Governor Margaret Wood Hassan dropped a bomb shell on the budget negotiations with Republican legislative leaders yesterday, holding a press conference to announce a compromise budget proposal. Quoting from a posting on the state’s Web site, Hassan’s compromise budget:
- lowers the Business Profits Tax to 7.9 percent for the 2016 tax year, three years earlier than the Committee of Conference budget, while increasing the threshold on who has to file and pay the Business Enterprise Tax, eliminating the tax completely for 5,500 small businesses
- includes funds to address the concerns raised by House Bill 550, (the so called Planet Fitness bill) and calls for additional public hearings on the language in August
- increases the cigarette tax by 21 cents and includes parity for e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. Hassan says this is necessary to offset the business tax cuts
- increases the state portion of motor vehicle registration fee by five dollars
- closes what she calls a tax loophole restoring the Taxpayer Protection and Fair Documentation requirements to the state’s tax code, ensuring that all taxpayers are treated fairly
- provides $5.7 million dollars more than the Committee of Conference budget for substance abuse prevention and treatment
- moves up extension of substance abuse benefits to the existing Medicaid population to this January and
- provides additional funds to support other efforts, such as a drug court in the city of Manchester
Hassan says her proposal recognizes that Republican legislators want to take up reauthorization of the B outside of the budget, saying she does not remove the sunset for expansion, but it includes funds for the legislature to collect data on the program in the interim and ensures that funds are available to move forward if the program is reauthorized at a later date.
In a statement issued to the press, Senate President Chuck Morse, Republican from Salem, called the proposal a “political stunt,” saying he was “disappointed to learn of the governor’s compromise through a press conference.” While he welcomed Hassan’s agreeing to lower business taxes, he wrote it was concerning that she increased spending by about one hundred million dollars and added about one hundred million dollars in new taxes and revenues to pay for it.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Jeanie Forrester, Republican from Meredith, said Hassan’s compromise quote “appears to increase $3 in taxes on New Hampshire citizens for every $1 in cuts made to business taxes, we don’t think that’s a formula that works for working families.” She went on to restate the talking points the G O P has worked off in recent weeks, including chiding the governor for her reckless veto of their responsible and balanced budget. Forrester said the best way to resolve the budget impasse would be to override Hassan’s veto on September sixteenth.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Quote: “…we the undersigned, as current members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, are urging you to immediately rescind any and all standing orders, regulations, policies and practices that would prohibit New Hampshire National Guard personnel in good standing from carrying personal firearms at their own discretion, either openly or concealed. We need to allow New Hampshire’s military guardians the best and most effective way to counter the threat to our state and their safety.”
That’s what sixty seven state representatives had to say in a letter to Governor Margaret Wood Hassan in light of the shooting that claimed five lives at a Navy recruiting center in Chattanooga, TN.
“Due to the multi-dimensional threat posed to our nation and our state by various terror groups, including radical Islamic Jihadists, it is our firm opinion that it is imprudent to continue to refuse New Hampshire National Guard personnel their right to arm themselves at their own discretion,”
wrote the lawmakers, who also said that several other states have already implemented a similar policy.
Manchester’s coming elections got a bit more interesting yesterday as more people went to City Hall on the day before the filing period closes to declare their candidacies. Among them was Alderman at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur. As a result of his filing, there will be a primary for that seat on September fifteenth, his being the fifth candidacy for the two seats.
Primaries also emerged in the races for Welfare Commissioner and school board in Ward Six as Joseph McKinley Leonard filed for Welfare Commissioner and Larraine Lencki and former school board member Dan Bergeron filed in Ward Six. Lencki has been nominated to fill the vacancy caused by Robyn Dunphy’s departure from the board. Dunphy’s husband found a job in Massachusetts.
In other filings, Timothy Sawyer will take on Ward One School Committeewoman Sarah Ambrogi, Sarah Browing has filed for a second consecutive time against Debra Langton for school board in Ward Two. Charles Guercio entered the race or Alderman in Ward Four. Also in Ward Four, Citizens for Manchester Schools activist Leslie Want registered her candidacy for school board. Local music icon Jimmy Lehoux will challenge Erika Connors for the Ward Eight school board seat. Former Ward Eleven Alderman Russ Ouellette made the candidacy he first declared on our radio show official and Christine Duffley will again square off against Connie Van Houten for school board in Ward Twelve. We’ve linked to the story we published about the filings last night, which includes an up to date list of all filings. The filing period closes today at five o’clock. Despite yesterday’s filings, there remain several seats without candidates and even more so called Soviet Ballots.
Note on a story we’ve been following in the Timberlane Regional School District. The court action filed by the towns of Sandown and Danville against the district to prevent it from using the Sandown Central Elementary School, which it de-funded in the budget and voted to close, will be heard in Rockingham Superior Court today.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!