A House committee dealt an early blow to Gov. Chris Sununu’s budget plan this week by projecting the state will have less money to spend over the next two years than expected.
The House Ways and Means Committee came out with revenue estimates Wednesday showing the state will bring in nearly $60 million less than what Sununu projected.
The discrepancy means House budget writers will likely have to make cuts to Sununu’s proposed spending on education, infrastructure or health care.
“There are a lot of things in the governor’s budget that people were excited about, and they are not likely to be in the House budget,” said House Finance Chairman Neal Kurk, a Weare Republican.
Revenue estimates change throughout the year, especially after March and April, the two big months for business taxes. By then, Senate budget writers will have a clearer picture of what the state can spend over the next biennium, which begins July 1, 2017.
House budget writers are just beginning to revise the spending plan now. The House Finance Committee will hold three public hearings on the budget over the next two weeks. The first are Monday at the Derry Town Hall and Plymouth State University. A third hearing will be held at the State House on March 13 at 3 p.m.
Sununu’s $12.1 billion budget proposal aims to fund full-day kindergarten in some low-income school districts, boost funding for services for people with developmental disabilities and inject more dollars into infrastructure projects. The plan would combine the Department of Cultural Resources, the Division of Parks and Recreation and the Division of Forests and Lands into a new Department for Natural and Cultural Resources. Sununu also seeks to launch a $5 million scholarship program out of his office for students going to college or technical school.
Some of the proposals are poised to face pushback, including his idea to fund full-day kindergarten with grants. In the past, Democrats have pushed for the state to fund full-day programs statewide, while some Republicans have questioned the merits of extending kindergarten beyond the current required half day.
The difference in revenue projections is because Sununu and the House Ways and Means Committee expect the current year to end differently. While both estimate state revenues will come in higher than planned, Sununu’s figure is larger than that imagined by the House committee.
(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)