House Republicans Budget “Fix” at Expense of Students, Families and Property Taxpayers

CONCORD, NH – Republicans on the House Finance Committee voted today to pass a so-called budget “fix” at the expense of students, families and local property taxpayers.

The House Republicans’ “fix” would cut $28 million from the university system — cutting Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations to the University System nearly 9 percent below this year. This is on top of cutting k-12 education stabilization grants by $27 million.

Republicans on the Finance Committee also voted to cut $50 million in dedicated renewable energy funds intended to help businesses, consumers and local communities cut their energy costs. This $50 million sweep from the REF fund breaks a promise made by the Republican majority leader last January.

This so-called “fix” would also cut all aid to local communities for infrastructure.

The House budget had already cut critical health care services, including health care for nearly 40,000 people, meals on wheels for seniors, services for people with developmental disabilities. It also cut dollars dedicated by law for travel and tourism promotion in half and other economic development measures.

“This is no ‘fix’ at all as House Republicans go from bad to worse with backward cuts that will hurt students and families, and increase local property taxes,” said Representative Cindy Rosenwald, House Deputy Democratic Leader and a member of the House Finance Committee. “The people of New Hampshire sent us to Concord to make the tough decisions required to balance the budget responsibly, not to simply pass the buck onto local property taxpayers by downshifting costs onto our cities and towns.”

“The devastating cuts in the House Republican budget are a choice, not a necessity. For anyone who says that we can’t invest in critical economic priorities while living within our means, I tell them to look at the Governor’s responsible budget proposal, because that’s exactly what it does,” Rosenwald.

House Democrats Blast Decision By Republicans on House Finance Committee to Rewrite Budget Behind Closed Doors  

CONCORD, NH – Representative Mary Jane Wallner, Ranking Democrat on the House Finance Committee and former Finance Committee Chair, released the following statement on the decision by Republicans on the House Finance Committee to rewrite the budget behind closed doors:

“It’s clear that the disastrous House Republican budget process has completely broken down. It now appears that HB1 and HB2, which already contained unacceptable cuts to critical economic priorities, are being rewritten behind closed doors.”

“If House Republicans intend to make even deeper cuts that will take our economy backward, they should do it at committee meetings in the light of day and put the budget process back on track the way it has always worked.”

Statement from House Democrats on Devastating Budget Cuts Passed by House Finance Committee

CONCORD, NH – Representative Mary Jane Wallner and Representative Dan Eaton released the following statements on the draconian budget cuts passed by the House Finance committee.

The massive cuts would slash investments in economic priorities like making higher education more affordable, combating substance abuse, and maintaining roads and bridges. House Republicans’ “plan” would also cut funding for individuals with mental health issues, those who experience developmental disabilities, and seniors. And the Republican budget would eliminate health insurance for more than 37,000 working Granite Staters receiving coverage through the bipartisan NH Health Protection Program.

“The devastating budget cuts passed by the House Finance committee today are very similar to the devastating 2011 Bill O’Brien budget,” said Ranking Democrat on the House Finance Committee and former Finance Committee Chair Representative Mary Jane Wallner. “Instead of working together to build on our bipartisan progress of the last two years to expand opportunity, support job-creating businesses, and keep more young people in New Hampshire, House Republicans have made clear that they will try to drag our state backward in the name of partisan politics.”

“Irresponsible does not even begin to describe the reckless budget cuts passed by the House Finance committee today,” said Representative Dan Eaton. “We know that it’s possible to make smart investments while living within our means because that’s exactly what the Governor’s fiscally responsible budget plan does. Slashing funding for critical economic priorities for people and businesses while making local communities pay the price isn’t a ‘plan,’ it’s a travesty.”


House Republicans Move Forward with “Plan” to Decimate Services for Mental Health and Seniors

House Republicans Also Move Forward with Drastic Cuts for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities; Make it Harder for Granite Staters to Access State Services

CONCORD, NH – During Thursday’s House Finance Division meetings, House Republicans approved amendments to move forward with their “plan” to decimate services for mental health and seniors.

