Senators: Much Still To Do On Next State Budget

May 25, 2015

State Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem). File photo.
Credit Allegra Boverman / NHPR

The president of the New Hampshire Senate says he expects the process of writing a new two-year state budget to continue for more than a month.

Republican Chuck Morse of Salem spoke on WMUR-TV’s “Close Up” this weekend. While the Senate is looking to pass its version of the budget by June 4, lawmakers must send the governor a final budget by the end of June. 

One issue that looks to be out of the that budget is Medicaid expansion. Morse defended the Senate Finance Committee’s vote last week to remove an extension plan for Medicaid expansion from budget talks. 

“[The program is] in place until January of 2017," Morse said, noting he was one of the authors of the expansion bill. "We all believed when we were building that legislation that we needed to come back and review it and review the federal government’s position on where they were going with health care. I think that’s what we’ll do in 2016; we’ve made that clear.”

Senate Democrats say putting off the discussion over Medicaid until next year could put health insurance at risk for roughly 40,000 low income adults in the state. They also say approving an expansion now would give the health insurance system the time to ensure coverage will stay available for those who need it.

Democrats in the Senate are also pushing for higher funding to stem the growing amount of  opioid abuse in the next two-year state budget.

Senator Andrew Hosmer of Laconia said he’s not satisfied the funding levels being discussed in budget talks are enough to deal with the issue. “The governor has recommended that we put about $9 million to substance abuse. The House is up to about $6.5 million," Hosmer told WMUR. We still have almost $3 million to go to get to where I think we need to be to address this problem.”

Senate Republicans say their plan adds funding for the Department of Safety and allocates money to directly combat heroin and opioid abuse.