N.H. House, Senate reject revenue proposals, budget in turmoil
By Phil Sletten
CONCORD, New Hampshire: The New Hampshire House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, rejected the proposal for expanded gambling in the state forwarded by Governor Maggie Hassan (D) and the Republican-led State Senate. The following day, the State Senate rejected two key alternative revenue proposals from the House, killing a bill to raise the cigarette tax and removing raising gasoline taxes from the legislative agenda until at least 2014.
The House of Representatives has historically opposed expanded gambling. However, strong support from the Democratic governor and a bipartisan majority of senators gave gambling some significant momentum. Despite this momentum, opponents succeeded in killing the legislation with a significant and bipartisan majority in the House, 199-164. Democrats narrowly favored the bill, while Republicans largely opposed it. The bill was rejected before amendments could be considered. House Speaker Terie Norelli (D) remained neutral, but her leadership team was opposed to the legislation.
The casino bill's death opened an $80 million deficit in Governor Hassan's proposed biennial budget, due to be implemented July 1. However, the Senate moved the next day to reject the alternative methods of increasing revenue proposed by the House. In what some perceived as retaliation against the House for rejecting their gambling bill, the Senate removed the gasoline tax from consideration for the rest of the legislative session and also killed the cigarette tax increase. The Senate also rejected Democratic House initiatives to repeal the controversial "stand your ground" self-defense law and reintroduce a state minimum wage. These votes put New Hampshire's budgetary stability in question, and with only two weeks remaining in the session, some are suggesting that the New Hampshire General Court may vote to continue the current budget.
The budget debate will consume the legislature's attention for the next two weeks. Governor Hassan has declared that she will fight to fund her priorities, although she has not specified the revenue source. Her office has not signaled any support for a sales or income tax, of which New Hampshire has neither. The debate has turned to budget cuts in some circles as revised revenue estimates have suggested that New Hampshire will not collect as much money as previously estimated.
- Ballot News: N.H. legislature faces major budget decisions
- Ballot News: Gambling continues to dominate N.H. budget debate
- Ballot News: Second gas tax increase passes N.H. House
- New Hampshire General Court
- New Hampshire House of Representatives
- New Hampshire State Senate
- Governor of New Hampshire
- The Concord Monitor, "N.H. House kills Senate’s casino bill, 199-164," May 23, 2013
- NHPR, "Friday NH News Roundup - Week Of May 20th," May 24, 2013
- The Concord Monitor, "Senate kills House’s 12-cent gas tax increase," May 24, 2013
- The Nashua Telegraph, "Final push made for casino," May 22, 2013 (dead link)
- WMUR, "Analysis: Why the NH House rejected most of NH on casino gambling," May 22, 2013
- The Nashua Telegraph, "New Hampshire is closer than ever to having a casino," May 21, 2013 (dead link)
- The Nashua Telegraph, "House votes to kill casino bill, sends Hassan back to drawing board on funding proposed NH budget," May 23, 2013
- The Nashua Telegraph, "Analysis: With casino out, payback from NH Senate likely to begin," May 23, 2013 (dead link)
- The Nashua Telegraph, "Political retaliation over casino vote puts New Hampshire on the verge of becoming ‘backwater state’," May 24, 2013
- The Nashua Telegraph, "Week’s events in NH Legislature left many winners, losers," May 26, 2013
- The Union Leader, "Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Will House, Senate continue the feud?," May 25, 2013
- The Union Leader, "John DiStaso's Granite Status: Sans dice, how will Hassan roll now?," May 25, 2013
- NHPR, "Budgetary Back and Forth," May 26, 2013
- The Nashua Telegraph, "NH Senate budget chief says Democrat’s spending plan was too rosy, declaring, ‘There is no money’," May 26, 2013