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House Finance Committee pushes ahead budget proposal



Last modified: Wednesday, March 25, 2015
The House Finance Committee finalized its budget proposal yesterday and it will now move for a full House vote next week, where it is likely to face further scrutiny and several amendments.

The House budget proposal increases total spending over the current biennium by roughly $400 million, from about $10.8 billion to $11.2 billion. It would decrease general fund spending from the current budget by $56 million, from $2.8 billion in the current biennium, according to documents provided by the Office of Legislative Budget Assistant.

It is roughly $240 million lower in general fund spending than the budget Gov. Maggie Hassan proposed because the House estimated the state would bring in less revenue during the two-year budget cycle than what Hassan’s proposal predicts.

“The budget process is never easy and I commend the Finance committee for all of their hard work and appreciate the tough decisions they had to make throughout this process,” House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan of Brookline said in a statement. “I believe the final product is something Republicans will stand by as a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that does not raise taxes and slows the growth of government.”

Democratic lawmakers said at a press conference yesterday it is not a proposal they can support, because it does not include funding for Medicaid expansion and it reduces money for the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Democratic lawmakers indicated they would be putting together budget amendments they plan to propose from the floor, but did not provide specific details.

The budget is not likely to win full Republican support, either.

Rep. Laurie Sanborn, a Bedford Republican who was on the finance committee, was replaced yesterday morning before lawmakers took final votes on the proposal.

Sanborn told Republican House leadership that she couldn’t support the proposal because she said it “decimates the Department of Transportation, does raise taxes and does downshift costs.”

“I think it needs a lot more work. It’s not something I could vote for,” Sanborn said. “I am very disappointed I was removed from the committee.” She was replaced by Rep. David Hess, a Hooksett Republican.

“When someone is part of a leadership team, they sometimes have to make sacrifices to move the process along for the good of the team,” House Speaker Shawn Jasper said in a statement. “Rep. Sanborn spoke at length with me before a decision was made to replace her on the finance committee.”

Tomorrow, the full House will vote on a DOT budget bill that is separate from the House budget proposal. It will likely be amended from the floor to include a 7-cent increase in the gas tax that will help keep the state’s highway fund afloat.

If that is passed, the House Finance Committee may reopen the budget to review the DOT plan.



(This story has been updated to reflect more current budget numbers. Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or amorris@cmonitor.com.)