By Phil Sletten
CONCORD, New Hampshire: The Republican-controlled Senate passed a $10.7 billion budget in response to the House budget in a party-line vote, approving $400 million more in spending than the current state budget but cutting up to 700 jobs from the state government. The Senate's budget spends $300 million less than the budget adopted by the Democratic House. The Senate and House are setting up negotiating teams for the conference committees, and have a deadline to reach a compromise budget, and compromises on all other legislation, by June 20.
The New Hampshire General Court can consider a variety of revenue sources, but the rejection of expanded casino gambling by the House and subsequent rejection of the gasoline tax by the Senate have led to a more political and constrained debate in the final weeks of the session. Although some legislation may be resurrected, observers consider it unlikely that casino gambling will return as a revenue source. The gasoline tax increase is procedurally forbidden from being considered this session.
Some major points of contention remain, despite the short timeline. The expansion of Medicaid became a critical issue after the Senate opted to study Medicaid expansion, rather than implement it immediately. Democrats have repeatedly tried to attach provisions supporting the Affordable Care Act, specifically Medicaid expansion, to other bills. Other issues include a cigarette tax hike proposed by the House, $50 million in personnel cuts that could result in up to 700 layoffs, and money appropriated to charter schools proposed by the Senate.
Aside from resolving the unsettled budget debate, legislators have to consider the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire. Outstanding disagreements between the House and Senate also include changes to voter ID laws that would add requirements for voters and different methods of implementing medical marijuana.
- ↑ The Nashua Telegraph, "Senate adopts $10.7b budget," June 7, 2013
- ↑ The Associated Press, "NH House, Senate setting up negotiating teams," June 10, 2013
- ↑ WMUR, "Analysis: After casino vote, Legislature pivots to 2014," June 4, 2013
- ↑ The Nashua Telegraph, "Fight for Medicaid increase escalates," June 5, 2013
- ↑ The Nashua Telegraph, "Closing bell rung too early in NH House of Representatives," June 9, 2013
- ↑ The Concord Monitor, "GOP-led Senate passes budget, heads to showdown with Hassan and House," June 7, 2013
- ↑ The Concord Monitor, "N.H. health overhaul committee at a stalemate," June 12, 2013
- ↑ The Concord Monitor, "Capital Beat: As legislative year winds down, more than budget still in play at State House," June 9, 2013