$11.7 billion, 2-year budget passes NH Senate, House
CONCORD — The New Hampshire House of Representatives and Senate have approved an $11.7 billion, two-year state budget. The Republican-led Senate approved the plan 14-9 along party lines. The Republican-led House approved the measure 198-169.
In April, conservative House Republicans joined with Democrats to defeat an $11.9 billion plan, but most of them came around to supporting the compromise.
Democrats complain that it cuts taxes for businesses while leaving too many others in need. Rep. Dan Eaton, D-Stoddard, spoke out against the budget before the vote saying, "it's not what we stand for, not what we believe in, which is open honest accountable spending."
Republican Finance Committee Chair Neal Kurk, of Weare, disagreed saying, "this budget works for all of us. This budget takes the responsible middle court." Republicans also say the deal addresses critical problems such as mental health care and the opioid drug crisis.
Gov. Chris Sununu praised the passage of the budget in a statement released to the media.
“New Hampshire is on a pathway to prosperity, and Republicans are leading the way. Granite Staters sent us to Concord to take action and to address New Hampshire’s most critical public policy and program priorities," Sununu said. "I am proud to say that we have delivered results for the people of New Hampshire. This is a fiscally responsible budget that lives within our means, promotes job creation through tax cuts, reforms the Division of Children, Youth and Families, and funds our broken mental health system. Our budget is a bold step in the right direction — a step toward restoring the New Hampshire advantage, and reaffirming the commitment we made to the people to provide tax relief that boosts our economy and returns money to your pocket. From business tax cuts to eliminating the Electricity Consumption Tax, our budget empowers small business owners to reinvest, which will reinvigorate and grow our economy.”
Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn, D-Whitefield, also released a statement calling the budget a mistake.
“Today, Democrats stood united with working families and their priorities by voting against the Republican budget. Even though we approached our Republican colleagues many times in the spirit of compromise and offered countless amendments to make the budget reflective of the needs of real people in our communities, our efforts were rejected at every turn," Woodburn wrote. "The Republican budget agreement caves to the wealthy elite and short-changes those who are most in need.
"It’s a grave mistake to force the people of New Hampshire to line the pockets of corporations while the critical investments our state so desperately needs go unmet. In good conscience and good faith, Democrats are not able to sign off on a budget that diverts funds away from our state’s critical substance misuse and mental health crises for the sake of more reckless business tax cuts. This budget continues a troubling pattern of forcing the working people in our state to pick up the bill.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.