In Division III, House Republicans advanced a provision to eliminate a number of critical Medicaid benefits including inpatient and outpatient mental health hospital treatment, psychological services, ambulance services, and physical therapy. They also voted to delay the opening of the new 10-bed crisis unit at New Hampshire Hospital, despite the fact that there are 40 individuals currently on the waiting list.

On Thursday, House Republicans voted on a $10.5 million reduction in social services for the elderly, which includes Meals on Wheels and eliminates the ServiceLink program, as well as a cut of $52 million for services to individuals with developmental disabilities,” stated Representative Stephen Shurtleff, House Democratic Leader. “Not to mention that by closing a number of Department of Motor Vehicle substations and Health & Human Services district offices, it will be harder for NH residents to access state services.”

“While there has rightfully been considerable outrage over House Republicans’ reckless ‘plan’ to abdicate responsibility for maintaining our roads and bridges, their ‘plan’ to abandon many of our most vulnerable citizens is even more troubling,” said Representative Mary Jane Wallner, Ranking Democrat on the House Finance Committee and former Finance Committee Chair. “From seniors to those with mental health issues and developmental disabilities, every Granite Stater has family, friends or neighbors who would suffer under these irresponsible cuts.”

“Delaying the opening of a much needed mental health crisis unit isn’t fiscal responsibility, it’s a budget gimmick that will hurt real people out of pure politics,” said Representative Cindy Rosenwald, House Deputy Democratic Leader and a member of the House Finance Committee. “These misguided cuts from House Republicans to critical health services won’t actually produce savings for our state, they will simply lead to greater costs for our people, businesses and our economy down the road.”

House Republican Budget Cuts Would Downshift Responsibility for Road and Bridge Maintenance to Local Communities

House Finance Republicans Vote for Drastic Cuts Forcing DOT to Lay Off 50% of Workers, Turn Over 2500 Miles of Roads and 1,000 Bridges to Municipalities

CONCORD, NH – The House Finance Committee today voted to pass HB 357, downshifting responsibility for road and bridge maintenance to local communities.

The reckless bill would cut the Department of Transportation’s operating budget nearly 30 percent this year, and force DOT to lay off 692 workers – 50% of its workforce, eliminating 40% of highway maintenance jobs and 41% of bridge maintenance jobs. As a result of these devastating cuts, DOT will be forced to turn over 2,500 miles of roads and 1,000 bridges to municipalities.

“Even House Finance Chair Neal Kurk has conceded that these draconian cuts are irresponsible, yet Republicans on the House Finance Committee still voted unanimously for this amendment that would end the Department of Transportation as we know it,” said Representative Dan Eaton, Assistant Democratic Floor Leader.  “The challenges facing our Highway Fund require that we come together to make tough choices, not simply pass the buck onto local communities. When you downshift responsibility for over 2,500 miles of roads and 1,000 bridges to local communities, you will either have more dangerous roads or higher property taxes – or both.”

“The one simple question that House Republicans simply cannot answer is who will plow our roads and inspect our bridges after they’re through with these devastating cuts,” said Representative Susan Ford, Democratic Floor Leader and a member of Finance Committee. “Make no mistake, these shortsighted and misguided cuts will have a huge cost that our families, visitors and businesses will pay in lost economic output and dangerous and poorly maintained roads.”

House Republican Budget Cuts Would Threaten Landmark Bipartisan Mental Health and MET Hospitals Settlements

As Ray Burton Welcome Center is Dedicated, House Republicans Also Plan to Cut Funding for Welcome Centers and Travel and Tourism Promotion

CONCORD, NH – During Tuesday’s House Finance Division III meeting, House Republicans’ devastating cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services budget continued as they proposed cuts that would threaten two landmark bipartisan settlements.

