Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I turned 39 (2014)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

NH Governor John Lynch waited until AFTER the election to announce his budget cuts!

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New Hampshire Governor John Lynch
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11/5/2008

In response to: "Lynch plans to bring his next round of proposed budget cuts to the joint legislative Fiscal Committee on Nov. 21, 2008", I do NOT like it when a politician is re-elected on FALSE promises and then he waits 17-days AFTER he is re-elected to disclose his NEXT round of budget cuts! That is NOT leadership, but rather, it is ugly political opportunism and campaign dishonesty. NH Governor John Lynch ran glowing TV & radio ads whereby he said he was making prudent decisions for the state government while advocating for the working class who have been impacted by the economic recession. Now, the REAL Governor John Lynch is going to make MORE budget cuts AFTER he was re-elected on FALSE promises to the same voters who depend upon the very state programs and services the governor knew he was going to cut into all along!

In Dissent!
Jonathan A. Melle

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"Dems retain control of NH state Senate, House"
By Norma Love, Associated Press Writer, November 5, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. --In a historic first, Democrats retained control of the state House and Senate in New Hampshire for a second consecutive election cycle.

"We definitely made history," Democratic House Speaker Terie Norelli said Wednesday. "There has never been a back-to-back Democratic majority in the House."

Norelli and acting House Republican Leader David Hess believe the Democratic majority will have roughly 222 seats -- give or take a seat or two once final tallies are confirmed. Republicans picked up a few seats from the 159 they had in the 400-member chamber over the past two years but fell short of topping 200 for a majority.

Democrats also maintained their 14-10 margin in the Senate -- which Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said also marks the first time Democrats have been put in charge of the chamber two consecutive elections.

Democrats won control in 2006 with 14 of 24 seats. Both parties retained control of the same districts Tuesday -- though six will have new faces to replace incumbents who did not seek re-election.

Prior to the 2006 victories, Democrats had last controlled the state Senate in 1998, but their 13-11 advantage ended the next year with the death of Democratic Senate President Clesson Blaisdell. In the House, Democrats hadn't been in charge since 1922.

Senate President Sylvia Larsen said Tuesday's election also made history in another way. For the first time in the United States, women make up the majority of a state legislative body, she said. Thirteen women were elected Tuesday.

"It's another step in history," she said.

Hess said Democrats' victory may be Democratic Gov. John Lynch's "worst nightmare" with the economy in recession and lagging revenues forcing deep budget cuts.

"He won't be able to blame Republicans for anything in this fiscal nightmare," said Hess of Hooksett.

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Norelli and Larsen said they are very aware of the state's budget problems. Lynch plans to bring his next round of proposed budget cuts to the joint legislative Fiscal Committee on Nov. 21.
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Lynch and lawmakers face at least a $160 million budget shortfall by July -- about 10 percent of the spending from general tax revenues.

"It's going to be very tough," Larsen said of making budget cuts. "We are celebrating today, but we also know we have to tighten our belts and make difficult reductions."

Norelli said the state of the economy keeps her awake some nights.

"What I know is it's not a pretty picture. The national economy is on its knees. New Hampshire is in better shape than many other states, which may not be comforting to us as we address our revenue shortfalls," she said. "We will have to consider all options."

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"About that deficit: What is Lynch to do?"
The New Hampshire Union Leader Online Daily Newspaper, Editorial, November 7, 2008

In exactly two weeks, Gov. John Lynch is supposed to deliver to the Legislative Joint Fiscal Committee his plan for balancing the state budget by the end of the fiscal year, June 30. The people have two weeks to find out if Gov. Lynch will try to balance his own deficit-ridden state budget by cutting spending or by raising taxes.

Gov. Lynch projects a $250 million budget deficit this year. With October revenues $14.7 million lower than projected, the deficit is already at $71.5 million. And it's only four months into the fiscal year.

Lynch has blamed the budget deficit on the slowing economy. That appears to be a factor in this fiscal year, the second of the two-year state budget. Revenues are not only below projections in the last few months, they are below previous levels. But in the first year of this budget, revenues were higher than in the previous year. The problem wasn't the revenues. It was the spending, which vastly outstripped the state's income.

Even though Republicans didn't lose a seat in the Executive Council or state Senate and gained 17 seats in the House on Tuesday, the perception that this was a Democratic year because of victories higher up the ticket prevails and could affect Lynch's actions.

When he had a Republican-majority Legislature in his first term, Gov. Lynch was careful to maintain the perception that he was fiscally conservative. But as soon as he got a Democratic majority to work with, he proposed massive spending increases funded by big tax and fee hikes. That budget is what now needs fixing. And if the governor feels that he has enough political cover to raise taxes and fees to fill at least part of the budget hole, he will do that.

But Gov. Lynch needs to be careful here. If he is hoping to hop up the political ladder in 2010, two straight years of tax and fee increases aren't going to help. He is sure to face a more serious challenger for any 2010 race than he has the past two elections. Solving this problem the traditional New Hampshire way -- by trimming excess expenses -- would be the wise political choice.

It also would be the responsible thing to do for the state and its people. But it was the responsible thing to do last time, and that wasn't enough to tempt the governor into doing it.
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Readers' COMMENTS:
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To Michael from Manchester, here you go. These are the state tax increases for 2007-through YTD 2008.

*Repealed communication tax exemption, increasing residential phone rates (HB 2)
*RGGI (unknown cost???)
*Increase in motorcycle registration fee by 25% (HB 2)
*Increase in registration fee for all automobiles of at least $6 per year (HB 2)
*Increase in the tax on both diesel and regular gasoline for cleanup fund (HB 1426)
*Increase in certain motor vehicle fees (HB 1596)
*HB 2 shifts to the county tax payers all future responsibility for all nursing home and Medicaid costs
*Increase in tobacco tax by .28 cents per pack (HB 2, 2007)
*Increase in tobacco tax by .25 cents per pack (if $50M is not raised by Oct-SB 321)
*New tax on cigars (HB 1309)
*Increase in tobacco licensing fees (SB 317)
*New tax on charitable gaming (HB 1509)
*Increase in the wild turkey fee from $5 to $15 for residents, and $5 to $30 for nonresidents (HB 2)
*Increase in the nonresident fee for moose permits to $450 (HB 2)
*Increase in tractor trailer registrations (HB 2)
*New fee for meals and rentals licenses (HB 599)
*New $25 fee assessed on each property transaction recording for LCHIP (HB 2)
Increase of registration fee for mortgage servicing companies (SB 161)
*Increase of fees for reviewing terrain alterations from $500 to $1250 (HB 2)
Increase of fees for shoreline structure application from $100 to $200, plus impact fee increase (HB 2)
*Increase of fees for impact dredge and fill projects application from $100 to $200 (HB 2)
*Increase of fees for hazardous waste management by $2500 (HB 472)
*New fee for certain cases in the judicial family court (SB 350)
*New $25 filing fee for court proceedings (HB 2)
- Don Rubby, Exeter, NH

LJC Manchester. "the $175M spent of the University systems should be eliminated. The students and their parents can cover that." Good idea, if that happened maybe they would study instead of party.
Leno, Raymond
- Leno Hebert, Raymond

No raised taxes. At all. CUT SPENDING. There is so much waste and welfare entitlement in this state that it's nauseating.

Liberals, who never mind spending other peoples' money for their pet programs, are fine with raising taxes.

Stop the liberals. Destroy them politically, before they destroy us all.
- Mike R., Bedford

One possibility is to charge a state income tax on people who work outside the state. There are probably about 100,000 people statewide who work in MA, ME, VT, etc that pay income tax to that state. For example, if 60,000 people work in MA and they pay about 5% state tax on an average income of $75,000, the state could potentially collect about $220 million annually from them. These are just some rough figures and that doesn't mean NH should collect income tax from everyone, only those who choose to work outside the state. And since they are paying income tax anyway, the only difference to them is that they are paying the tax to their home state where the moeny will benefit them instead of to the state where they have no polictical representation. I'm not sure what the legal ramifications are, but if it could be worked out, it would definitely add a substantial amount of money to the states bottom line.
- Ray Davies, Manchester

He could have a taken a major step last summer, when public pension plans were being discussed in the legislature, but he stood mute.

These plans are going to be woefully underfunded when current market valuations are factored in, and will require large public (ie. taxpayer) contributions to shore them up.

The exisiting plans are relics of the 1950s, when people lived a few years after retirement. They were never designed to have people work as few as 20 or 25 years, and then get paid for another 30 or more.

To protect current public employees nearing retirement, and not disrupt their plans, he could have proposed a new tier for newly hired employeees. Sadly, nothing was done.

Also, the $100mm school bond at the end of last fiscal year was deficit borrowing, since that amount had traditionally been paid with cash. I expect that another deficit bonding proposal, which will put us more into debt, will be part of this year's plan.
- Ditmar Kopf, Hollis

It's easy:

Cut spending and raise taxes

Compromise.
- Frank, Dover NH

New Hampshire needs to reduce the rooms and meals tax to encourage more tourism. New Hampshire and its tourism businesses need to advertise more and better especially in Canada.

New Hampshire needs to make it easier for businesses to do business in New Hampshire. New Hampshire needs to promote its highly educated work force and other benefits a lot more to attract more businesses.

I think the rooms and meals tax should be 5 percent. I think many more people would eat in our restaurants if many restaurants are allowed to have smoking. More people working in restaurants may lead to less money being spent on food stamps and Medicaid.
- Ken Stremsky, Manchester, NH

I think that medicare could be cut back on if we properly dealt with prescriptions. Nursing homes will order a 30 day supply of a med. The med costs $200.00. The pt. takes one dose, discovers he is allergic and and the other 29 pills are wasted even though they are in individual bubble wrapping. What's wrong with this picture? I think revamping the system would help us save a buck
- Tracy, Manchester, NH

Mr Tarr, I suggest that welfare reform be cut to 2 years. By cutting the limit from 5 years to 2 years, the welfare rolls would be greatly reduced and many recipients of my money for not working would likely move back to Massachusetts where they would have na extra year to sponge off the working people of that state. They would also take their tax and spend liberal ideas with them.

It's easy for them to vote Democrat (tax & spend) when they don't pay any taxes.

This is how the liberals work, they overspend massively, cut a few little tidbits during an election year (thus calling them fiscal conservatives), and then the cry for more revenues will turn into new broad-based taxes which will drive a stake in the heart of what is left of this once proudly conservative state.

After all, it's for the children.
- Mark C, Raymond

How silly this state has become. I remember multiple UL being the only media in the state publishing op-eds warning its' readers that a massive hike in the budget would result in a shortfall, but alas no one listened.

The BDS has become laughable. I had people knock on my door this past weekend telling me that the candidate for Merrimack County attorney had ties to Bush. When I asked them to explain they couldn't.
- Gavin G., Concord, NH

Many things NH residents are FORCED to pay for are federal budget items. Gov. Lynch has no choice but to pay for them. If he doesn't the state will fall into default.

Tell me the items Gov. Lynch has increased spending on for items WITHIN the state?
- Michael, Manchester

Just exactly where does the right wing think the state budget can be cut? What about cutting the $300M that goes to cities and towns? Surely they can make that up locally. Or perhaps the $175M spent of the University systems should be eliminated. The students and their parents can cover that. What about the $800M spent on medicare and the elderly? They are going to die soon anyway so why waste money on them. And why should we spend $27M a year on services to us veterans? We're tough; we can do without it.

The point is that contrary to what the right likes to claim, there is very little waste in the state budget. The problem is that we have an 18th century tax system. The property tax burden is out of control and various hidden taxes disproportionatly increase the cost of living on the middle class. The only way out of the current budget mess is to establish a modest, fair, progressive income tax. The time has come.
- LJC, Manchester

haha Yeah Bush is responsible for all of the overspending on the part of NH leaders. Maybe ya'll missed the story about how Cheney and Bush went to every state legislator put a gun to their head and told them that if they didnt overspend like bobcats on booze they would kill them

Did you also hear that its been now proven Bush was responsible for the earthquake that caused the tsunami in the Indian ocean?
- Craig D, Manchester

I don't understand where the Republicans get this notion that they gained 17 seats in the House. After the 2006 election, the configuration was 236 Democrats, 164 Republicans. After the 2008 election, it's 224 Democrats, 176 Republicans. By my math that adds up to a 12 seat gain, not 17.
- Dan, Manchester

Charlie from Manchester your rhetoric is getting old. I didn't realize that Bush and Cheney wrote the NH budget? There were loud critics against the massive budget hike but Lynch still signed it anyways.
- Alex Capri, Northwood, NH

Now George Bush and Dick Cheney are to blame for NH's budget deficit? Are you kidding?

George Bush did not have anything to do with New Hampshire's current budget. The facts are that the Democrats are to blame. The Governor, Executive Council, State Senate and House are all controlled by the Democats since 2006. The first chance they got, they increased the budget by 18%! John Lynch created and passed a budget that the Republicans rejected because the tax revenues were projected dramatically over previous levels when everyone except the Democrats believed to be a absurd. We all saw this storm coming except John Lynch.

No, George Bush isn't to blame, John Lynch is to blame and now the people of New Hamphire are going to pay his fiscal mismangement!
- Bob Hill, Concord NH

As we all know it is going to take a few years for our Governor to repair the damage that was done by the Bush/Cheney years. It is called the trickle down effect. And yes, we all feel it here in N.H. It took Bush 8 years to put us where we are and it will take a few years for our State to get back to where Governor Lynch tried to take us. He was on the right track until he was rail roaded by Bush/Cheney. We are finally heading in the right direction. Thank God and thank Barack Obama!!!
- charlie, manchester

Maybe President Elect Obama will follow through on his campaign promise to give 18 Billion dollars to states and municipalities with budget shortages.

Oh right, we made history and he has been elected so I am sure that goes right out the window now and our 4 electoral votes mean little to California's 55 and they have a much larger mess to deal with. I guess the American tax payers will be left holding the bag on this one as well because as "Good Democrats", we can't possible cut services or programs...... Sorry NH Can't afford thiss type of leadership. Now is the time to cut the budget and be responsible. I just don't have any faith the Gov Lynch is up to the task. He is drinking the Kool Aid the Democrats are passing out. I can only say "No Thank You!"

The only saving grace is that after four years of this type of Leadership, this generation's Jimmy Carter, AKA Barrack Obama can go back to Chicago and join the lecture circuit with Rev Wright and make his millions or write another provacative book!
- Bob Hill, Concord NH

Sad, I remember a time when NH was the envy of the country in terms of our fiscal responsibility and Yankee ingenuity. The other day I had to go by some road construction on a major highway and I easily counted more people standing around chin wagging then actually working...this seems to be a common theme with most of the our government organizations.

The bummer sticker I'm putting on my car now reads "Don't blame me, I voted for the right person, you didn't!"
- Mike, Manchester, NH

Let's see what the Governor comes up with. Certainly the national and international economic tsunami, as former Fed Chair Greenspan called it,has had a major impact on NH economic fortunes. It's time to work together to solve the problem and not be planning the 2010 election already as the editorial does. The election results show the UL to be completely out of step with the opinions of the majority of NH voters. It's time to adopt the same new tone in your editorials or risk further deterioration of your fortunes similar to those of the Republican party you have blindly supported.
- ed, londonderry

"Change we can believe" Makes a great bumper sticker, lousy way to govern. I guess the only change we can believe in is higher taxes and fees. Using the famous slogan from the ruling party to the south of us. Are we going to pay more "Yes we can"!!!
- Andy, Milford

How can Governor Lynch fix the deficit? Step down and let a fiscally conservative leader take his place. Democrats are spending us into a hole that it will be difficult to get out of, unless of course they institute another tax. Now their foolishness has been rewarded by the NH people giving them another chance. I thought it was only Massachusetts who voted for people who continually made life more difficult. Oh well, the people will get the government they deserve.
- Mike, Temple

The "Mr. Rogers" style of laid back governance projected by Governor Lynch is most unsettling to many in NH that are fiscal conservatives. As another poster said, we have abandoned the pay as you go philosophy for school construction and roads under Lynch and now must pay the piper. If pundits are right and the Dow bottom is in the 4000 range, this State with its cobbled together "rob Peter to pay Paul" funding is in for a tough road. Take roads for example, would we have to borrow for road repair if we weren't trying to fund the judiciary and HHS from gas tax revenues? But evidently our liberal Govenor doesn't want to take the hard path to financial sobriety!
- John LInville, Wolfeboro

This budget mess which the democrats were warned against over & over again will in the end cost them the house & senate in 2 years. Aside from the 17.5% they added to the budget they bonded 80 million dollars out for school construction.

We don't do that in NH. We were a pay-as-you-go state with these constrution costs.
- Jay Collins, Laconia

Tackling a deficit in times when the public cannot afford taxes means there will need to be cutbacks in services. There are far too many state workers to continue to carry on the roster. Layoffs need to happen but only after attrition and job eliminations.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

As I have said in this past election cycle, we must have welfare reform. Cut back from five years to three years. Create job programs to teach our population so that employers coming to our state have a pool of applicants to choose from. Another example is to stop the taxing of goods. In economics as taught in school, the more you increase taxes on goods, the less the consumer buys thus the end result is lower revenue. Same goes for property taxes, business taxes and other fees. The more you raise, the less likely they are going to sell in the market. With the Manchester Delegation of 28 Democrats to now 7 Republicans as well as it is seen throughout the state. The only ones to blame for poor choices and a larger deficit in the next budget cycle will be those with a bigger majority in Concord. Thus the majority of New Hampshire's people made thier choices and it's their choice to which we must reflect upon. When someone starts the blame game, we the minority of voters will point to the mirror and say: "There's who you blame, not us".
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"The line-by-line details of spending cuts"
The New Hampshire Union Leader, Friday, November 21, 2008

Concord – The governor's press release on spending reductions and his two executive orders detailing the cuts follow:

Gov. John Lynch today presented the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee with a financial strategy to address a projected revenue shortfall and help ensure the state has a balanced budget by the end of the current fiscal year.

"We are in the midst of an unprecedented global economic crisis. We are in the midst of an unprecedented global economic crisis. When we crafted this budget 18 months ago, no one could have predicted the depths to which our nation's economy would sink," Gov. Lynch said.

"This crisis has led to budget shortfalls in states across the nation. And while we are better positioned than most states, New Hampshire is not immune to the global economic conditions. The challenge before us is very real and very significant," Gov. Lynch said.

The fiscal committee voted to approve two Executive Orders issued by Gov. Lynch.

The first Executive Order includes specific agency reductions totaling $53.6 million. As part of these reductions, The Department of Environmental Services will be deferring new state aid grants until the next biennium, which will save $3.3 million.

The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program will not enter any new commitments for 2009, and will repay the general fund $3 million of 2008 fiscal year funds. The University and Community College systems both agreed to pay their 8 percent reduction targets without increasing tuition.

The second Executive Order implements several cost-saving measures across state government directing agencies:

* To limit overtime wherever possible.

* To ensure that all state vehicles are parked overnight at state offices, unless absolutely necessary for a state employee to carry out their job responsibilities.

* To limit mileage reimbursement by requiring employees to car pools and use pooled state vehicles wherever possible.

* To print all publications exclusively online wherever possible.

* To retain only essential consulting services and to terminate existing consulting contracts where feasible.

* To cancel subscriptions for books, newspapers and periodicals wherever possible.

* To undertake a reduction in their telephone landlines where possible - a move that is saving the Judicial Branch $10,000 - and to reduce mobile cell phone use and encourage the pooling of cell phones.

In addition, no tuition reimbursements will be authorized without a waiver for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Together these Executive Orders will produce a savings of at least $56.6 million.

In addition, Gov. Lynch has been in discussions with the legislative leadership about the need for legislation that allows the state to reduce the revenue shortfall by about another $20 million. It would include legislative and judicial branch reductions and an additional lapse from the retirement system valued at about $2.6 million; authorize the Highway Fund to repay $5 million in general funds; to transfer about $10 million in surplus from various dedicated funds to the general fund; and to make $2 to $3 million in additional agency reductions that would require full legislative approval. It would also recommending the deferral of pay increases for non-classified and unclassified employees, which would save $500,000.

Gov. Lynch said he will continue discussions with representatives of employees about additional steps to address salary or benefit costs. Those changes would need to be agreed to as part of a renegotiation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The executive orders and proposed legislation, the revenue shortfall gap will be reduced from $250 million to about $75 million.

"We have made significant progress, but we must still work together to address the remaining challenge," Gov. Lynch said.

Gov. Lynch said that while a record $89 million remains in the Rainy Day Fund, those savings should be used only as a last resort.

"These are tough times for New Hampshire families and businesses. The global economic situation continues to be volatile, and we must continue to carefully watch revenues closely and take the necessary steps to manage the budget," Gov. Lynch said. "I am committed to ensuring we continue to be fiscally responsible and end the biennium with a balanced budget."

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State of New Hampshire

By His Excellency

John H. Lynch, Governor

Executive Order 2008-10

An order directing a reduction in Executive Branch expenditures

WHEREAS, RSA 9:16-b provides that "[n]otwithstanding any other provision of law, the governor may, with prior approval of the fiscal committee, order reductions in any or all expenditure classes within any or all departments, as defined in RSA 9:1, if he determines at any time during the fiscal year that: (a) Projected state revenues will be insufficient to maintain a balanced budget and that the likelihood of a serious deficit exists; or (b) The actual lapse for each fiscal year is not going to equal the level estimated in the forecast of funds, unappropriated surplus, as issued by the legislative budget assistant;"

WHEREAS, the Governor has determined that the budgeted state revenues are insufficient to fund state budgeted expenditures as authorized by Chapter 262, N.H. Laws of 2007;

WHEREAS, the Governor and Legislature are committed to taking such steps as are required to achieve a balanced budget by the end of the biennium;

WHEREAS, the Governor has met with the presiding officers of the House and Senate and has thus determined that it is in the public interest to meet with the legislative fiscal committee, which has, in turn, responded to the Governor's initiative by consenting to certain actions to reduce executive branch expenditures;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOHN H. LYNCH, Governor of the State of New Hampshire, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by RSA 9:16-b and part II, article 41 of the New Hampshire Constitution, do hereby order the following:

a. The appropriations as authorized for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009 for each department listed below are hereby reduced by the amount indicated.

AGENCY PAU NUMBER DEPARTMENT AMOUNT

01-03 002 Executive Office 85,836

01-03 002 Commission on Disabilities 11,664

01-04 014 Administrative Services 2,816,469

01-05 032 Secretary of State 32,000

01-06 034 Cultural Resources 205,388

01-07 084 Revenue Administration 395,372

01-08 038 Treasury Department 7,043,744

01-09 089 Board of Tax & Land Appeals 13,000

01-11 028 Real Estate Commission 80,000

01-11 031 Joint Board 2,765

01-11 051 Accountancy Board 1,000

01-11 064 Commission on the Status of Women 6,556

01-11 064 Real Estate Appraiser Board 2,500

02-02 012 Adjutant General 193,023

02-03 018 Agriculture 130,238

02-04 020 Justice (Attorney General) 468,056

02-06 073 Public Employee Labor Relations Board 2,500

02-06 064 Manufactured Housing Board 50

02-08 086 Racing and Gaming 95,221

02-06 064 Labor 10,000

02-13 077 Liquor Commission 135,517

02-15 023 Safety 69,336

02-16 046 Corrections 705,575

02-18 007 Judicial Council 315,522

02-19 076 Human Rights Commission 500

03-01 075 Fish and Game 5,000

03-03 035 Resources & Economic Development 510,160

03-04 044 Environmental Services 3,387,417

03-04 064 Plumbers Board 500

04-01 096 Transportation 54,256

05-01 --- Health & Human Services 25,361,511

05-02 043 Veterans Home 509,131

05-03 066 Veterans Council 2,308

05-05 074 Cosmetology and Barbers Board 4,300

05-05 074 Nursing Registration 15,000

05-05 074 Medicine Board 1,200

05-05 074 Pharmacy Commission 6,000

05-05 074 Dental Examiners 4,737

05-05 074 Office of Allied Health Professionals 5,210

05-05 074 Massage Therapy Ad. Board 1,000

05-05 074 Chiropractic Board 1,129

05-05 074 Funeral Directors & Embalmers 1,346

05-05 074 Optometry Board 200

05-05 074 Nursing Home Examiners 50

05-05 074 Alcohol/Other Drug Abuse Prof. 100

05-05 074 Ophthalmic Dispensers 904

05-05 074 Dietitians Council 841

05-05 074 Hearing Care Providers 50

05-05 074 Naturopathic Examiners 453

05-05 074 Acupuncture 437

05-05 074 Electrolysis Board 222

05-05 074 Midwifery Council 41

05-05 074 Podiatry Board 50

05-05 075 Board of Mental Health Practice 4,849

06-01 057 Postsecondary Education Comm. 24,500

06-03 002 State Planning & Energy Program 71,812

06-03 056 Education 4,633,000

06-04 061 Christa McAuliffe Planetarium 27,444

b. In lieu of a reduction in appropriation, the University System has agreed to pay $4,516,101 prior to June 30, 2009. $4,516,101

c. In addition, the Community College System has agreed to pay $1,672,864 in monthly installments prior to June 30, 2009. $1,672,864

TOTAL $53,645,955

d. The reductions directed by this order shall remain in effect until June 30, 2009 or until terminated, provided, however, that individual exceptions to any of the above provisions may be requested by any department in writing to the Governor. Any exceptions granted by the Governor shall be transmitted to the fiscal committee.

Given under my hand and seal at the Executive Chambers in Concord, this 21st day of November, in the year of our Lord, two thousand and eight.
___________________________

Governor of New Hampshire

# # #

State of New Hampshire

By His Excellency

John H. Lynch, Governor

Executive Order 2008-11

An order directing Executive Branch spending reductions

WHEREAS, RSA 9:16-b provides that "[n]otwithstanding any other provision of law, the governor may, with prior approval of the fiscal committee, order reductions in any or all expenditure classes within any or all departments, as defined in RSA 9:1, if he determines at any time during the fiscal year that: (a) Projected state revenues will be insufficient to maintain a balanced budget and that the likelihood of a serious deficit exists; or (b) The actual lapse for each fiscal year is not going to equal the level estimated in the forecast of funds, unappropriated surplus, as issued by the legislative budget assistant;"

WHEREAS, the Governor has determined that the budgeted state revenues for Fiscal Year 2009 are insufficient to fund state budgeted expenditures as authorized by Chapter 262, N.H. Laws of 2007;

WHEREAS, the Governor and Legislature are committed to taking such steps as are required to achieve a balanced budget by the end of the biennium;

WHEREAS, the Governor has met with the presiding officers of the House and Senate and has thus determined that it is in the public interest to meet with the legislative fiscal committee, which has, in turn, responded to the Governor's initiative by consenting to certain additional actions to further reduce expenditures for purchases in the executive branch;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOHN H. LYNCH, Governor of the State of New Hampshire, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by RSA 9:16-b and part II, article 41 of the New Hampshire Constitution, do hereby order the following steps to apply to all departments as defined in RSA 9:1 in order to effect a reduction in expenditures:

1. Overtime: Overtime hours funded with general funds shall not be authorized, with the exception of overtime that is necessary for direct care, to ensure public safety, to respond to emergencies, to comply with provisions of collective bargaining agreements or pursuant to a written overtime policy approved by the agency head and deemed essential to carry out the core mission of the department.

2. State Vehicles: All state vehicles shall be parked overnight at the primary business office of the state employee assigned to the vehicle, unless the agency head determines that storage of the vehicle at a personal residence or other location is necessary for the state employee to carry out his or her assigned duties.

3. Mileage Reimbursement: Departments shall require the use of car pools or pooled state vehicles when feasible for travel during the workday. Mileage reimbursement requests shall not be authorized where a car pool or state vehicle was feasible but was not used.

4. Publications and Printing: Reports should be published only electronically whenever possible.

5. Consultants: Departments shall only retain essential consulting services, and shall terminate existing consulting services, as feasible, unless determined to be essential to the department's operations.

6. Books, Periodicals, Newspapers and Subscriptions: Books, periodicals, newspapers and subscriptions shall be canceled, unless determined to be essential to the department's operations.

7. Tuition Reimbursement: No tuition reimbursement shall be authorized.

8. Phones: All departments shall implement a reduction in telephone landlines, by identifying lines that are not being used or are non-essential. All departments shall implement a reduction in mobile cellular phone usage by terminating non-essential mobile cellular phones and by encouraging the pooling of mobile cellular phones amongst state employees.

The steps directed by this Executive Order shall remain in effect until terminated, provided, however, that individual exceptions to any of the above provisions may be requested by any department in writing to the Governor. Any exceptions granted by the Governor shall be transmitted to the fiscal committee.

Given under my hand and seal at the Executive Chambers in Concord, this 21st day of November, in the year of our Lord, two thousand and eight.

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"Governor's spending cuts win quick approval"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, 11/21/2008

CONCORD – Lawmakers quickly approved close to $60 million in state budget cuts Gov. John Lynch proposed this morning.

Lynch reduced spending in departments across state government as his latest step in trying to close a gap left by an estimated $250 million shortfall in state revenue.

The cuts affect hospitals, nursing homes, towns and cities hoping for environmental grants and revenue sharing, school districts waiting for buildings and special education aid, the state university and community college systems, as well as the state’s smallest administrative boards.

The cuts leave another $75 million to be addressed when the new Legislature convenes in January. The budget has to be balanced by the time the fiscal year closes in June.

Lynch said the latest decisions were not easy.

“We are not cutting fat; instead we are making the tough decision to defer worthy programs -- some new, some existing -- until better times,” he said. He said the state is among 41 others suffering the economic downturn that has roiled stock markets, prompted a $700 billion bank bailout package, and threatened the American auto industry’s future.

Lynch said he’s talking with legislative leaders about changes to state law next year that will save $20 million in the current budget. They will focus on highways, courts, the retirement system and accounts with funds aimed at single uses.

The state is not tapping the $89 million Rainy Day Fund, which Lynch said should be used as a last resort. The cuts don’t touch adequate education funding grants to all school districts. Lynch said he tailored the cuts to have a minimal impact on local budgets, so costs are not downshifted to property taxpayers.

Lynch has not proposed any layoffs of state workers, but he has deferred pay hikes for non-unionized department supervisors and managers. He said he hopes to find more savings in cooperation with State Employees Association membership. He cannot make unilateral changes in their current contract.

Lynch said he is not counting on economic stimulus aid from Washington. If the state gets new federal money, it will go first to Health and Human Services, which saw nearly $24 million in cuts. The biggest changes there were in payments for nursing home and home health care, welfare and Medicare Part D payments.

Sen. Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester, criticized the methods Lynch used in finding cuts, saying the Legislature should have been more involved.

Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, said the law gives the governor clear powers in these instances, and called the package, “an exceptionally conscientious effort.”

Agencies larges and small will feel the effects.

The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, for example, has been ordered to return $3 million in funding it already received for preservation projects around the state. The university and community college systems must give back $6.1 million from their budgets, without raising tuition next semester. Cuts cleaned out a fund with $750,000 for cancer screening programs. Boards overseeing acupuncture, funerals, nursing, and podiatry all have been asked to turn back money -- as little as $50 in some cases.

Overtime pay, state vehicle and cell phone use, mileage payments and printing costs are also being cut. Lynch wants state publications to be only on-line whenever possible.

The two executive orders the Legislative Fiscal Committee approved today are the latest in a series of Lynch belt-tightenings this year. He estimates they saved $100 million.

“We have made significant progress, but we still must work together to address the remaining challenge,” Lynch told the committee.

He said it was important for the committee to act quickly. The sooner the cuts go into effect, the more money the state will save by June 30, he said. The changes are slated to take effect Dec. 1.
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READERS' COMMENTS:
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Brian--Bush has Everything to do with the current mess we are in. Every dollar spent in the middle east to fight Bush's war(s) could have been used here to send to the individual states. God forbid the goverment "help" its citizens in the form of social programs instead of lining the pockets of the super wealthy. You must be a very rich man yourself Brian. There are a lot of former R's like me that think along the same lines. And yes, I am Very happy, no more Bush soon.
- Ed, Manchester

I don't think that the State of NH spends money excessively compared to most other states. The problem is that revenues are down because of the economy. This could be an opportunity to explore ways to increase revenues such as casinos. Our property taxes are oppressive.
- Ann, Manchester, NH

Although the economy played a roll in our current financial woes Governor Lynch helped create this financial mess. He ignored warnings and followed unrealistic revenue projections that created this financial dilemma we are in. But there is a reason for why he did what he did. Now that we are in this crisis he can appear to be fiscally responsible by making all these drastic cuts in an attempt to minimize this revenue shortfall "cuts by the way which will never be enough to offset the shortfall". Having made all these cuts he can then declare call for a state income tax citing that we have no other choice as all possible cuts have been made! What better way to push through an income tax and appear to be fiscally responsible. Now that gasoline prices have fallen they are also proposing an increase tax on gas. Why do you suppose there was a revenue shortfall regarding revenue derived from gas taxes in the first place? Because of high prices at the pumps people were driving less! These low prices are not going to last and we will see spikes in the cost of gas again only this time it will be even more expensive. Had our Governor taken a conservative approach in revenue projections we would not be in the mess we find ourselves in now. Someone should remind our governor our state motto is (Live Free or Die) not Tax me or die!
- Rob, Manchester

" ... governor should roll back the 17.5 ... "
Too bad people are still confused - and no doubt some are deliberately trying to confuse others - over this.
Most of the so-called 17.5 % increase was not discretionary, but committed to by previous (i.e. Republican) legislatures. Additionally, part of the increase was not an actual increase in overall spending, but a change in accounting, to actually make some previously hidden spending more transparent to the public.
The Governor is doing exactly what he said he'd do during the campaign. Too bad some folks are more interested in partisan attacks than in the good of the state.
I'd like to add a special note of respect for Rep Kurk, who has the integrity to give credit where it is due.
- tom, Candia

"You Republicans are too much." This has been THE theme of the Democrats in this state for the last two and a half years. Deflect out of control state spending by the Democrat controlled NH state legislature on the national economy. Bush had nothing to do with this state's Democrats spending spree over the last two years, NOTHING. The Democrats in this state can ride those coat tails for only so long. But hey, Keep sugar coating that NH Democrat lie. You must be very happy right now.
- Brian, Hampton

Well I am not shocked or surprised. Again HHS is slam dunked on funding. With healthcare and unemployment on the rise this will have a devastating affect. The NH Cancer Plan losing the remaining $750,000 means that more than 500 needed colon and breast cancer screenings will not happen for those in need of the screening. Cancer is on the rise in NH and many will lose the battle. Now my sister who is employed working TWO fulltime jobs and neither employer has health care coverage will go without much needed screening. I agree with the concept and benefits of casinos. And for those with a one sided opinion and want to complain about gambling addiction will be on the rise, don't forget about the addiction to prescription drugs, liquer, cigarettes, etc.
Norma Jean
American Cancer Society Advocate
Cancer Survivor
- Norma Gecks, Derry

You republicans are just too much. I used to be like you but was able to figure out that spending billions of dollars a month on a war that has done nothing but make Dick Cheney & the rest of BushCo ever "richer" instead of using the cash to help its own citizens is asinine. You lost, get over it. Your trickle down days are done and gone...thankfully!
- Ed, Manchester

And I'm sure he will still be raising our taxes...AGAIN!
- Chris King, Manchester NH

Too little, too late. The governor should roll back the 17.5 percent hike in spending he and the liberal Democratic legislature pushed through in the last two years, and this is just bill is a small part of that orgy of spending.
- Michael, Manchester

Care should be taken not to cut in the areas of law enforcement, investigators OT, CSI, forensic lab testing, prisons, prosecution and the entire judicial system as Crime has been on the steady increase and will like continue to rise sharply in these financially strapping times.
- Tony S., Concord, NH

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"Governor's spending cuts win quick approval"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, 11/22/2008

CONCORD – Lawmakers quickly approved close to $60 million in state budget cuts Gov. John Lynch proposed Friday morning.

Lynch reduced spending in departments across state government as his latest step in trying to close a gap left by an estimated $250 million shortfall in state revenue.

The cuts affect hospitals, nursing homes, towns and cities hoping for environmental grants and revenue sharing, school districts waiting for buildings and special education aid, the state university and community college systems, as well as the state’s smallest administrative boards.

The cuts leave another $75 million to be addressed when the new Legislature convenes in January. The budget has to be balanced by the time the fiscal year closes in June.

Lynch said the latest decisions were not easy.

“We are not cutting fat; instead we are making the tough decision to defer worthy programs -- some new, some existing -- until better times,” he said. He said the state is among 41 others suffering the economic downturn that has roiled stock markets, prompted a $700 billion bank bailout package, and threatened the American auto industry’s future.

Lynch said he’s talking with legislative leaders about changes to state law next year that will save $20 million in the current budget. They will focus on highways, courts, the retirement system and accounts with funds aimed at single uses.

The state is not tapping the $89 million Rainy Day Fund, which Lynch said should be used as a last resort. The cuts don’t touch adequate education funding grants to all school districts. Lynch said he tailored the cuts to have a minimal impact on local budgets, so costs are not downshifted to property taxpayers.

Lynch has not proposed any layoffs of state workers, but he has deferred pay hikes for non-unionized department supervisors and managers. He said he hopes to find more savings in cooperation with State Employees Association membership. He cannot make unilateral changes in their current contract.

Lynch said he is not counting on economic stimulus aid from Washington. If the state gets new federal money, it will go first to Health and Human Services, which saw nearly $24 million in cuts. The biggest changes there were in payments for nursing home and home health care, welfare and Medicare Part D payments.

Sen. Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester, criticized the methods Lynch used in finding cuts, saying the Legislature should have been more involved.

Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, said the law gives the governor clear powers in these instances, and called the package, “an exceptionally conscientious effort.”

Agencies larges and small will feel the effects.

The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, for example, has been ordered to return $3 million in funding it already received for preservation projects around the state. The university and community college systems must give back $6.1 million from their budgets, without raising tuition next semester. Cuts cleaned out a fund with $750,000 for cancer screening programs. Boards overseeing acupuncture, funerals, nursing, and podiatry all have been asked to turn back money -- as little as $50 in some cases.

Overtime pay, state vehicle and cell phone use, mileage payments and printing costs are also being cut. Lynch wants state publications to be only on-line whenever possible.

The two executive orders the Legislative Fiscal Committee approved today are the latest in a series of Lynch belt-tightenings this year. He estimates they saved $100 million.

“We have made significant progress, but we still must work together to address the remaining challenge,” Lynch told the committee.

He said it was important for the committee to act quickly. The sooner the cuts go into effect, the more money the state will save by June 30, he said. The changes are slated to take effect Dec. 1.
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Readers' COMMENTS:
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Chris, Bedford -
The 50% waste in schools comes from 3 places. 1) poorly run school districts, 2) the public teachers' unions (the NEA and its local chapters) literally have monopoly power that makes it extremely difficult for school districts to manage their teachers and change with the times we live in, and 3) the Claremont decision.

