New Hampshire budget negotiators reach $11.7B, 2-year deal
Jun 15 2017
In order for the report on House Bill 107 to pass, it had to receive support from the majority of members from each chamber, meaning it needed support from at least three senators and three delegates, regardless of the margin of difference among the entire committee.
The bills would have to be reconciled and signed by Gov. Jim Justice to take effect.
The House hasn't yet passed its final version of the budget, but voted on a set of amendments that essentially reworked the spending plan to one that resembles the plan that the Senate and Gov. This version aims to balance a budget in the face of a projected shortfall of almost $1 billion, as state revenues have continued to come in under estimates. "[T] he only cash cow that I see in the next two years to save the state of MS is the BP money", Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said, referring to the BP lawsuit settlement funds the Legislature will have to appropriate. The adjustment letter dated Tuesday increases previous estimates by some $170 million, inching lawmakers closer to closing a budget gap. Democrats lambasted the bill on the floor, pointing to budget cuts that have led to people kicked out of programs funded through Medicaid and the Department of Mental Health. "The alternative is to base the budget on revenue estimates, and cuts have to be made somewhere".
"Live within your means", advised House Finance Chairman Eric Nelson, echoing a phrase that his Republican colleagues sometimes use to describe budget necessities. It also cuts business taxes and legalizes KENO as way to help school districts pay for full day kindergarten.
Despite the latest setback, Armstead said, progress is being made on the budget plan.
"To be cautious and to be prudent and manage the shortfall that may exist in a responsible way without leaving that money on the table and without forcing the reductions that you're going to see", Dardenne said.
The committee hearing debate focused on the disagreement between House fiscal conservatives and the Edwards Administration.
He said much hard work has been going on in the Legislature, and he was personally offended by remarks suggesting House members were wasting time in Charleston.
The death of HB 107 was the most budget-altering event of the day, as lawmakers were hopeful to get a chance to vote on the provisions laid out by the committee.
Lawmakers have not finalized an operating budget or plan to address the state's deficit.
The question remains, however, if the governor will actually sign a budget that includes more than $100 million in cuts that aren't accounted for in his own plan.
House Bill 107 would have required West Virginians to begin paying sales tax on services and goods that are now exempt from it, which was estimated to bring in $86 million in fiscal year 2018.