We publish, unedited this statement from the NH Senate Finance Committee regarding the budget they have approved, which will be considered by the senate next week.  ~Publis Restores funding to DHHS, supports jobs, education

Concord, NH – Today, the Senate Finance Committee proposed a responsible, balanced budget.

“The budget we recommended today incorporates all of the Senate’s top priorities this session.  It is a solid proposal that focuses on the needs of our state’s most vulnerable, improving our economy, and stimulating job growth, all while living within our means,” said Senate Finance Chair Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith). “This budget provides a firm economic foundation for the state through increases to the State’s Rainy Day Fund and reductions to the tax burden placed on small business owners in the state. These elements will improve the state’s economy, add jobs, and allow businesses to expand.”

“The Senate Finance Committee agreed to restore funding to our most vulnerable citizens, which includes programs like Meals on Wheels, ServiceLink, the Developmental Disability services, and other critical services that have significant impacts for New Hampshire’s elderly and disabled communities,” Forrester continued. “By funding programs that allow citizens to stay in their homes, we are effectively saving taxpayer dollars that would otherwise go to cover higher costs for nursing home care.”

“I am also proud to say that the Committee was able to restore the funding formula for the Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Treatment fund, which had been suspended since 2003 and was not included in the Governor’s budget. By restoring this to a top funding priority, the state will be better prepared to serve those dealing with addiction,” Forrester added. “Through the Committee’s work, we provided $32 million for drug and alcohol abuse treatment and prevention across numerous departments overall.”

“We have built a thoughtful, conservative, and compassionate budget and I hope to see the Senate’s full support on the floor next week,” said Forrester.

The Senate Finance Committee included a long overdue measure to help small businesses grow jobs by phasing in modest reductions to the state’s Business Enterprise Tax and the Business Profits Tax in the budget proposal. These reductions would provide tax relief to businesses employing 95% of New Hampshire’s private sector workforce and help increase job growth across the state.

As part of the Senate budget proposal, the BPT would be reduced from 8.5% to 8.3%, and the BET from 0.75% to 0.725% in 2017. Both taxes would drop twice over the next four years, with the BPT ending at 7.9% and the BET at 0.675% by 2020.

“The Senate Finance Committee took steps to create jobs in the State of New Hampshire by reducing business tax rates. These reductions will allow business owners to re-invest in their business, spurring economic growth,” said Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem).

“This important step shows the rest of New England and the country that we are open for business, and- as New Hampshire will become a more competitive place to do business and encourage new businesses to move here. Without this reduction, New Hampshire would have had the highest business tax rate in New England, and would have remained the 48th highest tax rate nation-wide,” Morse continued.

“This proposed budget also increases the State’s Rainy Day Fund to $20 million, more than doubling the amount proposed by the Governor. By increasing this fund, the State’s credit rating will likely improve, and New Hampshire’s taxpayers will be protected from unexpected economic downturns,” Morse added. “We have included a number of important economic policies in this budget that will improve the state’s economy overall.”

“Higher Education in New Hampshire remained a serious priority because of the high tuition costs. The Senate Finance Committee was able to restore $11 million over the next biennium to the University System of New Hampshire and also added $1.25 million per year to the Community College System of New Hampshire, which allows the institution to freeze tuition rates over the next two years,” said Senate Finance Vice Chair Jerry Little (R-Weare).

“By providing additional funding to the University System of New Hampshire, we hope they will consider freezing tuition over the next biennium as well. This would be a significant benefit to so many of our state’s students,” Little added.

“The Senate Finance Committee also worked hard to restore full funding to the State’s Division of Travel and Tourism to $4.7 million each year, which plays a critical role in marketing and promoting tourism opportunities statewide. Many of New Hampshire’s small businesses rely on a strong tourism industry to be successful and it is important that we support initiatives that benefit our state’s business owners,” said Little.

The Senate Finance Committee increased the share of Meals and Rooms revenue that goes to New Hampshire’s cities and towns by $5 million in FY 2017.

“Increasing the amount of Meals and Rooms tax revenue that goes back into local communities is significant because it will provide additional support for local initiatives while also restoring the original intent of the statute,” said Senate Finance Vice-Chair Jerry Little (R-Weare).

The Senate Finance Committee also made changes in support of education funding in New Hampshire. The Committee proposal would phase out the education funding cap and stabilization grants, resulting in a state aid increase of $4 million dollars.

“The funding equation adjustment being proposed better supports communities with a limited tax base but maintains a strong educational system for all of the state’s public school students,” said Senator John Reagan (R-Deerfield).

The Committee also increased funding for the state’s public charter schools by $250 per student. In addition, public charter school funding would be increased annually to account for inflation, which already occurs for district public schools.

“Public Charter Schools in New Hampshire are traditionally funded at a lower rate than other district schools, making it difficult for them to be sustainable. Included in this budget is a plan to increase the state’s contribution of per-student funding, we are supporting public schools that operate in a less traditional educational setting but which have shown an increase in student success in districts across the state,” added Reagan.

The full Senate will vote on the budget on June 4th.

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