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Sununu, GOP slam Democrats’ new budget

By Casey Junkins - City Editor | Jun 21, 2019

NASHUA – What New Hampshire Speaker of the House Steve Shurtleff, D-Concord, calls “smart business tax reform,” House Minority Leader Richard Hinch, R-Merrimack, said is simply “raising taxes.”

Thursday, a conference committee featuring members of both the Democratic-controlled state House and Senate approved a new $13 billion budget plan for the fiscal 2020-21 biennium. The full Legislature is expected to vote on this budget next week.

As negotiators from the House and Senate were about to begin working on a compromised budget last week, Gov. Chris Sununu seemed optimistic that he might be willing to sign a spending bill passed by Democrats.

The Republican governor on Thursday expressed disappointment, though he stopped short of promising a veto.

“Today in New Hampshire there is a $260 million surplus and the Democrats have put forward a budget that contains a nearly $100 million deficit. Critical funding for health care, the opioid crisis, and education are being held hostage by the Democrats in an obsessive and misguided effort to raise taxes,” Sununu said Thursday in reacting to the Democrats’ budget.

“This is irresponsible, and the people of New Hampshire will never support that approach,” he added.

Dems’ Take

“Instead of prioritizing handouts for a small group of big, out-of-state businesses, our budget ensures all businesses pay their fair share, so we can address the critical needs of the people of New Hampshire,” House Finance Chair Mary Jane Wallner, D-Concord, said. “This budget fully funds the Department of Children, Youth and Families, fully funds the 10-year mental health plan, fully funds the Developmental Disability wait list, provides $40 million in municipal aid, and delivers $138 million in increased education funding over current law.”

State Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, said the plan developed by the House and Senate enables us to continue moving New Hampshire forward.”

“New Hampshire can be proud of the balanced budget crafted by the House and Senate which addresses the states most pressing issues,” Soucy said. “This budget invests in mental health funding, addresses the opioid epidemic, and protects the safety and well-being of children while delivering much-needed and meaningful municipal aid through increased education funding and revenue redistribution-without implementing any new taxes.”

“In a negotiation, no one party gets everything they want,” Senate Finance Chair Lou D’Allesandro D-Manchester, acknowledged. “In a spirit of bipartisanship, we provided critical public education funding, removed the capital gains tax, stripped the implementation of paid family and medical leave insurance, fully fund the 10-year mental health plan, and construct a new Secure Psychiatric Unit.”

“By stabilizing business taxes and implementing smart business tax reform, the House and Senate have built a budget that dedicates the greatest new state investment in local public schools in almost two decades and delivers critical unrestricted municipal aid,” Shurtleff added.”

GOP’s View

Hinch and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Morse, R-Salem, see virtually nothing but tax and spending increases in the budget plan.

“If you like the idea of an income tax, you’ll love this budget,” Hinch said. “This budget contains truly unsustainable spending levels and creates a budget deficit situation that sets us up for a future income tax. Democrats have already shown this year that they are willing and able to pass an income tax or capital gains tax. Even if those aren’t in this document, they’ve laid the groundwork for it through this fiscal irresponsibility.”

“The budget being proposed increases business taxes, threatening an economy with the second lowest unemployment rate in the nation and the highest per capita income. The spending decisions in other parts of the budget make the increase in education funding unsustainable and will only lead to an income tax or capital gains tax,” Morse added. “I will proudly support Gov. Sununu when he vetoes this budget, which squanders the revenue surplus from the Republican budget, raises taxes and contains a $93 million structural deficit.”

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