M/sunny
58°
M/sunny
Hi 59° | Lo 26°

Gov.-elect Hassan: I’ll give state agencies ‘conservative’ budget targets

  • Governor-elect Maggie Hassan listens during the first of three days of discussions on the state's 2013 budget in the Legislative Office Building; Monday, November 26, 2012.<br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor Staff)

    Governor-elect Maggie Hassan listens during the first of three days of discussions on the state's 2013 budget in the Legislative Office Building; Monday, November 26, 2012.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • A member of the audience looks over a graph of Administrative Services' proposed budget on the first of three days of discussions on the state's 2013 budget in the Legislative Office Building; Monday, November 26, 2012.<br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor Staff)

    A member of the audience looks over a graph of Administrative Services' proposed budget on the first of three days of discussions on the state's 2013 budget in the Legislative Office Building; Monday, November 26, 2012.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon outlines her  budget to governor-elect Maggie Hassan on on the first of three days of discussions on the state's 2013 budget in the Legislative Office Building; Monday, November 26, 2012.<br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor Staff)

    Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon outlines her budget to governor-elect Maggie Hassan on on the first of three days of discussions on the state's 2013 budget in the Legislative Office Building; Monday, November 26, 2012.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Taydra Hayda, 7, Boscawen

    Taydra Hayda, 7, Boscawen Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Governor-elect Maggie Hassan listens during the first of three days of discussions on the state's 2013 budget in the Legislative Office Building; Monday, November 26, 2012.<br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor Staff)
  • A member of the audience looks over a graph of Administrative Services' proposed budget on the first of three days of discussions on the state's 2013 budget in the Legislative Office Building; Monday, November 26, 2012.<br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor Staff)
  • Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon outlines her  budget to governor-elect Maggie Hassan on on the first of three days of discussions on the state's 2013 budget in the Legislative Office Building; Monday, November 26, 2012.<br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor Staff)
  • Taydra Hayda, 7, Boscawen

Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan yesterday said she’ll set “conservative targets” for agencies seeking more money in the next state budget, as she looks to roll back cuts made by the GOP-dominated Legislature last year.

“As many of you are aware, there were decisions in the previous budget that I believed were the wrong choices for New Hampshire’s future. As part of our upcoming budget, I intend to work to reverse some of those choices,” Hassan said. “But it is important for all of us to understand that we will not be able to reverse course all at once.”

Her comments came at the start of three days of public hearings this week on budget requests made by state agencies for the coming biennium, fiscal years 2014 and 2015, which begins July 1.

Hassan, an Exeter Democrat and former Senate majority leader, will submit her own state budget to the Legislature by Feb. 15.

The budget requests submitted by agency heads total nearly $12 billion in spending over two years across all state funds, a 19 percent increase from the current biennium. The largest state agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, requested $4.9 billion over two years, a 29.2 percent increase.

That’s not likely to happen.

“Those requests total far more than our taxpayers and our economy can afford,” Hassan said.

Instead, she said, she plans to send agencies “conservative targets, reflecting the fact that there are still many unknowns in the national economy including the possibility of the so-called fiscal cliff,” for their budgets. She didn’t specify what those targets would be.

And as pledged during the fall campaign, Hassan yesterday said she would create a panel of experts and legislators to create consensus revenue estimates, “that will ensure that we can work from a common set of facts as we develop the budget.”

As required under state law, agencies also submitted budgets that would maintain existing state services. Those “maintenance budgets” total $10.9 billion across all state funds, an 8.1 percent increase in spending over the current biennium.

Commissioners and other agency heads also submitted budgets that reduce spending by 10 percent. Sen. Chuck Morse, a Salem Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said those budgets could offer clues for ways to make cuts as the budget process moves on.

“These alternative budgets will give Gov.-elect Hassan, and those of us in the Legislature, an idea of where those who know their departments best believe we can find savings in a difficult budget process,” Morse said in a statement.

Democrats are set to control the House in the coming legislative session, while Republicans will have a slim majority in the Senate. That’s a big change from the last two years, when Republicans held veto-proof majorities in both chambers.

The two-year budget they passed in 2011, among other things, reduced the cigarette tax by 10 cents a pack, eliminated a $30 auto-registration surcharge, slashed reimbursements to hospitals for uncompensated care and cut the University System of New Hampshire’s $100 million appropriation by 48 percent.

