In a clear display of partisanship, the NH Senate voted down straight party lines to pass an $11.3 billion state budget yesterday. Democrats filed over a dozen amendments to make fixes to the budget and were thwarted at every turn. The consistent vote count for the day was 10-14 or 14-10, a reminder of the Republican stronghold in the Senate.
The budget does not include money to keep Medicaid expansion in place beyond 2016, effectively eliminating tens of thousands of disadvantaged NH citizens’ access to health insurance. It also does not fund the modest cost of living adjustment for executive branch employees that had been negotiated in good faith with the Governor’s bargaining team in early 2015. You can read more about that here.
Democrats brought forward amendments that would increase funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment; the Department of Corrections; higher public education; and winter maintenance of NH roads.
Meanwhile, the Senate Republicans were successful in their attempt to reduce business taxes for businesses once again in this budget. They see this as a means of attracting more business to the state. But, we know better. The tax advantages given to businesses during the O’Brien legislature have decreased revenue to the point that critical state services are now being decimated. What will the results of even more tax breaks for business look like by 2017?