The state’s landmark mental health and MET hospital settlements were negotiated in good faith and passed by bipartisan majorities in the New Hampshire House and Senate. These bipartisan settlements protected the state’s budget, ensuring that Granite Staters have access to critical services while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

By proposing to underfund the mental health settlement by 20% ($29 million) and by cutting hospital uncompensated care reimbursements by $31 million from what was agreed to in the MET settlement, House Republicans would threaten both landmark settlements and undermine critical services for Granite Staters.

On Tuesday at the same time the Ray Burton Welcome Center on I-93 was dedicated, House Republicans continued moving forward with their “plan” to cut funding for welcome centers and slash the budget for travel and tourism in half.

“Undoing our landmark bipartisan mental health and MET settlements would not only undermine critical services for NH citizens but would also threaten our state’s budget and our bond rating,” said Representative Cindy Rosenwald, House Deputy Democratic Leader and a member of the House Finance Committee. “From jeopardizing our ability to maintain a safe transportation infrastructure to repealing health care expansion and undoing landmark settlements, House Republicans’ misguided proposals would reverse much of our bipartisan progress of the last two years.”

“Tourism is New Hampshire’s second largest industry, supporting roughly 68,000 jobs, yet House Republicans’ backward proposals would slash funding for travel and tourism in half and cut funding for welcome centers,” said House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff. “Our people, businesses and economy will pay for these shortsighted cuts just like we did as a result of the last Bill O’Brien budget.”


O’Brien Budget Redox: House Republicans Make Drastic Cuts to Services for New Hampshire’s Seniors

House Republicans Also Cuts Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities, Propose Massive Cuts to the Department of Transportation

CONCORD, NH – During Monday’s House Finance Division III meeting, House Republicans continued to slash the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services, including drastic cuts to services for the elderly and individuals with developmental disabilities.

Among House Republican cuts targeting elderly NH citizens are a rate cut of $20 million  to Medicaid Quality Incentive Payments (MQIP) that funds long-term nursing home care, a $10.5 million reduction in social services for the elderly – including meals on wheels, eliminating the ServiceLink Aging and Disability Resource Center, and a number of fee increases that would disproportionately hit small nursing homes.

Not to mention that they eliminated $24 million in funding for individuals with developmental disabilities which will significantly impact individuals, families, and employers.

House Republicans are also proposing to cut more than $63 million from the Department of Transportation, which would mean over 300 layoffs and result in less plowing, fewer bridge inspections, and a halt to the expansion of I-93.

“After making drastic cuts to critical priorities like higher education and combatting substance abuse, House Republicans are now setting their sights on decimating services for our state’s seniors,” said Representative Mary Jane Wallner, Ranking Democrat on the House Finance Committee and former Finance Committee Chair. “From cutting $20 million for nursing homes to slashing funding for programs like meals on wheels, this rerun O’Brien budget will hurt our state’s most vulnerable seniors.”

“I would like to know who House Republicans think will plow our roads and inspect our bridges after their drastic cuts to the Department of Transportation,” said Representative Susan Ford, Democratic Floor Leader and a member of Finance Committee. “Yesterday, we heard testimony about how these cuts would lead to more than 300 layoffs at the Department of Transportation  and make our roads more dangerous. Undoing these reckless cuts to DOT is both a matter of public safety and critical to our businesses, families, and economic future.”

House Democratic Leaders Blast to Repeal Health Care Expansion Plan, Massively Cut Spending for Substance Misuse Treatment

House Democratic Leaders Blast Plan to Repeal Health Care Expansion Plan, 

Massively Cut Funding for Substance Misuse Treatment

CONCORD, NH – During Sunday’s House Finance Committee Division III Meeting, House Republicans voted to repeal New Hampshire’s bipartisan health care expansion plan, taking away health coverage from up to 55,000 Granite Staters at the end of 2016.

House Republicans also voted to massively cut funding for substance abuse treatment, including eliminating the Governor’s plan to extend the full substance use disorder benefit to traditional Medicaid, which would have helped provide substance abuse coverage to thousands of Granite Staters for the first time.
Earlier, House Republicans also announced their plan to cut funding for the state’s substance abuse coordinator, who is responsible for working across state agencies and with other stakeholders to help address the state’s substance abuse challenges.

