Republican governor, House budget writers elected to remove funding for full-day kindergarten from the budget. This action not only hinders our goal to build the workforce that will drive our economy into the future, it also tells young working families that their priorities are not in line with ours.”

“This budget requires retired state employees to, yet again, pay increased portions of health care costs that were promised to them. These retirees, many of whom live on fixed incomes, cannot afford yet another increase in health insurance costs.”

“We reached out to Speaker Jasper on multiple occasions to see if we could find common ground. Democrats on the Finance committee offered a number of amendments that would have improved the budget proposal, including the governor’s plan for full-day kindergarten.

This is just one of the first steps in the budget process, and Democrats remain ready to work across the aisle on a budget that works for the people of our state.”