Morse: N.H. House’s $11 billion budget has a $300 million hole for Senate to fill
The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee says the two-year, $11 billion budget passed by the Democratic-led House last month has a $300 million hole in it.
Some $250 million of the estimated $300 million shortfall in total funds comes from overly high estimates for revenue from the state’s Medicaid Enhancement Tax, Salem Republican Sen. Chuck Morse said today in a news release.
“After hearing from 60 state agencies regarding their budget requests and considering the indications regarding revenue estimates we’re getting from Ways and Means, I can tell you flat out, the budget is going to look a whole lot different when it leaves the Senate than it does now,” Morse said.
That, Morse said, means cuts are coming.
“The Senate’s intention has been to continue funding to critical access hospitals and be able to restore money to dedicated funds like (the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program) and the UNIQUE Plan that serves underprivileged students trying to go to college,” Morse said. “But after hearing the numbers the Department of Revenue (Administration) presented to our Ways and Means Committee yesterday, under the House budget, the funds to do so simply aren’t there. And the Senate is not accepting tax increases.”
The House’s budget included a 30 cent hike in the cigarette tax and a 12 cent increase in the gas tax, phased in over three years for gasoline and six years for diesel fuel.
Morse’s statement came as the Finance Committee continues work on the state budget for the biennium beginning July 1. The Republican-led Senate is expected to pass its version by June 6, then negotiate with the House and Gov. Maggie Hassan on a final plan.
The Senate Finance Committee will take testimony on the budget at a public hearing Thursday, 3 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m., in Representatives Hall at the State House.
(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or email@example.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)