“A new study from the NH Hospital Association makes clear that expansion is working, with fewer hospital admissions and with emergency room visits down as people are able to access care sooner,” said  Representative Cindy Rosenwald, House Deputy Democratic Leader and a member of the House Finance Committee. “House Republicans have a lot of explaining to do to the people of New Hampshire about why they want to repeal our bipartisan health care expansion plan that is already helping nearly 40,000 Granite Staters. Republicans will also have to answer to the business community, including the Business and Industry Association, which has called on us to continue our expansion plan because it makes our workforce healthier, reduces cost-shifting onto business and families, and strengthens our economy.”

“It’s unthinkable that House Republicans would vote to slash funding for substance misuse treatment while our state faces an opioid crisis,” saidHouse Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff. “These devastating cuts to substance misuse services would cause harm to individuals across the state, make communities less safe, and take a major toll on our economy.”

House Democratic Leaders Decry Budget Cuts to Higher Education and Aid to Local Communities

CONCORD, NH – In various House Finance Committee Division meetings this week, House Republicans already began making drastic budget cuts to priorities that are essential to the economic foundation of New Hampshire.

In a Division meeting on Tuesday, House Republicans cut funding for the university system by $13.4 million, cut winter maintenance (including plowing) by $4.8 million, and cut the meals and room distributions to local communities by $5 million.

“After the Governor delivered her fiscally responsible plan for how we can work together to build on the progress of the last two years, I urged my colleagues in the House, both Democrats and Republicans, to come together to support the priorities laid out in the Governor’s plan,” said House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff. “Unfortunately House Republicans have already made clear that they are not interested in working together to move our economy forward as we did with the last budget, and are instead pursuing cuts to priorities that are essential to the economic foundation of New Hampshire.”

“It’s deeply concerning that one of the first priorities that House Republicans have chosen to cut is funding for our university system,” said Representative Mary Jane Wallner, Ranking Democrat on the House Finance Committee and former Finance Committee Chair. “We took an important step in the last budget by restoring funding for higher education, and we cannot let House Republicans undo our bipartisan progress with their backward approach. For the sake of our businesses, middle class families, young people and economy, it’s crucial that we continue to invest in holding down the cost of higher education.”

“If House Republicans have any doubts about the importance of funding for winter maintenance, I implore them to take a look outside,” said Representative Cindy Rosenwald, House Deputy Democratic Leader and a member of the House Finance Committee. “From Nashua to the Seacoast to the North Country, our citizens have had daily reminders of the important work that our dedicated DOT workers do to keep our roads clear and safe. Now is exactly the wrong time to be talking about cutting funding for winter maintenance and plowing.”

House Democrats Statement on Defeat of Minimum Wage Legislation

March 12th, 2015

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff and

Representative Andrew White released the following Statements on the defeat of HB 684, which

would increase the minimum wage in New Hampshire.

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff: “Increasing the minimum wage is strongly

supported by Granite Staters because people know that financial security for the entire workforce

is essential to the success of our state’s economy. New Hampshire’s minimum wage has not

kept pace with inflation, and our reliance on the minimum set by the federal government has

disadvantaged us relative to surrounding states. House Democrats will continue to stand up for

working families and the overwhelming will of Granite Staters who want the legislature to take

action on fair wages for our state’s workforce.”

Representative Andrew White: “It is disappointing that House Republicans have once again

chosen to turn their backs on the low-wage earners of New Hampshire. Three-quarters of

Granite Staters support increasing the minimum wage, including 64% of Republicans. A

modest, gradual, sustainable minimum wage increase will help to reduce poverty and

dependence on state services. It is perplexing that House Republicans continue to oppose this

common-sense measure that will improve the lives of working families while reducing reliance

on state assistance.”