Gov. Maggie Hassan and Republican lawmakers have struck a deal on the state budget after nearly three months of negotiations.The agreement is centered on cuts to the state’s business taxes – the same issue that led the governor to veto the Republican-backed budget in June.
The proposal would keep the business tax cuts favored by Republicans but with two differences. One: It would fully put the cuts in place one year sooner than the Republican plan.
And two, to ease the governor’s concerns about a potential drop in tax collections, the cuts would not be fully implemented in 2018 as planned if state revenues failed to hit certain targets.
The plan also includes a pay raise for state employees.
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley says he is pleased with the agreement and hopeful it will pass in both chambers Wednesday.
“This agreement allows much of the tax decreases to go into effect and has an attainable revenue trigger, so I think this was a good package for again the people of the state of New Hampshire and the business interest in the state of New Hampshire," Bradley said.
Hassan said this deal addresses her concerns about paying for the business tax reductions while still allowing the state to move forward with included spending boosts for substance abuse and mental health services.
In order for this compromise plan to go into effect the House and Senate will each need a two-thirds majority. This might be difficult in the House, where a splintered Republican caucus has not always followed leadership’s cues this year.
But House Speaker Shawn Jasper is confident the party will come together on this issue.
“I believe that coalition will stay together and get this done because that’s what we are elected to do,"
Jasper said. "We are elected to govern, and all the people in this building -- I hope they get that. There is no benefit to anybody at this point to say no.”
Those opposed to the deal say they want to wait until the end of September to see what the state’s 2015 fiscal numbers look like.