I am so infuriated with the school funding plans since the Claremont decision.

There was a time when people who wanted to improve the quality of life, of themselves and their children, would MOVE to where life was better.

Claremont sued the state – We have no industry. We have no tax base. The rest of you all have to pay for our schools. BALONEY!

In the mid 1960’s my parents moved the 6 of us from New Haven, Connecticut to South Portland, Maine for better schools and a better life.

2 decades ago villages in Ethiopia were overrun by the dessert. Where did they build the refugee tent cities – in the stupid dessert! This creates a permanent dependency on the charities and relief organizations. How does that help the refugees? Using the state-wide portion of the property tax to help fund education creates the same kind of dependency for the cities and towns.

If there’s no money in your community for the things that you value, MOVE to a better community. That’s what people are SUPPOSED to do. Yes it sucks and can be painful but you just have to bite the bullet and do it.

Grow up people.

Stop asking for handouts because you don’t want to make the effort to improve your own life or the lives of your children. Be responsible and learn to do things for yourselves.

The Claremont decision is an abomination and should be killed by the state legislature.
- David R, Manchester

ALL Democrats support any popular opinion - whatever that opinion may be. Morals and Principles are neither required nor desired. STATE Democrats rode a NATIONAL left wing media driven propaganda wave and still managed to lose 17 seats in the NH legislature. STATE democrats are empty pantsuits at best. Expect rough times ahead - and the STATE Democrats will blame it all on the former NATIONAL regime. Eventually, the citizens of NH will see the light. "Its not our fault" excuses are already running on deaf ears.
- Brian, Hampton

We are not cutting fat; instead we are making the tough decision to defer worthy programs -- some new, some existing -- until better times,” he said.

When has special education become an unworthy program? Dont special education children have the same rights as other children? According to what I read, regular funding for schools wont be affected, only special education will be for those schools who have been waiting for it.

As a mother of a child who requires special education, I find this is entirely and completely unacceptable. NH children, special ed or not, are all worth the financial cost it will take to make sure that EVERY child gets an education. And when you make cuts the prevent those children from having access to special educations that they need to succeed in life, you are in essence, saying they arent worth the money it would take to get it to them. Parents across the board should be outraged.
- T.S., Dover

Sue from Manchester:

What is the 50% waste in schools that you see. Can you quantify the number or are you just assuming?
- Chris, Bedford

Let's see if these Dems really have the will to cut spending. In DHHS alone there are hundreds of unclassified positions, and many so-called "program specialists" who get promoted as a reward and contribute very liittle. Many are "connected" people and no one wants to cut them. Boo-hoo. Sure take away cancer money and services and leave these fat jobs...no guts. Yes, Ed is a wackjob, when stupid-blame Bush.
- Tom, Manchester

OH and by the way, this past election proved that it's really the DEMOCRATS who are the 'party of the rich'. You can no longer ride on that old chestnut either!

Just look at the $650M that was spent to elect that empty suit Obama and who are the 5 most rich Congressmen in the current 14% approved US Congress -- ALL DEMOCRATS!

Dems=Party of Rich NOT R's... LOL
- Sue, Manchester

Ed from Manchester -- we think you are on the wrong article. I don't think anyone in the state of NH has spent money on the war and Bush is not our governor. It's Lynch who is to blame for raising the budget 17.5% You Democrats can't blame Bush for everything as much as you would like to try.
It's rather hypocritical of you to think more spending can't be done without raising taxes, no matter WHAT it's for. Education needs massive cuts, there's 50% waste there alone.

Yes Dems are happy to perpetuate the big lie, Goebbels would be proud. BUSH BUSH BUSH had NOTHING to do with the BUDGET OF THE STATE OF NH!
- Sue, Manchester

Unfortunately, there will be more and more state government cuts in the years ahead.

According to most independent scientific studies, global oil production will now decline from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time demand will increase 9%.

No one can reverse this trend, nor can we conserve our way out of this catastrophe. Because the demand for oil is so high, it will always exceed production levels; thus oil depletion will continue steadily until all recoverable oil is extracted.

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment. The Energy Watch Group (funded by the German Parliament) concludes in a current report titled: “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society:”

"By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame."

http://www.globaliamagazine.com/?id=482

We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel trucks for maintenance of bridges, cleaning culverts to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables, all from far away. With the highways out, there will be no food coming in from "outside," and without the power grid virtually nothing works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated systems.

This is documented in a free 48 page report that can be downloaded, website posted, distributed, and emailed: http://www.peakoilassociates.com/POAnalysis.html The information in this report was presented at a meeting of the NH Municipal Managers Association in January 2008.

I lived in Manchester, NH until January 2008 and directed the MPA program at UNH and UNH-M.

I moved to a more sustainable place. Anyone interested in relocating to a nice, pretty, sustainable area with a good climate and good soil? Email: clifford dot wirth at yahoo dot com or give me a phone call which operates here as my old USA-NH number 603-668-4207. http://survivingpeakoil.blogspot.com/ By mid December there will be an article on this blog about local government preparations for Peak Oil impacts.

I hope NH government officials and my former MPA students will call. I am always glad to discuss Peak Oil and government, as both are my areas of expertise.
- Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D., Manchester, NH, now living in Mexico

There is one option to get us out of this deficit without a tax, "CASINOS"!!!

It's time for NH to say yes.
- Josh, Manchester

The old NH way of conservative government was always best. Since the liberals came into power, then all the libs try to do is make the wolrd perfect for everyone. This isn't a problem with the federal government, there is too much spending going on.
- Shoals, Portsmouth

Ed, this is not a zero sum game being played with the money, just because it is being spent on fighting two wars (which on a side note, I get why you call Irag "Bush's War" but why Afghanistan) does not then mandate that we are out of money here...If so then how do we get the bail out money that both parties in the federal government are trying to give out.
- Rick, Manchester

Ann, you are correct, state revenues are down because of the economy. BUT, if NH didn't base the majority of its revenue on discretionary types of taxes (cigarettes, gas, tourism) - all of which will suffer during an economic down-turn - of course the state isn't going to be able to meet its revenue projections!

We need to stop counting our chickens fore they hatch!
- Christine, Pittsfield

Brian--Bush has Everything to do with the current mess we are in. Every dollar spent in the middle east to fight Bush's war(s) could have been used here to send to the individual states. God forbid the goverment "help" its citizens in the form of social programs instead of lining the pockets of the super wealthy. You must be a very rich man yourself Brian. There are a lot of former R's like me that think along the same lines. And yes, I am Very happy, no more Bush soon.
- Ed, Manchester

I don't think that the State of NH spends money excessively compared to most other states. The problem is that revenues are down because of the economy. This could be an opportunity to explore ways to increase revenues such as casinos. Our property taxes are oppressive.
- Ann, Manchester, NH

Although the economy played a roll in our current financial woes Governor Lynch helped create this financial mess. He ignored warnings and followed unrealistic revenue projections that created this financial dilemma we are in. But there is a reason for why he did what he did. Now that we are in this crisis he can appear to be fiscally responsible by making all these drastic cuts in an attempt to minimize this revenue shortfall "cuts by the way which will never be enough to offset the shortfall". Having made all these cuts he can then declare call for a state income tax citing that we have no other choice as all possible cuts have been made! What better way to push through an income tax and appear to be fiscally responsible. Now that gasoline prices have fallen they are also proposing an increase tax on gas. Why do you suppose there was a revenue shortfall regarding revenue derived from gas taxes in the first place? Because of high prices at the pumps people were driving less! These low prices are not going to last and we will see spikes in the cost of gas again only this time it will be even more expensive. Had our Governor taken a conservative approach in revenue projections we would not be in the mess we find ourselves in now. Someone should remind our governor our state motto is (Live Free or Die) not Tax me or die!
- Rob, Manchester

" ... governor should roll back the 17.5 ... "
Too bad people are still confused - and no doubt some are deliberately trying to confuse others - over this.
Most of the so-called 17.5 % increase was not discretionary, but committed to by previous (i.e. Republican) legislatures. Additionally, part of the increase was not an actual increase in overall spending, but a change in accounting, to actually make some previously hidden spending more transparent to the public.
The Governor is doing exactly what he said he'd do during the campaign. Too bad some folks are more interested in partisan attacks than in the good of the state.
I'd like to add a special note of respect for Rep Kurk, who has the integrity to give credit where it is due.
- tom, Candia

"You Republicans are too much." This has been THE theme of the Democrats in this state for the last two and a half years. Deflect out of control state spending by the Democrat controlled NH state legislature on the national economy. Bush had nothing to do with this state's Democrats spending spree over the last two years, NOTHING. The Democrats in this state can ride those coat tails for only so long. But hey, Keep sugar coating that NH Democrat lie. You must be very happy right now.
- Brian, Hampton

Well I am not shocked or surprised. Again HHS is slam dunked on funding. With healthcare and unemployment on the rise this will have a devastating affect. The NH Cancer Plan losing the remaining $750,000 means that more than 500 needed colon and breast cancer screenings will not happen for those in need of the screening. Cancer is on the rise in NH and many will lose the battle. Now my sister who is employed working TWO fulltime jobs and neither employer has health care coverage will go without much needed screening. I agree with the concept and benefits of casinos. And for those with a one sided opinion and want to complain about gambling addiction will be on the rise, don't forget about the addiction to prescription drugs, liquer, cigarettes, etc.
Norma Jean
American Cancer Society Advocate
Cancer Survivor
- Norma Gecks, Derry

You republicans are just too much. I used to be like you but was able to figure out that spending billions of dollars a month on a war that has done nothing but make Dick Cheney & the rest of BushCo ever "richer" instead of using the cash to help its own citizens is asinine. You lost, get over it. Your trickle down days are done and gone...thankfully!
- Ed, Manchester

And I'm sure he will still be raising our taxes...AGAIN!
- Chris King, Manchester NH

Too little, too late. The governor should roll back the 17.5 percent hike in spending he and the liberal Democratic legislature pushed through in the last two years, and this is just bill is a small part of that orgy of spending.
- Michael, Manchester

Care should be taken not to cut in the areas of law enforcement, investigators OT, CSI, forensic lab testing, prisons, prosecution and the entire judicial system as Crime has been on the steady increase and will like continue to rise sharply in these financially strapping times.
- Tony S., Concord, NH

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"Lynch: 'No Sales or Income Tax'"

Concord, New Hampshire - January 9, 2009

During his inaugural address, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch says although the state is facing a $100 million shortfall, there is no reason to implement a sales or income tax.

Instead, Lynch emphasized the need to examine every area of spending. The Governor will include public works projects in the capital spending plan that can start quickly and get people back to work.

He also urged expansion of a job training program started two years ago.

Source: www.wcax.com

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Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick congratulates Gov. John Lynch after swearing him in as governor for a third term as Dr. Susan Lynch looks on. (BOB LAPREE)
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"Lynch: Time to get tough"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, Friday, Jan. 9, 2009

CONCORD – Gov. John Lynch took the oath of office for a third time yesterday and headed into what will be the most difficult of his years as the state's chief executive.

"Let me be very clear," Lynch said in his inaugural speech. "We face a budget challenge of unprecedented dimensions." Lynch, 56, appeared in Representatives Hall to take the oath from Chief Justice John T. Broderick of the New Hampshire Supreme Court before a crowd of cheering supporters and officials.

Lynch promised to work across party lines to find solutions to fiscal problems, and said he plans to keep the state free of a sales or income tax. He called for quick action at the national level for an economic stimulus to lift the economy out of its historic slump.

Despite a global economic downturn and a looming budget deficit estimated at a half-billion dollars by 2011, Lynch said: "My faith in our ability to work together and my belief in the spirit of the people of New Hampshire give me optimism about our future."

Lynch referred to last month's ice storm as a reminder of the strength and cooperation the state can muster when times demand. He said his budget work will be guided by four key roles for government -- protect public safety, help the weakest among society, educate its children and preserve quality of life.

But the economic prospects mean tough choices are ahead, Lynch said.

"We will have to examine every area of spending, look at every program and say 'no' more often than we would like," he said. "We won't be able to do everything we want to, or even everything we should do as a state."

But he noted the state has made ends meet in the past without sales or income taxes, "and we will continue to do it that way."

Despite the difficulties, he urged calm and dedication to solving the problem in a bipartisan way.

"We must have confidence in our ability to seek common sense solutions to uncommon problems, to employ calm in the face of fear, and to assert the certainty of our core values in these uncertain times," Lynch said.

He added that the state needs to be careful not to make mistakes that will compound themselves over time.

"These tough times will not last forever. If we act wisely now, we can meet our responsibilities, honor our core values and still prepare New Hampshire for the future," he said. "History will define this moment as one of unprecedented challenges. Let us define this moment in our history as one of cooperation of courage and of action."

Lynch proposed two ideas aimed at boosting the economy.

He proposed a Green Jobs Initiative, which will put people to work weatherizing homes, improve the energy efficiency of public buildings, train new workers for energy-sector jobs and offer low-interest loans for businesses investing in energy efficiency equipment.

The program would be funded by money that comes from auction of pollution credits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

He also proposed expansion of the Job Training Fund, which has helped 3,000 workers at 70 businesses through grants each business must match with private funds. He wants to open up the program to the unemployed.

Republican critics said after Lynch's speech that he and other Democrats set the stage for difficult times by spending too liberally in the past.

Former Gov. John Sununu, the lone candidate for chairmanship of the state Republican Party, said: "We've been on this slippery slope for 10 years now, of overspending the budget, building up spending momentum and making it harder and harder each year for New Hampshire to be fiscally responsible."

Rep. Anthony Renzullo, R-Hudson, said Republicans are ready to help Lynch, "if he wants to do that hard thing, which is cutting spending. But not on raising taxes."

State Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said Republicans are more interested in criticizing than coming up with solutions.

"I think it's interesting that once again their House and Senate leadership refuse to offer an alternative," he said.

"I think the governor set the right tone, and it's easy to understand why the people of New Hampshire connect so well with him," Buckley said. "He gave a somber but optimistic message: We'll get through this together, but it going to be tough."

Senate President Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, said the speech helped prepare the public for what's ahead.

"I think we need to get the public ready to understand how big the cuts will be," Larsen said. She added that she is confident, "essential services will be met."

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Readers' COMMENTS:

The department heads of state agencies were the drunken sailors spending our money. They all needed to be replaced, and slowly but surely that has happened, although there are still a few dinosaurs on Hazen Drive. We need to find new ways to generate revenue, such as allowing individuals to pay a fee to use their own digital photograph for their drivers license, Manchester Monarch license plates, raise prices at the liquor stores, increase fees for court filings, make hunting and fishing licenses good for five years like a drivers license. The revenue created now by these types of actions will allow us to make it through these tough times. As for those of you who love to bash Lynch, take a look at what Benson spent during his short time in office. I would also remind Mr. Sununu that when he and President Reagan took office this country was the largest creditor nation in the world, but when they left we were the largest debtor nation in the world...Nice work senior!
- Tim, Enfield

Can anyone imagine if they had not passed the whopping $475 million spending increases?!?!?! We would be only facing a $25 million deficit and I am sure they would be able to find that amount in belt tightening. To bad they spent us into this mess, we would be sitting pretty comfortable compared to the other states right now.

Here's a suggestion Mr. Buckley: Get the Budget back to the numbers it was operating at BEFORE your party (Democrats) passed the huge spending increases. Ooops, wouldn't that be a novelty.
- Mike, Nottingham

Time to get tough?! LOL.
The time to get tough was BEFORE the 17.5% budget increase.

Governor, as always, you are a day late and some number of millions of dollars short.
- Mark, Amherst

Here's an idea... how about we enforce driving laws and ticket the bad guys instead of letting them off with warnings? How about ticketing people who aren't clearing snow off their vehicles and license plates? Corrupt monetary systems combined with lack of government competition lead to corrupt lazy local law enforcment agencies.
- saaby, Derry NH

42 of 50 states in the country are currently operating in a budget deficit. This isn't just a problem in NH.
- Matt, Merrimack

I'm concerned about the Governor's suggestion that we move $5 million from the HW Trust Fund. Art 6A of the NH Constitution (The Good Roads Amendment) Prohibits using Highway Funds for anything but Highways. Transferring these HW Funds to the General Fund is a violation of the Constitution, particularly when we need more investment in construction and repair of our Highway system.
- John, Croydon

Tough choices are ahead and Lynch is up to the task of dodging them. He got us into this mess and he'll get us in deeper.
- Rowland, Fremont

How long, exactly, will the "tough" times last? Let's not celebrate too wildly, though. There might not be a sales or income tax around the corner, but I'm sure the good governor and our representatives in Concord will soon discover more "creative" ways to get more money from us folks.
- Guy Plante, Manchester

The time to get tough was during last year's budget process. New Hampshire's time is running out. Johnny has put us in a position that New Hampshire has never been in and state government is ready to implode. Johnny dug his hole and now he has to climb out of it and look for help. Solution: I'll blame it on the national economy. Won't work this time. People are already looking for another Governor who can make tough decisions.
- Jack Truman, Middleton

The photo of Lynch shaking Broderick's hand was snapped 60 seconds too late. A better one would show him holding his hand up actually taking the oath. Because an oath is a solemn promise.

This oath, printed as read and said would remind citizens that our Constitution is the highest law in the State, and that Lynch has promised to uphold it. But otherwise, a very good article.
- Steve, Manch

Tough is getting Lynch to utter a single, declarative sentence that gives a firm, unwaverable stance on any position that he might be held accountable for at some point in time.

He is perhaps the master of general vague non-committal utterings without equivocation.
- RG, Manchester

haha Chris--- I agree wholeheartedly. He seems like a good guy and all, but when I read the headline "Lynch: Time To Get Tough" I lost my mind.
- Brian, Concord

Listening to Governor Lynch talk tough is like hearing Mr Rogers say "Go ahead, make my day".
- Chris, Merrimack

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"Lynch's big year: He must stand firm in 2009"
NH Union Leader, Editorial, Friday, Jan. 9, 2009

As Gov. John Lynch begins his third term, the state budget faces massive deficits, school funding remains unresolved, and the push is on for either a broadbased tax or the legalization of some sort of casino gambling. It is safe to say that this is the year everything comes to a head for the governor first elected in 2004 to wisely and frugally manage state finances.

Five years ago, Lynch campaigned as a savvy business manager. The voters expected him to apply the same discipline he used in turning around furniture maker Knoll, Inc. He didn't. Now, he must.

The current state budget raised general fund spending by 17.5 percent, or $475 million. Lynch has spent much of the past year trying to undo that disaster. Late last year, he finally issued executive orders cutting a range of unnecessary spending and mandating efficiencies in state operations. It was not enough.

The state needs immediate and large changes in spending. The governor, who has always been capable of presenting lean budgets, now has to deliver. If he doesn't, legislators will find a new revenue source that will forever change this great state. Unfortunately, even the gloomy tone of yesterday's inaugural speech failed to prove that he will now take a firmer stand.

Gov. Lynch is sharp and capable. He has lacked only the will to make the political enemies that tough budget decisions require. He has to show that courage this year, or we are seeing the last of the New Hampshire Advantage and all of its benefits.

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Readers' COMMENTS:

I wish we could see the last of John Lynch and the 'death by a thousand cuts' freedom-robbing legislature-- they even have a bill in to control you every time you sneeze.

It is shameful, but they are gearing up for the taxpayer revolt and have put in HB0072 to try to STOP PRIVATE VOTING. What is wrong with people that they accept this? It's dictatorial and undemocratic!
- Sue, Manchester

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KEN WILLIAMS / Concord Monitor staff
Gov. John Lynch addresses lawmakers at his inauguration yesterday. “Let me be clear: We face a budget challenge of unprecedented dimensions. The next budget cannot be balanced by tweaks and minor adjustments,” he said.
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"Budget problem 'unprecedented': Governor delivers address amid growing fiscal crisis"
By LAUREN R. DORGAN, Concord Monitor staff, January 09, 2009

Gov. John Lynch struck a stark tone in his third inaugural address yesterday, telling the assembled crowd of lawmakers and dignitaries that recession has brought the country to a "critical juncture" and that the state of New Hampshire now faces a "budget challenge of unprecedented dimensions."

Although Lynch peppered his speech with praise for New Hampshire's people and expressions of optimism for the future, the tone was largely grim, as the governor underlined the growing budget crisis that veteran lawmakers have described as the worst they've seen.

"Let me be clear: We face a budget challenge of unprecedented dimensions. The next budget cannot be balanced by tweaks and minor adjustments. This problem will not be solved by closing our eyes in hopes it will go away, and there is no magical pot of gold at the end of a mythical rainbow," he said.

Despite $150 million worth of cuts and late-added revenue, the state's current budget still has a $100 million hole. The 2010-11 budget is expected to be worse. If promises are kept and services maintained at current levels, analysts have estimated, lawmakers may need to find as much as $500 million in new revenue.

To address the budget crisis, Lynch said yesterday, lawmakers "will have to say 'no' more often than we would like" and will have to defer worthy programs for better times.

He added: "We will not be able to do everything we want to or even everything we should do as a state."
Lynch took the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick, who oversees a judicial branch that, starting in mid-February, will cancel a month's worth of jury trials as a money-saving measure. Broderick told the Monitor last month that he feared that if his branch is forced to cut its budget to 97 percent of this year's trimmed budget, "I don't think we can run the justice system."

Lynch, 56, a centrist Democrat and former businessman from Hopkinton who has twice been re-elected with 70 percent of the vote, didn't delve into detail on where he would say "no"; he will roll out a more detailed plan during his budget address next month.

He did, however, repeat his promise to steer clear of an income or sales tax, a pledge he's taken during each of his three campaigns for governor. Yesterday, the promise inspired a lopsided ovation in Representatives Hall, with Republican lawmakers on the right side of the room standing and many Democrats on the left side holding their seats.

The speech contained few new promises or programs.

Among the bigger plans: Lynch proposed creating a "Green Jobs Initiative" using some of the $20 million to $30 million that the state already expects to get from utility companies through two new environmental programs, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Renewable Energy Fund. He sketched out a picture of carpenters, electricians and plumbers working to weatherize homes; of state and municipal buildings receiving energy-efficiency upgrades; and of the state training workers in new skills needed in green industries. He also proposed creating a "low-interest revolving loan fund" to help small businesses bolster their energy efficiency and convert to renewable energy.

Lynch also urged the Legislature to expand the state's job-training fund to help the unemployed, although he didn't set any targets.

Looking to Washington, Lynch urged Congress to speed along an economic stimulus package promised by President-elect Barack Obama, a roughly $800 billion effort to defibrillate the national economy that is expected to include significant aid to states, many of which are in worse straits than New Hampshire. Lynch said federal money should go to infrastructure repairs and to bolstering the nation's "safety net for America's most vulnerable citizens."

After the address, former governor John Sununu, who is running for chairman of the state Republican Party, criticized Lynch's speech as short on solutions.

"I was a little surprised and somewhat disappointed to hear that the cornerstone of our strategy to deal with the huge deficit we're facing seems to be that we'll wait for the bailout from Washington," Sununu said.

Sununu also criticized Democrats for their response to Lynch's tax pledge, saying he was "extremely disappointed to see a very significant number of Democrats in the House and Senate" staying in their seats.

Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said the governor's budget address is yet to come, and he batted aside Sununu's criticism of his party on taxes, saying that while Democrats have been divided, "John Lynch has taken that issue off the table."

Legislative Republicans were muted in response, saying they agreed generally with Lynch's call for fiscal discipline but, as Senate Minority Leader Peter Bragdon put it, "the proof is in the pudding."

Bragdon, of Milford, said he feared Lynch had left the door open to tapping the state's $89 million rainy day fund to balance the budget. That, Bragdon said, would be shortsighted.

"It's drizzling now compared to what it's going to be doing in the next two years," he said.

One issue Lynch barely touched: his old push for a constitutional amendment on education funding, an effort that has failed in the House for the past two years.

In his last inaugural address, Lynch made a signature issue of an amendment. Education-funding amendments generally aim to restrict the role of courts in the education-funding debate while potentially allowing lawmakers to target aid to needy communities instead of having to send every community a base amount to underwrite an adequate education for every child, as the state Supreme Court has said New Hampshire must do.

Yesterday, Lynch said that he still believes in targeting aid but that he recognizes there has not been "a consensus in the Legislature." As for an amendment, he said, "discussion will continue," even as lawmakers push ahead with the court-appointed process to define, cost out and fund an adequate education.

Afterward, Senate President Sylvia Larsen said lawmakers have much to do, which pushes an education-funding amendment down the priority list.

"He recognized that this isn't the year we're going to do it," the Concord Democrat said.

Larsen praised the Green Jobs idea and called the address "forward-thinking." As for cuts, she said, it's too soon to say which programs will be pared or ended, although she said everything but essential human services and public safety could be on the chopping block.

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"Pay raise - and friendship - intact: State employee says of Lynch: 'I love him'"
By LAUREN R. DORGAN, Concord Monitor staff, January 09, 2009

What's a little pay raise disagreement between friends? Yesterday morning, as Gov. John Lynch hosted the traditional preinaugural celebration for state workers, they celebrated him right back.

"I'm excited for a third term," said Sara Swaski, who works for the Department of Health and Human Services. "I think we've got it good."

"I love him. I love him," said Lynn West, who works for the Postsecondary Education Commission. "I just think he's the nicest person."

"Working for a guy like John Lynch makes it all kind of worth it," said Danny Caudle, who works for the Department of Administrative Services.

Lynch's attempt to push the State Employees' Association to give up its long-awaited 5.5 percent pay raise at the beginning of 2009 didn't appear to faze Lynch's fans among state workers. Of course, it didn't hurt that union leadership has so far rebuffed Lynch's request to revote the contract and that workers are now getting the raise.

"I think we passed that," West said. "I don't think it's even an issue at this point."

State workers crowded into the New Hampshire Historical Society to dine on frittatas, Stonyfield Farm yogurt, melon slices and Lindt truffles as a smooth-jazz band churned out such retooled rock classics as "And I Love Her," "Fever" and "Folsom Prison."

Meanwhile, a steady stream of employees lined up behind a blue rope to shake Lynch's hand and pose for pictures with the Democrat and his wife, Susan. Among those who mugged for a shot with the governor: the SEA leadership team.

SEA President Gary Smith pointed to lines down the hallway, saying his members support the governor "wholeheartedly." Still, yesterday didn't compare to the crowds four years ago. That year, Lynch took power from former Republican governor Craig Benson, who frequently knocked heads with state employees.

That party, Smith said, was a "liberation celebration."

"When he first got elected, it was out the door, down the road, round the block," Smith said.

State workers said they recognized the toll the economy has taken on the state and its budget, so they weren't too surprised at Lynch's request that they defer their raises. But, several workers said, they needed the raise, particularly given that it was paired with an increase in health care costs.

Many said the state's real problem is that it doesn't bring in enough money, and a few suggested an income or sales tax, something Lynch has vowed to veto.

"It's my own personal feeling that they don't have a spending problem in New Hampshire, we have a revenue problem," said Diane Bechtler, who works for Health and Human Services.

"I think the real problem in New Hampshire is revenue, not expenditure," West said.

But, she said, she has faith in Lynch. "I just think he's going to figure it out," she said.

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"Lynch to Legislature: You Figure It Out"
By James W. Pindell, Politicker.com Editor

CONCORD -- Gov. John Lynch, after being sworn into his position for the third time today, spoke in his inaugural address about large budget deficits and the tough economic picture ahead. And while he holds the most political clout than any New Hampshire governor of a generation, he basically went did the equivalent of a shrug of the shoulders and a "have a nice time figuring it out, just don't spend too much" to the Democratic majority legislature looking for a direction and some cover.

His speech was "long on platitudes and short on substance" according to one Republican critic, Hooksett State Rep. David Hess. But, as State President Sylvia Larsen (D-Concord) suggested, this speech isn't the time for the specifics.

"This speech was not meant as much for the Legislature as it is for the state-wide audience who aren't paying as much attention," said Larsen.

Even if the right somber tone was struck, many legislators, including Democrats, wondered what it was exactly that Lynch was asking for.

"My constituents love him, and I deeply respect his judgement, so just lead me down and path and I will follow," said one Democratic state representative, who asked not to be named because of his relationship with the governor's office. "This is the most frustrating part of him being governor. The guessing."

It is probably fair to say that the economic times -- and the looming $150 million deficit -- does not allow governors to be proposing bold new initiatives or programs. It is the reason, Lynch said, that he didn't propose a single new initiative while running for governor last year. But for all that was said in the speech there was all that wasn't said. There was no plan for how the state could deal better with natural disasters, no roadmap as to what to cut out of the budget or what taxes to raise. The hot question of whether or not to expand gambling wasn't even addressed. (There was so debate as to whether the line "There is no magical pot of gold at the end of a mythical rainbow" was a reference to opposing gambling. Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said it was not.)

State Sen. Lou D'Allesandro (D-Manhcester), a gambling proponent, said he wasn't sure if anything could be read in a non-mention of the issue.

Former Gov. John H. Sununu, who is expected to become the state Republican Chair this month, said Lynch's only approach to fixing the deficit problems appeared to be "wait for the federal government to bail us out."

Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan (D-Exeter) objected to the idea that a full roadmap needed to be laid out as lawmakers figure out their options.

"What he did is respect the constitution because he understands that there are three branches of government and it is the legislature's job to have a say in this," said Hassan.

Though when she begins to carry the water and begin defending cuts of popular programs it will be her name in the paper, the rising star politician, and not the already popular politician John Lynch.

Just the way he wants it.
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James W. Pindell is a Politicker.com Editor and can be reached via email at james.pindell@politicker.com.
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"Let me be very clear. We face a budget challenge of unprecedented dimensions."
- Governor John Lynch, in his inauguration day remarks in Representatives Hall.

Source: New Hampshire Sunday News: Union Leader, Sunday, January 11, 2009, Vol. 63, No. 14, New Hampshire News, Page B3, "They Said It".

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"State House Dome: Lynch says NH still $75m in the red after cuts"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, Sunday, January 11, 2009

THE NEXT big step in cutting this year's deficit comes Tuesday, when House hearings open on Gov. John Lynch's move to trim $15 million as quickly as possible.

Even at legislative light speed, this could take awhile. The bill is scheduled to go before the full House on Jan. 28, then start in the Senate.

The big money it would produce comes from $5 million in the highway fund as repayment for an infusion of general-fund dollars in 2007; $4 million in training funds for police and fire recruits; $1 million from teachers licensing fees, roughly $2.5 million in Medicaid savings and about $1.1 million from the legislative and judicial branch accounts. After all that, we'll still be $75 million in the hole by Lynch's best estimates.

House Finance Committee chair Marjorie Smith said the exact dollars in the bill haven't been pinned down yet because of the vagaries in government accounting. The hearings will lead to some refinement, she said.

The Medicaid money will come through a change in law that will block hospitals from charging premium fees on bills for doctors' practices they own. They collect a higher payment than non-hospital doctors get, plus an extra fee called a "facilities charge." Former Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen pushed hard to get this change two years ago, but lawmakers balked. The plan has been on hold ever since.

State Medicaid director Katie Dunn said that federal rules changed last month, so the state can now just lock in what already has been cleared in Washington.

"This particular change is pretty much verbatim from federal language," Dunn said.

National Education Association president Rhonda Wesolowski was surprised that the Department of Education has $1 million in teacher license fees to hand over.

"When they raised our fees, they told us they absolutely needed that money for us to renew our certificates because it would go to support the credentialing department," she said.

Judy Fillion, director or program support at the Department of Education, said the fund has more than $2 million in it now. The account swells in the fall when teachers pay their fees. Credentialing, postage, training programs and reviews get paid out of the fund as the year goes on, she said.

Education Commissioner Lyonel Tracy said he was assured that this is a one-time deal, and not a policy change for how the money is used from now on.

Lynch's team also may have found an extra $3 million across all state agencies, in unused salary and benefits money. Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon told the Executive Council Thursday that the job freeze Lynch put in place was supposed to save about $8 million.

"It looks like we're on target for $11 million now," she said. Hodgdon needed council permission to sweep those accounts quickly.

"We don't want to leave any money in agency accounts and give them time to spend it," she said.

Permission granted.

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DEAN OF THE COUNCIL: Lynch announced at the brief meeting that Executive Councilor Raymond Burton is now the longest-serving person to hold that post in state history. At the conclusion of his term, Burton will have been in office for 32 years.

Lynch said he plans a formal recognition for Burton at a meeting that will be more heavily attended than the 20-minute affair that followed the inauguration reception.

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WHERE'S THE BEEF?: Lynch's inauguration speech touched on a lot of issues, but did not delve into much detail.

That had some listeners frustrated because they were looking for hints on what direction the next budget will take. They'll have to come back next month for his budget speech.

Things that Lynch mentioned but didn't spend much time on could provide a glimpse into future headlines.

He took a swing at electric companies over performance during the ice-out of electric service last month.

"We must thoroughly review the utilities preparedness and communications," he said.

He plans to tap revenue from the auction of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative pollution credits to pay for upgrading public buildings for better energy efficiency and for job training for weatherization workers. During budget hearings, some worried the RGGI funds would be tapped to balance the budget.

Lynch's plan for the money creates jobs for workers like electricians, carpenters and plumbers at a time when housing starts are in a nose dive.

Then there were the unspecified programs that will have to be deferred to better times.

A few eyes in the hall, especially among Democrats widened when Lynch said, "We won't be able to do everything we want to, or even everything we should do as a state." As for the kinds of cuts, they won't be a series of little nicks, Lynch said.

"This next budget cannot be balanced by tweaks and minor adjustments, "¦ there is no magical pot of gold at the end of a mythical rainbow."

Lynch painted a somber tone, but managed to bring the audience to its feet a dozen times in 25 minutes. Not all the excitement was about issues. In fact, the first four ovations were for, in order, his wife, Dr. Susan Lynch; men and women in the military; electric utility workers; and volunteers who helped during last month's ice storm.

Lynch didn't do too much bragging. Where many observers expected some sort of list of accomplishments over the past four years, Lynch summed it all up in about six or seven quick sentences. He covered education, job creation and tax credits in 11 words. Air and water quality and LCHIP got 10 words combined.

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SUNUNU ATTACK CASH: Democrats were upset that former Gov. John H. Sununu, unopposed in a bid to be Republican Party chair, went on the attack right after Lynch's speech. But they made the most of it.

New Hampshire Democratic Party executive director Mike Brunelle said he sent an e-mail out Thursday night criticizing Sununu for criticizing Lynch.

Brunelle said the e-mail raised $3,000 in 12 hours.

"We didn't know John H. Sununu would be so helpful in our fund-raising efforts," Brunelle said. He didn't really answer when we asked if he'd invite Sununu to Lynch's budget address next month.

Sununu stumbled twice Thursday over Lynch's initiative to raise the mandatory school attendance age to 18. For one, he didn't know the measure is already law. Secondly, he said he hoped it would pass, apparently unaware that his party opposed it as an unfunded mandate during debates in both the House and Senate.

Republicans had argued that local schools would be saddled with the double cost of hiring more teachers to handle unruly 17-year olds who'd rather be anywhere but school, and of alternative programs for them.

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LOW-DIGIT VANITY: Rep. Phil Preston has come up with a way to get a quick quarter million dollars. He wants to treat low-digit license plates like vanity plates. Every year, holders of the plates with four or fewer digits would fork over $25, just like every other vanity plate holder.

"It's not going to solve the problem, but every little crumb will help," Preston said.

These low-number plates used to go only to the well-connected. Under Safety Commissioner John Barthelmes, those who want the plates make an application. The numbers are awarded as they become available, and go to those with records of community or other service.

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PAYCHECK CASHING CATCH: Sen. Ted Gatsas is pushing a bill that would block banks from charging workers a fee to cash their paychecks, even if the check came from that bank.

Gatsas said labor law requires the employer to cover the fee on a payroll check. One constituent complained the fee was $6 for a single paycheck.

Gatsas expects push back from the banks, but said he thinks its unfair that a bank can charge a fee to honor its own paper.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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Readers' COMMENTS:

State House Dome: Lynch says NH still $75m in the red after cuts.

That means that the govenrment is not done cutting. They still need to cut another 75 million dollars.
- John Krats, Manchester, New Hampshire

HB71, HB72, HB53, HB114 ALL BAD BILLS including the one to raise the fee on car tags.

These Democrats are out of their MINDS. A few calling themselves Rs too, like the infamous Ms Betsy Patten who is trying to take away our right to vote at town meetings in private.

This is criminal!

mike talk about belligerant and ultra-partisan, have you ever been harrassed by Buckley and Sullivan?

This state is quickly accepting Marxism as its basic way of doing things. Lynch should resign for the mess he's made and take Lyonel with him.
- Sue, Manchester

Vagaries in government accounting, millions of dollars lying around, unused. Nice work, Democrats!

Keep cutting.
- Tom, Campton

Lynch always strikes me as someone who would make a great governor of Massachusetts.

Oh and Lynch said his team might have found "$3 million across all state agencies, in unused salary and benefits money.".

I didn't realize losing $3 million was so easy...and this man is suppose to be our governor who's finger is on the pulse of NH?!?!?!
- Mike, Epping

End entitlement programs. If someone wants to live for handouts instead of trying to work, they can move to Mass, it's right over the border.

That'd solve multiple problems at the same time.
- Jeff, Bedford

Steve, you have hit upon something.
Watching attend each disaster (floods, tornado, etc.) is what the news people cover. And, unfortunately hat is what a majority of voters see and hear.
The majority remain unwilling to dissect the real John Lynch (Teflon governor).
We know what he has done to affect our fiscal matters by increasing spending 17.5% - and now looks like a hero because he is "cutting". Keeping young people in school until age 18 - attacking home schooling and charter schools are favors to the NH NEA.
Parents right have been under attack for Lynch's 4 years.
Our NH conservative culture has changed - and not for the better!
But then Steve, you and I see the reality of his tenure.
bnyoung@metrocast.net
- Niel Young, Laconia

Simply put, Gov. Sununu has never led us down the road to double digit deficits that Lynch proudly touts this past week as successful. Look for more blow hard statements from the Democratic Party as they celebrate their victories from 08 and ignore New Hampshire's spending crisis.
- Roger, Manchester

Sununu created the Augenblick plan then he, and his cohorts refused to fund it, result, Claremont I and the ever continuing mess. He's the best thing that could happen to the democratic party, he's uninformed, beligerant and ultra-partisan, just the formula that wrecked the last 8 years!
- mike, bedford

Sununu's extremely successful record as three term governor and his prescient hardline stand on the Augenblick 'Plan' more than makes up for minor disagreements like mandatory attendence for 18 year olds. Lynch subjected homeschoolers to State Control last term, but no peep about that. He also intimidated charter schools by withholding their 'Claremont' funding. He knows his power and how to use it.

