With rising need and limited dollars, how best can we use funding? Should we add more acute care hospital beds, boost community services, focus on drug and alcohol treatment or diseases like schizophrenia?
With a Thursday deadline fast approaching for an agreement on the state’s next budget, House and Senate leaders remain apart on many of the issues that divide them.
Medicaid expansion--perhaps the most divisive single item--remains on hold. So do House-backed increases to the gas and cigarette tax.
The two sides did spar on the Senate’s proposed $50 million so-called back of the budget cut to state personnel. Democrat Mary Jane Wallner, lead House negotiator, opposes the move, and says public services have already been cut to the bone.
The House has rejected revenues from the Senate’s gambling bill while Senators have said no to higher taxes on gasoline and cigarettes. Meanwhile Governor Hassan says she still wants to fund her priorities but after these votes, finding that money will be difficult and cuts may in store. We’ll examine how it might all play out.
While work on the state’s next two year budget continues in the Senate, the Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET), a levy on hospital revenue, still sits in the spotlight.
MET collection is $34 million short of estimates for this fiscal year. In Monday's Senate Finance Committee meeting, lawmakers expressed concern about overly optimistic forecasts for the next two year cycle.
Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas testified before the committee. He says that while his agency oversees Medicaid, it doesn’t handle taxes.
If the Senate bill that proposes a single casino in the state becomes law it “would dedicate millions of dollars per year directly to North Country economic development,” Governor Maggie Hassan said during a speech Thursday night before the North Country Chamber of Commerce.
That would spur business and job growth “helping us attract new companies by marketing the North Country’s advantages to businesses in Canada and elsewhere,” she told about 125 people at the Log Haven Restaurant on lonely Route 26 in Millsfield, about 145 miles from Concord.
Yesterday, Governor Maggie Hassan presented her priorities for state spending. It was a long list that included more funding for mental health, higher education, state troopers and a new women’s prison. On the funding side – Hassan proposed a higher tobacco tax and Casino Gambling. But not everyone agrees that the numbers add up. We’ll look at the details and where the budget battles go from here.