Budget chaos at Statehouse as House GOP spending plan fails in crucial vote
CONCORD – Thursday could witness another wild session of the state House of Representatives, as lawmakers face a deadline to pass a 2018-2019 state budget.
The House adjourned on Wednesday afternoon as leaders of the GOP majority scrambled to come up with a budget that could fly with their party’s most conservative members.
The move soon came after the House rejected the budget proposed by the GOP dominated Finance Committee. More than 60 GOP representatives joined with the chamber’s Democrats to oppose the spending plan backed by the GOP leadership.
The two parties will caucus at 9am Thursday, one hour before the House reconvenes. The House needs to pass a budget by the end of Thursday. If the House doesn't pass a spending plan, it will forfeit its chance to have any bargaining power when it and the state Senate hold a committee of conference later this spring to hammer out a final budget.
Gov. Chris Sununu, the first Republican in the Corner Office in a dozen years, proposed $12.1 billion two-year budget in February, an increase over the current $11.3 billion budget. The Finance Committee chopped the budget down to $11.9 billion. Among the items dropped was Sununu’s plan to spend $18 million over the biennium to fund full-day kindergarten state-wide.
Before the House adjourned, both parties met in separate private caucuses. Sununu spoke to House Republicans during their meeting. Later the governor told reporters he was "fairly confident" the House will pass a budget.
After the House adjourned, Speaker Shawn Jasper and his GOP leadership team met with rank and file Republicans in search of a deal.
Members had until the end of business on Wednesday to introduce amendments that could be vote on in Thursday's session.
As of Wednesday evening six amendments had been filed. But none were filed by House GOP leaders. Majority Leader Dick Hinch told NH1 News the leadership "fully supports the work of the Finance Committee," which was rejected by lawmakers.
A new two-year budget needs to be signed into law by the end of June, so it can take effect on July 1.
AP's Kathleen Ronayne contributed to this story