For political junkies, policy wonks and other assorted budget watchers, February 15th is a big day. That’s the deadline for new Governor Maggie Hassan to submit her proposed FY 2014-2015 budget to the legislature. The House and Senate will then have until the end of this fiscal year, June 30th, to hash out an agreement.
But that long timeline hasn’t prevented speculation. Part of the interest, of course, is that Hassan–a Democrat–was a vocal opponent of budget cuts and tax cuts championed by the last, Republican-run, legislature.
She campaigned on reversing many of those cuts.
So it’s a safe bet that this upcoming budget won’t look just like the last one.
But how, exactly, will it be different? Reporter Ben Leubsdorf of the Concord Monitor offers some clues:
“The budget process has already started, as state agency heads and commissioners submit their proposed spending plans. All together, those proposals would increase state spending by 19 percent from the current biennium, and 21.1 percent just in the state’s general fund.
Hassan will put her own stamp on the budget when she submits her proposal to the Legislature. But with Democrats set to control the House and Republicans holding a slim majority in the Senate, any final budget will have to represent a compromise between the two chambers and the two parties. And Senate Republicans might not prove amenable to raising revenue through significantly higher taxes and fees.”
Leubsdorf also offers some of “Hassan’s hints” about the budget–which we’ve broken down here:
- Education: Bring University System and Community College System funding closer to old funding levels.
- Infrastructure: Improve roads and bridges and continue the I-93 widening project.
- Taxes and Fees: Oppose income or sales tax. Eliminate ten cent cigarette tax cut. Consider reinstating a vehicle registration surcharge (it was originally $30), raising the gas tax, and raising tolls. Hire back Department of Revenue Administration auditors who were laid-off due to budget cuts.
- Gaming: Allow one casino to increase revenues.
The article also goes into some of the complications involved with revenue projections, partisan politics, and making these changes at a delicate time for the state’s economy. So it’s well worth the read.