Budget Questions Addressed

OVERALL, DOES THIS REPUBLICAN BUDGET SPEND MORE OR LESSo THAN THE PREVIOUS (FY14-15) BUDGET?

The budget proposed by House Finance spends $75 million more in general funds than the previous budget. General funds are those funds raised by state taxes.

The budget proposed by House Finance spends $362 million more in total funds than the previous budget. Total funds includes all sources of revenue including federal funds we receive to pay for certain programs. The rise in federal funds we receive is responsible for the increase in total fund spending.

On Friday, Americans for Prosperity State Director Greg Moore stated that these spending levels represent, “a fiscally responsible growth trajectory,” that lives within the state’s current means.

DOES THIS REPUBLICAN BUDGET SPEND MORE OR LESS THAN THE GOVERNOR’S PROPOSED BUDGET?

Less. The Governor’s proposed budget spends $11.486 billion dollars in total funds and $ 2.897 billion in general funds. The House proposed budget spends $11.159 billion dollars in total funds and $2.732 billion in general funds.

Thats $165 million reduction in general funds and $327 million reduction in total funds.

DOES THIS REPUBLICAN BUDGET PROPOSAL CONTAIN ANY OF THE TAX INCREASES IN THE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET PROPOSAL?

No. All of the Governor’s proposed tax increases have been removed by House Republicans. These tax removals include increases in taxes on businesses, an increase in the tobacco tax, and the increase in motor vehicle registration fees.

DOES THIS REPUBLICAN BUDGET PROPOSAL INCLUDE ANY NEW OR INCREASED TAXES?

No. There are no new or increased taxes in the House Republican budget.

DOES THIS REPUBLICAN BUDGET EXTEND MEDICAID EXPANSION?

No. As prescribed by current law, the New Hampshire Health Protection Act is still scheduled to sunset at the end of 2016.

I’VE HEARD LEGAL SETTLEMENTS AND FEDERAL REGULATIONS ARE COSTING US MONEY. HOW MUCH OF THIS BUDGET IS TIED TO THOSE ISSUES?

Due to legal settlements the state has entered in to (Mental Health Settlement, Medicaid Enhancement Tax / Hospital Settlement) and Federal changes to Medicaid eligibility, the state is obligated to spend $123 million in general funds it could have otherwise have had discretion to spend elsewhere. This sum is included in the budget, and the cost of those items is being absorbed by reductions in other areas of government.
HOW HAS THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION BUDGET FUNDING BEEN ADDRESSED?

The majority of the DoT budget reductions will be offset by modifications made to funding other levels of other areas of government. There will be no tax or fee increases to fund DoT.

I’VE HEARD THERE ARE “DRACONIAN” CUTS IN HHS SPENDING. IS THAT ACCURATE?

Budget to budget, general fund spending related to HHS is increasing by $78 million and total funds by $131 million. Many programs are receiving increased funding. Some may not receive as much as they did during the last budget. Finance Division III made prioritized, thoughtful and reasonable spending decisions on how to fund programs to ensure our state’s most vulnerable citizens receive essential care and services.

I’VE HEARD THERE ARE DRAMATIC “CUTS” TO HIGHER EDUCATION. IS THAT ACCURATE?

No. The last legislature appropriated $153 million to the university system for the biennium (FY-14-15). They lauded the proposal, froze tuition, and gave a thank you card to the Governor for signing the budget that contained the appropriation.

The House budget proposal seeks to give them the same amount, $153 million, for the coming FY16-17 budget. Their funding is not being cut; it is level-funded.

The community colleges will receive $4 million more in the next biennium.

I’VE BEEN TOLD EDUCATION AID TO TOWNS IS BEING CHANGED. IS THAT ACCURATE?

There is a change to how stabilization grants will be distributed. The change will primarily affect towns that have had fast growing student enrollment and may have previously been capped in the amount of aid they receive. The other affected towns would have had a decline in student enrollment and had been receiving stabilization aid to help mitigate the reduction in adequacy aid.

Special Education Catastrophic Aid will finally be funded at 100 percent (up from 77 percent) and that all school districts will finally get their full share of funding, which may well offset changes to the stabilization grants.

Stabilization grants will continue at the Governor’s level for 2016. In 2017, for those towns that have had a decline in enrollment and could have expected a correlated reduction in funding, no town will lose more than $750,000. For those 15 towns whose enrollment has climbed and have been affected by the cap, the cap is now removed and they will be fully funded. The amendment has mitigated the reduction in funding for dozens of communities. Many towns will see no change.

I’VE HEARD THERE ARE CUTS TO MEALS ON WHEELS. IS THAT ACCURATE?

Funding for home delivered meals is included in a budget line item with many other services. The budget line in that category of service does see a reduction in funding from the Governor’s proposal, but it is at the discretion of the Department of HHS to disburse and prioritize those funds in a manner they see fit.

On Thursday, the committee received written communication from the Commissioner of DHHS that funds appropriated for purposes,  categorized with meals on wheels, will be prioritized to meals on wheels.

About Rep. Steven Smith

Steven Smith is a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, serving his fifth term. Rep. Smith currently represents Acworth, Charlestown, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, and Washington. Rep. Smith is the Chairman of the Sullivan County Delegation.
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