By keeping education as the main topic, we can finally have the true, honest, and overdue debate that this time includes citizens -- unlike the controlled ones that led to the unfortunate court decisions.
- Steve, Manch

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"State official: Social services in NH must be overhauled"
Friday January 16, 2009, CONCORD, N.H. (AP), www.vpr.net

Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas says social services must be overhauled in New Hampshire.

Toumpas told House lawmakers his department can't do business as usual given the lack of money for state programs. Toumpas calculates his agency needs $200 million more than in a pared-back budget Governor John Lynch asked him to prepare. Toumpas says now is a good time to re-examine the department's functions and all the services it provides anyway.

He says the $200 million gap can't be closed with tweaks. He says it will mean cutting some services. Toumpas says it is too early to know what services will be cut but that people should be ready for changes.

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"Gov. Lynch: The next state budget can't be balanced without layoffs"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, The NH Union Leader, 1/29/2009

Concord – Layoffs among state workers will be unavoidable in the next two years if the state’s next budget is going to be balanced, Gov. John Lynch said this morning.

Lynch said he has been meeting six days a week with department heads across state government to find programs that are no longer necessary or can be combined with others. As those programs are cut or consolidated, some workers will lose their jobs, he said.

While he said he has not talked about any across-the-board layoffs, he said they must come as part of cost-saving moves for fiscal 2010 and 2011.

“Some layoffs are unavoidable, particularly as we look to eliminate programs,” he said.Estimates are that state revenues will be $500 million short of what is needed to fund government operations over the next two years.

Lynch said he has focused entirely on costs and ways to manage it more efficiently. He said has not begun looking at tax policies for extra revenue.

Lynch said cuts in other programs such as school building aid, revenue sharing with cities and towns, and environmental grants are all being examined closely. He said he would not try to cut adequate education grants to local school districts. There are also moves to find savings in the corrections system and increase net income from state liquor sales.

As he considers where to cut, Lynch said he’ll be sensitive to the impact on property tax payers and try to avoid shifting more costs onto them.

Lynch also said he is creating an office of economic stimulus to handle federal stimulus grants, and had tapped Deputy Attorney General Bud Fitch to head it.

Lynch said he still needs to be convinced that gambling is a healthy option for the state, and that social costs it brings will not hurt the state’s quality of life.

Lynch plans to present a balanced budget proposal to the Legislature on Feb. 12, 2009.
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Readers' COMMENTS:

I agree on the Casino idea. Not only will it help the state and town budgets but can truly bring a boost to a community such as Berlin or the surrounding area that has been hit hard. Our state is already a high tourist dependant state and this will only help!
- Jeff, Litchfield

Economy has tanked, large revenue shortfalls and too many additional state funded programs. Residents have themselves to blame. Wanted 'change', you got it.
- Mike, Merrimack

Let's face it, it takes about 5 NH state employees to do the work of 1 private sector employee. They get full medical for themselves and every member of their families, they get 5.5% raises while us private workers deal with cutbacks. Just look at the Vet Home down the street, 200 Vets, 400 employees, seriously, you need 2 employees for each patient? Insane. Guy running that place gets 100k plus and his state car and his gas and whatever else.

Not to many of us in the private sector getting 100% medical for the entire family, how about state employees pay their fair share like the rest of us.

Lynch doesn't know what he's doing but he keeps smiling and getting re-elected. The state employee union singlehandedly chased Benson out... Hmmm, I wonder why.
- Bill, Tilton

Let's cut Umile's salary. Why should a hockey coach have the highest salary as a state employee?
- Skip Poundstone, Bedford

You know when management does a lay off they will lay off the employees that actually do the work. Managment is not going to lay themselves off. Managements is the ones sitting in their big offices just socializing all day and the poor low paid employee is hard at work at their desks. All a lay off is going to accomplish is lay off the low paid employee and cause longer lines at motor vehicles or unemployment.

Maybe we should lay off all the police, fire, and snow plows and all you complaining babies can protect your own homes for armed men, or from fires and you can shovel your own way to work. Yeah lets do that!!! Lets be real, the governorment has no choice but to things that no one else wants to do.
- Jim, Hudson

A casino might bring in jobs. But it will destroy the lifestyle of whatever community it is placed next to or in. Say goodbye to Bedford Falls, hello Pottersville.

Don't think I'm joking either. The people who used to live in quite communities near Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods now have to put up with drunks parking in their driveways, urinating and defecating on their lawns, trash of all kinds thrown in their yards, and pennyless losers cruising for another fix.

Oh yeah, somebody will get rich off it. But it won't be the average Joe or Jane in NH.
- Michael D. Houst, Barrington, NH

Then I guess you're going to have to lay them off.

Don't hold the cut list close to your chest. Notify the people affected as early as possible so they can start seeking other jobs.
- Michael D. Houst, Barrington, NH

Lynch still can't do his job! He was supoosed to have the commissioners cut out all abuse of state vehicles in their departments...still not happening! Division Directors, Wardens.....the list goes on and on. Lynch was going to stop employees at the top from retiring from high paying jobs and still continue working part-time at the same rate...These folks are not even paing into the retirement system but are collecting brecause they are friends with the commissioners at their department...just look at HHS, Corrections, Safety, DOT etc. Lynch needs to hol the commissioners accountable this isn't happening and his spending has gone unchecked.
- John, Concord

Tim, Enfield, Gov. Lynch has been fully in charge of this state for four years. He is solely responsible for allowing a 17.5% spending increase in the last budget knowing full well that revenue was not going to support that increase. That it's somebody else's (federal gov) fault doesn't cut it, not then, not now; especially since the Democrats have been running Congress for the last four years, too...remember?

One way the State could save hundreds of millions would be to stop the what I call the "retirement entitlement game". Retirement annuity should be figured on base pay only, not base pay plus all the OT worked in the last three years of employment. Required years of service and age for retirement need to be increased. The whole retirement system needs to be revamped. The token changes made by the legislature last year were a joke.

All you talking about legalizing gambling -look at Conn, Ala, Miss, et.al. They bring in billions from gambling profits and they are still broke - even with Statewide property taxes, sales taxes and income taxes - you know why? Because they are all Democratically controlled and Democrats only know how to do one thing - tax and spend.
The last thing this State needs is more sources of revenue. The First thing this State needs to do is to DECREASE SPENDING.!
- sandy, thornton

State employee's will receive their 5.5% raise - and a 3% step increase. County and local goverment employees will lose their jobs. Thanks to Gov. Lynch and the 400+ inefficient - uneducated State Representatives who will then return to their County duties and cut cut cut - of course all after they cost shift to the County and in turn our local communities - of course they'll find a way to feel good about that - largely because they are so inefficient at their State roles - in the end REAL PEOPLE who need services will lose them when they get cut out of the County budgets. Great job folks.....
- Tim, Lincoln

Financial problems are almost always caused by mis-management and waste. A few years ago I was hired as a consultant to find out why one division of a company was losing while others were showing profits. Through re-organization and waste reduction I turned a 40K monthly loss into a 30K monthly profit in just 30 days. That is how obvious the waste usually is and everyone can see for themselves the mismanagement and waste in government. I reallly enjoyed turning that division around, I can only imagine how much joy there would be in showing any governing body their errant ways.
- Jackswebb, Hudson

Scott in Chichester.... Areas with casinos routinely have high crime rates. Casinos do equal jobs but they also equal crime. The solution is simple. Cut social services. Stop accepting boat loads of "refugees". We need to spend money on sensible things, cut the fat and pork out.
- Phil Hubbard, Northfield, NH

Obama will obviously send some money our way here in NH.

Just add "NH" to the ridiculous "stimulus" package. At least all GOP members had the backbone to vote NO on that one.
- John, Dover

why not really do the horse tax too bad the rep got calls to scare her if you can afford a horse you can well afford 25 fee
- henry, concord

Most state employees are paid less than fair market value, which is why many have the attitude that they only need to "put in their time".

Yes, there are some highly paid employees, but if you didn't pay legal staff over $100k per year, do you think anyone qualified would be willing to do those jobs?

Maybe it is time to get rid of the "closed shop" state employee union so managers can actually hold employees accountable to productivity during their work day. Imagine that: hard workers would be paid for their hard work, slackers would be the ones unemployed.
- JAC, Manchester

If "Layoffs among state workers will be unavoidable in the next two years if the state’s next budget is going to be balanced" so WHY did the governor give away $500,000 in raises (to the unclassified employees) which he had complete control to deny?
- Steve, Concord

Frank in Gilford.. YUP. Bumping rights screw the lower end employees and keep the high paid employed. Did any of you actually read the list of salaries and see how many pages up from the bottom you would have to flip to be able to support your family? But yes, the state employees are living the life of luxury with their fat paychecks... oh wait, thats about 5% of the population.
- Andrew, Franklin

DUH! This is what I have been saying all along. WE NEED SMALLER GOVERNMENT. Get rid of the 6 figure workers and replace them with new people at a lower rate and put the money "saved" back into the state where it belongs easing the burdens on the taxpayers.
Yes, that would be nice, but unfortunately, I don't think Lynch has the brains enough to save anything but his own hide.
Lets' hope this step is the first of many to help us out and not just a ploy to get re-elected.
- Pauline, Franklin

Gov. Lynch needs to think about gambling and if it will affect the NH quality of life. If he wants to see what has affectively deteriorated the quality of life in the state, he need only to look into a morror.
- Bob H, Londonderry

To Frank from Bethlehem. Why would the amount of property taxes paid drop? If everyone's property value deceased then the property tax rate must go up to support you school and town budget. If you don't like your property tax rate then move! Stop whing!
- Pete, Northern NH

To Frank in Gilford...How do you propose that they just "get rid of" a police Sgt. or someone else at the top of the pay scale? And as for laying off state employee's, I believe they have a "bump" system in which employee's with more years of service, if they get laid off, can bump out another employee in another office, department, etc., who has less years experience. If this is the case, and please correct me if I am wrong, this would only get rid of the lower pay workers and keep the higher paid "seasoned" worker's.
- Frank, Gilford

Personally, I'm ready to lay Gov. Lynch off!
- Ryan Johnson, Manchester, NH

New Hampshire should allow people to smoke in restaurants. This may help increase employment in many restaurants. This may save jobs in many restaurants. More people employed in restaurants the fewer people who may need food stamps and Medicaid. New Hampshire may obtain more rooms and meals tax revenues from many restaurants.

New Hampshire should allow casino gambling in many parts of the state. To help deal with addicts and crime, New Hampshire taxes the casinos, taxes winnings above a certain amount, and charges people a fee for entering the casinos. New Hampshire would also benefit from rooms and meals tax revenues from the casinos.

I think the rooms and meals tax should be 5 percent to increase the odds that people from New Hampshire and other states will visit our restaurants and hotels.

New Hampshire's state government and local government need to make it easier for small businesses to do business in New Hampshire by eliminating regulations that are not necessary, by eliminating laws that are not necessary, and by reducing many fees and paperwork.
- Ken Stremsky, Manchester, NH

Why don't we reassess the welfare system? We are spending all this money on some people (not all) that won't work, so that the people that do have jobs lose them?

We could also look at the justice system. How much do we have to pay to lock up Johnny Pothead? Instead, give a huge fine or garnish his wages. That is revenue right there! Don't give him a place to stay, meals, and health care.

A casino is not the answer. If it was, they wouldn't have laid off several hundred at Foxwoods. People can't afford to gamble. They may think they do, but they can't. You can watch the foreclosure rate increase.
- Beth, Raymond

To Tim in Enfield - you forget there was a little thing called a 17+% INCREASE in most recent 2-year budget that was 100% under Gov. Lynch's perview. If he did not get such a huge increase the amount of reductions needed would be smaller and maybe less painful.
- Mike, Derry, NH

I think your right some programs should be cut. Did you see the amount of people that made more than John Lynch? And he is responsible for the State. Get rid of the State Police Sargent making $160k per Year of the Correctional LT making $150
- Frank, Concord NH

Well how about starting with some of the employees on that "highest paid state employees" list that the UL posted last week!

Also, maybe the governor and some state reps should sacrifice his/their salaries that they get from the state as a sign of solidarity with many of us who are going without as well.
- Justin, Manchester

I have and Idea stop letting Police , fire
and other deptment retire in just 20 years with great pay and bennies. I don't know of any other companies that give that to there employee's,, Just lay off the dead wood in all of your departments and we would save a lot of money.. because there is a lot of dead wood thats been arround for a long time.
We see them on the streets and in the schools every day. just go into the state bldgs in concord and try to get something done or get info. WOW Scary!!
fight back middle class their after
your money again.
- -pete, deerfield

I have and Idea stop letting Police , fire
and other deptment retire in just 20 years with great pay and bennies. I don't know of any other companies that give that to there employee's,, Just lay off the dead wood in all of your departments and we would save a lot of money.. because there is a lot of dead wood thats been arround for a long time.
We see them on the streets and in the schools every day. just go into the state bldgs in concord and try to get something done or get info. WOW Scary!!
fight back middle class their after
your money again.
- -pete, deerfield

Bob,
I'm a state employee and make less than 30,000 a year. I am the majority. Just a little reality check.
- Mary, Concord, NH

Don't forget people, the State employees will be receiving their 5.5% raise in their checks tomorrow. And on top of that, a good majority of them will also be receiving a step increase of about 3.0%. Lynch's announcement today is his way at getting back at the Union because they would not consider giving back, delaying, or cutting the big raise. Basic Politics 101 folks.
- Mike, Dover

Hey Frank, buy a calculator.

If the budget is even the same and property values go down the tax rate needs to go up to collect the same amount of money.

That's the beauty of property taxes, you owe them even if you lose your income.
- Mike, Salem

I can't point a finger? Why not? Let's stop with the baloney, the private sector is getting killed, layoffs and layoffs.. and the state workers seem to think they have some "right" to a job for life doing about nothing.. Like "us", the state needs to cut back.. and then means people get let go, salaries are reduced, no more make work jobs. While doing th cutting, how about spending wisely, aka .. the cop details? Let some of the lower paid, soon to be let go state, country workers direct traffic at a reasonable rate..
- tom, manchester, nh

The governor followed unrealistic revenue projections despite numerous warnings, He didn't curb spending, and is now trying to look fiscally responsible by going through the motions of cutting to show that he is tying to manage this financial crisis that is really of his own making. NH will soon have a state income tax and gambling is on the horizon! Sigh...what ever happened to the republican state NH once was?
- Rob, Manchester

Cut police services and schools. Think of all the money we'd be saving if people were responsible for their own safety (wait they already are. Police for the most part are there to take pictures of a crime scene and ticket people), and the schools don't teach kids how to learn and think, they teach 'em to take tests and love their Uncle Sam.
- Jay, Manchester

We need to stop talking about how to funnel more money into schools and start working towards spending less. We spend astronomical sums on K-12 and have little to show for it.

Its time to end the union government monopoly in subsidized education. The Big Ed gravy train must be derailed before its too late. Restore parental education rights.

Start by getting rid of all of this "Educational Adequacy" nonsense, which is nothing more than a thinly veiled plan to centralize education spending at the state level.
- Jim Peschke, Croydon, NH

I agree with Scott in Chichester; bring in gambling. Have you ever been to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun? These places are in beautiful areas of Connecticut; places you feel safer than walking some streets in Manchester at night.

This state has to do something about increasing revenue -- there seems to be a disproportionate amount of attention energy regarding cutting spending. While there is probably fat to cut, how about government comes up with some outside-the-box thinking on revenue growth!
- Sean, Manchester

Why should state employees, otherwise known as Democrats be immune from layoffs?

When the Republicans ran the Legislature we had no deficits. Now we have a $500 million. The Democrats have run New Hampshire into the ground. Oh, that's right, they plan on passing the buck to Obama and the enlightened Marxists in Washington DC.

What's their plan? Print money until our economy is somewhere between that of Zimbabwe and Argentina. The electorate will rue the day they put all of these morons into office.
- John Krats, Manchester, New Hampshire

Wait, wait....I can fix the whole budget problem.....how about this......

How about all state workers use their own personal cars to travel back and forth from home to work and back home instead of using state owned vehicles and gas from state pumps?

Anybody put that thought to paper and pencil and figure out the savings yet? How about it, Union Leader...you up for the task? Bet this could be huge, maybe even tomorrow's headline!
- DM, Derry

If our government trims budgets thats great. We do have a flawed system of burden on homeowners. However cut too much and there may be irreparable damage, loss of very talented people. The state pays their people way under market value. What keeps people is the health care they are provided. How about we start letting convicted felons out ? or at least cut staffing levels to dangerous levels...! what are your thoughts on that ?
- Patrick, Conocrd

I expect an income tax within the next 5 years. Too bad, I remember a time when NH was a model of fiscal responsibility that most other states in the country were envious of...even during the rough times!
- Mike, Epping

Wow, what a concept. Living within our means. It's unfortunate that our fine Governor did not come to the same conclusion years ago before he and his Legislators strated spending our money like the Big Boys in Washington.
We the people are hurting, our town property taxes are killing us, our 401K's are in the dumper, and some of us our loosing our jobs faster than they can reposes our homes. When will the people who claim to work for us get the message, we are tapped out, the well is dry.
- Bob, Deerfield

I took a look at what we're paying employees in the state's judicial system and was amazed at the salaries that they're bringing in. Maybe it's time to replace some of those employees with professionals that can get by on less than $130,000 a year.
- Bob, Hillsborough

PSNH just raised its rates three times with more to come...What is next? I think casinos should be considered. That is how schools are funded in Michigan and it has been very successful. Anything you bring in will result in crime--no question.
- JT, Manchester

Then lay them off. Do they have some sort of sacred right to their jobs? Live within your means. Everyone else is doing it, except for the Government. It's time for the state to get with the program.
- MP, Hampton Falls

Property values throughout NH and across the country have dropped significantly. There should be a proportional drop in property taxes collected. If your property tax goes up this year perhaps it's time for a class action suit by all home owners in the state. Maybe then someone will pay attention.
- Frank Reeve, Bethlehem,NH

I'll tell you what: if my little town increases property taxes again (and they probably will) then you may start to see the village die. There are 2500+ residents and a minimal business base, yet the funding for the school is approaching college level. And not every resident in the village has kids. So why is the budget so high?

The state going to have to comply with the constitution and the supreme court. The govenor should look to leveraging ALL lottery earnings to go to school funding, and reduce the size of the HHS budget. I for one am tired of seeing illegal aliens and 'political asylum' people living better that Americans who actually work for a living and have paid into the system.

It's time America was for Americans, and not just a huge welfare office.
- john, goffstown

how about a casino? hhmmm... i love how the morons who think "casinos only bring in crime" can't back up their statements with true facts. ANYTHING brings in crime! put a mall in, brings in crime! bring a car dealership in... brings in crime! well, let's get rid of the population, that will COMPLETELY eradicate crime!

guess what? put in a casino... it creates jobs, with jobs those people will be less likely to commit a crime, especially for those who live in the northern part of the state who CONTINUALLY burn their houses down because... EGAD NO JOBS!

anyone notice this vicious circle? nope! too many stupid people on this planet to understand SIMPLE logic relating to simple economics.
- scott, chichester

No big surprise here...those of us in the private sector have been dealing with this reality for two years, and it is only getting worse. I don't want to hear any bashers of Gov. Lynch pointing fingers...there are a number of factors that have tanked the NH economy, and none of them were within his purview. If you must point fingers, then point them at your congressional delegation.
- Tim Lenihan, Enfield

You know the situation's desperate when they start talking about axing patronage jobs. That's their bread and butter!

Lynch is in a trap and he's mulling over whether to chew off his own leg.
- Rowland, Fremont

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"A challenging couple of weeks for governor: First Senate, then state budget mess"
By LAUREN R. DORGAN, Concord Monitor staff, OPINION, February 08, 2009

It was a seismic week in New Hampshire politics - U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg is leaving, Bonnie Newman's on her way to Washington, U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes is officially official in his race for Senate, and politicians new and old are looking at running for office.

This will be a huge week in New Hampshire policy, when Gov. John Lynch lays out his budget plan, showing exactly how bad he expects the next two years to be and what cuts he recommends.

It must have been a little strange to be Lynch last week, taking calls from would-be senators, Gregg himself and White House aides even while trying to settle on, say, the state Department of Cultural Resources budget. (I myself got an anonymous Texan caller suggesting Charlie Arlinghaus for the job and an e-mail telling me that former state senator Rick Russman could do it. No can do, fellas.)

Big coffees and even bigger boxes of budget paperwork were the order of the day in the governor's office last week.

And after word from Lynch that layoffs will be "unavoidable," state employees have had a worrisome time. The State Employees' Association girded employees in a newsletter last week, saying that it expects decisions about what's going to be cut to be worked on throughout the spring and the "likeliest announcements in mid-June."

Town Fair
Amid all the drama and uncertainty of the past week, it was something of a relief for New Hampshire to unite against common enemies: Massachusetts and taxes.

Lynch and Attorney General Kelly Ayotte jointly decried Massachusetts for trying to collect that state's 5 percent sales tax from Bay Staters who shop in New Hampshire's branches of Town Fair Tires, a Connecticut company that is taking its protest to Massachusetts's Supreme Judicial Court.

On Thursday, Ayotte filed an amicus brief with the court, com-

ing down on the side of Town Fair and state sovereignty. Lynch took the matter a step further on Friday, introducing a bill that would ban New Hampshire businesses from collecting taxes on behalf of Massachusetts. Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan of Exeter is sponsoring the bill.

"We need to send a clear message that Massachusetts and other states shall not impose their sales taxes on New Hampshire businesses," Lynch said in a statement.

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta responded with a message of his own: Right on, and get in line. Guinta thanked Ayotte in a statement to the media (no word on how he feels about Lynch) and noted that he'd been spreading the word about Massachusetts's tax grab since Tuesday.

"As I stated in my letter earlier this week, it is imperative that policymakers at all levels of New Hampshire government decry this attack on our sovereign ability to regulate revenue," Guinta said in a release Friday. "I am glad that more officials have joined me in shedding light on this outrageous policy by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it is important that the state takes decisive action, and I thank AG Ayotte for doing exactly that."

Death penalty

On Tuesday, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee will hold a day-long hearing on death penalty, starting at 10 a.m. and extending past 6 p.m.

Gipper awards

Erin Hass and Aaron Goulette will take home the 2009 Gipper Awards from the New Hampshire Young Republican Federation this week.

Hass, formerly the minority policy director in the state Senate, now works for the Dennehy-Bouley lobbying firm. Goulette has worked on Gordon Humphrey's 2002 Senate campaign, George W. Bush's 2004 presidential campaign and John McCain's campaign last year.

The reception will be held at the Upham-Walker House on Wednesday at noon. Guinta will speak and hand out the awards. Former congressional candidate Grant Bosse's bringing the food: Toothpick meats and jelly beans.

Now you know

The last time a governor willingly appointed a member of the other party to the Senate was in 1960, according to Betty Koed, assistant historian in the U.S. Senate. At that time, then-Oregon GOP governor Mark Hatfield appointed a former Supreme Court justice Hall Lusk to fill out the term of Richard Neuberger, who died in office.

A few states, Koed said, have laws requiring governors to pick senators of the same party as the senator they are replacing. We didn't count those in our tally.

Shaheen on Europe

New Hampshire's now-senior Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was named chairwoman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on European Affairs, which watches over NATO, the European Union, Russia and more. Shaheen succeeds President Obama in this role.

Humane honor

The Humane Society of the United States will honor Hodes next week for his work helping the family of Newport Army Spc. Justin Rollins adopt the Iraqi puppy he cared for shortly before he was killed. The reception will be held on Tuesday.

At the same ceremony, the Humane Society will also hand out awards in its congressional photo contest, with awards including Barker of the House, Senate Pawjority Leader and Elder Statesdog.

DeJoie ride

Word got to us from a Very Reliable Source that Concord state Rep. John DeJoie is among those considering a run for Congress now that Hodes has made clear that he's running for Senate. DeJoie neither confirmed nor denied those reports.

"You know me," DeJoie said. "I'm a firefighter, and I'm an elected representative, and I love serving the public. So I'm reviewing all my options."

Finance

The House Finance Committee will once again take budget hearings on the road this year.

The hearings are set for March 9 at 6 p.m. at Salem High School; March 12 at 6 p.m. at River Valley Community College; and March 16 at 6 p.m. at the White Mountains Regional High School in Whitefield.

'Secrecy'

At last week's hearing on whether the state should collect DNA from felons, Rep. Tim Robertson of Keene said he was trying to get his mind around "this secrecy thing."

Robertson described how he had to submit to fingerprinting and a background check after he was elected to his local school board. He wasn't too upset about any invasion of his privacy, he said, since the district gave him an ID badge that allowed him free access into the school buildings.

"I think me, wandering into a kindergarten, they'd like to know that I'm a child molester," Robertson said, to a long silence.

"I'm not."

Dems eye Salem

Democrats have their hopes high that they'll be able to pick up a House seat in the heart of Sununu territory: Salem.

Though a special election has not been set, Democrats hope that economist Daphne Kenyon will mount a run.
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(Monitor staff writers Meg Heckman and Margot Sanger-Katz contributed to this column.)
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Published on New Hampshire Public Radio (http://www.nhpr.org)


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"Major Changes for HHS in Governor's Budget"
By Elaine Grant, nhpr.org, Created 02/13/2009 - 15:37

Under Governor Lynch's proposed 2010-2011 budget, the Department of Health and Human Services undergoes a radical transformation.

Synopsis:
New Hampshire’s Health and Human Services department took it on the chin in the governor’s budget.

The governor is proposing that HHS eliminate entire programs and lay off up to 150 employees.

Transcript:

HHS makes up more than half of all state spending.

So it’s hardly surprising that the governor would look to the department for millions of dollars in savings it needs to close its estimated $500 million shortfall in the next biennium.

The 2010 budget funds HHS at $721 million dollars.

That’s an $85 million cut off of the department’s original request.

Almost $30 million comes from the payroll.

The governor says HHS would need to lay off 125 to 150 workers – about half of all state employee layoffs – and that it would leave 200 positions vacant.

Dick Cohen is executive director of the Disabilities Rights Center.

He says HHS is already understaffed and that further cuts will compromise the department’s ability to provide safe and high-quality services.

Dick Cohen: "We’re going to want to take a strong look at that. We think they’re probably cutting into the bone, here."

EG: "A sober Nick Toumpas, the HHS Commissioner, said operating with fewer employees will be challenging."

Nick Toumpas: "We’re potentially reducing some of our staffing or more importantly maintaining a higher level of vacancy rate at a time when we’re seeing very increased levels of need from the people that we serve."

EG: "Rather than cut jobs across the entire department, the governor is proposing eliminating certain programs altogether."

Governor Lynch: "We faced the fundamental question of breadth versus depth. If we attempt to do everything, we risk doing nothing well."

EG: "So he would close the Tobey School, a facility for children with special needs.

He would also eliminate a catastrophic illness program; end reimbursement for chiropractic and podiatry services; and cut state assistance for medical training.

But the governor’s proposed HHS budget is just as notable for what it does do as for the cuts it imposes.

Despite early rumors to the contrary, it does not cut Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals and providers.

And rather than house mentally ill patients in a new million-dollar facility on state hospital grounds, Governor Lynch proposes building community residences.

Louis Josephson is president of Riverbend Community Mental Health Center in Concord."

Louis Josephson: "It’s a lot cheaper to care for people in the community than in the state hospital so it’s a win-win for everyone."

EG: "But Josephson cautions that such a plan won’t work without enough money to pay community health care workers.

For example, he says, Riverbend is in the midst of closing a 13-bed community residence because Medicaid reimbursements are too low to maintain it."

Louis Josephson: "We were losing about $150,000 a year on that care."

EG: "For months, Commissioner Toumpas has been saying publicly that the state’s health care system is unsustainable and needs radical transformation.

This budget kicks off an 18-month transformation plan designed to make delivery of health care more efficient.

HHS plans to establish so-called medical homes for Medicaid patients.

Finally, the governor is looking to the health care system for some unexpected revenue.

The state maintains its own malpractice insurance fund, through which some 500 doctors – or about 10 percent of the state’s physicians – are covered.

The governor estimates that the fund has a $110 million surplus, which he would use to fill budget gaps this year and in the 2010-2011 budget.

The governor says the funds can’t be returned to the doctors and nurses who contributed to the plan.

New Hampshire Medical Society president Charles Blitzer says its members just learned about the idea Wednesday.

Blitzer says although the society hasn’t determined its position on the plan, its members don’t see eye to eye with the governor."

Charles Blitzer: "Probably the people who paid into it are the ones who are responsible for a surplus and therefore they would be the ones appropriately entitled."

The budget now moves to lawmakers for what will likely be lengthy debate and many changes.

For NHPR News, I’m Elaine Grant.

Audio file: NHT021209eg1.wav

Source URL: www.nhpr.org/node/21440

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"NH budget: Layoffs, cuts, and pinching pennies"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, Friday, February 13, 2009

CONCORD – The state will spend less, cut up to 300 workers, close eight courts and the Laconia prison as part of a move to balance its books under the two-year budget plan Gov. John Lynch proposed yesterday.

Lynch told lawmakers, "This budget recognizes the extraordinary economic crisis facing our state and our nation by lowering costs, making state government more efficient and meeting our fundamental responsibilities to people."

Besides spending cuts, he outlined a series of higher taxes and fees. It will cost more to smoke, drive on turnpikes, register cars, eat out or rent a room.

Lynch renewed his pledge to veto a sales or income tax bill. As for expanded gambling, he said, "I remain skeptical." He did propose a new tax on charity gambling winnings.

Lynch would hold back for state use about $83 million it shares with local communities, and use federal stimulus money to cover the move.

Republicans said after hearing the budget details they question the need for all the tax increases, and will look carefully at whether Lynch's revenue projections are realistic. They also promised a fight over any move to shift state expenses onto property tax rates.

As Lynch mapped out his ideas for closing a projected $500 million budget deficit in 2010-11, legislators listened in sober silence. At one point, when Lynch mentioned a $10 increase in motor vehicle fees, a few let out a gasp.

Lynch's plan lowers spending of state funds by $43 million over two years, to $2.97 billion or 1 percent less than in the last two years.

Lynch did not change adequacy grants to local school districts, which will go up by $123 million over the next two years. He leaves the building aid program untouched, bonding it at $83 million over the next two years.

Lynch said he wants to eliminate so-called bumping rights, where state workers whose jobs are cut can bump a less senior worker out of a different job in the same agency.

State Employees Association spokesman Jay Ward defended bumping.

"We don't believe it's nearly as onerous or unwieldy as he made it out to be," he said, adding it helps "preserve the seniority and longevity of state employees."

House Minority Leader Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry, said of revenue-sharing changes, "We're very concerned about the cost shifting. We haven't seen details on how money will be shared or how it can be spent."

Senate Minority Leader Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, credited Lynch for spending cuts.

"I'd say this is a step forward for smaller government," he said. "The thing that concerns us is what happens when federal money runs out."

Lynch also outlined his solution to this year's budget problems. Money from a little-known malpractice insurance account, a boost in federal Medicaid funds and $38 million in Rainy Day Fund money will cover what remains of a $250 million revenue shortfall.

Lynch invited legislators to add their ideas to the mix for 2010-11.

"These extraordinary times demand that all of us come to the table together to serve our families," Lynch said. "If you disagree with something in this proposal, I respect that. But it is not enough to simply say no or to criticize."

Lawmakers will have less than five months to come up with their own budget package. The goal is to adopt a balanced biennial budget by June 30, when this fiscal year ends.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

To Michael in Manchester

The fact that you don't pay taxes on the things you mentioned only shows you feel it fine to tax others and it's ok because it does not effect you personally. How nice of you. Maybe rather than raise the taxes on those already paying them we need to find a way to get those like yourself to pay some and lowering the cost to those you mentioned.

Your claim about owing the state it's share of money is exactly why our government feels it can simply expand and spend at tax payer expense because it's already their money when if fact it's all your neighbors money.

It's always easy to tax others to pay for ones ideas but in the end all we get is bigger government that will always cost more and more to keep running. We need teachers, police, and fire fighters, etc. It is sickening how those positions are used on the people to raise taxes when their are actual ham sandwiches hidden deep in the budget we could most likely cut if we the people knew what they were.
- Ross, Derry

Michael in Manchester - - If you think for one minute that you don't pay NH taxes, then you are seriously delusional. You may not own property here, but if you rent, the property taxes and business taxes your landlord pays are figured into your rent. If you use a land line or a cell phone, you're paying NH use taxes. If you use electricity, you're paying NH taxes. If you buy gasoline or motor oil, you're paying the state. The businesses in this state pay state fees and taxes. When you purchase anthying from a NH business, the price you pay includes taxes paid to the state. The list goes on and on, my friend. Time for you to wake up to reality.
- Brian, Farmington

Craig in Derry:

You listen too much to a one-sided story so therefore stopping telling us that we pay too much in taxes! You don't even know how to spell "fiscal."

I pay nothing but Federal taxes and occasional meals and entertainment taxes and oh car registration. My life is wonderful! I don't use toll roads. I don't speed and pay attention to traffic laws so I don't pay fines to the city and towns. I don't own property so no property taxes. I don't own a business and I am not self-employed so I don't pay NH income taxes. I don't play bingo and the lottery so who cares?

Stop using up state resources and you won't be owing the state "their share" of the money. Until NH has 0% crime rate there will always be a need for police services. Until NH has no death and no diseases and disorders, there will always be a need for healthcare and medical services. Until NH has roadways with absolutely no need for maintenance and upkeep then we will always need snow removal and maintenance crews and tolls.
- Michael, Manchester

For those of you talking about reforming the time for welfare, there was just such a bill before the Health and Human Services Committee last week that I sponsored--cutting to 2 years max. (which is what MA is) The Dept of HHS said that people would just go and ask for the money they don't get and expect the town to give it to them....
- Fran, New Hampton

Hey Registered voter in Manchester,
The Governor's proposed budget has 83 MILLION dollars of school construction aid that is usually funded as an operating expense now being funded by BONDING. This is like taking out a credit card to pay off another credit card. Or putting it on our children's shoulders, which you seem to think that Lynch's budget doesn't do.....the devil is in the details....
- Fran, New Hampton

I just want to say that the governor and the commission for the department of corrections should be considered extremely negligent in their proposal and approval of cutting the Department of Corrections staff. Recession does not lessen crime it creates it. If Offenders of any kind are released enmasse, it will only create a jobless population that will make it necessary for the offenders who were prematurely released, to reoffend and end up back in the inmate population. This will create overcrowding which is one part of the recipe for rioting. If a riot occurs, there will not be sufficient staff to respond and it will put the citizens of New Hampshire at risk.

The Department of Corrections main goal is to protect the public safety. In this way we preserve the quality of life that we as citizens of New Hampshire expect and deserve to live. Without every last one of the staff that are trained and ready to keep everyone safe, we might as well lock our doors and windows and pray that we are safe. If this plan goes through...good luck and god save us all.

Michelle LaBelle
- Michelle LaBelle, Bristol, NH

Sadly it has taken a democrat in office to finally get what we all need - smaller government and state run agencies. Since we have taken the tax payers for as much as we can, do you think its possible that we reign in spending? That way the children of the next generation do not have to pay the price of our stupidity? Just a thought...
- Registered Voter, Manchester NH

Lets just make this really simple and look at the root problem, enough blasting of parties. The absence of any sort of regulation in the banking and mortgage industry over the last decade led to our high unemployment and in turn a weakened economy. This entire depression we are in was foreseeable and could have been prevented.
- Brian, Manchester

I would make the state employees pay some of there health benefits. The state pays for a spouse, children and even step children. This would save a ton of money.
- Donna, Concord Nh

This is what happens when Democrats take over the place. They like to spend other people's money and they get jobs for all their friends and family.
- Tim, Alton

Whatever happened to the possibility of state employees working a 4-day workweek (longer day, same weekly hours) in hopes of saving money on operating expenses, electricity, heat, etc., for fixed-facility employees? I realize it's not possible for all types of workers, but there must be savings available in this area. Utah State employees have been on a 4-day workweek for almost a year now!
- Andy, Merrimack

Welfare is supposed to be a safety net, not a hammock.

Cut it to two years. Now.

We are wasting money and attracting Lowell and Lawrence's worst with the promise of five years of free living.
- David Goss, Manchester

What about the fraud and waste in DHHS? Not to mention their recent incompentance of divulging sensative information of hundreds of disabled citizens to dozens of organizations. And all they can say is OOPS.

Considering the crash of the housing market and the fraud involved, cities and towns will still be looking to raise property taxes. I for one intend to fight any increase, and actually demand a decrease. I pay my mortgage, have no children, and am sick of paying the ridiculous amount of property tax.

When is the state going to comply with the Supreme Court and the Constitution?

And the pensions. How about we cut those people who have been taking money for 4o years, and revise the pension plan to 401ks like the rest of us? Why should state workers get full salary pensions, while my retirement funds dwindle to nothing.

An keep your damn hands off my bingo winnings.
- JOHN, GOFFSTOWN

So the Democrats RAISE spending last year by 17.5% and then only propose cuts by 1% and then want to raise taxes?? How about they repeal the reckless spending spree that almost everyone knew would lead to higher taxes? Lynch and the Dems in the legislature can claim they don't know what to do, but THEY GOT US HERE. Yes, the economy is in play, but we would not be in half the mess we're in if they hadn't been so reckless with our pocketbooks.
- Jack, Concord

Here we go, the democratic tax increases. Lets stifle people to go out and stay here in NH. Raising tolls collects more $ but its totally inefficient. Poor management of resources and lack of vision there Lynch. When is this state going to wake back up to being fiscally conservative and not look to raise tax as an only option. Too many government officials collecting there pay checks and not being creative with managing the budget.
- Doug, Manchester

Some of you have not read the story right. There will not be a $30.00 a month minimum on the tolls you pay via transponder but rather a max of $30.00 a month. This is to placate all the people that live in Merrimack and Bedford. They will eliminate all discounts for any users so if you already have a transponder then you get nothing for it except a ride through the toll booths without opening your window.

