CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – House Democratic leaders released the following statements after the state Senate voted on party lines to pass a partisan budget proposal.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff: “Today is a sad day for the state of New Hampshire, and a stark contrast to two years ago when the legislature came together to approve a bipartisan budget proposal that met the needs of small businesses and working families. A budget is a statement of priorities, and the decision by Senate Republicans to prioritize special interests over the needs Granite Staters speaks volumes. By approving a tax giveaway to big businesses headquartered out-of-state, while declining to continue the successful Health Protection Program or fund the negotiated State Employee contract, Senate Republicans have shown that their priorities are not in line with New Hampshire values.
The House Democratic Caucus will continue to fight for policies that expand middle class opportunity, support small business, and move the state of New Hampshire forward. We look forward to working with our Republican colleagues in conference to transform this irresponsible proposal into a budget that works for everyone.”
Representative Mary Jane Wallner, Ranking Democrat on the House Finance Committee: “When the budget left the House, we knew significant improvements would be needed to reverse the irresponsible cuts to social service programs that were approved by House Republicans. Unfortunately, the budget approved by the Senate today fails to meet the needs of New Hampshire, and will surely harm the economic growth we have seen under the leadership of Governor Hassan.
With New Hampshire adding over 13,000 jobs since the current budget was approved 21 months ago, reducing our unemployment rate 24% in less than two years, it is obvious that the bipartisan approach we took last term is working. While it is unclear why Republicans have chosen to abandon that successful approach in favor of partisan politics, it is clear that the budget approved today would have a devastating effect on our economy.
Failing to reauthorize the successful Health Protection Program, which has worked to eliminate the “hidden tax” on health care by reducing emergency room visits by uninsured patients by 22%, is extremely shortsighted and leaves over 40,000 Granite Staters on the brink of losing their health insurance. Choosing instead to spend millions on tax giveaways, the majority of which will benefit just 1% of businesses, is just one example of this budget putting partisan politics over the people of New Hampshire.
As we have heard repeatedly from businesses and business organizations, the most important component for growth is a well-educated work force. The Senate’s decision to reduce the Governor’s proposed investment for our university system, along with decisions to divert gas tax revenue earmarked for road work in local communities, and the failure to fund a negotiated State Employee contract or adequately fund substance-abuse treatment, all show that significant work is still needed before this budget is ready for approval.
While the budget approved by the Senate today is unacceptable, House Democrats remain eager to work with our colleagues across the aisle to craft a responsible budget that serves the needs of Granite Staters and builds on the economic growth we have seen over the last two years.”