We have focused on ways to reduce the cost of doing business in NH by removing regulatory burdens.
The state budget is arguably the single most important piece of legislation that directly impacts all New Hampshire residents. Just five years ago, under control of the Democrats, the state faced an $800 million deficit while amassing 99 tax and fee increases in just a few years.
Fast-forward to today, and the state closed fiscal year 2016 with more than $100 million in surplus revenue, topping the nation in revenue growth in the second quarter of 2016. The State’s Rainy Day Fund also grew by $130 million, due to strong Republican leadership.
A steadfast commitment to strengthening our state’s economy to support growing families, smart budgeting and responsible fiscal management is how the Republican Legislature has turned around our state’s finances since 2011.
Serving alongside my Republican colleagues, I am restoring a competitive small-businesses environment and have fought to remove undue burdens that hinder growth and job creation to benefit Granite Staters.
It is our duty to be good stewards of taxpayer money through responsible budgeting, and that remains one of my top objectives in the Senate. I do not support raising taxes or fees, and I would strongly object to raising the gas tax.
My focus as a legislator continues to be protecting taxpayers, who already contribute so much of their hard-earned money to the state’s coffers, and to limit spending within our state’s means, just like families have to do.
Republican legislators worked hard to reduce business taxes for the first time in more than 20 years, which the Democrats opposed and Governor Hassan vetoed last year. Following a budget veto override, the business tax reductions became effective in January 2016.
Since then, we have seen 8,500 new jobs in New Hampshire in the first six months of the year, doubling the number of jobs created in all of 2015 and 2016 combined.
We also focused on ways to reduce the cost of doing business in New Hampshire by reforming workers’ compensation, looking at ways to reduce the high cost of energy and removing the regulatory burdens that hurt New Hampshire’s small businesses.
This is a great example of how support for businesses has restored confidence in employers, allowing them to grow jobs for working New Hampshire families, to expand and to strengthen our economy for the future.
While increased revenue is great news for taxpayers and budget writers in the next session, my colleagues and I urge caution, because there are a number of issues on the horizon that will need to be addressed. We have a responsibility to taxpayers to only spend within our means.
We have also recently seen the Hassan administration’s Agency Budget Requests for the FY 18-19 budget, which adds $1.4 billion in new spending. This reckless 12.5 percent spending increase would require increases in fees and new taxes on our residents, which is why electing fiscal conservatives matters.
This comes at a time when Governor Hassan has so poorly managed the state’s spending, leaving millions of dollars budgeted to support our most vulnerable residents unspent.
The most egregious is how the Department of Health and Human Services budget to eliminate the Developmental Disabilities wait list was under spent by $3.7 million. And as of Aug. 31, the number of individuals on the wait list who have yet to receive critical services rose to 182.
We are seeing similar issues with the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery, which has yet to provide communities with $2 million in critical funds to combat the heroin crisis.
And New Hampshire Hospital underspent its budget by $4.1 million, leaving mental health patients in emergency rooms across the state without the right kind of care. Governor Hassan has failed to lead on these issues, despite the responsible funding levels provided in the legislative budget.
It is up to the Legislature to refocus our efforts and make sure our neediest residents are taken care of in the next budget, ensuring that there are adequate resources to stem the heroin and opioid crisis, meet our most vulnerable residents’ needs are met and provide our children with the quality education they deserve.
I will work to make sure that our state agencies are using their resources wisely and that we continue to build the Rainy Day Fund for the future. We’ve already seen the effect supporting small businesses has on creating jobs and strengthening the economy, and I will continue to work to support these efforts on behalf of New Hampshire families.
Sen. Kevin Avard, R-Nashua, represents the communities of Brookline, Greenville, Hollis, Mason, New Ipswich and Rindge, and Wards 1, 2 and 5 in Nashua.