Hassan has said she wants to restore funding to the university system and reverse the cigarette tax cut but has offered few other specifics on the budget since her Nov. 6 election. She has indicated that revenue from a casino might be included in her budget but has ruled out any sales or income tax.

She won’t take office until January. But Gov. John Lynch, a fellow Democrat, said yesterday that he hopes for a smooth transition.

And, he said, Hassan doesn’t have an easy task ahead of her.

“Building the next budget is going to be a challenge, and I think we all recognize that,” Lynch said. “A challenge because we still face uncertain economic times, the economy remains volatile, and there’s not a lot of evidence that that volatility is going to diminish significantly. And we have the uncertainty of a number of other financial sources. . . . But I know that Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan is up to the challenge, along with her team.”

Hearings on budget submissions will continue today, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., and Friday morning at the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

I wish that people understood budgeting and basic math when it comes to our state government. A 29% increase in a budget? A 19% increase in a budget? Come on. If I told my employer that I needed to increase my budget 29%, I would have to give them about a 60% increase in revenue to pay for it. In the real world, businesses don't operate that way. There is no wish list of goodies that a department needs. It would be interesting to see where they want to increase the budget 29% in a department like HHS. My bet is to hire more personnel to single task and my bet is that the jobs would go to people with connections. I think in this economy, a 0% increase or a flat budget should be what is called for.

“Building the next budget is going to be a challenge, and I think we all recognize that,” Lynch said. “A challenge because we still face uncertain economic times, the economy remains volatile, and there’s not a lot of evidence that that volatility is going to diminish significantly." What? That's not what Lynch said during the president's re-election campaign. We were told his friend in the White House was doing a great job getting us back on track and moving the economy forward!

Yeah...who is the "laughing stock" now?? Other states face huge budget deficits, serious, serious problems. Maggie?? All she has to worry about is not upsetting her liberal friends too much.

.....and so begins the march of the socialists!

I just did my personal budget for 2013 and it looks like I am planning on spending about 18% more than this year. Healthcare is going up in my personal budget by 29%. Imagine that............ I also submitted to my employer my demands for increased pay of 18% over last year................. They were not really receptive to the idea of giving me a 18% raise. I think they need to embrace "hope and change" and move "forward"...............I don't understand their reluctance. Over the last four years I have to eliminate my yearly vacations, expensive gifts, dining out and other frivolous spending items. I think they should be restored in my personal budget.

Will Hassan make the needed and necessary cuts to state employee ranks and demand more effort, work and results from them? Will she monitor the obvious nepotism within the state ranks? Will she stand strong against the SEIU union thuggery of the SEA? Will Hassan demand that professors at UNH earning $180,000 teach more than one class? Will she demand efficiency and productivity from the state government? Doubtful.

Dems do not due cuts. They expand govt. They come from the place that you can tax and spend your way out of any mess. The last 4 years have not proven to them that their policies do not work. They have convinced the folks that they making progress with the help of the lame stream media that hides facts and results. Thus assuring the folks that big govt works. When is the last time you asked a Dem why the President has not produced a budget? They have no clue why. yet most of us know why. When is the last time a Dem addressed the economy, jobs, etc. They do not. They are convinced that their mandates, taxes etc does not have an affect on why our economy is paralized. They think that business will be thrilled to have more taxes, mandates and ACA. It is called wealth redistribution. Even with nightly news about what is going on in Europe, they still do not make the connection. Govt cannot run anything efficiently. They need more money to feed the ever growing beast of big govt.

Nothing new here. Lets create a panel so it looks like the Dems actually are serious about a budget. I think we saw how that works from Washington. You know all those panels that were created, gave their advice, and then the folks in WA ignored that advice and spent more. Same here. The cuts that were made will be reversed by this Gov. She will do it in increments as opposed to all at once. HHS will get their 29% increase. They have no concept of how to cut costs. Like all the state depts, they spend. The fiscal cliff is another issue that folks just do not get. They fail to see what it means for them personally, and what it means for our economy as a whole. Be prepared. Your taxes are going up.

Yea..maybe she can dust off one of Shaheen's blue ribbon panel's that never reported anything

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.