The Concord Monitor reports today that dozens of lobbyists and special interest groups attended a House budget committee meeting yesterday. The lobbyists and groups asked for more taxpayer money to fund their favorite government projects and programs. Lobbyists requested more money for substance abuse programs, at-home personal assistants, pension increases, free legal services, the notorious “heritage” investment projects, and Medicare enhancement (a 5.5% tax on all medical services). Likewise, the University of New Hampshire system warned the budget writers against cutting its new $165 million in earmarked funds.
Despite the massive increases in spending this would be, some want to eat their cake and have it too, asking Gov. Maggie Hassan to reject any new tax revenue from casino gambling. Hassan’s tardy budget proposal relied on $80 million in tax revenues from casino gambling. Casino gambling is a felony in New Hampshire, presently. Hassan supports giving a single privately owned, foreign corporation a monopoly on casino gambling within New Hampshire.
In 2012, the House of Representatives cheered as they passed the largest state budget cuts in recent memory, scaling back wasteful government spending almost 11%. But Hassan’s budget would roll back those savings by increasing spending by over 10%. The Monitor reports that there were “no loud calls yesterday to cut state spending” at yesterday’s public hearing.
One Nashua resident, Keith Micheal has a different take on the hearing process. “The whole point of the regional budget hearings is for people to show up and complain that the NH budget isn’t large enough,” he commented. Michael, working with a group called NH Freedom, is trying to organize people to show up at the meetings and ask for budget cuts. Because those people aren’t asking the government for money, they typically have no personal interest in going to the hearings. By raising awareness of the reckless tax-and-spend policies that are overtaking Concord, hopefully more people will attend.
A business student in Manchester, Erick Todd, agreed in substance about the ballooning state budget. “Government progress is measured by ever increased budgets. Real progress is measured by accomplishing more with fewer resources.”
“The economy has been rough for a long time. Wages are stagnant. It’s just not fair for people to earn less while we continue to demand more,” said a Democratic representative, who was reelected in 2012 but disagrees with all of the proposed budget increases. The representative asked not to be identified by name, fearing that it would cause problems with her party.
A former State Representative, Seth Cohn (R), who was in office when the Republicans cut the budget 11%, publicly commented on the proposed budget: “I want to see cuts. Lots of cuts.”
However, so far this year, the Democrat-controlled House has already considered new taxes on gasoline, heating oil, beer, and what-would-have-been New Hampshire’s first 1% tax on personal income. If the present Tax-and-Spend policies continue, cuts won’t be coming to New Hampshire taxpayers any time soon.
The remaining public budget hearings are scheduled as follows:
Regional NH House Budget Hearing – Nashua, March 11 at 5:00pmRegional NH House Budget Hearing – Whitefield, March 11 at 5:00pmRegional NH House Budget Hearing – Rochester, March 18 at 5:00pmRegional NH House Budget Hearing – Claremont, March 18 at 5:00pm