Chuck Morse

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. 

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Senate President Chuck Morse has repeatedly said he won’t include money derived from unapproved forms of gambling in the senate budget proposal. He reiterated that point as he pitched the casinos -- which could include a total of 5000 slot machines and 240 table games -- to the house ways and means committee.

"You know we are going to fund the needs of the people of the state of N.H. in the state budget, but I can assure you the wants are much greater."

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Health and Human Services commissioner Nick Toumpas told lawmakers he will make up most of the $58 million hole in his budget through $45 million in cuts and savings, including trims for community health centers and family planning programs.

But the issue rankling lawmakers the most is $7 million of payment cuts to nursing homes.

Toumpas told the legislature’s fiscal committee those cuts were a tough call.

“I just had not a whole lot of options, in terms of what we needed to do.”

NHPR Staff

As she presented the cuts to the legislature’s joint fiscal committee, Governor Hassan told lawmakers there are two things driving New Hampshire’s growing budget shortfall.

"This is a challenge created by both tax law changes and increased demand and federal law changes in our Medicaid caseload."

These issues are familiar to budget watchers. Medicaid caseload are up – the publicity surrounding Medicaid expansion is one reason. Another are federal changes that have increased eligibility.

Gov. Maggie Hassan has spent the last several days taking her push to expand Medicaid out side of Concord, and into the districts of GOP Senators.

Speaking at SNHU, in the home district of Republican David Boutin, Hassan said the GOP needs to bend.

"Every time we put forward a compromise, we are told that it’s no good, it’s still their original plan."

Back at the statehouse, Senate President Chuck Morse insisted that’s not true.

"We are open to suggestions.'

Governor Hassan stumped for expansion in Plymouth. That’s the home district of Republican Jeanie Forrester, the senate’s new finance chair.

Last week Hassan visited Hampton, a town represented by Republican Senator Nancy Stiles. And on Saturday night, speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser, Hassan told the crowd of 1000 that the Medicaid proposal backed by senate Republicans simply won’t work.

“The bad deal that the Senate Republicans are offering will hurt our citizens and our state more than no deal at all.”

Ben McLeod / Flickr Creative Commons

  Lawmakers returned to Concord Thursday to debate a major part of the federal health overhaul law: expansion of Medicaid. In New Hampshire, such a move would provide insurance coverage to an estimated 50,000 low income residents.

State of New Hampshire

Chuck Morse won bipartisan praise for his work on the state budget, and before being voted in as the senate's new leader, he was was hailed by both Republicans as Democrats in nominating speeches.

Morse replaced Peter Bragdon, who gave up the gavel amid controversy after he took a job to leading the quasi-public local government center.

In his first speech as the senate’s new president, Chuck Morse urged colleagues to put the needs of their constituents first.