On the other hand in case no one had noticed the state will now officially have a 10% income tax. The starter for now is that if you have a winning lottery ticket that is $600.00 or more , which is when you have to get the money via the lottery head quarters , you will now have to pay the state a 10% fee on your winnings. It's bad enough the state has so few winning tickets but now they will be charging a higher "income" tax rate than any other state in the US.
- Don Armstrong, Henniker

This is a sure indicator that we have the wrong person for Governor and the wrong party controlling the finances of the state. The Republican party needs to be revitialized and get our state back from these Sociallists who have taken over.
- Rich D, Dalton

As a child of a single parent, I was a recipient of welfare assistance. Yet I have to agree, NH needs welfare reform. My mother used the system for what it was intended - it helped her get back on her feet, get some training, and get a JOB! Spike in Brentwood hit the nail on the head, "Entitlements are bailouts, and all bailouts DELAY ADAPTATION!" His comments are pretty insightful...
- B, Auburn

Cutting state welfare recipients off will only cause your property taxes to go up even more. All the people not eligible for state welfare end up the responsibility of their town's welfare dept under RSA 165.
- Jane, Charlestown

honestly goverment officials need to stop crying like babies about budget cuts. if any thing they should following in the govenors footsteps. stop spending our money on useless areas. i'm sure they all got pay raises
- brian, manchester

What's next? HIGHER property taxes. The state will be sending LESS money in the future to cities and towns. That SHORTFALL will need to be made up somehow, and it will be your PROPERTY TAX. My suggestion to EVERYONE is that they contact thier local TAXPAYERS association and be well informed on the issues.
- Paul, Bedford

Scott, Apparently you never worked on a snow removal operation. It might not stop snowing after 8 hours, just because your crews have to go home. It may continue for days. You can't expect the limited number of personel to work round the clock to keep up. YOU NEED FRESH PERSONEL. You sound just like Mr. Tarr, think you know what you're talking about, but in fact, don't have a clue
- Midge, Manchester

What an amazing group of people shouting out their opinions without bothering to read the budget. One poster has the governor placing a minimum on the toll use of transponders when it is a maximum. Are you so filled with cut taxes and eliminate services that you can't even figure out what is being done? $200,000 for stocking pheasants? I don't even have to look for that one. You are referring to stalking peasants. That's when police stop non-white people and deport them for being illegal immigrants and trespassing. I was waiting for some conservative Republican to stand up and appologize for your party's greed and lack of compassion that has trashed our economy but probably those people were in the line where they thought God was handing out brains and asked for the caboose.
Then there are those that stole the money in the first place. Now they are all part of Hussein Obama's cabinet and his popularity has plunged from 68% to 67%.
- William, Deerfield

The other day Pres. Obama said something that really scared me. He said government was the only answer to our problems. Government was the only one who had the resources to get us out of this mess. I disagree. We the people are the answer as we adopt good sound fiscal principles. It appears that this has not happened in our State Government. If you want good sound fiscal principles look into Dave Ramsey's plan. He is on the Fox Business channel and the radio 5 days a week. Also I understand Mike Huckabee has some good fiskal principles. Maybe he would want to be NH's next Govenor.
- Craig, Derry

Why cut job and put others out of work when you can do a pay cut back for everyone who works for the State of New Hampshire. I saw that troopers (Bruce Twyon) was making more other high ranking staff. Give everyone a 10% to 20% pay cut and save us the tax payers. Cut back on take home cars and the gas it takes for them. I think the Government needs to start looking in its own back yard over higher tolls across the state.
- kirk, manchester

1. Back in the 60's and 70's NH had the toughest welfare laws and fewest recipients. Now we have the laxest laws and one of the highest percentages of recipients.
2. A sales tax WILL NOT bring down the property tax. Politicians, Dems. and/or Republicans, will just find more ways to waste OUR money. Check the statistics on states with sales taxes. I had a discussion with several people last year in Atlanta. Funny how they were saying the same thing about their property taxes being so high and they have a sales tax.
- John, Manchester

Richard in NC what you seem to be mossing is this. if we impose a sales or income taxes out taxes will go up and none of the existing ones will go down. All we have to do is look at the states around us that have both of those taxes and their budget wos are equal to or worse than ours. More taxes only gives them more reason to spend needlessly. You may not notice it but I bet you would not mind having that $110.00 in your pocket right now? You talk of the "revenue" it brings in. So tell me does that mean your taxes have gone down? I think we both know that answer.
- Bill B., Pelham

Can someone help me out here? The last budget was a 16.5% increase in spending. This year's budget is a 1% decrease in spending - I am assuming that the 1% decrease means that all those nifty spending programs brought about by the 16.5% increase have not been affected in the least.
While I applaud the Governor for finally recognizing that reducing spending is the number goal, where does this leave us?
How much savings will these layoffs and other cuts bring and what affect will it have in reducing the deficit?
- Sandy, Thornton

Midge,

An organization does not become more efficient by adding employees.

When an entity becomes more efficient the workforce is decreased or stays the same, almost never increased.

I believe there are efficiencies to be gained at all levels of government in New Hampshire and this is the time we should be looking to become more efficient.
- Scott, Bedford

Cut welfare back from 5 to 3 years? To 1 year? If I were forced to take charity, it wouldn't take more than 2 weeks to realize I had to change something--move to where there are jobs or change my profession. Except of course, when the charity comes from the state, forever, with encouragement from bureaucrats and no serious pressure on me to change anything. Entitlements are bailouts, and all bailouts DELAY ADAPTATION.

I have two friends who are declared "permanently unable to work" (except under the table). One's impediment is overeating and the other's is Budweiser. Many paraplegics and blind people are willing to find out how to serve their fellow man for pay. In contrast, cut these parasites loose today without even an apology. You will be helping them.

But the Governor would rather close safety rest areas. We are lucky he hasn't proposed to zero out the snow removal budget, then use the next storm to justify an income tax.
- Spike, Brentwood NH

I am outraged with Govenor Lynch's Budget, I am outraged with his fiscal priorities that he would close justice in the form of closing courts when our courts are already running in a slow but steady manner. He instead, according to the Humane Society will pour $200,000 into Pheasant Stocking, a practice when farm raised birds are purchased, caged and then released into a small area for hunters to shoot at in the name of sport. It is nice to see that our hard earned tax dollars are going to be used in such a manner. Get your priorites straight Govenor and work for the people who elected you.
- Danielle Davies, Manchester, NH

Joel R, Hooksett. I gather from your rant you must be for gambling as the cure to all of your tax, fee, registration and inspection woes. I personally don't care one way or the other about gambling. But I do know if the state/towns/fed's get more money for something they spend it. They don't cut something else. Either you haven't lived very long or aren't very observant.
- Bob H, Londonderry

Just call us New Hamshirchusetts.
- James J., Manchester

Robert M Tarr, Manchester, Your always the first to find fault, but never one to have any positive imput. You complain about the city work crews and snow removal. Yet you complain when the city wants to increase it's work force to become more efficent. You can't have it both ways. You complain about the Fish and Game dept. and vow to clean it up. I don't see you getting anything done there. Time to step it up
- Midge, Manchester

Unfortunately, the good gonvernor doesn't mention that he and his party, since having total control of the state for the last couple of years, have spent this state into oblivion and would be facing these cuts/additional taxes regardless of the condition of the economy....get ready for more on the federal ledvel with a one party system.
- Bill, Keene

I guess my confuson is that yes we are having hard times yet you raise fees and taxes which does not help anyone especially the middle and lower income families and individuals. While Obama is talking about tax cuts (miniscule as they will be) your taking all of that and more back which in the end leaves us worse off. How about going through the budget line by line and cutting out some of these "feel good" programs? This is not about sacrificing for our state this is about poor money management and once again taking it out on the very ones who can afford it least. Good thing it is only a two year term and hopefully the voters will show their dissatisfaction next year!!
- Bill B., Pelham

Chris, Merrimack I hear you load and clear on the Management thing. Here's a good example. Lynch to close 16 Liquor stores. How the heck can you not make a profit selling booze, in which you have a monopoly on by the way. You have casino's chomping at the bit to get a chance to do buisness in NH, who's buisness is selling booze and gambling. Both of which the state of NH cannot show a profit. Talk about mismanagement, holy cow
- Glen, Loudon

As a former state employee I do not like to see lay-offs but I sincerely believe that gov. is too big. It lends itself to waste and I have seen it.
Also, I never believed in a sales tax but having relocated to a state that has a sales tax I now am in favor of it. It spreads out the tax over the purchasing periods and you really don't notice it that much, and it is surprising how much revenue it can bring in. In two months I have paid over $110 in sales tax and have not really noticed it since it is all in small amounts, all individual amounts under $10.
- Richard, N. C.

Michael, we wouldn't HAVE to raise the Rooms & Meals Tax or any other tax if this state could spend within its means.

It was able to do so before John Lynch and now--all of a sudden--the only way out of this is to raise taxes.

Perhaps if John Lynch hadn't been so inept at managing the state budget we wouldn't be in this mess today.
- William Smith, Manchester, NH

Lynch would hold back for state use about $83 million it shares with local communities, and use federal stimulus money to cover the move.

This is what's going to happen with the "stimulus" funds everywhere. Just like the highway funds, they will be misdirected to cover other expenses. All we'll be left with is a big bill for the whole mess as everyone shuffles responsibility and plays musical chairs until the music stops and it's the taxpayers that are left standing.
- Tom Grinley, Bradford

Please take a moment to contact Governor Lynch and demand that he cut welfare entitlements in NH from 5 years to 2 years:

http://www.governor.nh.gov/contactus.htm

It's unacceptable for him to raise taxes and fees while lazy people sit on welfare, feeding off the blood of the taxpayer.

Be sure to contact your legislators too:

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/whosmyleg/

We need welfare reform in NH and we need it now!
- Bob Johnston, Milford

Hey folks, Our good state representitives have car pooled for the last fourty years, sometimes as many as 6 to 7 in a vehicle and guess what...they each put in a voucher for mileage...isn't politics great!?
- J. Boswick, Colebrook

If he really wants to pinch pennies, lose the flowers by the podium. Does he really need an expensive bouquet of flowers to make a speech?
- Mike, Deerfield

Lynch hasn't gone nearly far enough in his cuts. The first order of business should be to cut welfare from 5 years to 2 years. It is totally unacceptable that the welfare parasites can feed off of the state of New Hampshire for 5 years!

Well governor, what are you doing to fix the welfare problem in this state? Given our current finances how in the hell do you justify letting people sit on their asses for 5 years and do absolutely nothing to earn a living?
- Bob Johnston, Milford

The problem with raising the rooms and meals tax is that the average family will stop dining out as it will become cost prohibitive. So if people aren't dining out, that industry will suffer.
- Dawn, Manchester

These cuts and tax and toll increases will damage the "lynch" brand. This governor has survived at the benefit of the photo op. He gives up leadership for popularity, both he and his own party have benefited. Now it's time to make tough choices and it is hard to manage your image under these circumstances.

We need a change in Concord, the whole time I have lived in NH I have never seen this state so badly managed.
- Chris, Merrimack

I spoke to the Gov. Lynch last year at a meeting and I said to him then to increase the Rooms & Meals to 10%. I see his proposal is for an 8.75%. Forget that make it simple 10% and maybe we can cut back on some of the other increases. I know for sure that if the $30 minimum for the toll transponders is put into effect, I'll be sending back to him 2. We won't need them anymore. Also, I put a time agree limit welfare and also doesn't it seem odd that certain families continue the tradition of recieveing welfare or assistance? I can think of a couple here in town.
- Michael King, Epping

How about cutting welfare down to one year. These leaches have to be cut off. Let them go to another state for a change and suck the life out of that state. This society has turned into an entitlement state and are taking away from those who work hard and pay their dues. Not fair.
- Richard Morrison, Manchester

Jeff from Bedford, you are correct, Our government should have looked at welfare reform and changed it from five years to three. Reduce tax payer subsidies. Where only the fraction of people use those services yet the majority of tax payers pay for it. How about putting out to bid services that could in the end save the state money at the same time employ people throughout the state who need work? How about putting off projects and bonding that are not in a major need at the moment? Have those representatives in city/towns car pool with each other to save the state money in transportation cost? I'm sure if everyone contacted their newly elected officials with ideas, something better could come out of this. This reader is going to do just that. It may get tossed out or ignored but at least I tried instead of doing nothing.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

And are they going to cut the welfare eligibility from what is it...five years? People come here for welfare.
- Jeff, Bedford

"Besides spending cuts, he outlined a series of higher taxes and fees. It will cost more to smoke, drive on turnpikes, register cars, eat out or rent a room." Making state government more efficient and meeting our fundamental responsibilities to people." How is raising taxes and fees more responsible and fundamental to the people? Just look what has happened when they raised parking fees in the downtown area of Manchester? Less people came to the downtown and went else where. Is that whats going to happen to our state? People will stop coming to NH because, (thank god we don't have a sales or income tax...yet) it will be too costly to enjoy all that New Hampshire has to offer. Thank you Governor Lynch for killing the tourist industry and losing more revenue for our state and local communities. Is the price of asprin still within reason, or is that going to cost me too?
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Well the anti-gambling cronies got their wishes. Cut services and raise fees like they are going out of style. Guess what anti-gambling cronies next on the table is your property taxes are going to be raised through the roof and your income is going to be taxed !! I can't wait for the fifty dollar car inspection and the five hundred dollar car registration bill I am going to get in June. GOOD LUCK TO ALL !!!!!!!!
- Joel R., Hooksett

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Gov. John Lynch outlines his budget in an address yesterday. (CHERYL SENTER)
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More on the state budget cuts:
"Cost-cutters look at closing 16 to 19 state liquor stores"
"Governor's plan would shutter eight district courts"
"9 rest stops slated to close"
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"Spending cuts paired with hike in revenues"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, Friday, February 13, 2009

CONCORD – Gov. Lynch's proposed 2010-2011 budget spends 1 percent less in state funds than the budget for 2008-09. It would spend $2.97 billion in state funds over the next two years, compared to $3.02 billion this year and last.

Total spending, including federal and other funds, is up 12 percent, at $11.3 billion, from $10.1 billion this biennium.

The budget maintains a hiring freeze, eliminates 400 vacant jobs to save $40 million, and cuts up to 300 active workers in program phase-outs. Tax and fee hikes affect the tobacco tax, turnpike tolls, car registration fees and gambling.

Among the other major cost-cutting moves Lynch plans to:

Close the Laconia prison, to save $8 million; Close eight district courts, to save $2 million operating costs; Close poorly performing state liquor stores, open "agency" private stores in their place, sell the Liquor Commission's Concord warehouse; Boost insurance costs for active and retired state workers, to save $10 million; Close the Tobey School for troubled youth, to save $1.4 million.

New revenues would come from higher:

Car registration fees, by an average $10, for road improvements; Rooms and Meals tax, up 0.75 percent, to 8.75 percent; Tobacco tax, up 35 cents to $1.68 per pack. That compares to $1.99 in Vermont, $2 in Maine and $2.51 in Massachusetts.

Turnpike tolls, up 50 cents in Hampton, Hooksett and Bedford, and up 25 cents in Dover and Rochester. The E-ZPass discount will be eliminated, and monthly toll bills will be capped at $30. Extra income will help fund improvements and high-speed tolling for E-ZPass users; Lynch also proposes a new 10 percent tax on gambling winnings over $600.

Revenues include roughly $230 million in federal stimulus money for Medicaid programs over this and the next two years, and $160 million in federal stimulus money for communities.

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READERS' COMMENTS:

Is it just me or does anyone else notice that the tax hikes these liberals propose always hurt the poor and the lower income earners the most?

Scared to tax somene who may contribute to your political campains Lynch?
- Brian, Laconia

Where were these spending cuts when the economy was good? This is so typical of government. They just love to waste the money that is not theirs.
Raising taxes should always be the avenue of last resort regardless of the economy but especially when times are bad!
- Jesse, Orofrd

How about addressing the state's spending problems in more detail instead of "nickel and diming" the taxpayers to death! Benefits and wages of state and local employees are way out of step with the private sector and need to be reigned in to balance the budget. That should be the first step in this process, instead it is completely ignored by Gov. Lynch (aka the puppet of the special interests, like unions).
- John, Manchester

The absolute worst thing you can do in a recession is raise taxes. If you increase the meals and rooms tax .75%, then I'll be forced to raise my prices by .75% to compensate. In a down economy, when people are watching their wallets very carefully, raising prices will drive more than ever to stay home.

What about my restaurant, Mr. Lynch? What about my 30 employees? Here's an idea: cut spending levels back to where they were before your 17.5% increase two years ago. And instead of cutting courthouses, try cutting non-essential functions like welfare.
- Keith Murphy, Manchester

Well Mr. Lynch i think its time for you to make all n.h. state employees pay their fair share for their medical insurance, for years they have been skating and we taxes payers pick up the tab and why your at it get UNH in line too, but we know this will not happen,RIGHT.
- Richard Blake, Rochester

And have you heard of one person (other than Bernie Madoff who is just a thief) being punished or even losing one perk? Absolutely not. Those that haven't been appointed to the cabinet are trying to figure out how to get a third $800 billion. People sitting blue lipped in trailers with nothing to burn and CEO's going on junkets to Las Vegas in private jets. Does this make the income disparity any clearer? Now they are going to try and default on the Social Security trust fund again. How much is enough? The only thing Republicans are conserving is their bank balances.
- Robert, Deerfield

How about a tax on beer and wine instead of cigarettes.
- Randy, Milford

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"Toll hikes proposed across the state"
By CLYNTON NAMUO, New Hampshire Union Leader Correspondent, Friday, February 13, 2009

PORTSMOUTH – Tolls across the state will rise under a proposed budget that seeks to keep the state Department of Transportation solvent amid dwindling revenue.

Tolls in Bedford, Hooksett and Hampton would increase by 50 cents, while those in Dover, Rochester and at the Hampton and Hooksett ramps would go up 25 cents, according to a budget announced yesterday by Gov. John Lynch.

Those increases are coupled with a bill working its way through the legislature, which eliminates the E-ZPass discount and limits the amount of tolls New Hampshire residents pay to $30 per month per transponder.

Reaction to the toll increases was subdued yesterday, particularly because the $30 limit would cut costs for those who use the turnpikes most.

"It's fair; if you wanna play, you gotta pay," said Steve Orvis of Rochester, who passes through tolls four times each day on Route 16. "Nobody likes to pay tolls, but nobody likes driving over frost heaves and potholes either."

Some even saw a silver lining in higher tolls.

"To be totally honest with you, if anything it could have a temporary benefit if you will because of people going on Route 1," said Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce President Doc Noel.

Boynton could not say how much more money the Turnpike bureau will make from the toll increase, but it's likely to be substantial. He said the extra funds will help pay to install full speed tolling, also known as E-ZPass Express, on Interstate 95 by summer 2010 and by 2012 in Hooksett and 2013 in Bedford.

Yesterday's budget also proposes the state sell a 1.6 mile portion of Interstate 95 from the Portsmouth traffic circle to the Maine border to the Turnpike bureau for $30 million. The Turnpike bureau already owns the rest of Interstate 95 in New Hampshire, Boynton said. The move is essentially a way to shuffle money from a relatively financially healthy agency, the Turnpike bureau, to the Department of Transportation's highway fund.

While the Turnpike bureau is technically part of DOT, it is fully funded by tolls and had a nearly $19 million surplus for the fiscal year that ended in June. The same can't be said for the rest of DOT, which gets its money from the federal government and the highway fund.

The highway fund, which is financed by vehicle fees and the gas tax, is in particularly bad shape, Boynton said.

"We're looking at a $150 million budget deficit in the next biennium, but we're looking at a billion-dollar budget deficit by 2018," he said of the fund, which he noted is burning through $100,000 more per day than it's bringing in.

Boynton said the Highway Fund has been struggling because people are driving less, leading to less gas tax money. The same trend has hurt the turnpike bureau, but to a lesser extent because tolls increased in October 2007.

The House public works committee yesterday approved the proposal to cut the E-ZPass discount and limit the tolls, Boynton said, but the bill must still be voted on by the full house and then approved by the Senate.

The toll increases must be approved by the executive council.
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New Hampshire Union Leader Correspondent Lauren Sausser contributed to this report.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Bill...

I do own a home and have seen my property taxes increase the last 5 years. I am not happy but come on...do you really think NH has that many state funded programs compared to other states. We certainly have overpaid state employees and the idea that the NH Men's Hockey coach is the highest paid state employee is absurd but NH does not overspend at the levels we think.

We only generate state funding from a limited amount of resources compared to our neighbors and our property taxes are the primary driver for funding your local town and school system. I will pay my property taxes with pride to ensure my kids have text books and good teachers. I will also pay an extra $.25 to drive on the highway so potholes are fixed and maybe another one of my fellow Granite Staters will have a job to feed their family. It is time to take care of our state and it has to start somewhere.
- Ryan, Manchester

Jean

You and everybody else in Merrimack buying EZPass transponders to use in the Merrimack ramp tolls undermines all the efforts everybody was trying to make to get rid of those stupid toll booths. How? The easier it is to pay the toll, the more you use the road and the more money you spend at the ramp tolls. The more money made at the ramp tolls the more justified the state is in keeping them there. Merrimack needs those tollbooths to be operating at a loss. "Penny protests" will not change anything.

I am glad to hear you are getting rid of the transponders, just to bad you are out $100.00.
- Chris, Merrimack

Way to go, William in Deerfield.

The other Jack took his numbers from the paragraphs 9 and 10 of the story. Do you have a better source that shows the UL got the numbers wrong?

Assuming that the UL got it right, then the other Jack didn't make up anything.

Also, last I heard, it's DOT that maintains ALL the highways. Although I'm sure that the cost for the toll rolls is transferred from the Turnpike Account to the DOT fund.

Lastly, it's amazing how so many complain about nickle and diming that the legislature does when it affects them so personally on a day to day basis, but no one wants to address the fact that they have more of a spending problem than a revenue problem.

I don't doubt that revenues are down, but the spending has always been more than the revenues support. And these boobs in the legislature increase taxes and fees, etc., and still spend more.
- Another Jack, Manchester

Hey Ryan:

Buy a house and pay a property tax bill. NH's spending is out of control. Cut some costs for once, enough with worthless programs and massive overspending on overpaid state employees. CUT THE BUDGET the well is drying up!!!
- Bill, Durham

How about adding tolls to Nashua, Manchester and Concord. After all they have received huge improvements to their section of turnpikes and can drive across their cities free of charge.

Charge a toll for airport access road.
- Tim, Merrimack

I have lived in NH for 14 years and I am still perplexed at the outrage from my fellow residents when the state tries to generate any form of funding. We have it better than any of our New England neighbors...in case you forgot we do not pay income tax or sales tax. Where do you think the money comes from to fund your state? The money comes from the people and from where I sit we have it pretty d**n good.

The Live Free or Die motto has turned into "give me everything but do not dare think of asking me to help contribute". I read everyday about the possibility of state layoffs and the comments are consistent...how dare we put people out of work! The government proposes ideas that will save some jobs however it will require our NH citizens to dip into their pockets and now the idea seems foolish b/c it has a personal impact.

We all make sacrifices but at the end of the day would you rather lose 8% on the items you purchase and 5% of your income or increase tolls? I will gladly pay an extra $0.25 when I use a toll and keep 5% of my income. It is a matter of simple economics we have to become a progressive state (increased tolls, casinos, etc) or an income/sales tax will need to be implemented...it may take a few years but it will happen.
- Ryan, Manchester

Are you kidding me????? Merrimack has tolls at Exit 10, 11 and 12. So we bought 4 transponders @ $25.00 each so there is $100.00, we do not travel the highways everyday. If they cap the usage at $30.00 per month, per transponder that will be $120.00 per month, so that really helps the economy. Okay now we cancel our EZ Passes, any suggestion what to do with our $100.00 purchase now????? Where or maybe who's, should I shove them up?? Thank you for reading this and have a nice day !!!!!
- Jean, Merrimack

Jay in Nashua,
Some people do drive a lot! I got to college in concord, and my husband works in concord. We both go through 10 times a week, that's twenty times a week for both of us. Our EZ pass is constantly being used, and we have quite a bill for tolls. I am sure others use it more!
- Jessica, Manchester

Way to go Jack. Just make stuff up. The DOT is selling a 1.6 mile section of route 95 between Portsmouth and the Maine border to the Turnpike Authority for $120 million dollars. The Turnpike authority already maintains this piece of road. The department of transportation has had no surplus - 19 million or any other fantasy number.
- William, Deerfield

this is just great. I have no job or money and I want to go for an interview but I can't because you have increased the tolls. Clean up the waste in government you jerk. Get your head out of the clouds.
- rich, bristol, nh

So, take away the NH resident discount of 30%, then hike the tolls to $1.50. Now, folks who cross through tolls occassionally, say from Manchester to Concord and back will pay $3 instead of $1.40. A trip from Nashua to Concord, our fair state capitol, will cost $6 instead of $2.80.

If the toll is hiked, and the 30% discount remains in place, the cost of a trip from Manchester to Concord will be $2.25, and a trip from Nashua to Manchester will be $4.50.

Since the Turnpike authority had a surplus, is there not a better way to balance the hike and retain, at least a portion of (think 25%), the resident discount?

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out why people are driving through the tolls more than twice a day? What is their job? If its something like a courier, well, I've got limited patience for your complaint because I suspect you're reimbursed for that. I can't imagine passing through the tolls so may times as to wrack-up a $100+ bill; that's a minimum 142 trips through the tolls in a month, or 5 trips through a toll each day of the month - what are you doing?! Maybe you should pay that touch more as you are using the roads a heck of a lot more! If the full hike runs and the discount is taken away, then put the cap at $50, still a $10 savings for a traditional work commute.
- Jay, Nashua

The tolls go up .. but the cops still sit in their cars .. Governor Tefflon,, how about some FLAGGERS? So that unemployed NH residents can have a JOB.
- tom, manchester,nh

I'm perplexed. The turnpike bureau had a $19M surplus this past year? Why are tolls going up? Furthermore, the turnpike bureau will purchase 1.6 miles of I-95 for $30M as a way of shuffling money from one fund to another? What does that mean? Are we "floating adrift" or is there a captain aboard this ship?
- Jack, Manchester

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-

-
Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta
-

"The governor's proposal takes away $9.5 million in aid expected to come Manchester's way in fiscal 2010, according to the mayor. Most of the losses are due to cuts in revenue-sharing and rooms-and-meals tax rebates."

Source: "Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta has 'grave concerns'", By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Friday, Feb. 13, 2009

&

"He's saying the federal government's going to save us, so wait for that money. That's a terrible way to set policy."
- Republican Mayor Frank Guinta of Manchester

Source: "Reaction To Lynch's Budget Address", wmur.com/politics, POSTED: 2:36 pm EST on February 12, 2009.

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"N.H. should use Medicaid funds to help Medicaid"
seacoastonline.com, Feb. 24, 2009 — To the Editor:

New Hampshire is set to receive about $250 million in additional federal Medicaid funding. As The Associated Press reported on Tuesday, Gov. John Lynch plans to use $50 million of the additional Medicaid money to help balance this year's state budget. Those funds are intended to offset the strains that the current economic situation has placed on state budgets because more and more citizens are now eligible for the Medicaid program and should not be used for other purposes.

Every penny earmarked for Medicaid that New Hampshire gets from the federal stimulus package should go to the state Medicaid program to help provide care to the growing number of people it serves. That money is critically important for health care in New Hampshire and should not be used to fund other parts of the state budget.

Medicaid helps pay for the state's most vulnerable patients to receive quality health care in hospitals across New Hampshire, and the state continues to make drastic cuts. Hospitals suffered nearly $30 million in Medicaid reimbursement reductions last November. Lynch's budget address this month included elimination of Medicaid funding that supports doctors' medical education, and a freeze on current provider reimbursements. Last week, the governor signed into law new legislation which promises another $6.9 million in Medicaid payment cuts annually to New Hampshire hospitals.

We strongly urge Lynch to restore cuts in services and payments to providers with the new federal Medicaid dollars available.

Steve Ahnen
President, N.H. Hospital Association

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"House OKs gas tax hike; E-ZPass discount stays"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, Thursday, MarCH 5, 2009

CONCORD – The New Hampshire House yesterday voted to raise the state's gasoline tax by five cents in each of the next three years.

The measure, which passed 190-162, will raise an estimated $111 million a year for the state highway fund by the time the full 15-cent increase takes effect. Diesel fuel will see the same 15-cent increase, but the three hikes will be spread out until 2013 to ease the effect on truckers. The bill calls for the first five-cent increase to hit on July 1.

The House rejected, 181-161, a move to cap all E-ZPass bills at 33 uses per month, and cut in half the 30 percent discount that E-ZPass owners now enjoy.

Opponents of the bill, HB 670, said those who use the turnpikes most often should bear the highest cost of upkeep and improvements.

A third highway measure, allowing the $120 million sale of a small stretch of I-95 to the turnpike bureau, passed 230-128. The exchange is considered key to a plan to install open road, or high-speed tolling for E-ZPass users at the Hampton toll plaza. The 1.6-mile stretch of highway is between the Portsmouth traffic circle and the Maine border over the Piscataqua River.

The state's gas tax hasn't been raised since 1991. It stands at 19.6 cents, with 18 cents dedicated to the state highway fund. Those who proposed the increase said the highway fund faces a $1 billion shortfall in 10 years. Maintenance is falling behind while the cost of fixing deteriorating roads and bridges rises steadily, they said.

If the Senate approves the bill, HB 644, the state gas tax will increase to 34.6 cents per gallon by April 1, 2011 -- 33 cents per gallon for highways and bridges and 1.6 cents per gallon for an oil cleanup fund.

Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, sponsor of the bill, said the average driver would spend an extra $25 a year for each nickel increase.

Gov. John Lynch said yesterday he opposes the tax hike. His budget would boost the highway fund by increasing motor vehicle registration fees by $10 a year.

"I think the proposal that I set forth in my budget is a better proposal for how we close the operating and capital budget gaps within the Department of Transportation," Lynch said.

Opponents said the bill hurts independent truckers and people suffering through an ailing economy.

"I know we need money, but this is not the way to get it, taxing guys who are already losing their trucks up there," said Rep. Paul Ingersoll, D-Berlin.

House Minority Leader Rep. Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry, said, "We are in the biggest recession -- I think we're close to depression -- and now is not the time to hit people who can barely afford to put gas in their cars."

Rep. Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, said the move was premature, given unanswered questions about how the highway fund will fare as the number of hybrid cars increases, a possible federal gas tax hike, and the effect of economic stimulus money.

He also criticized the move to change E-ZPass discounts. He said the state cut frequent-user discounts four years ago, to 30 percent from 50 percent, when it eliminated highway tokens and set up E-ZPass.

"I know this Legislature can't make promises that last forever, but they should last longer than four or five years," he said.

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READERS' COMMENTS:

What we need isn't more taxes but more responsible spending of the taxes collected. Spend the monies on the roads the way it was intended not on pet projects that transulate to waste and lining of the politicans pockets.
- Terry, Stratham

QUOTE> "The state's gas tax hasn't been raised since 1991. It stands at 19.6 cents, with 18 cents dedicated to the state highway fund. Those who proposed the increase said the highway fund faces a $1 billion shortfall in 10 years. Maintenance is falling behind while the cost of fixing deteriorating roads and bridges rises steadily, they said."

Well if this is the Case WHY is $Money$ diverted from the Highway Fund to other "PRODJECTS"?????? WOWWOW!!! So EXTRA $$$$$$ for other Prodjects Needed not the Highway or Road Maintenance??????? WHAT A JOKE!!!!!!!
- E M, Concord

As Thatcher said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples' money."

Go back to Mass, you liberal pro-tax idiots. Get out of here. You came here for the quality of life, and you're RUINING it!
- Mike R., Bedford

We vote in liberals, and we are surprised that they want to tax us into oblivion. The solution is simple, quit voting for the tax and spend Democrats. History will prove that no matter what they say, they are tax and spend, always will be tax and spend, and that is all they are. We should send this mentality back to Massachusetts.
Vic, Derry
- Vic Chiasson, Derry

JP Warner. Thank you. and for that obviously liberal socialist who said something like it's only a flippin 5 cents so get over it - you go to you know where.
The Transportation fund has been a slush fund for the legislature for years. They have spent the money intended (legally) for roads and bridges on other than what is was appropriated for so they could fund their pet projects - whether or not the citizens of NH agreed. That is the crux of the problem. Folks it is time to start protesting and demanding that our state government spend the money we give them for what it was intended for and nothing else. If they don't have enough, then we don't DO IT.!!!! That's what I do.
- sandy, thornton

Good for New Hampshire! The roads could seriously use the extra funding and I would rather they raised the money through taxes to do it than just borrow the money. I don't mind paying more at the pump as long as I see some improvements to the highways that I actually use.
And to everyone who is worried about paying more to get to work maybe this is a sign to invest in public transportation? I wouldn't mind paying higher taxes if we could get some more public transportation. New Hampshire is lagging in that regard and its time we got caught up and thought about the future.
- Bill, Hooksett

If you use the states streets and highways you have to pay for them. Stop complaining.
- LJC, Manchester

I see a lot of new taxs and new laws to
get more money from the working class.
I saw on the news last night that fish and game want to charge 15 dollars for a salt water fishing license, First ever. All of the new taxes and fees will hurt the local economy. Most companies are turning into ghost towns and all the state can do is find new ways to rip off the little guy.
- -PETE, DEERFIELD

Greg- I would certainley choose to work closer to home, that is if there were employment opportunities near me.

Not everyone is as lucky as you are, to be employed, and to be employed right down the street from home.

I for one do believe that it is necessary to have higher taxes, increased gas tax and perhaps even an income tax, but only if there is a way to ensure it is properly spent rather than saying it is going to one thing only, and then splitting it up and putting it in other places it doesnt belong to fill gaps others have created.

You are right however people always do want something for nothing, but in reality that is not the case. I am not sure what world people live in but we are in dire straights, this is here and now.
- Frank, Manchester

Paul(Manchester) et al, "only a flipping nickel per gallon" you say.
Well excuse us, Paul. You see, some of we clear thinkers out here would like to keep that "flipping nickel" in our pockets, rather than give it to an increasingly wastefull, increasingly tax hungry group of kleptoctrats, who always seem to find new and inventive ways of squandering our money.
We have lives, Paul. We would just like to keep your pals, the tax and spenders, the "flip" out of them.
- Mike P., Manchester

How can people be expected to drive less? There are many neighborhoods with no sidewalks. There is hardly any public transportation. They need to offer solutions instead of creating more problems.
- B, Manchester

Sensible solution. Nobody likes paying taxes but so long as this is used for roads, bridges, etc then I support this increase in the gas tax.

Don't muck with the EZPass discount. The State made a sales pitch to get it here and immediately changing the terms would be a bait and switch.

Gas tax hasn't gone up since 1991. Costs are higher and the sooner we start moving away from oil the better. Slightly higher gas taxes will continue to curb our use which keeps profits down for big oil and foreign governments and might just fund our highways appropriately. And no .. I don't drive a Hybrid .. I drive a Jeep .. and I'm still fine with the increase. It's right for the long term.
- Jim M, Hooksett, NH

hey greg, not everyone CAN move closer to there jobs-unless you work at Mcdonalds. you are a typical out-of-touch lib who wouldn't know a bad tax when he see's one. what about all the service industry companies out ther that take care of people like you-theyWILL pass the increases on to you. oh yeah you didnt think about that now did you-
- jon, derry

"We could raise the gas tax (click) we could raise the gas tax (click) we could raise the gas tax..."
- Zoot, Derry

This is to the anti-gambling cronies who don't want to put slot machines at the racetracks. Be prepared to have every tax and fee in this state raised through the roof !!!!!! You asked for a tax and fee increase and now your wishes are going to come true !!!!!!!!!!
- Chuck S., Litchfield

I am convinced some people on here just feel the need to complain about everything. The roads are not plowed to your satisfaction, but when they are, someone complains that they are blocking the road. The state proposes a higher gas tax, which some would probably go towards plowing, and you complain about that. Everyone wants something for nothing.

Here is an idea...LIVE CLOSER TO YOUR JOBS!!!!! I live six miles from work, so I can go two weeks between fillups. Therefore, the whopping 15 cent gax tax hike would cost me about $40 a year for my commute. If people didn't live 50 miles from where they worked, they wouldn't have to worry abou such things as tolls and higher gas taxes. If you want to live where you want, regardless of where your job is, you have to pay, simple as that. It's not the government's problem that you live in Concord and work in Boston and have to pay all that extra gas tax and go through two toll booths now if they put the border one up.
- Greg, Manchester

The problem is that the Liberals raid the Transportation Fund which is funded by Tolls and Fuel Taxes in order to pay for Non-Transportation Expenditures....and then they complain that we don't have enough money to fix roads and bridges.

As much as I despise more legislation, we need a Bill that prohibits Concord from robbing the Transportation Fund without fully funding Road and Bridge Repairs/Initiatives.

The PROBLEM is not that we don't have enough money, its that these Liberals in Concord are patently dishonest and steal from Transportation to give to their pet projects
- JP, Warner

Chris (Deerfield),

I couldn't quite tell from your post, but are you saying that running a red light is acceptable?

Regards,
Dan
- Dan, Auburn

Notice how they give you three bumps in the tax with only one vote. They like the autopilot on taxes. They are hoping you don't remember next election.
- Bob H, Londonderry

Art, Paul and Linda,

Thanks so much for moving from Massachusetts! You are really improving the quality of our lives!!
For once, the Governor actually makes some sense.
- Patricia, Raymond

Stop your whining all of you. Your anti-democrat fanaticism is showing. I a flipping nickel per gallon, a half dollar on the average fill up. Get lives out there.
- Paul, Manchester

As much as we all hate to pay more at the pumps, its a way to get a little money out of the hordes of people on disability that work under the table. Those users are killing the country.
- rich, Winchester6

Great move. We need better roads, and wishing for some magical, free solution is not going work. There is no 'road fairy' that is going to fly down and make everything peachy keen.

I would have like to see the EZ-Pass pass also, but maybe that was too many changes, too fast. Maybe next year.
- Art, Portsmouth

People need to understand the impact this bill has on cities and towns. They only have two ways to fix their roads and bridges: state aid and property taxes. This bill gives cities and towns 12 percent of the revenue. Without this added revenue, property taxes could go up. If this bill passes, it will help the relief of property taxes... cause if they don't get the money with the state aid gas tax they will hike property taxes to get the money.
- Linda, Manchester, NH

I can't reduce how far I drive to work. This is a TAX that will hit me hard. Please kill this Gov Lynch
- BuzzinNH, Brookline

Politicians should not be raising taxes in tough economic times. They just do not get it. Instead cut back spending.
- Jim, Manchester

Thanks to Tom, Manchester for the Tea Party info. I look forward to this!
- Patricia, Raymond

On July 4th, 2009 .. all over the USA,, there will be Tea Party protests of what is happening to "our" country... look up on line,, get involved.. If not, our country will be lost.. More taxes, each and every day. when does it stop..
- tom, manchester,nh

We wish to thank you for conserving gas and for those who cannot afford to drive we will reward you by raising the tax to get you to conserve more and others to make it more expensive for those that cannot afford it now.
Remember that change is good but for who? The more it costs companies for gas the more the products will cost making more people to afford less.
These wonderful changes are brought to you by the democrats and all the people who moved into the state to make it more like Massachusetts that they moved away from to escape the Mass. taxes.
There are only two things wrong with this country Democrats and Republicans .

