Budget is a twisted tale

The House Republican budget is a twisted tale of broken promises. It breaks its word to voters, to taxpayers, to employers and employees, to the elderly, to people with mental illness or disabilities, and to our state’s future. It is a budget with shocking and Dickensian assaults on our economy and our citizens.

The Republican majority made a public promise at the beginning of the session that their budget would not raid dedicated funds, downshift costs to local taxpayers, or use other budget gimmicks. Their budget breaks all three promises.

In a dazzling money grab, this budget raids $51 million dollars from the Renewable Energy Fund. This money, collected from ratepayers, is dedicated to helping municipalities, businesses and individuals lower their energy costs.

As the majority’s budget passes down costs in the millions to counties for long-term care, it breaks its promise not to downshift to local taxpayers. Adding to the $12 million in downshifts to county property taxpayers are the yet-undetermined costs to municipal taxpayers that will result from deep cuts in safety net programs. Property taxpayers will be left holding the bag for these broken promises.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the O’Brien-Jasper budget’s broken promises is their decision to empty the state’s Rainy Day Fund. According to the state treasurer, such a move could jeopardize New Hampshire’s credit rating, which has recently improved. In a growing economy, wiping out our emergency savings account is completely irresponsible.

We have a long-standing social commitment to our elders who helped ensure the previous generation could live their lives with security and dignity, with the trust that we would do the same. Yet this budget reduces the level of important services for frail seniors, putting their safety at risk.

We have a social commitment, also, to individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness. This budget reduces funding below current levels and cuts back on mental health treatment and services. As a result, vulnerable populations will find themselves pitted against each other as they struggle to gain access to critical services without adequate funding.

Our business community has been clear that they need a healthy workforce and they are sick of the impact on their insurance premiums that comes from uncompensated care costs. The failure to extend the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan breaks our promise to help reduce uncompensated care. It also leaves almost 40,000 Granite Staters out in the cold when their insurance is cancelled next year.

This budget won’t promote economic development or attract youth to the state – two promises that we cannot break if we are to commit ourselves to a prosperous New Hampshire. The budget passed by the House is a budget so filled with broken promises as to shatter our prospects for a better tomorrow. We must hope that the Senate takes a different approach, and works across party lines to pass the kind of responsible budget that our future is counting on.

Rep. Cindy Rosenwald of Nashua is the N.H. House Deputy Democratic Leader and serves on the House Finance Committee.