The state budget will serve as the political battleground between Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan and Republican lawmakers in the upcoming session, with state spending on universities, prisons and services for vulnerable populations at the center.
The state is facing more than $100 million in new costs driven by one settlement with hospitals over a controversial tax and another with the federal government over mental health services.
The Department of Health and Human Services is running $48 million over its budget this year and state business revenues could come in below target, potentially leaving a deficit for lawmakers to tackle in the next budget. Still, state agencies are asking for $12.5 billion in spending — a number Hassan says is too high.
The session begins Jan. 7 and a budget must be approved by June 30.