Even though the people want certain things our representatives only vote along party lines never for the will of the people. Does that not sound like certain Asian countries.

We are asked to make sacrifices while our representatives vote themselves raises because it is costing more for them to exist .When will they sacrifice ? Oh! I am sorry. It is us to sacrifice not them.

We get what we vote for. Then complain that our voted representative break every promise that they made.
Look up the word liar and see the pictures of all our politicians.
- larry, bedford

We wish to thank you for conserving gas and for those who cannot afford to drive we will reward you by raising the tax to get you to conserve more and others to make it more expensive for those that cannot afford it now.
Remember that change is good but for who? The more it costs companies for gas the more the products will cost making more people to afford less.
These wonderful changes are brought to you by the democrats and all the people who moved into the state to make it more like Massachusetts that they moved away from to escape the Mass. taxes.
There are only two things wrong with this country Democrats and Republicans .
- larry, bedford

One would think that the cost of maintaining roads and bridges should drop as the cost of fuel and asphalt and other commodities falls with the economy. Also with the tremendous drop in construction, wages in that industry should start falling too.
How is this increase justified?
Why is it only the taxpaying subject, notice I didn't say citizen, has to do with less and less?
- Steve, Raymond

Some people don't have the option to drive less...I drive the least amount possible as it is and my drive to work which provides insurance is over 45 miles each way. This gas tax is a bad idea. I agree a $10.00 increase in registrations would be more fair as those people with electric cars - what are they putting in towards the road repairs? They benefit too.

I barely make ends meet as it is & this gas hike will effect me alot more than the average $25 a person that they are estimating.
- Cindy, Exeter

By the way, those of you who are angry about this should take a minute and contact your state senators to tell them your feelings:

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/whosmyleg/

And you should contact Governor Lynch too and demand some accountability for the money they are currently getting BEFORE they spend even more:

http://www.governor.nh.gov/contactus.htm

There is no point in being silent now. Let them hear from you in no uncertain terms how you feel about this awful attempt to financially rape New Hampshire drivers.
- Bob Thornton, Milford

The biggest problem with this tax increase is that the state government is STILL SPENDING GAS TAX MONEY ON OTHER DEPARTMENTS! Did you get that liberals? Do you understand that millions of dollars of the gas tax we currently pay is being used for things that have NOTHING to do with roads and bridges!

It's a total violation of the law and this gas tax rape of the New Hampshire taxpayer needs to be stopped until the legislature insures that EVERY DIME of the gas tax goes to roads and bridges. Not one single cent for other things!

It's absolutely outrageous for the state government to steal more of our money when it's wasting so much on programs that should be cut and that have nothing to do with roads and bridges.

I personally will simply cut my driving WAY back and whatever the amount is extra that I have to pay I will simply cut the spending I do at local businesses in and around my town. So the state will still get less gax tax money from me and by raising this tax it will also hurt the businesses in my area.

Cut the spending and make sure the current gas tax money is allocated properly BEFORE you come after us for more money, greedy legislative pigs!
- Bob Thornton, Milford

The affluent "progressives" that infest the state house don't care if this hurts the rest of us. We are rapidly becoming New Hampshachusettes.

On top of this tax hike they have a bill to introduce red light cameras that will further enhance revenue. Again, rich liberals can afford to pay $100 for being two tenths of a second too slow getting through an intersection but to the rest of us that is real money.
- Chris, Deerfield, NH

Hey Pete from Manchester come on up to the real northern part of NH. The gas prices are just the same in VT as they are in NH. And our prices are alot higher than what you folks are paying and we also have to travel alot farther to work. But like all most everyone from the lower part of NH they just tell us to suck it up because that's the way it's going to be. But we got good fresh air.
- Danny, Columbia, NH

High speed rail is not the answer. It would cost billions to lay the track, buy the right of ways, and develop the trains. A better answer right now is to start using the energy resources we have in this country and start building more nuclear plants. Also, look at who is proposing this tax hike in the economic times we are in. When is a politician going to stand up and start identifying parts of government that can be cut. I do hope the governor veto's this plan.
- Steve, Pembroke

So this is how the economy is going to be 'stimulated'?
By adding more taxes?
That's going to 'stimulate' just the opposite.
Less available money to pay the mortgage, rent, food, and forget visiting the Mountains.
Too expensive!
Good thing I was able to get one of those digital converter boxes as free tv is the only vacation we can afford.
- C.Gustave, Candia

I fully understand and support the NEED to have tax revenue for the DOT and NH's highway system. The increased price is not a new tax, just an increased one. What I do not understand is why so many commentors here expect something for nothing.
The retail prices on fuels more than doubled since the early 1990's when the last gas tax increase occurred, why not rebel against the private (for profit and greed) sector as much as you do against the public sector politicians and taxes in general?
Further, if some of this tax revenue were to support a good and reliable public transit system, then individuals would be spending less on travel via privately owned vehicle, less on parking fees at their work location, and could be more productive during their commute between work and home than just sitting in a traffic jam, idling the car, and polluting the air the rest of us breath.
Payment of taxes are a necessity because they cover the costs of services provided by government. Perhaps if governments were permitted to make a profit, then taxes could be reduced or eliminated. Unfortunately, most governmental services are not those that a private sector company would provide because there is no profit realized.
Bottom line: If a service or product is desired, then the purchaser is required to pay for it. As laundry folks in the Far East used to say, "no ticky, no laundry" -- IE: no taxes equals no services.
- Gary L. Kerr, Chichester

Dean Kamen is reported to have a Tesla Roadster which is an electric super car capable of 200+ miles per charge. Since the vehicle is all electric he pay's no gas tax just like all other owners of electric vehicles. As the proliferation of hybrids and electric cars continues we will see lower revenue from the gas tax and therefore need to continue raising it even higher to keep budgets balanced. This will not happen overnight but it is coming. This is the reason why we need to focus on alternative transportation methods such as high speed rail.
- Joshua, Manchester

Joshua,

Good for Dean Kamen but you idea is not for me. I for one refuse to drive an unsafe, slow, boring economy car. I enjoy having a safe, full framed, 4x4. After all this is New England. Once the government tricks us into becoming dependent on electric powered and public transportation, they will tax the &$)) out of that to make up for the loss in gas tax profits. Anybody who doesn’t think this tax hike is a bad idea will have a different point of view when gas creeps back to 4.00/gallon.

Brian
- Brian, Exeter

Does this tax increase mean at the pump? So if gas is about $1.87/gallon now, on July 1st it would hike it up five cents more?? I know its not rocket science, but just a simple question...anyone?
- Ramon, Nashua

Don't cry poor over the gas tax rising. NH has some of the cheapest gas in the country and we have been spoiled. Drive to any other state in the northeast and you will pay about 15 to 20 cents more, so NH will be in line with what the rest of the country is paying. And to everyone complaining about taxing and spending, you really aren't looking at the big picture. I am sure you enjoy roads that are not falling apart as much as I do. Running a deficit on transportation budgets is a poor decision. This tax will pay for necessities that are rising in costs. Welcome to the 21st century, our country is getting older and more expensive to maintain the services we have enjoyed for many many years. This day was bound to come and its here, get ready to spend lots of money on taxes. You are going to for the rest of your life no matter if you live in NH or anywhere else.
- Pete, Manchester

Whoever said this is the best highway system in the country needs to be examined. NH Highways are not the best. They are not the worst but certainly not the best.

So, today the gas tax will go up .15 over 3 years. Our proerty taxes will be going up because municipal costs are rising. OUr grocery bills will be going up because the gas tax went up thus, the truckers will pass the cost to the consumer. Where does it all end? In the end, the government is going to put us all out of our homes, we will live in communes and share everything. At the rate this country is going, homeownership will be a thing of the past. Oh, and lets not forget, the homeless population will go through the roof because families can no longer afford to pay either their rent or mortgages. Yeah government.
- Jeff, Manchester

JG of Londonderry - I hate to be the one to break the news to you but every politician says what people want to hear to get elected, voters only find out what their real agenda is once they are in office.
- John, Manchester

That'll chew up most of the $13 a week "tax cut" Obama sent us, and we'll still owe trillions of $$$ to China.
- Tom, Campton

The gas tax is going up. There is nothing we can do about it, except drive less.

The consumer will pay for it in the long run. Businesses will pass whatever increases it gets in fuel onto John and Jane Sheople, who will already be paying more for their own fuel.
- Paul, Bedford

The fedearal governement is spending money like drunken sailors to stimulate the economy, meanwhile states are digging into consumers pockets raising taxes. By doing so consumers will have less money to spend on consumable goods, therefore the economy stays stagnent. You just can't have both the feds are giving money to fix roads and bridges so why doses the state need to do the same?
- Steve, Manchester

Joshua,

Don't get too worked up over electric vehicles. Politicians are pigs. When a sizable number of people migrate to electric vehicles, the swine will just start bumping up taxes on electricity. They'll make sure they can feed their fat faces with our tax dollars no matter what technology we invest in.
- Jonathan, Bedford

This is the only good thing that comes out of the overwhelming democrat majorities. The voters will be able to clearly see who is looking out for the individual and who is looking out for big government!
No Bush/Cheney to blame!
Maybe we can get our state and country back come next election!
- Patricia, Raymond

"To ease the the effect on the truckers..." we are still pandering to the parasites of the trucking industry. These are the low-lifes who threw us all under the bus when we wanted to used some of OUR OWN MONEY (Tax dollars) for alternative public transportation so that when gasoline became too expensive, as it will with the new tax, people would have a viable alternative. I agree; do all the damage you can real quickly before the next election because next term you're all gone!
- Paul, Derry

I only have one question. What about the added revenue from the toll increases we got last year for "more highway revenue?" Oh yeah that has been diverted much like a lot of the money has been in the past which put us in this position. Nice job hacks!!
- Bill B., Pelham

"Wondeful, wonderful people we have working for us in gov't.
- John, Dover"

John, I'm afraid that's your first mistake. They don't work for you. At least they don't if you're not a goverment union worker who will fund their campaigns.
- Paul, Fremont

Dean Kamen is reported to have a Tesla Roadster which is an electric super car capable of 200+ miles per charge. Since the vehicle is all electric he pay's no gas tax just like all other owners of electric vehicles. As the proliferation of hybrids and electric cars continues we will see lower revenue from the gas tax and therefore need to continue raising it even higher to keep budgets balanced. This will not happen overnight but it is coming. This is the reason why we need to focus on alternative transportation methods such as high speed rail.
- Joshua, Manchester

Why is that when myself family included don't have the money for something we simply don't buy it. Save the money first or restructure or budget to support the need. Simply if you don't have it to spend you don't spend it.
So I guess one could ask the question that a measure be taken to school these people in elected position in a basic budgeting class at a university or community college? It seems that once elected that they lose their common sense and believe in a fantasy that we all have money trees in our yards to cover taxes.
- Eric, Manchester, NH

Great, raise the gas tax. At least I'll sleep better at night knowing that Route 101 between Hampton and Manchester can receive the annual application of asphalt. Here's to the smoothest stretch of highway in the US of A!
- Mike, Portsmouth

Bill from Whitefield, thanks for nailing that one on the head. Folks are starting to experience their 'change'. Don't think that gas is going to stay at $2/gallon either. It will be back up to $4/gallon and then add your $.35/gallon tax. Well done Dems.
- Mike, Merrimack

No surprise - that is what the Dems do.
- JC, Nashua

They the New Hampshire House must be out of there minds to be raising the gas tax, have they taken a look to see how bad it is outside there offices. What's next raising property taxes etc?
- Rob, Derry NH

When gas prices went up at the end of the Bush Administration (under the "watchful" eye of a Democrat Congress) the democrats all blamed Bush. Now gas prices are lower but creeping up again with no scapegoat for democrats to blame, though apparently they're too low for Rep David Campbell. Hey Rep Campbell and all of you other reps and senators pushing for a higher gas tax...how about cutting spending instead? When hard times hit my house, I cut spending. I'm sure most other people do that as well. Why is it so hard for most politicians to do the same? Maybe it's because you're spending other people's money? Reminds me of a quote I heard from someone at the federal level...

"We need earmark reform and when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure we're not spending money unwisely," ...yeah, right. So much for "Change."
- Mike, Temple

Ooooh, I'm so concerned about the people who " ... can barely afford to put gas in their cars." say Sherm and friends...

Then why so opposed to a tax structure that will take some of the pressure off the lowest wage earners?

If you're really all that concerned about people on the low end of the economic scale, get rid of the property tax and make it possible for them to afford to learn new job skills. This grandstanding over a gas tax is just that - grandstanding.
- tom, candia

How about increasing registration costs of new vehicles??? You pay once a year, not every time you fill up your vehicle... The state officals need to start thinking before acting or speaking on something that is not going to effect their well being.
- Jim, Milford

Go ahead, sign it. You will all be gone when your term is done. This will not be forgotten. Are you out of your minds? The people of this live free or die state are hurting and this is what your answer is. The house is full of fools, let's get the roll call of votes and send each of these representatives a message.
- Paul, Londonderry

Enough with new taxes already. ENOUGH! Next election, vote out ALL those who propose new taxes!
- JG, Londonderry

I think i'm willing to pay 15 cents more for what i consider to be the best highway system in the northeast,if not the country. It's a shame that it has to come to things like this but we're not the only state having to make sacrifices.The overall picture here looks far better than our southern border state(I'll think of the name)
- james flannery, hampton

So lets see....gov't imposes their will on the auto industry to create cars that meet certain mpg. They preach to the "people" about investing in these vehicles.

And when less fuel is used as a result, they then realize they must raise the gas tax?

Wondeful, wonderful people we have working for us in gov't.
- John, Dover

Stop raising taxes and fees. Start cutting spending first.
- Jim, Stratham

Thank you all for electing Democrats!
- Bill, Whitefield

Lately is seems so as Mass. goes so goes NH. I think we need to means test new residents. EZ pass discounts will go it's just a matter of time. Well NH voters you voted for "Change", you got it. How do you like it so far?
- Michael King, Epping

Just keep ripping off the working family!!!
- Rich, Concord

Well let's see him stop destroying working families and have the guts to veto this gas tax... it hits people who work the hardest... so does this foolish EZ Pass ripoff... which eventually we will all be forced to use.
- Sue, Manchester

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Tom Eaton: "Governor John Lynch's budget is a shell game"
By TOM EATON, NH Union Leader, Op-Ed, Friday, March 6, 2009

Now that the shock and awe of Gov. John Lynch's budget address has faded and we have had a chance to look at the details of his proposed budget, one fact has become clear -- the emperor has no clothes.

Gov. Lynch's proposed budget is a shell game that amounts to intergenerational theft.

We're not in this huge budget deficit because of the national economic downturn. This past budget cycle, the Democratic- controlled Legislature passed a 17 1/2 percent budget increase. For reference, the 2003 and 2005 budgets increased by about 3.5 percent, which included all essential and nondiscretionary spending. That coincided with the rate of inflation and demonstrated fiscally sound policy.

In this year's budget, Gov. Lynch claims he cut general fund spending by $40 million. But that's not exactly true. What he really did was some creative accounting. For example, he "relabeled" the State Liquor Commission budget so that it is no longer called general fund spending. This is not a cut; it is a name change. He is going to increase the agency's spending from $71 million to $91 million. But with a little creative accounting, a $20 million spending increase instead looks like a $71 million spending decrease.

Gov. Lynch also proposes bonding $83 million in school building aid -- money that used to be part of yearly general fund operating costs. The program isn't going away. The state will still send $83 million to communities for building aid. But with another sweep of Lynch's magical budget wand -- poof -- "level funding" an existing program looks like an $83 million spending cut. The reality is that the aid dollars were put on a "credit card" that our grandchildren will end up paying.

Here's another creative way to make it appear that you're cutting state spending -- announcing a state agency reorganization. However, is there an actual plan to do this? And if so, where is it? And can a plan of this magnitude really be implemented over the next two years? How much could we actually save if there was a plan that could be implemented over the next two years? Who knows? Yet Gov. Lynch's budget includes a $28 million cut in general fund spending due to reorganization. This is not a way to reduce our obligation going forward and demonstrates a worrisome pattern.

Gov. Lynch's budget proposal is full of these accounting gimmicks. State spending doesn't decrease. Many current costs are shifted or hidden. We all know that we are in the midst of a recession. This is not the time for quick fixes, yet one-time federal stimulus money is earmarked for programs we used to pay for within our budget.

Switching the funding source for the next two years doesn't solve the massive budget deficit. When the next budget comes around, projects with their costs will still be there; however, the one-time funding will be gone and the Democrats' huge budget deficit will be back and even greater.

Gov. Lynch also claims that he kept "overall aid to property taxpayers at least level." Unfortunately, that is not correct. Lynch's budget increases education funding to cities and towns by $123 million. However, it cuts other state aid programs to cities and towns by $166 million. The net result is a downshift of state spending onto local property taxpayers. That is wrong and harmful to our communities.

Perhaps the greatest feat of Gov. Lynch's budget is his attempt to take $110 million from a private, nonprofit organization. I know that sounds too bizarre to believe. But it's true. Lynch wants to take money that belongs to the New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association and use it to balance the state budget. Remember, this is not government money and never has been. It is money that was paid by doctors and health care facilities to private insurance companies to help keep their malpractice premiums low, and it also helps retain and attract physicians and nurses. The money belongs to them.

If the state can take money from one private, nonprofit organization, why stop there?

The bottom line is that Gov. Lynch's budget increases state spending by $1.2 billion over the next two years. So despite cutting aid to communities, closing courts and Department of Motor Vehicles offices and forcing hundreds of layoffs, state spending is actually going up by 11 percent.

It is time to get back on track: fiscal discipline, good policies, job stimulation. The taxpayers and citizens of New Hampshire should receive nothing less.
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Tom Eaton of Keene is the former Republican leader in the state Senate.
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CONTACT INFORMATION:
Representative Daniel Eaton (d)
1 Shedd Hill Rd
Stoddard, NH 03464-4423
Phone: (603)446-3535
Email: eatonsstore@juno.com
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READERS' COMMENTS:

"Tom Eaton of Keene is the former Republican leader in the state Senate."

You mean the former Senate President that was thrown out of office?

Some leader he was!
- Hal Robertson, Milford

Lynch's "proposed" budget eliminates blue collar workers and creates desk jobs. Just what the state needs. Your tax payer money hard at work!
- Ted, Laconia, NH

Run for Governor Tom! Under your leadership in the State Senate was the last time we had a reasonable budget!
- Samuel Johnson, Salem

The richest thing is that these are the very same people who decry corporate malfeasance at every turn! One scintilla of these actions would find corporate types hauled before the solons of 'knowing better' and thrown into the slammer for life and a half.

When will people learn that the proverbial chicken always comes home to roost? Exhibit A is raising the gas tax after robbing the highway fund!

I have long believed that it’s all a master plan to make things so bad that we ‘must’ enact broad-based taxes – and then blithely go out and do some really serious spending! Just because one’s a tad paranoid does not mean they ain’t after you.

For the record, my wife and I voted for Sen. Eaton last fall. Next time I hope citizens look more carefully at actual legislative performance and their pocketbooks before ‘good feeling’ voting.
- Steven, Swanzey

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"NH cities, towns may get stimulus windfall"
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, NH Union Leader, March 6, 2009

Concord – Gov. John Lynch is recommending giving $120 million in federal stimulus money to communities to offset cuts in local aid.

Lynch will take the money from $201 million in stimulus funding allocated to states for education aid. He wants to use the $120 million for school aid that the state already had in the budget. That will free up the same amount to restore some of the money his budget cuts in local aid.

Lynch has not decided what to do with the remaining stimulus money.

When Lynch presented his budget to lawmakers on Feb. 12, it was unclear how states could allocate federal stimulus money, Pamela Walsh, Lynch's deputy chief of staff, said Friday.

Final versions made it possible for states to use the money for education aid, she said.

In his budget address last month, Lynch proposed suspending two of the state's aid programs distributing money to local communities and reducing a third program. The reductions total about $187 million over the two-year budget that starts July 1.

He said the moves allowed the state to meet its commitment to fully fund school aid - a $123 million increase.

In exchange for taking their aid, Lynch proposed giving communities $160 million in expected federal economic stimulus money. Lynch said property taxpayers -- who support both local government and schools -- would benefit in the aggregate.

Local officials protested that they had no control over schools or their spending. They said local government services would suffer if the aid wasn't directed to communities.

Walsh said Lynch was sensitive to the need to be sure money went into the "right buckets" and will ask lawmakers to move the money around in the budget so communities get some aid restored.

Walsh said about $45 million of the remaining money will be distributed to schools under the Title 1 formula. Lynch has not decided what to do with the remaining $36 million.

Walsh said communities will fare better under the budget than most state agencies.

"We're looking at keeping (communities) ahead of (2009 spending) levels," she said.

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"Cities counting on rooms and meals money"
By GARRY RAYNO, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, March 7, 2009

MANCHESTER – Uncertainty about future bond payments for Verizon Wireless Arena may be eliminated because Gov. John Lynch yesterday proposed restoring room-and-meals tax revenues to cities and towns.

In his budget address last month, Lynch proposed the state keep money allocated for local aid to help balance the state budget, but yesterday said federal stimulus money would restore the rooms-and-meals funds to municipalities.

Yesterday, New Hampshire Municipal Association officials praised Lynch's plans, but noted the state budget process still has a long way to go.

Lynch proposes taking $120 million from $201 million in stimulus funding allocated to states for education aid and using the money to replace $120 million of state money in the biennial budget for school aid. That would free up state money to restore $120 million of the proposed $187 million reduction in local aid.

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta has scheduled a briefing for aldermen Tuesday on potential problems with paying for the arena should rooms-and-meals tax revenues for cities and towns be eliminated.

Manchester uses rooms-and-meals revenues from the state to pay off the $50 million bond for the arena. The city is counting on about $4.5 million for this year's payment for the 10,000-seat arena, which hosts concerts, high school graduations, and games played by the Monarchs and Wolves.

But officials say if the funding source goes away, the trustee, Bank of New York Mellon, could gain control of the facility. In a default, the trustee could foreclose and put the building up for sale, hire its own management company to run the arena as it sees fit or use revenue generated by the arena to retire the bonds.

The city is banking on an insurance policy protecting its rights to control the arena, but it's unclear whether the policy would accomplish that goal as intended. The insurer, ACA Financial Guaranty Corp., was caught up in the sub-prime mortgage fiasco, but recently reorganized and had its rating upgraded.

Under the worst circumstances, the city's bond counsel has suggested, the city's and the state's credit ratings could be lowered, although the state treasurer and others dispute his point. A downgrade would make it more expensive if not more difficult to bond major projects.

But all the discussion could be moot if lawmakers decide to restore all $187 million Lynch proposed eliminating, instead sending federal stimulus money to cities and towns, much of it for education.

After Lynch made his proposal, local officials protested, saying local services would suffer if aid were directed to school districts rather than to communities.

Yesterday, Pam Walsh, the governor's deputy chief of staff, said Lynch was sensitive to the need to be sure money went into the "right buckets" and will ask lawmakers to move the money around in the budget so communities get some aid restored.

Walsh noted the governor put together his budget before the federal economic stimulus package was finalized and it was unclear how much discretion states had in allocating the money.

Guinta said that while he was pleased Lynch restored the rooms-and-meals revenues to municipalities, he and other mayors and local officials will continue to work with Lynch to restore the $50.4 million in revenue sharing and the 5 percent reduction in payments to the state retirement fund for teachers, police and firemen.

"It's clear the governor feels his original proposal to suspend rooms-and-meals revenue was a mistake. (He) listened to a bipartisan group of mayors and town officials asking him to reverse his decision," Guinta said.

Manchester would stand to lose $3.9 million in revenue sharing and $600,000 in payments to the retirement fund.

Rooms-and-meals and revenue sharing are 40-year sources of funds for cities and towns, he said. "It's an error in judgment to take that money away and use it for the state deficit. To me, this is Phase 1 of three phases of things that need to be restored."

Ward 2 Alderman and state Sen. Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester, said yesterday he would rather see the rooms-and-meals and revenue-sharing money for local aid left alone and distributed under the current formula.

Before the arena was constructed, city officials decided to use rooms-and-meals money to pay for the project rather than ask city taxpayers to foot the bill.

William Craig, long-time attorney for the Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which issued the bonds, said the city's only obligation since Day 1 was to include the rooms-and-meals money for the bonds in the budget the mayor presents. "The city does not have to pay for this at all," he said.

The arena bonds are similar to revenue bonds issued for Manchester-Boston Regional Airport construction and repaid from revenues generated by the airport. "As long as the Verizon is doing well, there shouldn't be any concern about the bonds being paid off," he said.

Manchester's bond rating is AA+.

"We should definitely be concerned about our bond rating," Ward 7 Alderman Bill Shea said. "Extremely."

Shea said he supported the arena project as an alderman in the late-1990s but was concerned about plans to use rooms-and-meals tax dollars to finance it. He said he urged the board to consider using a portion of the arena's concession-stand revenues instead. "This was not considered at all," he said.

The arena bonds were recently rated a middling Baa3 by Moody's Investors Service. In December, the rating agency affirmed the bonds' "negative outlook," saying there is a "strong possibility that meals-and-rooms tax revenue will not experience growth sufficient to meet increasing debt service requirements over the near term."

To date, rooms-and-meals revenue -- about half of which is returned to cities and towns -- has been less than was collected a year ago. Through February of the 2009 fiscal year, the state collected $149.8 million in rooms-and-meals revenue compared, with $151.5 million a year ago.
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New Hampshire Leader reporter Scott Brooks and The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Concord and Salem N.H. have Baa3 ratings and they are not on negative credit watch. My belief is if the meals and room tax dries up, somehow the city will find a way to saddle the Verizon bond payment onto the property owners. I will never believe that they will ever go into default and lose control of the arena.
- Paul, Bedford

Any town that decides to build an arena or sports stadium with tax payer money should be required to pay for it. If a secondary town will benefit and they vote to be involved then they can help also in paying for it. The argument has always been that the project will bring jobs and tourists to hotels in the city and therefore be good for the city tax base. Sounds like "room-and-meals tax revenues" from that area. In reality - if it was a money maker private developers would build it. If the profits are questionable then the developers “conveniently” get a few local politicians to get the taxpayers to build it.

As for the stimulus $, if the money is used to help balance this years budget then the state just starts going in the hole again next year, when the money runs out. This money should be used to generate tangible jobs that produce a product. Build a bridge for 1 year and it gives another job to McDonalds and buys some parts for the bridge too. But when the 1 year job is over, all the jobs go away again (without the next plan). I don’t count buying TV’s, toasters, clothes, shoes, cameras, computers as helping because all that money goes outside the country and creates a job outside the US. Sounds like a plan to rebuild the rest of the world. I would say take $5 dollars, buy some paper and pens and write a repeal to NAFTA, it would put people back to work here.

Then I could take a trip to the arenas, eat at a restaurant, and possibly stay in a hotel. Oh wait, that would generate tax revenues
- Jim, Loudon

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"State House Dome: NH hotel may cash in on new coin"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, Sunday, March 8, 2009

There's a good chance the Mount Washington Hotel could end up on the back of a batch of special U.S. quarters.

As part of a new U.S. Mint commemorative coin program, Gov. John Lynch named Bretton Woods as his first choice for the next New Hampshire quarter. The hotel at Bretton Woods was the site of the international monetary conference in 1944.

States submitted four nationally significant sites -- one nominee and three alternates. Our alternates were the Robert Frost farm in Derry, the Augustus Saint-Gaudens site in Cornish and the John W. Weeks home in Lancaster.

Quarters will be released in the order in which the sites became national sites. New Hampshire's quarter was the ninth to be minted in the first program, because it was ninth to ratify the U.S. Constitution. This time, who knows? The program launches in 2010.

Cultural Resources Commissioner Van McLeod said a committee came up with the suggested list. Any design work would be done by Mint artists, he said. They drew the Old Man of the Mountain depicted on the first state quarters.

As for other details, "We're still trying to get our hands around what exactly this is," McLeod said.

- - - - - -

PLACE YOUR BETS: The long awaited vote on the Senate gambling bill is Wednesday, after it won a 3-2 Ways and Means Committee vote.

Not that we don't gamble a lot already. Last year, gamblers dropped $352 million at charity poker tournaments, bingo, Lucky 7 and other games of chance, according to the Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission. The games produced $18 million for the state treasury, director Paul Kelley said.

The crushing House defeats of two gambling bills last week might be seen as a major blow to adding slot machines to the mix. But gambling forces basically ignored House measures, focusing on SB 179, sponsored by Sen. Lou D'Allesandro.

The measure picked up steam last week on the union front. The New Hampshire Troopers Association, Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, and the State Employees Association-SEIU Local 1984 joined the Building Trades Council, the New Hampshire Police Association and Teamsters Local 633 in support.

What do public unions have to gain? Budget problems have kept 20 trooper slots vacant, and the bill gives them the job of enforcing gambling laws.

Firefighters and SEA have been fighting cutbacks in retirement funding, and face tough local contract talks and layoffs. SEA says that the state's budget problem is a revenue problem, not spending, and that the $200 million in gambling money will ease the revenue problem. SEIU has a shot at organizing workers at the $450 million facility that Millennium Gaming will build at Rockingham Park if slots are allowed.

If it gets to the House, expect the bill to sit there until late in the year, just in case the economy and budget work really hits the skids.

Kelley told Gov. John Lynch and the Executive Council that Internet gambling sites are becoming steadily popular, and problematic, for state residents. He pulled out a cell phone in front of them and called up a slots account.

"This goes right to the Isle of Mann," he said, noting that his account "is strictly for entertainment and illustrative purposes."

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FEES IN THE DETAILS: D'Allesandro's bill to modernize the State Liquor Commission was shipped back for more committee work last week. But SLC chair Mark Bodi still gets plenty of new power under House Bill 2, where budget-related legal changes are made.

Bodi will be able to close any state liquor stores to improve the bottom line, and to license private stores to sell liquor through June 2014.

HB 2 has plenty of other details in its 56 pages -- like the 30-cent tobacco tax increase, elimination of the E-ZPass discount and $30 monthly cap, a $10 increase in motor vehicle registration fees, the closure of eight district courts, a gambling tax, a higher meals tax, a cut in the retirement fund help to cities and towns, and more.

There's also a higher license fee for hospital and nursing home beds tucked in there. It goes to $52 a bed, from the current $2.50 a bed.

Finance Committee member Rep. Fran Wendelboe thinks the state needs to stop all the fee hikes.

"How much of this is in there? I think it's atrocious that government can spend all it wants, then bill the people it oversees," she said.

Another change is coming through Health and Human Services rules on foster families. The Division of Children, Family and Youth wants to save about $500,000 by changing foster care payments. The idea is to set standards based on age and federal guidelines, and end extra payments for birthdays, holidays, and special-needs kids.

Paul Desmarais, president of the N.H. Foster and Adoptive Parents Association, said his group is OK with the changes.

"The way a lot of us look at it, this is just another piece of the economy. Why should we be unaffected? There are cuts everywhere,"he said. "If it were only the foster care and adoptive community being affected, it would be another matter."

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STIMULUS TOWN TALK: Bud Fitch, the director of the Office of Economic Stimulus, will go to Representatives Hall tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. to conduct a briefing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The idea is to give legislators information they need to answer questions at town meetings on Tuesday.

Anyone with an interest in details can check out Fitch's presentation through live audio and video streaming on the General Court web site at gencourt.state.nh.us/house/media/live_media.htm.

The House Gallery will be open to anyone who wants to attend.

- - - - - -

ARMED AND ANGRY: That gallery, which overlooks House chambers, was packed with backers of HCR 6 last week, including a few who were packing. The resolution, defeated along party lines, was a move to reaffirm the state's freedom from interference by the federal government, except in areas where the U.S. Constitution specifically gives it powers.

When the vote result was posted, HCR 6 supporters erupted in shouts and boos. Speaker of the House Terie Norelli banged her gavel and called for order. That didn't work. Rep. Dan Itse, sponsor of the measure, tried to calm upset supporters, but they ignored him.

A few scattered lobbyists began to squirm at the sight of angry people with guns, and a few knives, on their hips yelling.

State Police firmly ushered the noisy crowd out of the gallery without incident.

House rules seem to allow guns in the gallery, House chief of staff Don Manning said last week. Rule 63 bars them from the House Chamber, anterooms, cloakrooms or any portion of the State House adjacent to any of the above. That hasn't been interpreted in the past to include the gallery.

Manning said a joint House-Senate committee controls issues like weapons in the State House.

"We obviously have a concern about keeping people safe in this building," Manning said.

House Floor Leader Rep. Dan Eaton, during a debate later in the day, said the HCR 6's noisy supporters engaged in "despicable behavior."

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LEPRECHAUN FUND-RAISER: St. Patrick's Day roasts kick off this week, with the Demers Group annual benefit Thursday for the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth. The breakfast roast features top elected officials, including Gov. Lynch, and starts at 7 a.m. at the Grappone Center in Concord. Plenty more to follow next week.

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HAPPY TRAILS: Tom Martin, former finance director at the Department of Transportation, is off to Georgia to start up the Appalachian Trail. Martin left office last week. Gov. Lynch is still searching for someone to replace him.
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Tom Fahey is the State House bureau chief for New Hampshire Union Leader, and Sunday News.
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READER's COMMENT:

I am disgusted to see Rep. Dan Eaton's comments about the behavior of HCR 6 supporters. So they got a little bit irritated and expressed their disgust by booing?

Too bad for you, Dan. You and your fellow Democrats pretty much spit in the face of New Hampshire citizens by voting the bill down.

As far as guns go, any attempt to falsely portray HCR 6 supporters as "dangerous" to public safety is simply a lame effort to change the subject and deflect attention away from the betrayal of the people by the legislators who voted HCR 6 down.

The HCR 6 supporters that were carrying their firearms were doing so lawfully and respectfully. No one misbehaved and just because they were carrying their firearms does NOT mean they can't boo legislators for doing as despicable a thing as voting down HCR 6.

Hopefully the politicians who voted HCR 6 down will be targeted at the ballot box and removed from office in the next session. It's high time they remembered who they work for and what their role is.

If you have a moment please contact Rep. Dan Eaton and let him know that you found his comments about HCR 6 supporters to be quite despicable.

Here is his official contact information from the NH legislature's site:

Representative Daniel Eaton (d)
1 Shedd Hill Rd
Stoddard, NH 03464-4423
Phone: (603)446-3535
Email: eatonsstore@juno.com
- Bob Thornton, Milford

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"NH health care facilities face possible fee hikes"
boston.com, March 12, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. --Hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers in New Hampshire face possible licensing fee hikes under Gov. John Lynch's proposed budget.

Mary Castelli is a division director at the Department of Health and Human Services. She told House tax writers Thursday the fee increases are to make up for $1.6 million Lynch cut from the licensing operation in his two-year budget proposal. She said Lynch wants the regulatory function to be self-supporting.

Bob Dunn, speaking for the New Hampshire Health Care Association opposed the increase. He said the private nursing homes his group represents would have a hard time finding the extra money. Under the proposal, nursing homes would pay $52 per bed annually.

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"Critics pan NH governor's proposed taxes"
By Norma Love, Associated Press Writer, March 12, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. --Critics are panning Gov. John Lynch's proposals to tax gambling winnings and raise New Hampshire's tax on restaurant meals, hotel rooms and rental cars.

Lynch proposed the taxes as part of his recommended budget for the two years beginning July 1, which uses a combination of budget cuts, taxes and other measures to close an estimated $500 million shortfall.

The governor proposes a new 10 percent tax on gambling winnings over $600. It would apply to residents' winnings in other states as well as in New Hampshire. Nonresidents who win money in New Hampshire also would be subject to the tax.

Michael Delaney, Lynch's legal counsel, told the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday that the tax would raise about $16 million. He said the federal government and a number of other states already tax the winnings.

Critics complained that Lynch's proposal contains no credit for gambling losses and would tax the entire payout, including the initial wager that produced the winnings. They also pointed out that nonresidents could pay a triple tax -- to their home state, New Hampshire and the federal government.

Republican Rep. John Graham of Bedford likened the tax to a personal income tax. New Hampshire does not have an income tax and Lynch has vowed to veto one if sent to his desk.

"It's a tax on income and for a governor who vowed to veto an income tax, it's bewildering," Graham said.

Ed Callahan, Rockingham Park race track's general manger, said the proposal doesn't mirror tax withholding rules for the federal government and other states. He suggested aligning the proposal with federal rules or killing it so gambling establishments won't have to implement new tax-collection systems just for New Hampshire.

Spokesmen for charities also objected, saying the tax would drive away needed business and be difficult and costly to implement.

Lynch also wants to raise the tax on rooms, meals and rental cars to 8.75 percent from 8 percent. Delaney estimated the tax hike would produce about $19 million.

The state's hospitality association said the increase would hurt struggling businesses.

Paul Ronty of the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway said the state should cut costs instead of raising taxes.

Bartlett Republican Gene Chandler said the tax hike would harm tourism, noting that restaurants and hotels are already dealing with rising fuel and food prices amid declining business.

"I can't imagine a good time to increase the rooms and meals tax, but I can't think of a worse time," he said.

House Republican Leader Sherman Packard opposed both tax proposals.

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"Benefits that could change under legislative plan"
By The Associated Press, March 16, 2009

Some benefits that the New Hampshire Legislature could change for state government retirees younger than 65:

-- Monthly premium would rise from $0 a month to $100 a month.

-- Twenty chiropractic visits would be allowed per year, instead of the current 12.

-- Copayment of $10 for annual exams would be dropped.

-- Copayments would rise to $20 from $10 for office visits with a specialist.

-- Copayments would rise to $50 from $10 for emergency room or urgent care visits.

SOURCE: Department of Administrative Services

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"NH's Medicaid levels hit historic high"
AP, March 18, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. --The number of people seeking help from the state-federal insurance program for the poor has hit an all-time high in New Hampshire and is projected to rise even higher.

State Medicaid Finance Director Marilee Nihan said Wednesday that 108,000 people were on the Medicaid rolls at the end of February -- about 2,000 people higher than any other time.

She said the state is projecting the number will rise to 119,000 in the fiscal year that starts July 1. She said the number is projected to be even higher the following year when 129,000 people are expected to sign up for Medicaid.

Medicaid covers poor pregnant women and children, disabled adults and children and the elderly poor.

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"State House Dome: Debating budget billions, 'bathroom bill'"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, The NH Union Leader, Sunday, April 5, 2009

IT COULD be a long week in Concord, as the House has set aside two days for 17 debates.

