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Negotiations continue at N.H. Statehouse

CONCORD (AP) – Budget negotiators at the New Hampshire Statehouse aren’t budging yet on some big issues, but they’re plowing through others as their deadline nears.

A committee that includes House and Senate members has until Thursday to sign off on a compromise budget to send to the full Legislature for a vote next week.

On their second day of work Tuesday, members agreed on several provisions related to mental health, including funding for a new secure psychiatric unit, programs promoting a comprehensive system of care for children’s behavioral health, and boosting Medicaid reimbursement rates for addiction treatment and mental health care providers. But other issues remain unresolved, including education funding, a capital gains tax extension the House wants and a revenue sharing provision pushed by the Senate.

While both sides want to significantly increase education funding, in part by restoring so-called “stabilization grants,” the House-passed budget would spend about $60 million more, paid for by extending the tax on capital gains. The Senate version would eliminate that tax and send more unrestricted money back to towns and cities in the form of revenue sharing – $40 million compared to the House’s $12.5 million.

Rep. Richard Ames, D-Jaffrey, said 80% of the revenue generated by the tax would come from those earning more than $200,000 per year. But Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, said it was unnecessary.

“I think capital gains is not a viable solution at this point in time, and the Senate rejects it,” he said.