NH Budget

NHPR / Josh Rogers

It’s Monday morning. NHPR’s Josh Rogers joins Morning Edition to discuss developments on NH’s political front.

Lots of political activity over the weekend Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz all paying their respects to local Republicans. House budget writers busy. Let’s start with presidential politics.

Jim Bowen / Flickr/CC

  Earlier this month, Maine’s Republican Governor Paul LePage presented his $6.3 billion, two-year budget. Along with some sweeping changes to the tax structure, LePage has proposed eliminating local aid to towns and cities.

Christopher Cousins, statehouse reporter for the Bangor Daily News joined Morning Edition.

courtesy University of New Hampshire

  The Governor’s budget proposal would fund the University System of New Hampshire with an additional thirteen million dollars which just a portion of the money the university system is asking for.

The system has stated that amount would be insufficient to maintain a freeze on in-state tuition, but they are waiting until the budget is finalized before setting rates.

Pamela Diamantis, the chair of the university system board of trustees, joined Morning Edition.

Dave via Flickr CC

 

Gov. Maggie Hassan says she still wants to bring a casino to NH but is a "realist."

The Governor told lawmakers her decision to fund her $11.5 billion budget with $27m from yet-to-be-legal Keno doesn’t mean she’s changed her mind about supporting a full-blown Casino.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

We'll sit down with Governor Hassan to discuss her budget for the next biennium, the current legislature, and her goals for the next two years.

GUEST:

  • Maggie Hassan - New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, a democrat in her second term.  She’s also a former state senator from Exeter, and a former Senate Majority Leader.

Governor Hassan Delivers 2015 Budget Address

Feb 12, 2015
Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Maggie Hassan delivered her 2015 budget address to a joint session of the N.H. Legislator Thursday.

Click through the gallery above to see photos of the address. Scroll down for our live blog, the full text of her speech, as well as the Republican response, related links, explainers, and photographs.

Reporting by Brian Wallstin, NHPR Staff. Photography by Allegra Boverman.

Marc Nozell / NHPR

  Governor Maggie Hassan will include a new, administrative position for state government: a Chief Operating Officer.

The position, modeled after COOs in the private sector, would improve the state’s efficiency. The idea came from a commission convened by Hassan in twenty thirteen. It released its final report last month, which says the Chief Operating Officer would oversee operations for staff and IT across state agencies.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Maggie Hassan will today present her spending plan for the next two years on Thursday. Budget writers face several key challenges this year.

Will the Governor again include a casino in her budget? Will she propose spending on commuter rail, a goal she called crucial when she was sworn in? We’ll have to wait for the speech to see. Hassan didn’t tip her hand in brief comments to reporters.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

The high cost of two major lawsuits against the state are complicating the next state budget, and it's not the first time that's happened.

A settlement over mental health services will cost the state $24 million in the upcoming budget, and another suit over a hospital tax could take up to $80 million from the general fund. These costs won't be easily swallowed in an already tight budget of roughly $10.7 billion.

NHPR Staff

    

New Hampshire’s nursing home advocates are pushing back against a proposed $7 million cut in Medicaid reimbursement rates.

The cut is part of a plan recently unveiled by state officials to close a $58 million shortfall in the current Department Health and Human Services budget, which ends in June.

John Poirier is president and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, which represents more than 90 nursing homes and assisted living centers across the state.

He joins Morning Edition to talk about his concerns with the plan.

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.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire's top health official warned lawmakers his department’s current budget has what amounts to an $82 million shortfall. The legislature’s fiscal committee meets Friday to consider a proposal by the Governor to balance the state budget by July.

As he briefed the house finance committee, Health and Human Services commissioner Nick Toumpas stressed what many lawmakers already know – that his department faces a tough balance sheet.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The state budget is facing a $30 million dollar shortfall, according to the Legislative Budget Office. Legislative budget assistant Jeff Pattison briefed lawmakers today. He stressed that the number could grow or shrink between now and the end of the fiscal year.

“We are looking at about a 30 million dollar problem, but that’s as of January 14th. There are a lot of things that are going to be happening between now and June 30th. My expectation is these numbers will still be changing when we get to the committee of conference in June.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

NHPR’s Josh Rogers joins Rick Ganley Monday mornings to discuss developments on New Hampshire’s political front.

Governor Hassan has begun her second term. Republicans voted Saturday to give Jennifer Horn another turn as party chair. And back to work for lawmakers in Concord. Let’s start with the GOP state committee meeting over the weekend, the re-election of Jennifer Horn. Significant?