Most of the time will be spent on three budget bills: the $11.5 billion spending plan itself; the so-called trailer bill, which contains all the legal changes the budget needs; and the $221 million capital budget, paid for with state bonds.

Then there's a pending debate over whether to reconsider the transgender rights bill, dubbed the bathroom bill by its opponents. Mandatory seat belts will go through a second round of debate, with lower proposed fines for violations.

On a party-line vote last week, the House Finance Committee passed a budget much like Gov. John Lynch's plan. Both versions maintain a roughly $50 million reserve, or Rainy Day Fund, after they tap it for about $40 million in June. They both have a tobacco-tax increase, a gambling tax and a hike in the Rooms and Meals tax.

But there are some key changes. For one thing, new taxes on estates and capital gains were nowhere in Lynch's plan. The House added $16 million to cut down the wait list for services to the developmentally disabled; $2 million for cancer prevention, $1 million for HIV-/AIDS programs and money for catastrophic illness victims and suicide prevention.

Lynch's plan to give the state Liquor Commission more business clout fell by the wayside. Liquor has more work to do before it can start closing marginal stores and setting up liquor sales in private stores, the committee said.

Liquor Commission chair Mark Bodi was further slapped with a decision to take away his enforcement bureau. The committee slipped the enforcement work over to the Department of Safety, citing an outside study that said liquor needs to focus on its core mission.

Lynch had some pretty blunt criticism of the House plan, especially coming from a guy who avoids controversy by saying he's still talking with lawmakers.

Lynch "has many concerns," he said through his press secretary Colin Manning. It underfunds central operations, like Justice, Corrections, and OIT (Office of Information Technology) and makes broad across-the-board cuts without making the tough policy decisions that are required to manage the budget. He also criticized lack of a plan for the school building-aid program, at $40 million a year, and the fact "it does not give Liquor the flexibility it needs to effectively increase revenues." Manning said, "The governor put forward a cost structure and revenue proposal he thought was much more reasonable." The House, still smarting over GOP accusations that it overspent in 2008-09, has gone conservative with revenues. It figures the state will see $138 million less in revenue than Lynch, who expected flat receipts through the first year.

- - - - - -

DEVIL IN THE DETAILS: She was careful not to take sides, but state Treasurer Catherine Provencher gave a House committee all the ammo it needed last week to spike Lynch's plan to bond $84 million in school building aid.

The state doesn't actually issue bonds on any project until the money has been spent. That takes about six years, from the time a project gets the go-ahead until it is done and the bond goes out, Provencher told the Public Works and Highways Committee.

The difference on school building aid -- which offsets local school bond debts -- is that the money goes out right away. That would accelerate not only the state bonding process, but the build-up of debt, she said.

The $40 million a year in bonding Lynch proposes would create roughly $4 million a year in debt service. In six years, interest payments would be up to $24 million, Provencher said. In 10 years, the state would pay as much in interest each year as in bonds, while driving other state projects out of the capital budget.

One committee member said bonding school aid would create a triple whammy. It runs up debt faster, crowds out other projects and eats into the state's cushion of authorized, but not yet bonded debt.

Provencher wasn't sure about how big the whammy would be, but agreed, "we'd be bonding faster with building aid than without it." She said the state should not exceed $130 million in bonds, no matter what they pay for.

Vice-chairman Rep. David Campbell said he wants state bonds to pay for state projects. He said schools are asking a lot anyway. While student populations are falling, demand for state aid has jumped. School district requests nearly tripled to $44 million in 2008, from $15 million in 1997.

By voting unanimously for a budget with no school building aid bonds, the committee created an $84 million hole in the House's $11.4 billion budget plan. The House did nothing to address the gap, so school building aid goes to the Senate as an unfunded program.

Campbell boasted that the House capital budget leverages state money to win big federal bucks. Best examples would be a $2.5 million state outlay to cover $51 million in work at 11 airports around the state, and a $865,000 bond to win a $34 million federal grant for a National Guard and armed services training compound in Pembroke.

- - - - - -

GOP OFFERS LEVEL BUDGET: House Republicans plan to lay out their alternative budget tomorrow for the press. The basic plan keeps spending at the level it was at over the past two years, funds school building aid and creates no new taxes.

State GOP chairman John H. Sununu said last week the alternate budget will show, "that with a sound traditional approach to the budget and to bonding, we can meet our financial responsibilities." He said he knows--Democrats will make sure the Republican budget plan is stifled, but the public will know there is an alternative to increasing taxes, and they will know there was an alternative to raising spending during tough financial times."

- - - - - -

TAXING BUTTS: State and federal governments appear poised to bring smokers a 97-cent tobacco tax increase. In New Hampshire, the 35-cent increase and the new 62-cent federal hike equate to a 73 percent tax hike.

The federal share funds children's health insurance; the House's tax increase isn't aimed at any program in particular. But the combined effect may cut into the $70 million that budget writers hope the state increase will bring.

The American Cancer Society has long argued that when you start adding close to $1 in taxes onto the price of a pack, smoking rates go down. Of course, if butts are still cheaper here than in other states, we'll remain the favorite haunt of nicotine addicts.

- - - - - -

E-ZPASS PATH TO COURT: Watch out for those E-ZPass discounts. Although the House rejected changes to tolling that the governor's office proposed, federal lawsuits in Massachusetts and Rhode Island could still do some damage.

The lawsuits challenge the states' practice of offering residents discounts that are not available to out-of-state turnpike and bridge users. The suits allege the discounts are in violation of the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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RETAILERS CAN JUST SAY NO: While the House has gotten all the attention with its budget work, the Senate is poised this week to pass Senate Bill 5 that blocks retailers from providing customer information to out-of-state tax agencies.

The bill, sponsored by all 24 senators, states, "No retailer shall provide to a foreign state any private consumer information for use in the determination of sales or use tax." Also on the Senate's plate this week are SB 40, the mandatory advance layoff/closure notice bill, and SB 134, amending the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act. A group led by Orford tree farmer Tom Thomson and former Fisher Scientific CEO Paul Montrone argued the current shoreland rules prevent new pathways and tree-trimming on lakeside property, and raise questions about whether owners can rake leaves or plant flowers. The amended language specifically allows gardening.

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FAIRPOINT ANGERS COUNCILOR: Count Executive Councilor Ray Wieczorek among disgruntled FairPoint telephone customers.

He was caught up in the company's billing fiasco last month. February bills went out late, and the next round of bills not only didn't record customer payments but also assessed a late fee.

"I paid that bill. Are they going to send me an extra bill every time I send them a check? I'm gonna stop sending them checks," he said.

The Public Utilities Commission held a special hearing on FairPoint problems Friday. Telecom division director Kate Bailey said complaints about FairPoint climbed from an average monthly level of 280 in January to 700 in February to 1,400 in March.

"Clearly, there are issues," she said.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief for New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Ray Wieczorek ought to have some tough questions for his fellow councilor Ray Burton who was a big supporter of the Verizon Fairpoint Deal.
- Chris, Merrimack

It is too bad we lost so many people in Korea and Vietnam. They died fighting Communism. They didn't want it to come here.
If you look carefully at the actions of government at all levels, the efforts of these brave people were in vain.
As predicted, America has become Communist, without a shot being fired on our soil!
Nowhere in our constitution, does it grant government the right to take from one to give to another. Nowhere does it allow for the regulations that have been imposed on us to exist. Government at all levels, is now in control of the individual. It was originally meant to be the other way around. We count our ballots electronically, so we can see the results quickly.
What is so important about speed in counting?
Why is it more important than ballot integrity?
I've read stories about electronic election rigging, I'm beginning to believe them. It seems that we are only able to elect individuals who want to feather their own nest and their supporter's, both actively and financially, nests.
In the beginning, individuals caught feathering nest via public office were punished publicly. They were tarred and feathered and ridden on a rail, out of town. This no longer happens.
- Steve, Raymond

Do all you shortsighted sorts who elected Democrats in a kneejerk reaction feel happy now that they're obsessed with letting men into women's bathrooms and locker rooms?

Enjoy! Especially when perverts spy on your kids. This is their priority. The liberal agenda. Mass North.

You did it.
- Mike R., Bedford

The racetracks are trying to get a slot machine only bill through the house and senate(without much succeess) that will provide over a thousand jobs, balance the budget and stabilize the already sky high property tax situation and now our genius lawmakers want to "tax" gambling.

If this part of the budget passes who in their right minds will play bingo, the lottery or go to the track for fear of being taxed on any winning bet over $600 dollars.

I would like to know what nitwit put that in the budget.

Yep, leave it to our elected officials to do the right thing again. NOT !!!
- Frank F., Hooksett

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"State House Dome: Welcome to 'New Taxshire;' now pay up"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, Sunday, April 12, 2009

IT WAS ALL about taxes last week. The House's $11.5 billion spending plan for the next two years relies on existing taxes, higher taxes and new taxes.

And, Republicans were quick to charge, the good chance of higher property taxes on top of it all.

The House budget, passed by the Democratic majority, leaves a $133 million hole in local aid. That's a lot of money for local government to make up, and it has only one place to look:- property taxes.

Democrats argue the budget also increases aid to education by $123 million. That education money can't be used to plow roads or fix a town-hall roof. But it does offset some of the pressure schools used to put on property taxes.

An additional $37 million or so in local road funding also eases property tax pressures, Democrats say.

There are actually two budget bills, House Bill 1 and HB 2. The first one spends money. The second one raises it, making tax and other changes.

Republicans wanted to vote on taxes first last week.

Majority floor leader Rep. Dan Eaton stood to oppose the move. "It makes sense to know how much you're spending before you decide how much money to raise," Eaton said. Republicans seized on that as exactly the reverse of how the process should work.

No record of which Democrat quietly elbowed Eaton in the ribs first.

In all, the House recorded 24 roll call votes before nailing down the entire budget plan.

- - - - -

TURNING THE TAX TABLE: Democrats knew going into debate they were vulnerable on the tax issue. So they turned to history to rebut Republican arguments against raising taxes in a recession.

They opened the 1990 House journal. At the time, the savings-and-loan crisis was killing the real estate market here. A rusting condo project in Manchester graced the front page of USA Today. The state was 18 months from seeing five of its largest banks fail on the same day.

That year, the Republican majority raised the tobacco tax, the real estate transfer tax, the gasoline tax, the rooms and meals tax, and (can you believe it?) the beer tax. The Republicans created a communications tax on telephone service, and put new fees on Bingo and Lucky 7 ticket sales.

Rep. Neal Kurk, a Republican who voted for a lot of that package, admitted last week that sometimes his party strayed from the right thing and raised an occasional tax. That doesn't mean a bad thing should be repeated. Rep. Doug Scamman, who was House Speaker in 1990, said that was an extraordinary time. The taxes fed a rescue plan for a budget plan that was underwater and going down after only seven months in operation.

Democrats didn't have to remind anyone that times are tough now, too. Kurk did it for them, announcing that the job fair in Manchester had been "closed to new visitors because of the massive turnout."

He said new taxes will hurt the economy further, saying they and cuts in municipal aid will take $350 million out of the economy.

Finance chair Rep. Marjorie Smith said the dollars are quickly spent on salaries and services that support economic activity.

"There is no safe in the basement of this State House where we lock up money," she said.

- - - - -

CAPITAL GAINS ROADBLOCK: A key component of the House budget is the 5 percent capital gains tax, expected to raise $75 million on sales of stocks, bonds and other earnings. It's in for trouble in the Senate.

Ways and Means Committee chairman Sen. Bob Odell doesn't like it.

"I understand the need for revenue, but it's a burdensome tax, and probably has a broader tax impact than people think," he said.

Expect to hear the phrase "economic development and job creation" a lot as Sen. Lou D'Allesandro makes a push to substitute legalized slot machines for much of the $200 million House tax plan.

He argues that expanded gambling will provide the state with revenue and the private sector with jobs in construction and services.

The House plan already deals with gambling, in a section that lets tracks continue to offer simulcast betting even if they drop live racing, so it would be easy for the Senate to add the slots language there. If it chooses that path, it would set up a bruising battle during committee of conference negotiations in June.

Odell said gambling could figure in the scheme, but noted it comes "with consequences." The latest group to weigh in on gambling is the New Hampshire High Technology Council. A survey of its members got more than 120 responses, NHHTC president Fred Kocher said.

The findings show members oppose the capital gains tax, 4-to-1; estate taxes by a 2-to-1 margin. They like the idea of 15,000 slot machines at race tracks, 66 to 30 percent.

A fourth item makes things confusing. It reads, "Support for expanded gambling only if both capital gains and estate taxes are defeated." The answers came in 67 percent no, 19 percent yes. Sounds like bad news for gambling. Kocher says no.

A press release analyzing the results says they show that if the two taxes are defeated, expanded gambling would not be opposed. Kocher said he knows wording of the question is a pollster's nightmare. He said it was meant to gauge whether a person's support of gambling was based only on opposition to estate and capital-gains taxes.

- - - - -

POLITICALLY CHARGED HEARINGS: The House has handed off a plate of a half-dozen third-rail issues to the Senate.

Three of them come up for public hearings this week: gay marriage, death penalty repeal and medical marijuana. Also in the wings are mandatory seat belts and transgender discrimination -- the "bathroom bill." If Senate committees act quickly on this week's bills, the entire Senate could decide the issues a week from Wednesday.

That would clear the decks for awhile and give them breathing room on budget work.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief for New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Brian of Dover,

If you examine the national GDP, it began climbing again within a hundred days of FDR's New Deal. A convenient graph of this is located at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gdp20-40.jpg . FDR was elected in 1932. Very shortly after his inauguration, the economy began to climb. Within four years, the economy had grown by 33% from its nadir. You are, however, correct that the nation did not return to its pre-crash levels until WWII; my argument is that the New Deal caused immediate growth and economic improvement from the previous deregulatory, laissez-faire policies (similar to today's Republican policies).
- Peter, Canterbury

NH Taxes are too High on NH residents.
Cut Taxes and Balance the Budget now.
NH Govt. Stop the Liars we are now call New Taxshire. Not a Live Free or Die,New Hampshire. We the town people can no longer help other town and cities with their budget if they will not cut or balance the their budget New Hampshire Govt. have lost their way. Poor gets poorer and the rich get richer.
- MO BAXTER, PLYMOUTH

I've said it before, I'm saying it now and will continue to say it in the future. Vote the Democrats Out.
- Bob, Salem

Last time I bought liqour....2006. Last time a bought cigarettes...1984 1 pack.
Last time I bet money at foxwoods, last year..time before that 10 years ago. Number of cars to register down to 1. Last time I payed a toll? 2002. Last time I got any estate money....never.
Tax-a-way concord.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

Frank, from York, ME; thank you for the humor. Maine has one of the highest tx burdens in the country and also is one of the poorest states in the nation. Nice of you to offer your 2 cents where it won't affect you.

The social elite libtards in Concord actually voted to spend money before they decided on taxes? Can anyone here say they spend money first, then decide how much they are going to make at their job?

Tea Party Wednesday! Tell Concord no more taxes and no more big government.

Texter, I was a republican, now an independent, never a democrat. Grew up in the poor town of La Jolla, CA. Moeny has never been an issue, not that is has ever been abundant. I busted my butt in school so I can earn a decent living. My political views have never swayed because of money. Guess you don't get out much!
- Michael Layon, Derry

Peter of Canterbury spins a good con job and sounds like an economist. By "the velocity of money," the government will tax-and-spend (or the federal government will spend money that doesn't exist) just to get it moving again. But the reason we are not spending is because we have low confidence in the future--either Bush's world of bailouts or bankruptcies depending on how well-connected you are, or Obama's of meaningless rhetoric, weakening and apologizing for America, and spend-spend-spend. This low confidence is REALITY. For the government to spend will create economic statistics that suggest that we have confidence that we don't. It will override our decisions and our view of the future. It will FAKE REALITY. Bush's tax-rebate stimulus had the same problem. In the end, the extra, new money lets individuals bid up the price of everything. That is stagnation+inflation, and the term "stagflation" was coined the last time we had a government that so strongly wished to fake reality: Jimmy Carter.
- Spike, Brentwood NH

Peter,

I think if you actually look at economic data from the 1930's you will see that the economy did not "promptly recover" after New Deal spending. In fact, it took WWII to actually put the economy's slack labor and capital resources back to full use.
- Brian, Dover

Every dollar that is collected in taxes goes right out the door again. The term 'velocity of money' does not get heard much outside of economics classrooms, but it should be. Government spending is in fact a key economic factor, not least because it has such a strong ripple effect; money is quickly disseminated to people who will promptly spend it, increasing the total amount of economic activity.

An excellent case study in this is the Great Depression; when FDR increased spending dramatically, the economy promptly rose. When, to reduce deficit concerns, he slowed, the economy sagged again. When he raised government spending again, the economy promptly elevated itself again, and then the massive employment process called 'World War II' intervened (as far more massive government spending) and finished lifting the country up. Nobody likes paying taxes, but in recessionary times government spending is one of the most effective ways to elevate the economy.

There's a term, the 'paradox of thrift.' When the economy is doing poorly, the individual automatic response is to save money and stop spending. And the economy won't recover until people... spend money again. Government spending helps break the paradox of thrift by increasing the amount of money that circulates rather than being frozen. Again, no one likes paying taxes, but everyone should, however grudgingly, appreciate having enough liquidity to get the economy moving forward again.
- Peter, Canterbury

"New Taxshire"; Is that just north of Taxachussetts???? Or next to Vermontax???
- E J, Manchester

I see, the Dems got it their agenda as to importance, Homosexual Marriage, repael of the Death Penalty (no consequence for Murder) and transgender rights (special rights for a certain class of people). Not how do we reduce taxes. My property taxes doubled in 3 years. I own income property, do you know what that means? That means I cannot spend the money I recieve for rents to make improvements and/or repairs. That is money that goes to Epping and not businesses that employe people and buy products. Pretty simple education on taxes. So all you "Change" people got what you wanted. The dems pushing their liberal agenda as quickly at they can because they will be out. Lets "Hope for "Change" in 2010
- Michael King, Epping

If Republicans didn't cut up every available parcel of land in southern NH and sell to people who want services and taxes, then NH might not be in the position it is in. However, they did, and people not of the same mindset came in and bought. And now Republican's are complaining. Boo Hoo.

I've lived in seacoast NH all of my life and never met a Republican who wasn't a Democrat that came into money.
- Texter, Newfields

Frank in York, Maine?

Butt out. We don't want a sales or income tax, because apparently unlike people in Maine, we actually realize that NO TAXES EVER GO DOWN. You add more taxes, they just spend more.

If your fellow Maine residents haven't figured that out, which, based on your tax burden, they haven't, enjoy. But butt out.

Enjoy being under your boot heel.
- Mike R., Bedford

As usual, the Dems have it totaly backwards. Consider this. When I do my personal budget, I figure how much money I have first. Then I deduct my fixed expenses to see how much is left. Then and only then, do I decide how to spend, or more importantly, save what is left. If I did my personal budget the way the moonbats do, it would go like this. I would compile my long list of spending, commit to it, then see how much money I have. When I saw that my spending far exceeded my money, I would approach my employer and say " Hey, give me more money." I`m guessing that would go over well. Unfortunately for us in New Hampshire, this is the Dems, and some Republicans approach. Their response to us common folk is that we are not smart enough to understand something so complex. One look at the idiots we voted in, might give one reason to wonder if they are correct in their assesment of our intelligence. Something we should all keep in mind next time we vote.
- Vic, Derry

People actually listen to Eaton, boy do we have a big problem.In my household we see how much money we have before we spend.Looks like the NH advantage is going down the crapper, thanks to Eaton and friends.
- RICH, Winchester

Please learn the facts.
Spending adjusting for inflation on a per capita income is les now than it was 20 years ago. Compared to other states we are STILL around 48 or 49 on spending per capita. Spending is actually at a low point historically per capita.

Th eproblem is during a recession revenue is less than NOT during a recession and rainy day funds are not funded enough.

So the reality is you cannot cut funding enough to cover a deficit. If you look at all the details you have to abandon that approach if you are realistic.

So we need to increase tax revenue, there is no other choice. So now the question is how. There are only 2 resonable alterbatives:
1)Casinos
2) Income Tax
That's it.
You can't "cut alcohol and gas etc.. during a recession, enough people will not drive further during a recession to save enough to cover any cut. And you lose the revenue from every part of the state that is not on the border. That WILL cut tax revenue NOT raise it, that just creates a bigger hole.
Legalizaing pot should probably be done but cannot as it runs counter to federal law. They could "legalize" it for "medical" and then you could tax it or choose not to enforce the existing law but they could not outright legalize it, tax it and sell it like cigarettes unless the fed decided it would not enforce it's laws. Which it would so you need to change that on a federal level. Legalizing it and allowing it to be used in private residences ONLY should happen but ikely won't.
Again, when youm make it a "Democrat" thig or "Republican" thing your bias maked your opinion worthless.
Spending was higher under some Republican control, actual overall spending and tax per capita has not gone up at all.
The property tax drives business out as much as anything. The building I own had a 25% tax increase in property taxes last year. Property taxes raise rents, increase costs to build and keep busnesses uut. Since business has been taxed for YEARS in NH on profits you really think a capital gains tax deters business more than the property tax? Property tax is the #1 deterrant to openign a business, guaranteed unknown up to double digit tax increases every year is way scarier than a known tax at a known level.
- Kevin Svenconis, Derry NH

To Frank from York ME. You should be the last person to offer ideas as your state, which is the most taxed state in NE is worse off than NH. Maine is proposing cuts just like every other state, so how do you explain the rationale that NH would be better off by implementing broad based taxes?
- Alex K., Deering, NH

Relying on history from 20 years ago to justify their own stupidity today is laughable. I can hear it now, "Well, yes we raised taxes..but,but,but you did it too." How childish and stupid is that? Get rid of these clowns before this state is ruined.
- Jeff N., Nashua

Politicians in both parties have dirty hands here. They have all allowed people to grow more and more accustomed to living off the largesse of State and Local governments. Of course, since they don't have the political courage to reverse, or even slow the trend, they'll continue to pick our pockets, moth after month, year after year. And, every time you pull the lever for a Democrat, it will get even worse. Watch!
- gr chase, Exeter

how about cutting the welfare recipients who work for the state? governors pay, reps pay, congressman's pay, city and town workers, etc...

teachers, firemen, and police should not be cut as they actually provide a service; whereas, the "others" do not.

and why are they allowed to vote for pay raises, constantly? i think we should vote on how much they make. this will keep them working hard for the people instead of making the people work harder for them! bunch of criminals!
- scott, chichester

It's time to look at a sales or income tax. You can't cut enought services to balance your budget without hurting your neighbors. They are real needs out there.
- Frank, York Me

Thanks Rep. Eaton for confirming what we all know about how the NH Democratic party has run NH into the ground. As for gambling......at this point it makes sense. I favor one central location. a large Foxwoods style full-service casino.
- Jay Collins, Laconia

It is a dangerous thing to fill budget down falls with a projected take on slot machines at 'racecinos'. Have these senators not looked at what is going on in Vegas right now? Vegas is empty compared to a few years ago, casino takes are way down, Trump is strugling to unload a casino before his trump entertainment goes bankrupt and nobody is buying it. My point is that basically they're counting the chickens before they hatch and my bet is that there won't be half the $200 million in slot money they expect.

Now if we legalized cannabis and taxed it's sale and production modestly there is a good chance we'd be able to plug the budget holes and then some...

But hey it's okay for people to gamble away there kid's college funds or their mortgage money but we certainly can't let them smoke a little cannabis...
- John B, manchester

'New Taxshire'. I like it. Very appropriate. Thnk I'll have a bunch of bumper stickers printed up and spread them around.
- Bill, Tuftonboro

Rep. Kurk says Republicans "strayed from the right thing and raised an occasional tax." What BS! Republicans raised EIGHT taxes in one year during a recession because they were in the majority and had to assure the continued functioning of state government.

Now, 20 years later, Republicans find themselves in the minority and are using the opportunity to grandstand and claim that they would never raise taxes in a down economy. Good thing we have history to show that they're full of you-know-what.
- Dan, Manchester

The majority of the state voted in the democrats, and the dems I know are happy with the taxes increases. Also, many of the dems I know are from out of state and come from big tax and spend states. I doubt NH will ever go back to being fiscially consertative and responsible. We are no better than MA and other tax and spend and nanny states.
- Tim, Merrimack

It is amazing how this administration could spend us into this mess and the people vote him in a democrat majority to help compound the situation by raising our taxes to pay for their own gross spending programs. Then it tries to feed us gambling as the solution for their check book yet again. It's never a spending problem is it?

When people figure out that it's large government that is the problem and how self serving it is we may get New Hampshire back on track and creating private sector jobs rather than government that requires more and more taxes to pay for the raises and pension plans it creates.
- Deb, Derry

This is a perfect opportunity that should not be dismissed arbitrarily cut taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and gas, revenues would come from Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont residents seeking relief in New Hampshire from tax increases in their own states.
- jim, Brentwood

Rep. Eaton truley let the cat out of the bag for the Democrats. They figure out what they want and then decide how to squeeze it out of us. This was predicted when the election polls were pointing towards Democratic victory. We elected them and now we have to suffer the consequences. Simple solution is to throw the bums out next election.
- Bill, Whitefield

There is already over 500 million dollars in legal gambling annually in NH. Maine, Rhode Island, West Virginia and 35 other states allow slot machines and profit from them every year. Where we were once first we are now almost last. It is time to allow the racetracks to offer slots, it will create jobs and eliminate the need for most if not all of the new taxes and tax increases passed by the House.
- Rick Newman, Nottingham

Well I guess this is how the Democrats in Concord say thank you for re-electing them into office. By raising taxes in this downed economy it will make it harder for the state to build on revenues and thus be further in debt. It will also send a message to those who wish to establish a business here. "No new businesses in NH unless we can tax the heck out of you to cover our budget mess-up". Maybe Mr. Grentham from Derry has a good idea. Stop gambling and buying lotto tickets until they repeal the taxes in our state to a more manageable level.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

When are we all going to get up the courage to just, en masse, as one people, refuse to pay these taxes?

They can't arrest us all.
- Josh Grentham, Derry

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"NH jobless rate 6.2 percent, highest since '93"
boston.com - April 13, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. --Unemployment in New Hampshire reached 6.2 percent in March, the highest since mid-1993.

The rate is up a half-point from February and 2.5 percentage points from last March.

In numbers, nearly 46,000 people were out of work in the state last month. That's 3,500 more than in February, and a whopping 18,000 more than in March 2008.

State labor economist Annette (ah-NET-uh) Nielsen says most of the increase in the past year has come in the last three months.

The national jobless rate for March was 8.5 percent.

The state figures came out Monday, four days after about 10,000 job-seekers swamped a statewide job fair in Manchester. The fair had to cut off admissions after only two hours.

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"Three picked for top state jobs"
The NH Union Leader Online, Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Concord – Gov. John Lynch will nominate commissioners for the departments of Education and Employment Security and a new adjutant general for the National Guard at tomorrow's Governor and Council meeting.

According to a press release, Lynch has chosen Dr. Virginia Barry of Bridgewater as the next commissioner of education, state Rep. Tara Reardon of Concord as commissioner of employment security, and Brig. Gen. William Reddel of Londonderry as the next adjutant general.

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"NH May Cut Funerals For Old People Who Die Broke"
www.wmur.com - April 5, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. -- Add funerals to the list of expenses New Hampshire cities and towns may have to bear because of state budget cuts.

Gov. John Lynch and House lawmakers have proposed eliminating money to pay for the funerals of old people who die broke. The state budgeted $25,000 for the services last year. If the cut stands, municipalities will have to step in. They're required to pay funeral expenses -- burials or cremation -- for those on public assistance. Most towns pay funeral homes between $500 and $750 per funeral.

The state traditionally has paid for funerals for seniors enrolled in two public assistance programs, but the budget crunch has legislators and the governor proposing cuts that would have been unthinkable in other years.

The state Division of Family Assistance says it paid for 53 funerals over the last two years.

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"House panel's budget plan targeted by left and right"
By KEVIN LANDRIGAN, Staff Writer - klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com - The Nashua Telegraph (Online), Article published: April 7, 2009

CONCORD – The $11.5 billion, two-year state budget proposal from a House panel came under attack from the ideological right and left Monday.

State Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, said the House Finance Committee plan spreads the pain among those who rely on the state for help, those who deliver services and state taxpayers who pay for both.

"These are dark days," Smith told a briefing of lawmakers in advance of a House vote Wednesday on the budget (HB 1) and its massive, trailer bill that makes necessary changes in state law (HB 2).

"No one is happy except for the fact we did the best that we could do."

But Rep. Jessie Osborne, D-Concord, said the budget unfairly cuts state grants to communities, would make current public employees pay more for their future pensions and raises health-care costs on all retirees.

"I think that is a lie, and I think we can do better," Osborne said.

"We are going to balance our budget on the backs of policemen, firefighters and state workers. They are the backbone of our government.''

Under the House budget plan, retirees younger than 65 over the next two years would pay a monthly health-care premium: 11.5 percent of their pension during 2010 and 12 percent in 2011.

Meanwhile, the House budget cuts the state's share of local school and county retirement costs from 35 percent now to 30 percent in 2010 and 25 percent in 2011.

All public employees for the next two years would pay more for their pension, including a 2 percent increase for state, local, school and county workers, to 7 percent of their salary, and a 1.7 percent increase for police officers and firefighters, to 11 percent.

House Republicans said they would offer an alternative budget that eliminates the need for new or higher taxes and keeps state aid promises to cities and towns through deep, across-the-board spending cuts for the next two years.

The GOP cuts for most state agencies equal more than 13 percent a year.

The largest such cut in recent history was 7.4 percent that House lawmakers endorsed during the real estate recession of the late 1980s.

The House budget proposal makes targeted cuts but would shave most annual state spending across the board less than 1 percent in 2010 and 2011.

"We are living in a recession, and in a time of recession, it is bad public policy to raise taxes," said Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare.

The House budget would impose a new 5 percent tax on capital gains of more than $5,000 a year, an 8 percent tax on estates worth more than $2 million and a 10 percent tax on gambling winnings greater than $600 at one time.

The House budget also would raise existing taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, hotel room rentals and restaurant meals and suspend for two years a planned cut in the insurance tax.

In state spending, the proposal of House budget writers would raise spending 3 percent over the next two years. The House GOP alternative would cut state spending 2 percent.

Rep. Pamela Price, R-Nashua, objects to the proposed House budget failing to maintain $50 million in revenue sharing grants to communities or $83 million in school building aid to school districts over 2010-11.

Rep. Dennis Reed, R-Franklin, asked House budget chairwoman Smith about a Sunday Telegraph report that Gov. John Lynch told a group of mayors last week he could support giving up to $20 million in revenue sharing to communities.

"The last indication I had from the governor's office was the governor had a number, several ideas on how to use the rest of the state stabilization money," Smith said.

"I had not heard this particular idea."

The House proposed budget identifies as spent in its budget but does not earmark what would be done with $73 million in federal stimulus grants out of deference to the governor, she added.

"We didn't want to use it for X and have the governor decide it will be for Y,'' Smith said.

Using it for revenue sharing grants is one of many options, she added.

"If we talk to any six people, there will be at least eight ideas on what to do with it," Smith said.
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Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com
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"Comparing the House, Lynch budget proposals"
The Nashua Telegraph (Online) – KEVIN LANDRIGAN - Article published: April 8, 2009

The following compares the state budget for the two-year period that begins July 1 that Gov. John Lynch proposed in February and the proposal of the House Finance Committee that comes up for debate later today. The alternative plans of House Republicans would keep state aid promises and eliminate the need for new or higher taxes but cut spending more than $324 million, or 13 percent, across the board for each of the next two years. In all cases, "House" refers to the Democratically led Finance Committee recommendations and not the GOP proposals.

TOTAL SPENDING

Lynch: $11.3 billion, 11 percent over current spending and fueled by more than 20 percent increase in federal grants.

House: $11.5 billion, a 14 percent increase.

STATE SPENDING

Lynch: This plan spends $3 billion in state dollars, $40 million less than the present budget but that does not account for moving $90 million in spending on liquor state operations off budget into an enterprise fund.

House: This version totals $3.1 billion or about $85 million or 3 percent above current spending after accounting for deep budget cuts during the past year.

EDUCATION AID

Lynch: This pays for a $123 million increase over the next two years in the Education Trust Fund that's separate from the state General Fund budget.

House: This plan pays for the increase in these grants as well.

FEDERAL STIMULUS/MEDICAID

Lynch: He would spend $232 million in one-time, federal Medicaid stimulus money over the next three years including $50 million he used to balance this year's state budget.

House: They estimate $221 million from this source and also use $50 million of it this year.

FEDERAL STIMULUS/EDUCATION

Lynch: The governor estimated the state would get $160 million and urged it be used to replace cuts elsewhere in state aid.

House: They accepted Lynch's recommendation a month after his budget to use the stimulus money to pay the education aid grant increase and then free up enough money to restore $117 million in cuts Lynch had first made in grants to cities and towns from the state's tax on meals and rooms. House budget writers estimate there remain $73 million in federal stimulus grants Lynch has not chosen to spend.

REVENUE SHARING

Lynch: His budget did not include any of these $50 million in these aid grants to communities.

House: Same as Lynch.

SCHOOL BUILDING AID

Lynch: Would issue state-backed bonds to cover $83 million in payments for local school construction projects.

House: Rejected bonding scheme and school building aid is not paid for in their plan.

NEW TAXES

Lynch: None

House: Would impose a 5 percent tax on capital gains of more than $5,000 a year with a $250,000 exemption for those who sell their primary home and an 8 percent tax on estates worth more than $2 million.

ECONOMIC FORECAST

Lynch: The governor assumes existing state revenues will continue to be hurt by the recession estimates no growth in the state tax base.

House: Their projects are that money from existing taxes will come in $138 million lower than Lynch's estimate.

RETIREMENT SHARE

Lynch: He would reduce the state share of what gets paid for local retiree health care costs to 30 percent in each year compared to the current, 35 percent reimbursement.

House: This budget cuts the state commitment further to 30 percent in 2010 and 25 percent in 2011.

TOBACCO TAX

Lynch: He proposed the fourth increase in the tax on cigarettes in five years, up another 35 cents to $1.68 per pack; the tax was 52 cents when Lynch took office.

House: Same as the Lynch but they increase the tax on smokeless tobacco and cheap cigars to 49 percent of the wholesale price from 19 percent. Handmade cigars wholesaling for at least $2 would continued to be exempt from all state taxes.

ROOM AND MEALS TAX

Lynch: This would raise the levy on hotel rentals and meals from 8-to-8.75 percent, raising $20 million a year.

House: Same as Lynch

GAMBLING TAX

Lynch: He proposed a new, 10 percent tax on anyone who wins more than $600 in any state at a casino, bingo, charity gaming or state-regulated poker tournaments.

House: Same as Lynch

TURNPIKE TOLLS

Lynch: he would raise the toll from $1 to $1.50 at Bedford and Hooksett and $1.50 to $2 at Hampton to pay for open-road tolling that lets motorists drive the speed limit without even slowing down. The money also finances the merger of stretches of federal interstate highway so toll money rather than gasoline tax revenue would pay to maintain them.

House: Only adopt the Hampton toll increase and instead would raise the gas tax 15 cents a gallon over three years and by 15 cents over nine years for trucks and cars that use diesel fuel.

E-ZPASS

Lynch: His budget gets rid of 30 percent discount those who have E-ZPass and in the state would cap at $30 monthly the charge against the owner of any car or truck with an E-ZPass transponder. For example, the $30 cap would kick in for those making more than 40 monthly trips through a tollbooth at Hooksett or Bedford.

House: House killed E-ZPass bill and budget makes no change.

CAR/TRUCK REGISTRATIONS

Lynch: He would increase the annual fee $10 surcharge to shore up the state's ailing Highway Fund. The state increase the same fee $6 last year.

House: Took the fee increase out.

NASHUA WELCOME CENTER

Lynch: The two-year public works budget includes $1.2 million to add a motor vehicle substation to the Welcome Center in Nashua off Exit 6 of the F.E. Everett Turnpike.

House: The House's own public works budget includes money for the welcome center and to build a bus terminal at the Exit 8 Park n' Ride lot so those riding Nashua-to-Boston buses would only board there and not at Exit 6.

LAYOFFS

Lynch: This plan gets rid of up to 300 state jobs, half of them in the Department of Health and Services, 90 in the state prison and 45 by closing the Tobey School for troubled juveniles. He also sought to get rid of bumping rights that let senior workers who get axed to drop into someone else's job below them.

House: Restored the jobs of 24 prison guards by cutting overtime account and the jobs at Tobey School for one year while lawmakers study its future.

HUMAN SERVICES CUTS

Lynch: He would eliminate a Catastrophic Illness program to treat targeted debilitating diseases, no money for cancer prevention program and end direct medical education payments to train interns at private hospitals including one in Nashua. He did not change eligibility for Medicaid as the state if it chose that route would lose three-fourths of the federal stimulus grants but eliminates coverage for chiropractic and podiatric care.

House: Restored catastrophic illness, gives cancer prevention $2 million but agrees with Lynch on medical education and Medicaid services. Also changed Lynch budget to keep those on public assistance from losing some or their entire grant if they have a family member who also gets disability payments under Social Security. The House then reduced by $5 million its estimate for spending on public assistance.

FOUND MONEY

Lynch: He found and would use for his spending in the budget $110 million in surpluses for the Joint Underwriting Association, a quasi-public entity set up to be a medical malpractice insurer of last resort. Nearly half of that, $50 million, would be used to close this year's budget gap.

House: Same as Lynch:

PRISONS

Lynch: He would close the 300-bed prison in Laconia, more quickly deport non-violent, illegal immigrants and place in home confinement rather than in prison beds habitual motor vehicle offenders as long as they aren't drunk drivers. A converted gym at the Berlin prison would take 100 of the Laconia inmates.

House: Same as Lynch.

JUDICIARY

Lynch: Would close district courts in Milford, Hillsborough, New London, Plaistow, Claremont, Hooksett, Keene and Colebrook. Cases would be moved to neighboring courts so Milford's docket would be heard in Merrimack District Court. He cut the spending request of the judiciary by $27.3 million.

House: Their plan keeps Milford, Colebrook and Claremont courts open to study for a year whether it's feasible to do that and keeps Hooksett court open permanently. They added $8 million to what Lynch would spend on the judicial branch.

LIQUOR

Lynch: Would close 16 to 19, poor-performing stores, replacing many if private developers come forward to open their own. The stores aren't named but the 10 with the smallest profit were in Center Harbor, Whitefield, Groveton, Fitzwilliam, Jaffrey, Lancaster, Seabrook Pittsfield, Berlin and Colebrook. The liquor agency wanted to be able to sell beer in state stores and liquor in selected supermarkets.

