Budget – SFY 2014-15 Final

To read the final amended version on HB 1 click here, and to read the final amended version HB 2 click here.

Summary:

In total, the budget overwhelmingly passed by the House and the State Senate is $10.8 Billion from all sources and $2.8 Billion from General Funds for the biennium.  This is a modest increase over the 2012/2013 budget, an increase that goes a long way towards restoring the devastating cuts to essential services throughout the state.

 Highlights:

    • Creates a commission with a short timeline to develop a NH Model for Medicaid Expansion with a report due 10/15/13.
    • Fully restores and adds $3 million to our community college system in exchange for a tuition freeze for the next two years.
    • Substantially restores cuts made to our public universities, which should enable a tuition freeze.
    • Fully restores the UNIQUE Scholarship Program
    • Increases funding in Long Term Care, including fully funding county portion
    • Provides $28 million to address New Hampshire’s strained mental health system: expands acute care beds, adds a new designated receiving facility, adds community residence beds, provides subsidies for housing and support services, adds 10 Assertive Community Treatment Teams to assist people in crisis, and increases other community support services.
    • Eliminates the DD Waitlist
    • Fully restores the Children in Need of Services Program
    • Fully funds LCHIP at $8.6 million
    • Provides technical assistance by strengthening our economic development efforts and revitalizing our International Trade Office.
    • Increases funding for travel and tourism promotion.
    • Improves public safety by putting 15 additional troopers on the road, filling vacancies in the attorney general’s office, funding drug task force teams
    • Protects our state’s commitment to our public K-12 education system by fully funding the existing Adequacy formula and increasing the cap, increasing funding to 58 towns.
    • Fully funds school building aid for current schools.
    • Prevents downshifting by providing full funding to local communities for delayed and deferred water projects, catastrophic aid and tuition & transportation assistance to local schools.
    • Increases rooms and meals distribution to local communities by $5 million
    • Increases funds for search and rescue at Fish & Game
    • Increased funding for family planning including Planned Parenthood
    • Begins to reverse the tax increase on hospitals by restoring funds for uncompensated care.
    • Restores nearly 60K/year in Domestic Violence funding
    • $17MM for new employee pay package that includes the first pay raises in 5 years & substantially bends the cost curve on health care costs.
    • Provides funding to ensure health care needs are met at the state Veteran’s Home
    • Provides funding for two positions for Ash Borer mitigation
    • Extends the Gambling Regulatory Commission & funds it for one year
    • Flood control payments of $785 thousand to mitigate the loss of taxable land due to flood controls to 18 towns in the Merrimack Valley Flood Control Compact.
    • An additional $16.9 million in general fund spending needed to fund tentative contracts the state has made with four unions, which include the first cost-of-living raises for state workers since January 2009.

Cuts

The budget uses a number of across-the-board cuts to balance the books, including

    • $7 million cut to HHS,
    • $10 million cut to the Judicial Branch,
    • $2 million cut to the Legislative Branch,
    • $1.25 million cut to the Sununu Youth Services Center
    • $1.25 million cut to Department of Revenue Administraton
    • $500,000 cut to the New Hampshire Veterans Home.
    • The Senate proposed $50 million cut to personnel costs, with at least $20 million in general fund savings. Democrats warned that could lead to hundreds of layoffs, and the House negotiators instead proposed a $20 million lapse that would require savings across all spending, not just wages and benefits.  In the end, the compromise budget included an additional $10 million lapse and a $25 million personnel cut with $10 million to come from the general fund.  Rather than identify areas that should be cut, Senate budget writers chose to fund programs on one side of the page and offset that with debilitating cuts on the backside.  During negotiations they were asked to defer those cuts to the second year of the biennium, reduced by any revenue surplus beyond their own projections. This would further allow the Governor and agency heads to better plan and execute re-organization and implementation of these deep cuts.  The Senate refused, but, through negotiations, the House was able to reduce the cut by half.

Surplus

A surplus from the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013 was moved forward.

Revenues

The 2014/2015 Budget includes no tax or fee increases.

      • The House had proposed a 30-cent hike in the cigarette tax, a 12-cent hike in the gas tax spread over three years and $5 increases in the fees for a saltwater fishing license and marriage license.
      • All were rejected by the Senate, along with higher estimates for revenue from existing taxes and fees that had been proposed by the House.
      • The budget does allow an automatic increase in tobacco tax rates to take effect Aug. 1, including a 10-cent cigarette tax hike to $1.78 per pack. The tax had been cut 10 cents as part of the 2011 budget.
      • It draws on revenue from other sources to fund the next budget, including an expected surplus of $56.9 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, extra auditors at the Department of Revenue Administration to generate an additional $16.4 million in revenue and a $16.1 million transfer to the general fund from the Renewable Energy Fund. 

Rejected:

    • Office of Innovation,
    • Green Launching Pad
    • Robotics Programs 

Maintained:

    • School vouchers

Balance:

The proposed two-year budget balances, if narrowly, with an estimated surplus of $44,000 at the end of the biennium, according to the nonpartisan legislative budget assistant’s office.

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