N.H. House passes budget, heads to GOP Senate

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April 12, 2013

New Hampshire

By Phil Sletten

CONCORD, New Hampshire: The New Hampshire House of Representatives passed an $11 billion budget, sending the legislation to the Senate. The House, which is controlled by Democrats, passed the budget on a near party-line vote. Republicans hold a slim majority in the Senate, and Senate President Peter Bragdon (R) has rejected components of the House budget.[1][2]

The House budget, which passed with only Democratic votes in a 194-172 split, raises the cigarette tax by 30 cents per pack and the gasoline tax by 12 cents per gallon from current levels.[2] The budget does not seek revenue from expanding gambling in New Hampshire, as the New Hampshire State Senate and Governor Maggie Hassan (D) support. Instead, the House budget spends $52 million less than Governor Hassan's proposed budget, trimming increases in education and Medicaid reimbursement funding.[3]

Governor Hassan recognized that the budget had similar priorities to her own proposal, but highlighted the funding shortfalls. In a statement, she pushed for restoring the cuts in funding in her own budget by including revenues from a casino.[3]

Some Republicans have expressed concern about the added expenditures towns and counties will have fulfilling their legal obligations, were the House budget to become law.[4] Others, including Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Morse (R), have criticized new rules and funding levels related to charter schools and aid to hospitals. The gasoline tax and cigarette tax increases have drawn heavy criticism from key Senate Republicans.[1]

The Senate began hearings on the budget a few days after it passed the House. The upper chamber has until June 6 to vote on its own budget plan, and both houses must agree on a state budget by July 1.[5][2]

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