Agencies jockey for funding in next N.H. capital budget
Elderly veterans with dementia seeking care at the New Hampshire Veterans Home and community college students hoping new programs will help them get jobs are among those hoping to benefit from scarce dollars for projects in the next capital budget.
The Veterans Home and Community College System of New Hampshire presented their proposals yesterday at a hearing on state agencies’ requests for the capital budget that the governor and Legislature will consider next year.
Agencies submitted 150 requests totaling $227 million funded with general tax dollars. Gov. Maggie Hassan said Monday that the requests will be reduced during the vetting process. The capital budget approved last year was for $125 million in borrowing backed by general tax funding.
Veterans Home Commandant Margaret LaBrecque testified yesterday that all of the home’s 202 beds are full, including 100 beds dedicated to dementia residents at risk of wandering, and there is a waiting list.
“We have to lose someone to bring someone in,” she said.
She said the state must first approve its $2.5 million share of funding for the federal government to even consider funding what would be its $4.5 million share of the proposed 50-bed addition to the dementia unit. That process can take a year or longer, she said.
Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon asked for more information on the rate of growth of the dementia population to determine whether a larger addition might be more cost-effective in the long term.
Not long after LaBrecque testified, Community College Chancellor Ross Gittell outlined $28.4 million in proposals to expand programs that train students in fields desired by New Hampshire businesses. Gittell said the system’s programs prepare students for jobs that pay well and help New Hampshire’s economy.
For example, Gittell said, a $7 million request for Manchester Community College is for a program to train workers on heating, venting and air conditioning systems. He said graduates get good jobs because many workers in the field are retiring.
The total spending requests for the new budget rise to $376 million when taking into account borrowing that is paid for with federal and other funds.