$11.7B State budget passes Senate, House

  • Democratic Sen. David Watters speaks about the right-to-work bill during a session of the New Hampshire Senate at the State House in downtown Concord on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

Monitor staff
Published: 6/22/2017 11:49:16 AM

After months of uncertainty, the state budget cleared the Republican-led House by a wide margin, indicating many skeptical conservatives eventually came around to the $11.7 billion spending plan. 

When the vote tally, 198 to 169, appeared on screens positioned at the front of Representatives Hall some members began clapping while others whistled. The budget rider bill later passed by an even wider margin, 212 to 161. 

Gov. Chris Sununu and top Republican leaders had been hard at work over the last few days lobbying colleagues for their support. The budget puts in place another round of business tax cuts, eliminates an electricity consumption tax and relies on online Lottery to balance the books.

The tide began to turn early this week when members of two conservative House groups — the House Republican Alliance and the House Freedom Caucus — announced they would back the two-year state budget after months of slamming the plan for spending too much.

Only 14 Republicans out of 221 in the chamber voted against the budget. Five Democrats backed it. 

House Democratic leaders urged their party members to vote down the budget they said short-changed social services and addiction treatment while giving tax cuts to out-of-state businesses. 

11:30 a.m.

As expected, the Republican-led Senate approved the next state budget in a 14 to 9 vote along party lines. The true test comes in the House, where Democrats and a handful of conservatives who say the $11.7 billion plan spends too much, could kill it. The vote is expected later this afternoon. 

Republicans in the Senate called the budget a good compromise, and encouraged their colleagues across the aisle to back the measure.

Speaking in favor of the budget’s trailer bill, Sen. Gary Daniels read from a NH Center for Public Policy report that said the conference committee report “represents a departure from post Great Recession budget trends, investing heavily in health and human services.”

“To my friends on the Democrat side: this was one of your top priorities,” Daniels said.

But Democrats said the budget still short-changed critical social services for the sake of tax cuts. 

“This budget spends more on business tax cuts than on combating the opioid epidemic,” said Sen. Dan Feltes, a Concord Democrat. 

The budget cuts business taxes, eliminates an electricity consumption tax and relies on new mobile scratch tickets to balance the books. 

(This post will be updated. Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or amorris@cmonitor.com) 

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