The House Finance Committee officially finished up its work on the next two-year state budget proposal on Tuesday. The spending plan heads to a vote of the full House next Wednesday.
The vote in favor of the House budget was 16 to 9, with all of the committee's Republicans joined by two Democrats.
Key policy changes in the plan include a cut in the number of beds at the state’s only juvenile detention center aimed at increasing more community-based care, added money for road and bridge repairs and an adjustment to health care benefits for state retirees.
Under the proposal, state retirees 68 and older who is eligible for Medicare would be exempt from paying health care costs, meanwhile those younger than 65 would see their rates increase from 12.5% to 20%. And those 65, 66 and 67 would have a premium contribution of at least 10% of their retirement allowance. Those 68 and older who would be exempt from making payments includes more than 7,300 people.
There’s also $50 million set aside for local property tax relief. House Finance Chairman Neal Kurk says it’s a budget he can proudly stand behind.
“We have done a very good job in taking care of the state’s needs without increasing taxes and there is some tax relief built into this budget,” Kurk said after Tuesday's vote.
The proposal also includes new revenue sources such as the electronic bingo game Keno and mobile lottery tickets. Keno has passed several times in the House but has historically fallen flat in the Senate.
Democrats opposed to the proposal argue it doesn't address funding for full-day kindergarten, child care or public education.
The overall plan comes in at $11.9 billion, which is slightly less than Governor Chris Sununu's proposal of $12.1 billion.