Governor Maggie Hassan and Senate Majority Leader, Jeb Bradley appeared in separate interviews to discuss the proposed state budget. The governor is threatening to veto. Governor Hassan has three areas of concern about the proposed budget. She feels that it is not a balanced budget; and, in some instances, it is unclear about what it is funding. The governor also wants the budget to address what she identifies as key priorities needed to keep New Hampshire’s economy moving forward. Keeping down the cost of higher education, for example. Senator Bradley feels that it is an honest and balanced budget which generously meets the needs of the Granite State.
An important sticking point for Governor Hassan is that the business tax cuts which are being proposed are not paid for in the budget. She suggests that some tax loop holes be closed in order to offset the business tax cuts which are important to the other side. She stated several times that she is willing to meet and to discuss similar areas of compromise. She is also concerned that out of state corporations would be benefiting from the cuts. Senator Bradley considers the tax cuts to be of critical importance for job security and development in New Hampshire. He maintains that the important factor is not if the corporation is headquartered out of state. It’s more important that the jobs are in New Hampshire. Bradley is concerned that New Hampshire currently has the country’s 48th highest business tax rate and is even higher than Massachusetts. He is worried that many New Hampshire businesses will move south to the Bay State. In addition, Sen. Bradley cited that New Hampshire is 10th worst in job growth. In addition to improving the tax climate, he believes that it is vital for New Hampshire that work has to be done to lower the costs of energy, workman’s compensation, and health care. The senator stated that the lost revenue from the cuts will come to $90 million, but it would be mitigated by being spread out over a 9 year period. In addition, if there is job growth as the result of the lower business taxes, that would help to close the short term loss of revenue.
An additional sticking point in the budget would be possible raises for state employees. Governor Hassan believes that the should get their raises now. Senator Bradley held out the possibility of giving raises to state employees by next January. To some, it seems that this is the tipping point of the budget. Should there be raises for state employees or tax cuts for businesses?
Meanwhile, the June 30th deadline is looming. Governor Hassan does not see a continuing resolution as a viable solution because it does not fully fund state programs at the amounts projected in the new budget. Senator Bradley seemed more comfortable with a continuing resolution. He stated that on July 1st government services would be in place. However, he agreed that the amounts would not include the 5% budget increase rate. He pointed out that a continuing resolution would give the legislature and the governor a six month window to work things out.
So, at this point, Governor Hassan is threatening to veto the budget. Senator Bradley sees this as a political ploy by the governor as part of positioning herself for a run at higher office, US Senator Kelly Ayotte’s seat.
Time is running out, and time will tell.