House: Approved store closing language but let the commission only open three privately-run agency stores over next two years. Let liquor agency sell alcohol-related sundries in state stores but not beer or liquor in any supermarkets.

WELCOME CENTERS

Lynch: Wants New Hampshire to join most states that lease their rest area space to food and small retail vendors. The state would also close underused rest areas.

House: Approved private lease option but did not close rest any rest areas.

RETIREES

Lynch: He would scale back their generous health insurance coverage to what active state employees now get and make those under 65 pay a $100 per month premium for future insurance.

House: Changed the new, health premium for retirees under 65 to 11.5 percent of their pension each month in 2010 and 12 percent of their pension in 2011.

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"State House Dome: Unemployment insurance tax on the rise again"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, April 19, 2009

EMPLOYERS, get ready for more bad news. Unemployment insurance taxes are going up again.

The Department of Employment Security is looking at options under its emergency powers to insure the solvency of the state's unemployment trust fund.

The trust fund stood at $96.7 million on Wednesday, down from $200.7 million in September. Deputy Commissioner Darrell Gates said the fund is paying out benefits of $6 million a week. Quarterly employer payments due by May 2 should be in the $50 million range.

When the fund is flush, at $225 million or more, many employers get discounts on their tax payments. The DES eliminated discounts in March. Now it's getting ready to bump up the rate for all employers by a half-percent. The only question is when, Gates said.

"Based on the current rate of payments, if we don't do anything the trust fund will be in deficit sometime in the first quarter of 2010," he said. "We don't want to do anything drastic, but we are definitely recommending action."

The state got $10.6 million in federal stimulus money last week, and Senate Bill 144 could qualify the state for $20 million more in federal funds.

"There was a point during the year that we thought that would keep us afloat," Gates said. Not anymore.

"The balance is definitely going down faster now just because of the sheer number of individuals applying for and qualifying for benefits," he said.

The state can rely on the federal government to front the money it needs, but then employers will lose their federal discounts. It can also choose combination of state and federal options, Gates said.

Gov. John Lynch nominated Rep. Tara Reardon of Concord to take the helm as commissioner, succeeding Richard Brothers.

Reardon's nomination has some Republicans licking their chops. They see a chance to pick up a seat in Concord, of all places, during a special election. They're thinking former Rep. Jim MacKay could jump in and win a special election in Reardon's district.

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DON'T CALL HIM MR. MAYOR: Sen. Lou D'Allesandro wants retired state workers to know exactly what changes the Legislative Fiscal Committee made to their health benefits. He said he's getting letters that show that some of the 10,400 retirees are misinformed about the details.

D'Allesandro will bring in Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon and Monica Ciolfi, risk and benefits administrator, to Fiscal's May 15 meeting.

The change the committee approved in March put retired state workers onto the same prescription plan that active workers use. That raised the cost of prescriptions, and increased their maximum out-of-pocket expense to $500 for an individual, $1,000 for a family. Current policy limits their cost to $180.

D'Allesandro wants to make it clear, by the way, he's not running for Mayor of Manchester.

He said Gov. Lynch asked him if he wanted the job Tuesday, after Mayor Frank Guinta said he would not run again. He's been getting calls ever since.

"Let's get that off the plate. The answer is 'No.' I'm happy in the Senate, I love the Senate and the Senate is where I'm going to stay," D'Allesandro said.

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BIRD-DOGGING STIMULUS PAY: The AFL-CIO is keeping a close eye on how stimulus money is spent, not so much on asphalt and concrete, but on wages and benefits.

President Mark MacKenzie filed a right-to-know request with the Department of Transportation on nine projects awarded so far. He plans to check on compliance with federal Davis-Bacon Act rules, which require payment of prevailing wages, as well as other requirements the stimulus law put in place.

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MASS. ROMANCES GAMBLING: The gambling debate is going to make a lot of noise in Massachusetts this fall.

What noise? Try, "Ka-ching." That's what Mass. Senate President Therese Murray called out as she pulled on an imaginary slot machine handle at a Boston business gathering.

With a projected $3.5 billion deficit, "We need the revenue," Murray said, as quoted in the Boston daily papers. House Speaker Robert DeLeo is on the record as open to casinos and expanded gaming, and repeated his stance last week.

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BE VERY QUIET: Some conservatives want to oust House Minority Leader Rep. Sherman Packard. They won't talk about it publicly, but they feel he's losing the battle with Democrats.

In the past, unhappy Republicans made runs at ousting Doug Scamman from his House Speaker's post and Mike Whalley from his minority leader position. The efforts went nowhere.

Packard said he's aware of this move, but didn't sound worried.

"I plan on remaining minority leader through the end of this session, and hopefully being Speaker two years from now,"he said.

Deputy minority leader David Hess said the problem is with "the same small group. I'll be very surprised if this goes very far.

"Some people don't realize yet that we don't control the agenda as a minority," he said. "Unless we are somewhat diplomatic, we are not going to win the 26 Democratic votes we need to win a fight."

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WHERE'S THE DEATH CHAMBER?: No, the state doesn't have an execution chamber, and doesn't plan to build one soon. It has a draft of a plan in case it's needed, but it's not in the Department of Corrections six-year capital budget plan.

DOC spokesman Jeff Lyons said officials check with the Attorney General's Office on issues around the death sentence imposed on Michael Addison in the murder of Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs. They are also watching the death-penalty repeal bill.

But right now, "We do not have a death chamber, nor do we have a death row. We have a maximum security unit where Michael Addison is housed, separate from other offenders,"Lyons said.

The expected bill for trial transcripts in Addison's appeal, by the way, is expected to hit $75,000.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief for New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Dorothy? Have you found Toto yet? The State controls vehicle registration fees, not Bush, not Obama, not Congress...yet that is.

Just so you know, the Iraq war wasn't illegal, Congress and the UN authorized. Check your facts, while you're looking for your ruby red slippers.
- Melvin, Keene

To Deb in Derry: We all made career choices. Yours involved the private sector and all it had to offer. In nearly all years of your private sector career, you reaped a greater total compensation package than those who chose the alternative in public sector work. Your anger towards the public sector workers' pension is sour grapes of the worst possible kind. You paid less for the services they delivered over their entire careers. Now you don't want to pay them what you still owe them. That's garbage! The private sector's loss of decent pensions is the bi-product of a "show me the money" society -- workers were fooled into thinking the upfront cash was the most important thing to consider in compensation. It was not. Don't fault public workers for being the "turtles" in the race for total compensation -- no one forced you to be the "hare." Last point: those very public workers that irritate you so much are the very ones that are supporting a nationwide effort for decent and affordable healthcare and wages, and to even the playing field between employers and employees again. So hopefully someday, a majority of workers will have a decent total compensation package sooner rather than later. The sad part is that you probably didn't even know that we've been on this path for several years -- long before the bottom fell out from underneath the private sector. We saw the writing on the wall Deb...and we are fighting for you!
- Diana, Belmont

I've always thought it nice of our elected officials to hand out pensions for state workers as if they are more important than the average citizen. While my taxes constantly go up and the prospect that social security, which I started paying into at the age of thirteen will not be there for me, because of these same tax and spend politicians who's idea of management is to take from Peter to pay Paul, I ask myself why state workers get a pension for twenty years work or less and I grow poorer trying to support the promises of politicians and might get nothing after forty five years of labor and taxes?

It’s obvious those who play the class warfare game do not care about working slobs like my self. Then they punish the same businesses I depend on for work and wonder why so many people are out of work. I swear I’ve witnessed the dumbing down of American society the last few decades.
- Deb, Derry

Dorothy, what does the Iraq war or George Bush, (who so far as I know, lives in Texas) have to do with an out-of-control, capital formation, business development and growth economy clueless Democrat Majority in Concord only interested in expanding government and raising and creating any and every form of tax or fee possible to fund irresponsible government excess? Thanks to the NH House, say hello just this last legislative session to a new capital gains tax and death tax for New Hampshire for example.
- Paul Mirski, Enfield Center

"Just got my bill to register my Ford for this year.... Yikes! Thanks Tax and Spend Democrats who have no fiscal restraint." -- Yeah, it was free before Obama got elected. Oh, and the illegal war Bush started was free too, no tax dollars spent there. You have a clear grasp of reality.
- Dorothy, Concord

To TOM FAHEY: Your initial statement is a good fact rather than your implied bad thing as it assures workers and their families a bit of income while between jobs. A job they lost due to factors beyond their control. However, I'd like to know why you call the unemployment insurance premium a "tax" while not calling the new, selective income taxes on retirees and other public sector workers by their rightful name -- an income tax? Both new taxes are based on income. Is it because your newspaper has a disdain for workers in general and public sector workers and retirees in particular?
- Gary L. Kerr, Chichester

Just got my bill to register my Ford for this year.... Yikes! Thanks Tax and Spend Democrats who have no fiscal restraint.
- Andy, milford

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"New Hampshire's revenue picture remains bleak"
By NORMA LOVE, Associated Press, 4.21.2009

New Hampshire's April business tax revenues are not showing any rebound from the recession as lawmakers had hoped to see as they contend with a projected budget shortfall of at least $550 million.

Revenue Commissioner Kevin Clougherty told Senate legislators Tuesday that business tax receipts so far were 17 percent behind collections for the same time last April. Clougherty said he expects more tax returns will be filed before the end of the month, but doesn't anticipate a big turnaround in the state's tax income or the economy overall.

April is one of the state's best months for business tax collections, which produce nearly one-quarter of New Hampshire's general tax revenue. The Senate Finance and Ways and Means committees will study the month's receipts before producing a revenue forecast and the Senate version of the state's two-year budget, beginning July 1.

Earlier this month, the House passed an $11.5 billion budget based on spending cuts, federal stimulus money, new taxes and increases in existing taxes. During debate in the House, Finance Chairwoman Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, said she hoped the Senate would improve the House version after lawmakers have additional information on tax receipts.

"We've anticipated a small amount of relief in the second year," House Ways and Means Chairwoman Susan Almy, D-Lebanon, told committee members Tuesday. "No one is looking for a major boom time."

Senate Ways and Means Chairman Bob Odell, R-Lempster, said he wanted to set the revenue forecast May 5 after the remaining receipts from April are tallied.

In the past, the Senate has bumped up its forecast after getting the later, and better, revenue reports. The Senate then was able to either drop taxes adopted by the House as part of its budget package or spend more on programs. But this year, the revenue picture could change that scenario.

Kristyn Van Ostern, the governor's budget director, said Tuesday that Gov. John Lynch was dropping his revenue forecast by $100 million from the figure he presented Feb. 12 to the Legislature. But the revised estimate would still be $38 million higher than the House figure.

The House adopted most of Lynch's revenue and spending proposals, but its $11.5 billion budget proposal includes $138 million less in general tax revenue than Lynch originally counted on coming in. Also, to address the shortfall predicted by the governor's office, the House adopted new taxes on capital gains and estates. Neither tax is gaining much traction in the Senate and the governor also does not like them.

Senate Finance Chairman Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, would like to legalize video lottery, but support in the Senate is uncertain. The House has already killed similar proposals this year.

The difficulty of finding money was evident when D'Allesandro asked Almy why the House included $16 million of iffy tax receipts from a new tax on gambling winnings when her committee had rejected the figure as nearly impossible to collect.

"We didn't," replied Almy.

"Who did?" asked D'Allesandro.

"Finance," replied Almy, referring to the House committee that developed the chamber's version of the budget.

The gambling tax most likely will be one of the things cut from the Senate budget if senators cannot do what the House failed to do - figure out how to get gamblers to pay up.

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"NH demographic change shows in Legislature votes"
By Norma Love, Associated Press Writer, May 3, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. -- The New Hampshire Senate showed itself to be less liberal than the state House, yet voted to let gays marry and people with debilitating illnesses smoke marijuana if they'll benefit.

Last week's vote was a historic change for a once reliably Republican and conservative state, but reflects New Hampshire's changing demographics as younger and more liberal, according to political scientists.

"Gay marriage is historic legislation. In that sense, it is a big deal," said Dante Scala, associate political science professor at the University of New Hampshire. "I think it is more a matter of the Legislature catching up with the public."

State GOP Chairman John H. Sununu believes the opposite is true: Neither gay marriage nor legalizing marijuana reflects New Hampshire's values.

"What has changed has been, if you will, the last two election cycles reflecting more of a national election than a state election," he said. "That allowed Democrats to take over and pass legislation that is not reflective of the state."

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 13-11 to legalize gay marriage by establishing a two-tier system of civil marriage and religious marriage. If it becomes law, New Hampshire would be the fifth state to allow gay marriage.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa allow gay marriage. California briefly allowed it last year, but a voter initiative in November repealed it.

In New Jersey, Gov. Jon Corzine has said he will sign a gay marriage bill if state lawmakers pass one that's been introduced. In New York, Gov. David Paterson is making another push to legalize gay marriage.

Maine legislators also are considering allowing gay marriage.

Two years ago, New Hampshire lawmakers passed, and the governor signed, a bill allowing civil unions. More than 600 New Hampshire couples have entered into civil unions since the law took effect.

Federal law does not recognize civil unions or same-sex marriages. Voters in 29 states have approved state constitutional amendments that ban gay marriage.

In March, the House rejected a measure that would have established civil and religious marriage licenses, though the proposal didn't define the difference. The Senate version goes into much greater detail about the distinction between the types of marriages.

The bill allows churches to decide to conduct religious marriages for same-sex couples. Civil marriages would be available to both heterosexual and same-sex couples.

Also in contrast to the House's version, the Senate's would allow each party to the marriage to be identified as bride, groom or spouse. Same-sex couples united by civil unions in the past year would automatically be assumed to have a "civil marriage" under the bill.

Andy Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, says the polling he has done for the last six years for the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition consistently finds a majority support gay marriage and about one-third oppose it.

Similarly, a survey center poll last month found 45 percent would be more likely to vote for a state Senate candidate who supported legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes -- which the Senate voted 14-10 to do, sending the measure back to the House.

Thirteen states now allow medical marijuana use. Federal drug agents have raided dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries, mainly in California. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that the Obama administration would end such raids.

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to send the two bills to Gov. John Lynch, who has not said if he will veto them.

Smith said he isn't surprised by the bills' passage because of changes in the state's demographics.

Younger voters grew up with gay characters on television and as celebrities.

"To them, it isn't a big deal," he said.

Second, as people move into the state and older, more conservative Republicans move out or die, the population has shifted to more liberal and more democratic, he said. New Hampshire also is less religious than many other states, he said.

Scala believes the demographic shift highlights the difficulties facing the Republican Party.

"The more the Republican Party is seen as the quote unquote 'religious party,' the more difficulties they are going to have in New England and in New Hampshire," he said.

Some Democrats could face tough re-election bids depending on the composition of their districts, say Smith and Scala.

Kevin Smith, executive director of conservative Cornerstone Policy Research, says conservatives will show their displeasure with Democrats at the ballot box.

"New Hampshire already has civil and religious marriages for heterosexual couples and to suggest that this is something new they've created is downright ridiculous," he said.

Senate Democratic Leader Maggie Hassan, the Exeter Democrat who led the gay marriage fight in the Senate, insists gay marriage is in keeping with New Hampshire's libertarian traditions.

"In the 'Live Free or Die' state, freedom should be available to every citizen who abides by our laws. If you don't have the same right to a civil marriage, you're not free," she said.

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"Massachusetts high court to hear tire sales tax case"
boston.com - May 3, 2009

BOSTON --A sales tax battle between a tire company and the state Department of Revenue is headed to the highest court in Massachusetts.

At issue is a claim that Town Fair Tire Centers sold tires in New Hampshire to customers who appeared to be from Massachusetts, but did not collect the 5 percent sales tax that would have been levied if the tires were sold in Town Fair's Massachusetts stores.

The company is appealing a ruling from the state's Tax Appellate Board, which agreed that the company should have collected $109,000 in Massachusetts sales taxes.

The Supreme Judicial Court is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday (May 7, 2009).

Some think the ruling could have a broad impact and force Massachusetts residents to pay their state's tax on everything they buy in tax-free New Hampshire.

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"State House Dome: Will Lynch follow Reynolds?"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, May 3, 2009

BRIDE, GROOM OR SPOUSE: All you need to know about the Senate’s version of the same-sex marriage bill is in three lines on its first page:

“Equal access to marriage. Marriage is the legally recognized union of two people. Any person who otherwise meets the eligibility requirements of this chapter may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender.”

The bill says each party in a marriage will be designated as a bride, groom or spouse.

After a Senate vote a week earlier, which recommended 3-2 that the bill be killed, the turnabout by Sen. Deborah Reynolds was a surprise.

Reynolds, who earlier had said New Hampshire wasn’t ready for gay marriage, said talks with voters in her district convinced her that the state was ready after all.

An amendment that Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan helped work out on Tuesday night addresses some concerns that opponents of the bill have raised, Reynolds said. “It affirms the religious sanctity of marriage, provides continued use of the terms ‘bride’ and ‘groom,’ and makes civil marriage available for all.

“This is a compromise which addresses the majority of concerns raised by my constituents, and I believe they are satisfied with those compromises.”

What followed was a 13-11 vote to pass the measure that only days before looked like it was headed to defeat.

Hassan said later that the Senate version was meant as a kind of outreach to voters.

Kevin Smith, executive director of Cornerstone Policy Research-Action, would hear none of it.

Using the word compromise, he said, “is an insult to the intelligence of the majority of New Hampshire citizens who oppose same-sex marriage. New Hampshire already has civil and religious marriages for heterosexual couples and to suggest that this is something new they’ve created is downright ridiculous.” Smith added: “The bottom-line is that this amendment did not change the bill’s intent, which legalizes same-sex ‘marriage.’ ”

Hassan said there was no arm-twisting in the Democratic caucus to get the bill over the threshold.

“We worked really hard in our caucus to let each member reach their own decision, because this was a real matter of conscience,” she said.

LYNCH IN A PICKLE: This all leaves Gov. John Lynch in a funny spot. Two weeks ago he said he thought the word marriage should be reserved for a union between a man and a woman. Now he’s got a bill coming to his desk that would open it to same-sex couples.

Lynch said after the bill passed he knows the issue “is intensely passionate and personal, and raises strong emotions on all sides.” He repeated his view that the crux has to do with providing the rights and protections to same-sex couples that heterosexual couples have.

“This was accomplished through the passage of the civil unions law two years ago,” he said.

His statement sidestepped the argument by HB 436 proponents that separate treatment can never be equal. He said that with civil unions in place here, the real next chance at progress will have to come with changes to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies all federal benefits to same-sex couples.

Calls that flooded the state Senate offices have dropped off. Now, Lynch staffers say, “tons and tons and tons” of calls are going to the governor’s office. Not to mention roughly 1,000 e-mails on one day alone last week.

Actually, the bill goes back to the House for a vote on whether to accept the Senate changes. If the House does, Lynch’s desk is the next stop. If the House doesn’t, we go to a committee of conference first.

You’d think that Rep. Jim Splaine would have been basking in the turn of events as they unfolded Wednesday. He’s the prime sponsor of the bill.

But as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he had been assigned to address the House on the constitutional amendment that would extend a governor’s term to four years.

The bill came up in the House at the same time gay marriage was being debated in the Senate.

He said he had trouble concentrating, reading his remarks but not making the kind of eye contact he usually has with other House members. “My mind was not on that. My mind was on the other side of the wall,” he said.

Splaine said he hopes Lynch “takes the time necessary to look the bill over and realize it’s a good thing for New Hampshire to do.”

CHINOOK VOTE WEDNESDAY: It looks like New Hampshire is about to get its official state dog.

The House Environment and Agriculture Committee voted unanimously last week to endorse a bill that designates the Chinook for the honor. Bedford seventh graders from Ross A. Lurgio Middle School brought the bill forward, and won quick support from Sen. Sheila Roberge, who represents their town.

The bill, SB 13, is the first one up for a vote in the House on Wednesday, so the kids can watch House members vote and then get back to school. The Chinook is a breed of working dog that originated in New Hampshire in 1917 for use as a sled dog.

TAXING MEDICAL POT: With revenues that are off by $232 million so far this fiscal year, New Hampshire could look to California for a new idea. If we adopt the medical marijuana bill, that is.

The Oakland, Calif., city council last week voted to impose a 1.8 percent tax on sales of medical marijuana. The tax, in addition to an existing sales tax, would raise up to $1 million for the city which faces, oddly enough, an $83 million shortfall.

That’s exactly the amount of money that Gov. Lynch wanted to bond to cover school building aid, but the House budget left unfilled. The Senate is working now on ways to fill that hole in the budget it is crafting.

Lynch was harsher in his assessment of the marijuana bill, HB 648, than he was on gay marriage, expressing “very serious reservations” about its impact on drug law enforcement.Having patients grow marijuana in their own homes, or their caregivers’, is not the answer to his worries, he said.

“If marijuana is to be used as other prescription drugs, its production and distribution needs to be tightly controlled, just as it is for other prescription drugs,” he said. The Senate version of the bill includes a study of distribution solutions, but that may not be enough to satisfy the governor.

House sponsors Reps. Evalyn Merrick and Trinka Russell have plans to meet with Lynch this week.

SEA BACKS UNPAID FURLOUGHS: State workers are offering to take unpaid furloughs as part of their negotiations on a new two-year contract.

The State Employees Association said in its newsletter that its Bargaining Senate endorsed the idea, along with other goals SEA seeks in talks now in progress.

Workers want a change in the stepped-increase system to include smaller, annual steps up the pay ladder and add more flexibility to the benefits package.

There are also a couple of responses to changes the Lynch budget called for, such as elimination of bumping rights, which SEA now wants written into its collective bargaining agreement, and a guarantee of retiree health benefits.

There’s also a proposal that would end the hiring of retired state workers on pensions, to make sure new sources of income feed the retirement system.
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Tom Fahey is the State House bureau chief for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Steve from Manchester, please turn off Fox News. The people who are as incensed as you are by these fringe social issues are already voters, and there just weren't enough of you last time around. Face facts. As long as the Republicans remain the party of Rush Limbaugh, carrying on until they're blue in the face about the coming revolution, they are doomed to wallow in the minority. Gay marriage (or some modified version thereof) is coming, but the good news is it really isn't going to effect you if you don't want to marry another dude. Live and let live.
- John, Manchester

Well if Sen. Deborah Reynolds changed her mind from talking with the voters then maybe our elected officials would have no problem putting gay marriage on the ballot for the voters to decide, unless of course the truth might be something other than what we are being told. Or do we need to go out and get the signatures to put it on the ballot so our legislators can ignore them like the Massachusetts legislators did to the people there?
- Deb, Derry

The same people who oppose marriage equality would have been the same people who would have opposed interracial marriage equality when it once was illegal in 49 sates (NH being the only state that did not have that law.) The NH legislature continues to have vision and sends a proud tradition to the govenor.

Greg Barrett
- Greg Barrett, Manchester

The Governor will do the right thing and veto this legislation. He is a man of conscience and knows in his heart that gay marriage is wrong.
- David Rosman, Bow

Gay marriage is dead in New York, despite Democratic control in a state that still does not even have no-fault divorces. Eighteen million people are not wrong on this issue. In New Jersey, hard-core activists are suspiciously silent in the face of the embattled re-election campaign of failed governor Corzine. That's another eight mil
lion. Lonegan will surprise a lot of people.

And in Iowa, there is a hard, committed, and determined push to put the question to the voters in 2012, who have the ultimate say on the issue despite the dictatorial efforts of seven determined judges.

DADT is also dead. The first-hundred-day hard push has come up empty.

So who has the momentum? The pendulum is actually swinging hard against gay marriage, despite the spin of the minor victories. If you choose this fight, then bring it on.

The force-out of Senator Specter was just a taste of what's coming, and we're getting fired up. The troops are coming to rally. New England will not be forsaken, ignore us at your peril.
- Steve, Manch

So by that you imply because they might divorce gay people should not be allowed to marry? Have you seen what the divorce rate is for people already marrying and remarrying. They deserve they same rights as every other citizen and to continue to discriminate against them based on their sexual orientatation is appaling.
- Justin, manchester

If divorce rate was a factor, all marriage would be outlawed!

As a conservative, the idea of homosexual unions is difficult to accept but I guess I'm coming around to allow civil rights to couples of any combination. I still have a problem with the term "marriage" being used by homosexual couples.

But, if we are going ahead with this idea, why discriminate between two brothers wanting to get "married"? Father and son? Mother and daughter? Grandmother and granddaughter? These are specifically excluded from the bill. Why? There will be no children produced by these unions. Why the exclusion?

For that matter, why not allow a brother and sister to "marry" if they have a doctor's note that one has been sterilized? No possibility of children from that union. Why the exclusion?

Isn't the whole idea to eliminate discrimination? Or is it?
- Mike, Manchester

Take government out of marriage and the taxpayer cost is zero.
- George O., Berlin

Hey Bill from Bow, Massachusetts has had gay marriage for over 5 years and continues to have the lowest divorce rate in the country. That should answer your question.
- Richard, Manchester

The institution of marriage has been around a long time. How can anyone now pretend that it is for two people of any gender? I am surprised how little attention has been paid to the costs that will be associated with this frivolous nonsense in years to come. Does anyone really think that there will be no divorces from gay "marriages"? Just how this will play out is anybody's guess. I think NH should wait and see what the divorce rate is in states where this gay "marriage" is presently legal. This will give NH time to consider how much in additional funding and resources the NH taxpayer will have to spend to arbitrate the divorces of gay couples in our already over-taxed court system.
- Bill E., Bow

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"Lynch's decision: Marriage and the law"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, May 3, 2009

Gov. John Lynch has a tough decision to make. It’s a decision that ought to be easy. It is, in fact, a decision he already has reached in principle. But politics does funny things to principles.

The governor has to decide what to do with a bill that would end marriage as we know it in New Hampshire. The so-called gay marriage bill has passed the House and Senate. As soon as both chambers settle some minor differences, the bill will head to the governor’s desk. Then the fate of marriage in this state will rest wholly in his hands.

Gov. Lynch opposes changing the definition of marriage. He correctly notes that our civil unions law grants same-sex couples the same rights heterosexual couples have when married. So the only “discrimination” against gays remains in federal law, which does not recognize civil unions. Will the governor allow marriage to be irrevocably redefined under state law for no other reason than to allow same-sex partners access to each other’s Social Security checks?

That is not a logical position. If the governor believes federal law needs to be changed, he should lobby to have federal law changed. But he mustn’t undo marriage in New Hampshire on the flimsy excuse that Washington hasn’t — yet — recognized couples united in civil unions.

READERS' COMMENTS:

LET THE PEOPLE VOTE AND DECIDE !

This is an issue that is important to many people, and we should have laws that reflect the moral majority, whichever way that is. Put it to ballot ! This not a decision for Concord, it is a decision for the residents of NH !
- Andrew, Manchester

Gov Lynch, please Veto.

Call me a bigot, call me insensitive, call me intolerant. The central and only issue is that gay people want acceptance for their lifestyle and this will not happen even if this bill is passed. You cannot force me th think what you do is okay. Their lifestyle is based on actions. This makes it fundamentally differnat than the civil or women's rights movements. Yes they should not be harmed or threatened, but they are not the same and it is the actions on being gay - not genetics that make one gay - that make it different from the civil/women's rights. Legal or not, the actions are wrong - just as abortions are wrong. Yes they are legal, but that doesn't make me accept the actions.
- CJ, Manchester

The problem with gay marriage is simple. It does nothing to the meaning of my marriage with my wife before the eyes of God; it is not lessened or cheapened in any way. But, the word of God is clear about homosexuality. We’re not called to hate homosexuals or discriminate against them in any way, but that doesn’t mean we have to compromise our beliefs because our beliefs don’t conform to the world. The real tragedy is the children that will be brought up without a mother and father. The traditional family lays the foundation for what our children will become as they grow into adults.
- Peter Gattinella, Kingston

Doesn't the Union Leader prefer couples to marry if they are going to be sexually intimate? But they oppose marriage for gays - why?

Marriage, for gays, is exactly the kind of stabilizing influence it is for straight people. Opposing it is just selfish hypocrisy. Is it not preferable that young gay people have normalcy to look forward to instead of marginalization?

The Union Leader says nothing about easily obtained divorces for casually married straight people, it seems to me traditional marriage has it's own problems to overcome before claiming some sort of moral superiority.
- Tim, Dover

"If the UL feels civil unions are so equal to marriage, then why need call them different?

If the UL feels civil unions are so equal to marriage, walk a day in my shoes and see the difference in real time.

One cannot make the argument that something is the same and that is why they should be called something different" Could not agree more, and well said.
- Dorothy, Concord

RE: Ed Holdgate, Sandown, NH

Um, I never remember being taught about heterosexual marriage in the classroom. Shakespeare, Robert Frost, George Orwell, Walt Whitman, Franz Kafka, algebra, geometry, gym... cooking, sewing, shop... typing, history, geography, accounting, biology, health, chemistry (period table, not relationships)... I'm just not really seeing where they would teach hetro and and homosexual marriage? Are you proposing a new subject of study for school kids? Are you volunteering to take point? It seems like you've already found some literature for such a class!
- Jay, Nashua

Once gay marriage is forced into the law, all the necessary legal building blocks will be in place to force "equal time" teaching hetero- and homo-sexual marriage in the public school system,.

We shall soon see (if not already in use) first grade public school curriculums requiring books showing men kissing each other and marrying. "King and King" is just such a typical assault weapon used against children's sense of decency:

http://www.amazon.com/King-Linda-Haan/dp/1582460612/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241358738&sr=8-1

When all those little kids grow up with fractured values, you well know how they will vote. Whooooooosh! Down the slippery slope we go, and where it stops nobody knows. Such is the "change" you get when too many vote for liberal Democrats in sheep's clothing.
- Ed Holdgate, Sandown, NH

Two cheers for Yankee pragmatism on the issue of gay marriage. The state is not in the business of issuing baptismal certificates, nor should they be. Marriage along with baptism is considered a sacrament in churches. This is where people get hung up...most of the opposition is religious....people waving Bibles, quoting scripture in the state house...this makes a lot of us non-fundelmentalist folk uneasy. Let religion have its definition of marriage...let it take place in a church. But, for goodness sakes, let the state issue civil marriage certificates for those who do not ascribe to the religious definition of marriage. The state must provide for all of its people, regardless of religious affiliation. Good job, NH legislators!
- Cathy, Derry

If the UL feels civil unions are so equal to marriage, then why need call them different?

If the UL feels civil unions are so equal to marriage, walk a day in my shoes and see the difference in real time.

One cannot make the argument that something is the same and that is why they should be called something different.
- Diana, Belmont

If the UL feels civil unions are so equal to marriage, then why need call them different?

If the UL feels civil unions are so equal to marriage, walk a day in my shoes and see the difference in real time.

One cannot make the argument that something is the same and that is why they should be called something different.
- Diana, Belmont

Union Leader says: "Will the governor allow marriage to be irrevocably redefined under state law for no other reason than to allow same-sex partners access to each other’s Social Security checks?"

This is exactly the type of ignorance and dismissiveness that's driving the republican party into oblivion. I bet you've done Rush proud! I sure hope the NH republican party can get its head on straight before it disappears.

It's one thing to disagree with the marriage bill, but another to suggest that all it does is assure that social security checks can be cashed.

In writing such baloney, the Union Leader editorial board is either displaying a woeful ignorance or intentionally trying to deceive. Either way, it doesn't bode well for the health of NH's unique form of conservatism or for us having a voice going forward.
- Jim, Portsmouth

I recently read that one problem with Maine's marriage laws is the lack of recognition of the rights of significant others. If that's the case, then laws already on the books can be amended to address those issues - instead of rewriting the definition of marriage.
- R, Raymond

If you're against discrimination, then by all means don't discriminate. Did we "redefine" what a voter is when women were given the right to vote? No. Did we "redefine" marriage when black people were given the right to marry one another? No. When we allowed interracial marriage? No. Gay marriage does not redefine marriage, it just makes it more inclusive. The reason why gay people want to get married is because of what marriage is currently defined to be, so gay people would not want to enter into some sort of new lesser redefined form of marriage--that would be illogical. And that is exactly what a civil union is. It's the civil union that is the redefinition of marriage. So if you're against redefining marriage, let's get rid of civil unions and replace them with marriage. Finally, I have to say that I'm really surprised by this paper's continued anti-gay marriage stance. It cuts to the very core of Republican values that the government should not get involved in the personal lives of its citizens. "Live free or die." Yet, the UL continually calls for more, not less, government involvement because what it wants is the government standing at the end of the aisle directing couples to one line for marriages and another line for civil unions. If two people love one another and want to get married, there is no Republican value that says that at this point the government should step in with laws, laws, and more laws that say NO.
- Dom, Weare

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"State House Dome: Fence now a hot seat for Lynch"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, (Mother's Day:) Sunday, May 10, 2009

GOV. JOHN LYNCH soon will have to decide on gay marriage for New Hampshire.

On Friday, House Bill 436 arrived at the Secretary of State's office. It won't be long before it goes to Speaker of the House Terie Norelli and Senate President Sylvia Larsen for signature, and then to Lynch. He'll have five days to act or it becomes law without him.

Lynch said last week that his office is getting so many calls on gay marriage that others can't get through.

They come from both sides of the debate.

Mo Baxley of N.H. Freedom to Marry has dropped off more than 13,000 petitions, and more are on the way. "We've got a big weekend planned," she said.
NewSHDomesig_135px

The conservative Cornerstone Policy Research said last week that it polled every household in the state, and found 64 percent think marriage should be one man-one woman. A UNH Survey Center poll, funded by Baxley's group, found 55 percent of voters support gay marriage.

Lynch has long held that he opposes gay marriage, and he repeated last month that the word "marriage" should be reserved for a union of a man and woman.

He's always moved incrementally on the issue. He extended domestic partnership benefits to University System of New Hampshire workers when he was board chairman. During his 2006 campaign for governor, he said he did not favor gay marriage, but he also opposed a constitutional amendment that would ban it.

In December 2006, when a Concord Monitor poll found only 35 percent support for gay marriage, he urged careful study of a civil-unions bill. The bill passed quickly, and, in June 2007, he signed it.

Last week, Lynch distinguished between his personal feelings and his interest in making sure the law is right for the state.

After Norelli and Larsen sign, Lynch will have to come off the fence.

Given the volume of calls they've been handling, his staff will be glad when it's over.

Some Republican lawmakers were miffed when their voters called, accusing them of helping to pass the gay-marriage bill. The calls were prompted by the group Public Advocate for the United States, which urged voters to call those who were absent for the House vote in March and push them to attend last week.

Two had been hospitalized at the time, but got blamed anyway.

"We came into New Hampshire to punish and to encourage," Eugene Delgaudio, president of Public Advocate, said from his Virginia office last week. "Some people were very upset because everybody in their district knew they missed those votes. They're mad about that. Great. That was the intent."

Eight of 10 Republicans who missed the March vote were there last week, but the total of absent Republicans doubled to 20.

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TAX-CAP AMENDMENT: A bill making it easier for a city or town to replace its clerk has been rolling smoothly along.

Now Republicans want to add language to it that would allow communities to adopt the tax caps that a Merrimack County Superior Court judge has ruled are against state law and unconstitutional.

Mike Biundo, chairman of the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition, said the amendment would let any city charter carry a provision to cap municipal and school budgets as well as tax rates, and would allow a two-thirds vote to override the cap. It also gives cover to cities or towns that have tax caps in place, saying they will be considered valid.

The coalition lost on a request that the superior court reconsider its ruling, and is holding off on a state Supreme Court appeal until it sees how the amendment fares.

It's not likely to win at the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Betsi DeVries. As a Manchester alderman, she voted against putting a tax cap on November's ballot.

Senate Minority Leader Peter Bragdon said that if it has to, the GOP will bring it up on the Senate floor. "I'm trying to think why someone would be against it. Only reason I can think, is if we don't want people to control their taxes and spending," he said.

- - - - -

COMMERCE CONTROVERSY: Look this week for the resignation of Rep. Tara Reardon of Concord. The Executive Council last week confirmed her as the next commissioner of Employment Security. She spent her last day as chairman of the House Commerce Committee last week, and thanked members for their support.

Reardon got an early start in her new job, meeting with the unemployment trust advisory board last week.

Meanwhile, one Commerce member was steamed at the way the car dealer protection bill flew through the House process.

Rep. John Hunt spent nearly eight hours working on the bill, then left a few minutes before the final vote. For one thing, he was angry the House abandoned its usual slow and careful process of sifting through complex bills. He also objected to language that requires car makers who give cancellation notices to pay dealerships full reimbursement, plus markup, for cars they bought up to two years before they got their notice.

"They're getting back what the value of their business was a year ago. Boy, I'd love that," Hunt said.

Hunt wasn't the only one trying to slow things down.

Rep. Ronald Belanger said he didn't like "somebody trying to jam something down our throats."

A General Motors spokesman told the committee it had plenty of time. Notices would not take effect for 90 days, he said. Besides, GM's Jeffrey Perry added, the company had placed no significance on the May 11 date, when dealers fear cancellations will begin.

"I don't know where those dates come from," he said.

Right about then, Rep. Donna Schlachman pulled out a story from the Detroit Free Press reporting GM told dealers in a nationwide videoconference that cancellation notices to 1,000 shops or more would start going out this week. Oh, that.

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RETIREMENT REFORM: The Senate votes this week on a retirement reform bill to require police and firefighters hired after July 1 to work 25 years before qualifying for a full pension. The law now requires 20 years of work.

The Senate version of HB 590 drops a move to make public safety employees work to age 50, instead of the retirement age of 45 now in law. It also raises caps on disability pay the House passed.

The Senate also is expected to kill a House bill that excludes extra- and special-duty pay from being included in pension calculations.

David Lang, president of the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire, said the Senate version gives the House the longer work career it wanted to see, while maintaining recognition that firefighting and police work are dangerous.

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WHEN THE DOGS RUN: The Seabrook Greyhound Park comes to the Racing and Gaming Commission this week to adjust its fall racing schedule to make clear it won't be running dogs on Thanksgiving.

Track president Karen Keelan said the track originally planned summer racing. Last month, it moved races back into the fall, when a Massachusetts racing ban takes effect and more owners will want a place to race, she said.

A poll by the anti-racing Grey2K group released last week found 83 percent of New Hampshire residents think dog-race operators ought to be required to pay the costs of state regulation, which is roughly $400,000.

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PUBLIC TO PRIVATE SECTOR: Former state treasurer Michael Ablowich is heading a new office of Public Resource Advisory Group in Boston. The group has consulted on New Hampshire's bond sales since 1983, and signed its most recent long-term contact in 2006.

Current treasurer Catherine Provencher said the PRAG has been "an integral part of the process whenever we do a bond issue."

