Standard & Poors, the bond rating agency whose opinions of a state’s or business’ credit worthiness typically has serious benefits or consequences on how their bonds are received in the market announced it’s gone negative on New Hampshire.
While the agency stopped short of downgrading the state’s bond rating, it switched its outlook on the state’s finances from stable to negative, a precursor to a downgrade. If that outlook doesn’t return to stable before the state goes to market in December to issue general obligation bonds, that’s debt paid for by taxpayer dollars, the state could be forced to pay higher interest rates on the debt it issues. S & P cited a variety of reasons for the negative outlook. It referred to the state’s significantly underfunded pension system, which is among the worst in the nation, and virtually dry Rainy Day Fund as problems. It also said a recent Superior Court ruling striking down the Medicaid Enhancement Tax on the state’s hospitals, which was projected to bring about one hundred eighty five million dollars into state coffers, was a concern. If the N H Supreme Court upholds the lower court’s action, they expressed doubt the state’s quote “thin financial position” end quote could handle the revenue loss. Republican leaders used the opportunity to drive home a point they’ve been making for months, that the state should use all of the last budget’s surplus to refill the Rainy Day Fund. House G O P Leader Gene Chandler said while the inadequate emergency reserve wasn’t the only factor in the negative outlook, he said it was a complicating one that demonstrated the need for proper reserves. He reminded everyone of the warnings given by State Treasurer Catherine Provencher on the matter in January. Senate President Chuck Morse said the report made it very clear that the state’s underfunded Rainy Day Fund and pension system have left the state in this thin financial position and that opposition in the House to banking the last budget’s surplus and attempts to create new public sector retirement benefits were quote “precisely the wrong steps to be taking.”
Also in Concord yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee shot down the latest bill approving casino gambling. This time Senate Bill 3 66, sponsored by Casino Lou D’Allasandro…again, which would have built two casinos, went down on an eleven to nine vote. Expect a floor fight with the more gambling folks using the aforementioned negative outlook from Standard and Poors and the court’s recent decision striking down a tax with big revenue dollars to make their case.
The House Judiciary Committee voted sixteen to four to send C A C R Seventeen, a constitutional amendment that would bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, to interim study. Conservative and religious groups said the amendment threatened the ability of religious institutions, churches and people of faith to exercise their right to the free exercise of religion and invalidate conscience laws and protections. Speaking of the ability to exercise one’s rights, the so called buffer zone bill is before the House Judiciary Committee this morning.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Boston Celtics player Jared Sullinger and officials from Southern New Hampshire University will be at the McLaughlin Middle School in Manchester to unveil a new, state of the art computer lab. The lab is one in a series of labs established by a Celtics/S N H U partnership that has purchased new Chromebooks, completely renovated and repainted the room, purchased new furniture and hung wall graphics. The lab will be available for McLaughlin students and teachers during and after school. Today’s event will feature an online scavenger hunt where students will get to learn about the Celtics, Boston, Jared Sullinger and SNHU using the donated technology.
The Manchester Police Department has issued a warning to citizens to hold on to their cell phones. Phones have been stolen lately by a thief who’s approached his victims by simply asking to borrow their phones to make a call. Once the phone is in hand, the black male teen, about six feet tall with a thin build and shaved head, is off to the races. He was last seen wearing a black vest over a red hooded sweatshirt, black pants and black shoes.
Police in Merrimack have issued a reminder about this Saturday’s Drug Take Back program. The department, and several of its counterparts in the region, will open their doors from ten to two on the twenty sixth to residents who want to unload unused, unwanted prescription drugs. If you have drugs you want to legally and properly dispose, contact your local P D to see if they’re taking part in the effort.
Finally this morning, a shout out to the Hooksett Youth Athletic Association. It received the Hooksett Kiwanis Club’s Community Impact Award at its recently held annual banquet. H Y A A president Stacy Howe, whose day job is that of a Manchester police officer, accepted the award. We have video of the presentation and Howe’s acceptance with this newscast at Girard at Large dot com.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is on the way!