NHPR Staff

The new legislative session kicked off Wednesday, and by all accounts, the most pressing issue for lawmakers will be crafting a new, two year state budget.

The state is looking at potentially more than $100 million in new costs, and that’s before taking into account a possible multi-million dollar deficit in the current budget.

Republican Neal Kurk of Weare is the chairman of the House Finance Committee joined Morning Edition to talk about the task ahead for lawmakers.

N.H. Legislative Roundup: A Look Ahead To 2015

Jan 5, 2015
ahlasny / Flickr/CC

We sit down with New Hampshire House and Senate leaders to talk about what might be in store this new session. 2015 is a budget year, so expect state spending and revenues to take center stage.  And beyond that, we'll talk about a few of the 800 bill requests have been filed so far, on topics ranging from voter registration to restrictions on drones. 

GUESTS:

Bill Would Cut Circumcisions From Medicaid Payments

Dec 26, 2014
Jon Ovington

A bill proposed in the state legislature would end Medicaid payments for circumcisions.

The bill’s sponsor, state representative Keith Murphy of Bedford, describes the practice as unethical.

"To me there’s something fundamentally wrong about strapping a baby boy to a board and amputating perfectly healthy, normal tissue," says Murphy.

Murphy adds trimming circumcisions from the state budget will save money, although how much will be determined by the legislature next year.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

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.

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.

NHPR Staff

School's now in session for New Hampshire's newly elected state representatives, who are spending two days touring the State House and learning the ropes of legislative procedure.

New Hampshire's community colleges want $6.4 million in new money in the next budget to lower tuition by $10 per credit hour.

Brainlesssteel via Flickr CC

The University System of New Hampshire wants an additional $52 million in the next budget to maintain its tuition freeze, give more scholarships to students in science and math fields and lower tuition for some community college students.

Representatives presented this request to Gov. Maggie Hassan Thursday morning, kicking off three days of budget proposals. These requests serve as a guideline for Hassan as she begins to develop her budget that's due to the Legislature in February.

Ben McLeod / Flickr Creative Commons

State agencies are starting to present their budget requests for New Hampshire's next two-year budget to Gov. Maggie Hassan.

In a debate Thursday morning on WGIR, Governor Maggie Hassan repeatedly went after Republican Walt Havenstein for a pledge he signed earlier this year with the conservative group Americans for Prosperity.

“By singing that Koch brothers pledge, he is pledging to undo our Medicaid expansion, he’s pledging no matter what to do what the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity tell him to do.”

NHPR Staff

Governor Maggie Hassan says the state finished the last fiscal year with a $19.5 million surplus.

It was the first year of the state’s two-year, $10.7 billion budget.

Hassan says meals and rooms and real estate transfer tax remained strong, though cautioned revenue shortfalls from business taxes and the interest and dividends tax have put a strain on the state’s budget.

In addition, Hassan says the state Department of Health and Human Services has seen caseload growth larger than anticipated.

Brainlesssteel via Flickr CC

  Republican State Senate Leadership responded Tuesday to the University System of New Hampshire Trustees’ request to restore University funding to 2009 levels, a $16 million dollar increase between 2015 and 2016, in exchange for another two years tuition freeze.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan has sent state agencies a letter asking them to submit conservative budget proposals that keep spending increases at a minimum for fiscal years 2016-2017.

The letter includes a request for agencies to submit proposals for improving their efficiency and effectiveness. The instructions were included as part of the state's biennial budget manual, which was delivered in training sessions Wednesday.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

Governor Hassan has signed legislation designed to strengthen the state’s mental health system, a result of a class-action lawsuit filed in 2012.

The law allocates roughly $11 million through next fiscal year for increased community-based treatment options including supportive housing and crisis response teams. It is the first portion of a $30 million settlement agreement reached in December.

The Disabilities Rights Center and U.S. Department of Justice had sued the state in federal court over its lack of adequate care for people with mental illness.

New Hampshire's Veterans Home is asking for $7 million for a third floor addition in the next capital budget — one of 150 projects submitted for consideration.

Veterans Home officials will make their pitch Tuesday at a hearing on the $227 million in spending requested by state agencies.

Gov. Maggie Hassan opened the two-days of hearings Monday with a warning that not all the projects will make the final cut next year when the governor and Legislature decide priorities. The capital budget approved last year was for $125 million from general tax funding.

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