Senate President Chuck Morse has a letter in the Union Leader explaining his take on the State budget process. See post for details and link to the source article.
The Merrimack County monthly meeting is Wednesday, March 14th at 6PM. Hope to see you there. See the post for more details.
The budget changes were the result of a “deal” reached with the governor. The Senate passed and sent it to us as SB9. It wasn’t a bad deal, actually: the business tax cuts were accelerated, and further tax cuts would apply if revenues grew as expected; there were no increased taxes or fees; the only extra spending was to fund the negotiated state employee contract – and most of that would come from the savings of 2 1/2 months of the continuing resolution. In return, the legislative committee on employee contracts was reinstated after years of bitter opposition by the Democrats. If this had been the budget that came from the committee of conference, I’d have gladly voted for it.
However, the “deal” had been negotiated in the backroom, and even worse, was presented to us as “take it or leave it.” Questions, suggested changes – even very small ones – were derided as not in the deal and argued, not on the merits but on the authority of those creating and agreeing to the deal.
This attitude compares to the tactics in the U.S. Congress, where you have to pass the bill to know what’s in it.
Ultimately the budget passed, differing only slightly from the budget the governor vetoed. There was no disagreement about spending priorities – mental health, drug treatment, and roads – and, when pressed, the governor and her party abandoned their opposition to business tax cuts and legislative involvement in state employee contracts.
This week the House had its last session until mid -September. We passed the budget, as negotiated between the House and the Senate, 196-161, mostly on a party line basis. The speaker announced that we would not be meeting in session until mid-September, probably, although preliminary work on the new budget would start over the summer.
The legislative session is nearly over, with Committees of Conference and the final budget process taking place.