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NOT GIVING UP ON GAMING: Sen. Lou D'Allesandro and organized labor plan a 10 a.m. press conference tomorrow on what the senator said will be discussion of the "value of expanded gaming as an economy recovery and job creation package." The Senate back in March tabled his gambling bill that would bring slots to race tracks, but, D'Allesandro said, "it's got to be part of the mix."
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

"The conservative Cornerstone Policy Research said last week that it polled every household in the state..." What a crock of baloney. I didn't get a call, and neither did anyone I know.
- Ann Hebert, Dover, NH

>Why all of a sudden are people >comfortable letting one man decide an >issue based on his personal feelings?

It's called Separation of Powers. The Executive branch is co-equal to the Legislative and Judicial branches of government.

There is a system of Checks and Balances between the branches of government. If this "one man" does something that the vast majority of the legislature disagrees with, then they can override a veto.

Serena
- Serena, Manchester

Not much of a hot seat for the gov. Regardless of its merits, the vast majority of NH voters oppose gay marriage, so vetoing this bill is a no-brainer. Gay marriage advocates will be furious, but where are they gonna go in 2010? Recall that many liberals were livid in the late 90s when (then) Gov. Shaheen threatened to veto a broad-based tax bill, but they still came around and re-elected her in 2000. On the other hand, Lynch has depended on Republican votes for his huge victories in 2006 & 2008. If he signs the bill, they'll take a powder in 2010 -- maybe not enough to deny him a 4th term, but could boost GOP fortunes in the Senate and House big time. Gov. Lynch is a smart cookie -- so is GOP Chair John H. Sununu. He'll be watching.
- bill_o, manchester, nh

The most evil element of a Democracy, one that the Founders worried very much about, is "tyranny of the majority." The idea that if you had 100 citizens, of whom 60 felt a certain way, those 60 would be allowed to run roughshod over the 40, is completely un American. So your "majority says so" argument may be specious.

I don't know if marriage is a right, I am undecided, but of course if it were it would be protected, even if 99 of 100 wanted to deny it to one person.

I see it instead as a privacy issue, one person has no call to tell another who to marry, marriage being a union of two persons who wish to become, under the law, one.
- Kelvin, Tamworth

Our household was never polled by Cornerstone either.
- Larry, Manchester

I was polled by the Cornerstone group. It was not a live poll but an automated one and so slanted towards the conservative viewpoint that it was easy to say you were anti-gay marriage even if you were for it! A very misleading polling method designed to get the results they wanted.

Twenty years from now we and our children will wonder what the fuss was all about..
- Richard, Manchester

The real question about gay marriage for the governor isn’t about what is good for the people but rather what is best for his own political career. It has become the American way. The question will return every year till it is finally passed. Defining marriage as an institution solely between a man and a woman is a poor standard. Look at the divorce rate. It doesn’t seem to be working so well these days. And the Catholic Church has lost all creditability when it comes to setting morals to live by. The priests conduct with little boys almost bankrupt them off the face of the earth. Their prey wasn’t even of the opposite sex. It’s disgusting. Now they are preaching morals? They should try silence. It’s so nice to see the Catholic Church we were married in now a yarn shop. Pass the bill and move on. Gay people’s rights shouldn’t become a soap box to career enhancement.
- Rob, Conway

"The conservative Cornerstone Policy Research said last week that it polled every household in the state, and found 64 percent think marriage should be one man-one woman."

Great. I could get 64% of people to support killing puppies if I worded the question properly. What a bush-league attempt to counter the scicntific polling of UNH Survey Center, which is a credible polling organization that accurately predicts elections.

You know why Cornerstond didn't commission a real poll? It's not because they don't have the money, the NJ-based National Organization for Marriage has been pumping money into NH ever since it realized marriage equality actually had a chance in this state. It's because they know that a real poll was just conducted in April, and that the unfavorable results (to them) were unlikely to be reversed unless they did a push poll to get the results they wanted. What a joke.
- Dan, Manchester

I wonder how many people fall into the category of supporting gay unions because they believed what they were told about it giving the gay community the few legal rights they claimed they wanted and once it was passed the immediate push for gay marriage was started.

I supported civil unions only because I thought it cruel that gays could not visit partners in the hospital or have them as their legal gardians in a will. I also wanted the legal means for churches to protect themselves from law suits from the radicals who will most likely try to sue the churches if they do not agree to marry gays. Now I feel as if the whole thing was a lie and a ploy played on me by both the gay activists and the politicians to give them the inch they sought to take the whole mile.

I should have known better than to trust both groups of radicals that the words they spoke actually meant anything.
- Deb, Derry

The Dems said that after Civil Unions there would not be a push the next term for Gay Marriage. They lied.
And they were re-elected. That is OUR fault.
Check the voting for HB 436. If your reps were "not voting" look at the votes prior and after this 436. If they were voting - they "took a walk" and that is NOT representing you!
Too many Liberals and too many “amoeba Republicans” - time for some real changes.
bnyoung@metrocast.net
- Niel Young, Laconia

"The conservative Cornerstone Policy Research said last week that it polled every household in the state, and found 64 percent think marriage should be one man-one woman. "

The above quote is an outright lie. I was never contacted.
- WW, Manchester

A lot of us supported the civil unions bill because we thought that this would put this whole issue to rest. We passed the civil unions, and expected that would be the end of it. If we knew that it was just a stalking horse, and that the civil unions would be followed up immediately with a push for gay marriage, we would never have supported civil unions. If the Governor signs this bill, shame on John Lynch for misleading the public into supporting civil unions under false pretenses.
- Roger B, Bow

Will the NH AG Office please investigate Corner Stone now?

If they polled EVERY HOUSEHOLD in the State than they violated the DO NOT CALL LIST!

I am sick of groups that think they can come into NH and violate our privacy by making these un-solicited phone calls!

They admitted to breaking the law, please do something about it!


*** (Editor's note: Polling and political calls are exempt from the do-not-call law.) ***
- Robert, Dover, NH

Am I wrong, or didn't New Hampshire already decide to go forward with the Civil Unions law instead of calling it marriage? It seems that this was just a short time ago. Why is that law already passe, and why overwrite it so quickly? If this were any other issue, NH would take its time and study the effects of the first legislation. Why this hurry all of a sudden to pass an obviously flawed bill? And why is there no discussion about how NH already decided to accomodate the gay community with the Civil Unions bill? Hasn't it worked well? Governor Lynch, please veto this bill.
- Stephanie P, Canterbury

Governor Lynch has stated what he personally feels about marriage. If the legislative process puts a legitimate bill in front of him, he only has to decide if his personal views are whats is best for NH. I think our legislative process has its flaws, but why all of a sudden are people comfortable letting one man decide an issue based on his personal feelings? That is puzzling.
- Dorothy, Concord

With so many things happen for Gov. Lynch to read. On what to sign and what to veto.I say give him time to decide. But I would veto the gay marriage bill. Or is marriage heading down a road like the driver license where a 4 year you would paid to get your marriage renew? I still say God's Marriage is man + woman. But let remember there al ot of bills and other business in front of the governor that must be decide on. So get to the point when get a chance to talk to him do not beat around the brush, Because other want to tell their side of the coin.But remember anyone can make a mistake when they pass a bill or not. But there are more important issues going on the budget,education,taxes,jobs,healthcare,etc. So let get moving on all bills and be hung up on gay marriage and other issues.
- mo baxter, plymouth

It really amazes me that when Gov. Lynch was first elected he was truly bi-partisan, but that when he got a majority of Democtrats in the legislature for his second term, he went right along party lines.

And now once again, we have an issue where he has stated in the past he's against, and now that it's passed and on his desk.....not a word.

And you can forget about the Public Advocate for the United States. I never heard of them until I read this article, but I did make note of the voting record of our elected (at least the ones that I know by name) in the Manchester area.

It's amazing that so many that I thought would vote against the gay marriage bill, just happend to not be voting that day.

I know who I WON"T be voting for next time around. And should Gov. Lynch sign this one into law, or let it pass without doing anything, despite his stated ideals, I won't be voting for him again either.
- JM, Manchester

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"State House Dome: Lynch perched on gay-marriage fence"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, 5/17/2009

WHAT SHOULD be the final legislative votes on gay marriage will be cast this week.

The House and Senate have to pass language that Gov. John Lynch demanded last week, or watch the gay-marriage bill go down the tubes.

Lynch enhanced his image as an adept hair-splitter last week, being against and for gay marriage at the same time. He reminded reporters of his past stance against gay marriage, while stating the liberty and freedoms of gay adults hang in the balance. His promise to veto the bill unless it changes gives him some cover as protecting freedom of religion. If he ends up signing it, he'll be seen as standing against discrimination.

The most likely sequence this week will be a public hearing on Tuesday for the governor's amendment, followed by votes in the Senate and House on Wednesday.

If things move quickly, and past votes hold, the three bills that now make up the gay-marriage package could be on Lynch's desk before week's end. Ask car dealers how fast a bill can become law. Lynch signed their protection package within hours of passage earlier this month.

Lynch's demand is for clear immunity from civil lawsuits for individuals who work for religious groups, societies and other organizations if they refuse to take part in gay-marriage events, whether it involves providing space, services, counseling, housing, courses, retreats and the like, let alone officiating at a wedding.

Fraternal benefit societies could refuse to insure gay partners in Lynch's amendment, which also bars new civil unions starting Jan. 1, 2010.

State GOP chair John H. Sununu called Lynch's stance his "latest charade of trying to be seen on both sides of the gay marriage issue." "He said it's a"continuance of his style of just following the liberal Democratic leadership of House and Senate."

Democratic chair Ray Buckley took Sununu to task for remarking on a Manchester radio show that Lynch's changes are "trivial."

Buckley challenged Sununu to have his party vote for the changes, which he said go "a long way" to protect religious freedom.

"Do Republican leaders really want to be on record opposing protections for churches and clergy?" he asked.

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ROCKY ROAD TO PASSAGE: The gay-marriage concepts in HB 436 did not meet with instant success in the Legislature. The bill failed by a single vote, 183-182, on its first attempt in the House on March 26. It passed by seven votes on a second vote a half hour later, 186-179.

It passed the Senate by two votes, in an amended version, 13-11. While much of the wording was different from the House's, the intent was the same, and the House agreed to the changes last week by 11 votes, when 20 Republicans were absent. That's why activists on both sides of the issue are pushing lawmakers to make sure they attend this week's House session.

Changes to HB 310 that fixed oversights in the original bill passed 180-131, despite GOP complaints the public process had been short-circuited.

Pressure groups will keep up their work. Kevin Smith of Cornerstone Policy Research said he plans robo-calls to voters in three Senate districts this weekend: those of Sen. Deb Reynolds, Betsi DeVries and Lou D'Allesandro. Reynolds flipped from opposing to supporting gay marriage in a week's ' time, Smith said. D'Allesandro was the lone Democrat against gay marriage, but "we're looking to have his constituents ask him to please do the right thing again." "

Mo Baxley of N.H. Freedom to Marry said she's got more petitions for Lynch, bringing to 20,000 the total in support of gay marriage.

Smith said he can't believe this is all still going on.

"We're now on our fourth iteration, tacked onto a third bill to fix the original. If nothing else, it should tell someone this is a very poorly crafted bill to begin with and at the very least should have gone to a conference committee," he said.

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GOP OPPOSES GAY MARRIAGE: Conservative Republicans insist that gay marriage will threaten the state public pension system's tax-exempt status. They say same-sex marriage will run directly against the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Lynch said he is satisfied there is no need for concern.

Richard Ingram, New Hampshire Retirement System executive director, said the state addressed the issue when the civil-unions law took effect. State law defers to federal law if a conflict arises, he said, but reviews by in-house and outside legal counsel concluded the marriage bills avoid a conflict.

DOMA creates a few problems for beneficiaries. It limits NHRS medical subsidy payments to civil-union partners and lump sum payments upon the death of a member, Ingram said.

To be safe, he said, the Legislature protected NHRS tax exempt status in two places last year. It can always amend the laws again to account for gay marriage.

Calling the two protective clauses a belt-and-suspenders approach, he said the extra step is "nice to have, but not necessary." "

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AND THE WORK GOES ON: Meanwhile, work goes on to fund a budget for 2010-11.

D'Allesandro, Senate Finance chair, has only a few weeks to finish work on the Senate version of a two-year, $11 billion spending plan. Senate sentiment runs against the capital gains and estate tax ideas the House put in its budget plan.

D'Allesandro said he agrees with the House that the state should not bond its school building aid plan, meaning roughly $83 million has to come from general funds.

Pressure is building from pro-gambling groups who see their last chance at hand. Labor groups and track owners released new surveys showing support last week.

D'Allesandro said he plans to be at the State House today -- yes, Sunday -- to handle budget work. He took off yesterday to accept an honorary doctorate from Franklin Pierce University in Rindge. That's his second, after one that Daniel Webster College gave him about 10 years ago.

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PESSIMISTIC ON PENSION REFORM: Rep. Ken Hawkins, who filed a number of retirement reform bills, was discouraged last week. He said he'll urge the House to kill the last surviving piece of his proposals, which requires an extra five years of work for firefighters and police officers.

Hawkins' complaint is that the Senate boosted minimum pensions at the same time it killed a minimum retirement age of 50. A full pension after 25 years would be 62.5 percent of pay, compared to 50 percent of pay after 20 years now.

"I'm not even going to ask for a committee of conference, because this isn't going to go through. Why waste the time?" he asked.

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PINDELL ON POLITICS: Political reporter James Pindell will launch a new Web site, nhpoliticalreport.com, next month.

Pindell, who plans to stay on as a columnist at New Hampshire Magazine, has worked for PoliticsNH.com, the Boston Globe and launched 18 Web sites for Politicker.com.

"I am in love with the story of New Hampshire politics and once again I want to create a community for political junkies and the power elite," he said.

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STEPHEN'S SHAMROCK SCHOLARSHIPS: Bobby Stephen's Jobs for New Hampshire Graduates program, funded by his annual St. Patrick's Day feast, recently awarded $36,000 in scholarships to 22 high school students.

"These are disadvantaged kids who could never afford to go college on their own," Stephen said. He noted the students also qualify for federal Pell grants, providing them an extra boost in making college affordable.

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FAREWELL TROOPER LAPORTE: State Trooper Chris LaPorte, a member of the State House security team, retired from the Department of Safety last week. LaPorte heads to a job at Concord Hospital and work as a photographer.

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NH STIMULUS FORUM: The Steward of Prosperity group that businessman Fred Tausch of Nashua has founded plans a federal economic stimulus forum in Concord on Thursday. The event is co-sponsored by Dennehy and Bouley and the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce.

Panelists include PolEcon principal Brian Gottlob, whom Steward hired to study the stimulus's economic effect on New Hampshire. With him will be several budget hawks: Josiah Bartlett Center executive director Charles Arlinghaus; Concord Coalition executive director Robert Bixby and William Yeatman, an energy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Gottlob found that New Hampshire won't do as well as most states under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act because it's too wealthy. New Hampshire will rank dead last in New England, he said, because "of a relatively low number of low and middle-income households." The session at the Grappone Conference Center runs from noon to 1:30 p.m.

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DEATH PENALTY DEBATE LIVES: While the furor over gay marriage continues, the fight to repeal the death penalty goes on, too. The N.H. Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty holds a rally Tuesday evening at the State House to urge a court review of the case against Troy Davis, convicted and sentenced to death in the murder of a Georgia police officer.

The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing that day on a bill that would establish a death penalty study commission, all that remains of this year's repeal effort in the Legislature.
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Tom Fahey is the State House bureau chief of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

I would like to thank the previous commenter, Gary from Stratham, NH, for showing quite clearly why uneducated views on civil rights need to be corrected. In a Constitutional Republic the rights of the majorty should be heard through the ballot box upon. Your view that the founders had gay marriage in mind in the equal protection clause is ludicrous. Your argument about race being similar is factualy wrong. The founding fathers did write on the topic of race and thier intention to abolish slavery.

The current debate is about 'special protections & privilages' for one group over another. Your view is wrong as well as a misaplication of the US Constitution.
I support a VETO wholly.
- Dan Gates, Manchester

The entire gay marriage bill is right at the top of politcal agendas. What percent of our population will it affect, protect or whatever you want to call its possible outcome? 4% thats its. The same house that passed the gay (marriage) bill failed to even discuss HR6, which would reaffirm our rights as a state provided in the tenth amendment of the US constitution. The same house, senate and governor failed every NH citizen by overspending and growing government, yet there is little concern over it.
- Michael Layon, Derry

I work in construction where I see a lot of different workmen in all the trades. Since this paper has made such a big stink, I have continually made a point of asking them if gay marriage is something they are concerned about. They say no 95% of the time, and go back to work.

Maybe the opponents just need to be a little busier.
- Arthur Vandelle, Manchester

This is intolerable.
The horror of it!

Why does Governor John Lynch insist, on yet another issue, on working a compromise to protect the
rights of both sides?

Once again he's acting like the governor of the WHOLE state instead of just
bravely picking the right side. This is such a habit of his.

Dirty fence-sitter, indeed!
- tom, candia

There is still hope that Senator Reynolds, who many thought to be a lady, will change her mind, wake up, and see the light on this issue. Sometimes party asks too much.

Lynch's sending back of the bill provides an opportunity for her to become the decisive vote preventing it from becoming law. She originally objected on moral grounds and can rescue Lynch from a bad decision. The true test of equality and women in the legislature lies at her feet.
- Steve, Manch

Fool Lynch once (Civil Unions) shame on us. Fool Lynch twice (Define marriage once and for all) shame on him.

I'm sure in this bill is the correct wording so that next year a adult can not marry a child, a brother can not marry a sister, brother, or family pet.

After all marriage is suddenly a right protected in the constitution according to our liberal judges. Who are you to say someone can not marry a pig and force your morals on society?

Will a real leader please stand up? The world is full of nuts and nutty ideas. That does not mean everyone has to be forced to accept them all.
- Deb, Derry

I would like to thank the previous commenter, mo, for showing quite clearly why uneducated views on civil rights need to be corrected.

The current debate is about a balance of protections for both religious freedom and gay rights. I support it wholly.
- Gary, Stratham, NH

What ever to moral family valves.
Old I know if you do like something than go to ACLU most of the time they get the job done right or wrong. Gov. Lynch, beware. But let Gay Marriage go down the drain. Because the Bible say God's Marriage =man + woman.
Gays already have rights and are protected.
We better things we must work on. (Laws, Budgets,education,healthcare,jobs,and taxes,ETC.)Some one is not tell the full truth when their say the people of NH want this laws.BS. Get some guts governor and veto it.But I support the death penalty and those who do not do not have any guts.
- mo baxter, plymouth

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"State House Dome: Lynch eyes new tax on refinancing"
By TOM FAHEY, (NH) State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, May 31, 2009

CONCORD – If you're thinking of refinancing your mortgage, you might want to act fast.

Gov. John Lynch is looking at a proposal that would tax refinancings the same way we now tax real-estate transfers.

The basic idea is to pull refis into the existing tax, and to lower the current 1.5 percent tax rate. Eleven other states already have a similar tax in place. It's not clear if the proposal will be ready by the time the Senate meets to vote on a budget plan on Wednesday.

Another idea in the wings is to look closely at limited liability corporations, which can be structured to escape business taxes on big payouts to owners.

The Senate Finance Committee directed the Department of Revenue Administration to comb through tax laws to find every little hole a potential taxpayer could slip through and find a patch. Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said the refi tax idea is one result of the DRA's work.

New Hampshire Bankers Association president Jerry Little said a meeting at the governor's office last week left a lot of questions unanswered. That includes what the refi tax rate will be, and how it will apply to businesses that file multiple mortgages that, in essence, cover each other.

"Those are pretty major details," he said.

Ralph Coppola, past president of the Mortgage Brokers and Bankers Association, hasn't met with Lynch's staff yet, but thinks the tax would clash with Lynch's efforts to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

The Senate also relies on suspending the credit that businesses take against the Business Profits Tax, based on their Business Enterprise Tax payment.

The Business and Industry Association plans to publicly protest the change tomorrow. The New Hampshire Advantage Coalition's Matt Murphy argues the idea, "should be dead on arrival; many homeowners in our state are already trying to keep their heads above water."

The BET change would face a tough fight in the House. Finance chair Rep. Marjorie Smith said the move "takes a bad tax and makes it worse, and I can't think of anything more unfair to business than that."

The Senate budget relies heavily on gambling, but if it meets its expected demise in the House, options will have to be available. A refi tax might be one.

The Senate gaming plan assumes $185 million over two years from 15,000 slot machines at tracks and casino halls around the state. That includes 4,000 machines in the North Country, half of them in Coos County. That works out to about one machine for every 17 Coos residents.

The Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling, which has fought gaming tooth and nail for years, thinks revenue estimates are inflated, even though they've steadily declined over the past few years. It says gambling incomes will be delayed for up to two years while the state enacts rules for control agencies, conducts criminal background checks, and waits for local communities to vote and for developers to get their machines in place.

The last gambling bill to come before the House was defeated by a more than 3-to-1 margin.

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OPPOSING A TOLL HIKE: The toll hikes that Gov. Lynch hopes will pay for his highway funding plan are far from a sure thing.

Executive Councilors set the toll rates, and they're not fans, said Councilor Beverly Hollingworth.

Lynch wants tolls to go up 50 cents, to $1.50, at main toll booths in Hooksett and Bedford. On connecting ramps and the Spaulding Turnpike, they'd go up 25 cents.

The new money would be used to bring open road tolling on I-93 and the F.E. Everett Turnpike, and to cover highway maintenance on divided highways throughout the state.

"I haven't talked to a single councilor who favors it," Hollingworth said.

One sure vote against higher tolls will be Councilor Deb Pignatelli. She's fought for years to get toll booths pulled out of Merrimack, where residents feel trapped between toll plazas. Imagine trying to tell voters there why it's important that they continue paying tolls to repair roads for folks in Littleton and Hanover.

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YOU'VE GOT MAIL: There may be a new U.S. Senate candidate sending literature to your mailbox soon. In fact, it may be there already, from STEWARD of Prosperity, the group founded by Nashua investor Fred Tausch. He's working with Concord's Michael Dennehy, the former national political director for Sen. John McCain, and has targeted announced Democratic Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes in the most recent STEWARD mailer.

Tausch said, "A number of people have encouraged me to run for office, and that's not something I've ruled out." Tausch said when he founded his group early this year that he supported Barack Obama's presidential campaign. He contributed $2,300 to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Tausch said Friday he's a registered Republican.

He preferred to focus on Hodes, whom he said voted for the federal stimulus bill, then criticized AIG for generous bonuses it gave company executives. He said that was hypocritical of Hodes, adding "That set him apart from the bunch."

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CHARTER SCHOOL CAP FLAP: New Hampshire has never been seen as exactly friendly to the charter school movement. Only when approval power was taken away from local voters did the movement advance at all.

But enacting student layoffs seems a bit extreme. The Senate has adopted a policy in the budget to cap student enrollment at a level that would actually force schools to cut the number of students. The cap is 850 total statewide in 2010 and 950 in 2011.

Bill Wilmot of Seacoast Charter School said charter schools already have enrollment of 935 students.

"We have certain targets built into our charters, and we are being held to that by the Department of Education. Now the Senate is forcing us to go against our charters," he said.

Because it treats charters differently from other schools, the provision could jeopardize the state's federal stimulus money, Wilmot said.

"We are going to try and direct (the Senate's) attention to that," he said.

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CIVICS AND SOUTER: The move to put civics education into school curriculum will get a boost from the highest court in the land.

Retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter has signed onto an effort by the New Hampshire Supreme Court Society to produce a civics curriculum for statewide use.

Society president Susan Mary Leahy said Souter is already involved with the effort.

"We are delighted David has agreed to participate in the first round of discussions," Leahy said. "This is a very, very serious effort and we're hoping that he and other people of influence will help move this forward."

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ON THE MOVE: Rep. Ed Butler has moved up to become chairman of the House Commerce Committee. Now in his second two-year term, Butler succeeds Tara Reardon of Concord, who resigned to become Commissioner of the Department of Employment Security ... Democrats scored a coup by attracting former Republican Rep. Jim MacKay to the fold. MacKay plans to run for the Concord seat Reardon left vacant. MacKay served in the Legislature for five terms, including a stint as chair of the Health and Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee. He most often voted as a moderate member of the GOP, favoring the smoking ban and boat speed limits, and worked hard on mental-health and addiction issues ... Rep. Peter Leishman of Peterborough has been awarded a Toll Fellowship by the Council of State Governments. Leishman heads to Lexington, Ky., in September for a week of meetings with 39 other fellows from other state legislatures ... Rep. Bob L'Heureux has put out the word the state is looking for young applicants for the "Hunt of a Lifetime" program. Anyone age 21 or younger suffering terminal or life-threatening illness qualifies for a permit to hunt any game species, including moose, under the program. Details and applications are available at www.nhsci.org.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His e-mail address is tfahey@unionleader.com.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

NH may not have a sales or income tax, but everything else is. What's next Air tax? This state is getting ridiculous
- Mary Mags, Bedford

There goes our "moderate", "responsible", "centrist" Governor.

Yikes, what were those of you in the GOP who supported this tax and spender thinking?

Learn from your mistakes.

If it walks, quacks, waddles, acts, bobs and floats like a duck, or hangs around ducks, it probably is.
- William Simpson, Concord

I just picked out two stories from the business page ::: cut from aol finance..
1. Bankruptcy Near, a New GM Emerging. With an almost certain bankruptcy filing days away, General Motors is beginning its reinvention. The company plans to make smaller vehicles and streamline its design and production system.

2. The mini boom in refinances fizzled quickly as interest rates crept back over five percent. At the same time, rising unemployment helped push homeowners into delinquency or foreclosure, setting a record for the number of homes in some stage of foreclosure during the first quarter of 2009. About 12.07 percent of mortgages were delinquent or in the foreclosures process in the first quarter..

And our governor thinks it is a good idea to raise taxes on folks who are trying to stay in their homes! Do ya need anymore proof? Are you getting the message? IT IS TIME FOR A NEW GOVERNOR, AND LEGISLATURE, AND STATE SENATE .. HELLO ???
- Thom, Manchester, NH

More taxes and no spending cuts that amount to a hill of beans. $11 billion dollars in a budget for 1.3 million people, thats about $8500 per person in our state. Can you see what you got for your share?

In the meantime our "share" of the federal stimulus??? package amounts to 27 cents per person, among the lowest in the nation, but I"ll bet we pay back a lot more than that, Change you can believe in from a Democrat near you.
- jim, danbury

More taxes and no spending cuts that amount to a hill of beans. $11 billion dollars in a budget for 1.3 million people, thats about $8500 per person in our state. Can you see what you got for your share?

In the meantime our "share" of the federal stimulus??? package amounts to 27 cents per person, among the lowest in the nation, but I"ll bet we pay back a lot more than that, Change you can believe in from a Democrat near you.
- jim, danbury

How dare the politicians in NH think they have the right to tax a decision that someone makes to try and improve their financial position and save a few hundred dollars a month. Keep your hands out of it. When are you going to wake up and just institute a sales tax across the board to raise revenue. I don't want to hear the nobody will come to the state excuse, we already have a tax on room and board. If NH can't operate with a full sales tax and from what all the opponents say, nobody will come visit anymore, then the state deserves to disappear. No tax m ay have been a benefit 20 years ago, but times have changed and we need to adapt to raise revenue and not from someone who decides to refinance their home. I thought the circus only came to the Verizon once a year. I now know that their home office is in Concord,NH.
- Brian, Manchester

The home sales tax might now be applied even if you're not buying your home. Great idea! Why stop there? Why not apply the auto sales tax every time you reregister? (That is, at a rate even higher than it is now.)

And The Senate - surely, they intended on a slot in everyone's home in Coos. Saves on gasoline, you know! Just make a small adjustment to the numbers on Wednesday and go home for a well deserved summer break. Good work, guys and gals!
- Leo, Canterbury

Here we go again! Why do responsible homeowners who are trying to better themselves be penalized with another tax when refinancing, while all others are sitting pretty. Sometimes I think you are better off not being a homeowner & just ride the system like the majority.

So Gov. Lynch & the Executive Council don't want toll hikes. Come on, this is a fair way to tax as the majority of us drive anyway. I think it is much better to do this than to punish a responsible homeowner with a refinancing tax.
- Dave, Manchester

Why is it all these carpetbagger politicians who moved up from Mass. want to do is increase taxes? When are we going to read an article on how something in government was eliminated, and taxes are going down?
- Steve, Pembroke

As usual Mr. Reubens and his anti-gambling cronies have all the facts wrong. The state will realize an up front payment of $150 million from licensing fees from the three tracks and income from the slot machines of between $200 to $300 million dollars per year. There is no increase in crime but again Mr. Ruebens has his facts incorrect. Quite frankly, I am tired of Mr. Reubens' act and I think most of the people of this state are tired of him also.

We have a company willing to come to NH and engineer a $500 million dollar construction project which will balance the budget and put 2000 NH residents to work.

Please call or email your Senator or State rep. and tell them, you are for the expansion of gambling. Please tell them we don't need higher property taxes and fees that will result if we do not pass the slots bill.
- John S., Pembroke

YIKES! My hair is standing on end.. Souter will be creating civics curriculum? Holy Cow -- I suppose after Goals 2000 and IB, things could not be any worse....but this is horrible.
- Sue, Manchester

This is just beyond the pale. Didn't the Dems just levy a surcharge on RE transactions to fund that foolish LCHIP we got rid of in the past? That's $12M we don't need for sure.... how much worse can it get? The last straw was removing Sen. Roberge from a study commission because they didn't like her vote!
- Sue, Manchester

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"Budget unreality: Spending without looking"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, May 31, 2009

On April 8, the state House of Representatives passed a budget that could be balanced only with the addition of new revenues. The next day, members passed a host of tax and fee increases and voted to create three new taxes to make revenues match expenditures.

Last Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee passed a budget that could be balanced only with the addition of new revenues. Its members also increased taxes and fees, but replaced the revenue generated by the House's not-yet-existent new taxes with revenue generated by not-yet-existent slot-machine casinos.

Each of these budgets is based upon the Dan Eaton Principle. During the House budget debate, Republicans objected to the leadership's plan to pass a spending bill first, then go for the tax hikes needed to pay for it. They said, reasonably, that the state should budget like families do, by first determining how much money is available, then deciding how to allocate it. House Majority Leader Eaton rebuffed the criticisim with an aphorism: "It makes sense to know how much you're spending before you decide how much money to raise."

Adopting this principle, the Senate Finance Committee proposes to spend close to $11.5 billion, which is roughly $1 billion more than the state spent just two years ago. That's a roughly 10 percent increase in the total state budget (which includes federal funds) in two years. It's also more than double the regional inflation rate.

From April of 2007 to April of 2008, the Northeast regional Consumer Price Index rose by 4.2 percent. From last April to this April, it fell by 0.1 percent, its first drop since the federal government began compiling the regional CPI data in 1966.

The economy is shrinking, prices are falling, and yet New Hampshire legislators are preparing to take still more money out of the already sputtering economy to pay for the budget they want but cannot afford to fund with existing revenue sources.

It must be nice to be able to budget without having to factor in reality or accountability.

READER's COMMENTS:

To the Editor,
It would be an excellent and informative article if the UL would list the programs and agencies that received the additional funding, or started new spending plans.

In the mean time Rep. Eaton and his cohorts are content to introduce their radical pet peeve laws while ignoring a contract made with 3,000 dedicated teachers, state and municipal workers, firemen and cops, who spent their entire lives working for others.

An additional $1 billion in spending and new programs and they can't fund $4 million for their own employees?
- Melvin, Keene

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"State House Dome: Bruising budget battle beckons"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, Sunday, June 7, 2009

NOW THAT gay-marriage debates, votes and re-votes are over, focus turns to what lawmakers said would be their biggest challenge this year -- the 2010-11 budget. The big guns start the verbal tussling at the first committee of conference meeting tomorrow.

Gambling, capital gains, estate taxes and every other nuance in the $11.6 billion package will be fair game in this vigorous horse-trading exercise. The big question is what tax plan will remain standing when two weeks of talks end June 18. The budget is supposed to take effect on July 1.

House and Senate teams are headed by Finance Committee chairs Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, and Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester. "Personality conflict" is the term that comes to mind, but it will take a few tough sessions for the rough edges to start showing.

The competing budgets lay out very different solutions. Gas tax versus toll hikes, gambling versus estate and capital-gains taxes; whether to loosen liquor controls, cut business tax credits and/or tap LCHIP money; and how to fund school building aid -- plenty of flash points.

Gambling runs the risk of outright House rejection. The Senate hates the capital-gains tax. Lawmakers and the governor's office have been holding brainstorming sessions on replacement taxes that haven't yet seen the light of day. They include a tax on refinanced debt and closing the limited liability corporation loophole on dividend taxes.

Of course, there's always the Republican plan -- throw all tax hikes in the trash and start cutting the budget. Unfortunately, they admit they don't know where to cut. They said they'd leave it to department heads, the folks they usually dismiss as "bureaucrats." In the GOP's eyes, they are now highly paid policy experts who know the budget best.

Rep. Doug Scamman, R-Stratham, said he thinks the talk about finding new taxes is premature.

"The fact remains that there shouldn't be any new revenue passed until we make major spending reductions," he said.

Democrats say the cuts that are feasible have already been made, and that budget choices are a statement of policy, a job for the Legislature, not hired hands. They argue that cutting deeper will push new costs onto local communities, forcing property taxes higher. Welfare and Medicaid budgets are up dramatically, for example, because caseloads have doubled under the same economic downturn that is killing state revenues. In the absence of state welfare funds, local taxpayers will pick up the tab.

Last week's report on numbers from May show the state still on track for the $300 million shortfall in this year's budget that Gov. John Lynch projected last fall.

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WHOLE WORLD WATCHED: Forgive Rep. Andy White, D-Lebanon, if he looked a little jet-lagged as he cast his first votes in the House. He was voted into office in a special election Tuesday, and sworn into office the next morning. By 4:10 p.m. he had cast one of 198 votes to pass gay marriage.

"It shows how we recognize the power of every single vote," said Democratic Party spokesman Victoria Bonney.

While the world was watching New Hampshire become the sixth state to allow gay marriage, the Senate plowed through less notable bills such as those on the oil-spill fund, a cold-case homicide unit, kids' health insurance, and allowing 18-year-old armed forces members to buy fireworks.

Senate Republicans fought but lost in an effort to change state law and enable voters to put binding tax-cap proposals in place in their cities and towns.

The GOP promises to remind taxpayers of the Democratic action. "I can't understand why any elected official would stand in the way of letting people vote," Minority Leader Sen. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, said.

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BAD BIZ NEWS: The passage of a one-year suspension of the tax credit businesses can take against business-profits tax liability was just one bit of bad news for the corporate world Wednesday.

The change is wildly unpopular among businesses and bankers. D'Allesandro pulled back his plan for a two-year suspension and starts in Year 2 of the budget.

The House passed the state's version of the federal WARN act, requiring 60 days notice of plant closings and mass layoffs. It also raised the wage base for unemployment insurance premiums. The taxable wage will go from $8,000 per worker now to $10,000 in 2010, $12,000 in 2011 and $14,000 in 2012. It also gives the Employment Security commissioner power to add surcharges when the unemployment trust fund dips below $150 million.

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$110 MILLION FEUD: Doctors and hospitals have a bone to pick, too. There's the little matter of $110 million Lynch and Legislators agreed to take in surplus funds from the state's medical malpractice fund -- the Joint Underwriting Association (JUA). Doctors have hated this idea from the start.

Three of the JUA policyholders hired the Nixon Peabody law firm in Manchester to represent them. Ten days ago their lawyers demanded that the JUA board meet to declare earnings and distributions to policy holders. No word on that yet.

New Hampshire Medical Society executive director Palmer Jones said he warned the JUA a few years back that it needed to address the surplus problem. They declined. "We told them they'd rue the day," Jones said.

The Attorney General's Office concluded that among the JUA, its board, insurers and health-care providers,"none can demonstrate a private, vested interest in the excess surplus held by the JUA such that it could successfully challenge a legislative act to transfer the funds to the General Fund. Attorney Kevin Fitzgerald of Peabody Nixon said that analysis, "looks a lot like an opinion that had a result in mind." He said if a resolution isn't reached, "there will almost certainly be activity in more than one forum. There are contractual claims, constitutional claims, fiduciary-duty claims, conflict claims."

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TOLLS TURMOIL: Members of the House Public Works and Highways Committee say they'd rather let the Department of Transportation finances suffer for the next two years than sign onto Gov. Lynch's plan to use tolls on all divided highways.

The plan is called aggregation, and it calls for higher tolls, and an end to the E-ZPass discount, with a $30-monthly cap on E-ZPass bills.

The issue is one item before the budget committee of conference on House Bill 1 and 2. That's just the place PWH members say it doesn't belong. With the House gas plan now facing a Lynch veto, options are limited.

"DOT may have to wait another two years before being fully funded," the members said in a signed letter, "but we believe allowing aggregation into HB 2 at this time, without assessing the full fiscal and policy consequences, is simply wrong." Co-chair Rep. David Campbell said the Senate version of Lynch's plan, which also raises registration $15, would cost a driver more in its first year than the gas tax will cost after a three-year phase-in.

The guy who used to keep a close eye on turnpike operations, Harvey Goodwin, retired last month after 36 years at DOT. He's been replaced by Chris Wasczuk on an interim basis.

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LYNCH NOMINEES: The Executive Council plans two public hearings on Tuesday, June 16 on nominations Lynch made last week. The first will be at 1:30 p.m. for Amy Ignatius, Lynch's nominee to serve on the Public Utilities Commission. At 3 p.m., the council will convene a hearing on the nomination of Carol Ann Conboy, whom Lynch has nominated to the state Supreme Court. If approved, she would be the second woman on the five-member court, joining Justice Linda Dalianis.

The State Employees Association said Friday roughly 60 percent of the 325 court system employees have petitioned to join SEA. The petition goes to the Public Employees Labor Relations Board for review. SEA attorney Glenn Milner said he thinks the new unit can be in place before July 1, when the new budget takes effect.

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STIMULUS ENERGY SAVINGS: The state plans to spend about $10 million on energy improvements to state buildings, thanks to federal stimulus money. The projects include everything from lights, doors and windows to installation of ozone laundry equipment and wood-pellet boilers. Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon said the changes will mean long-term savings for the state.

Kathy Bogle Shields of the community Development Finance Authority told the Executive Council she'll bring nearly $20 million of contracts to them in August for neighborhood stabilization plans in five communities. The program is meant to reverse declines that foreclosure, blight and abandonment bring. Berlin, Derry, Manchester, Nashua and Rochester proposed nearly $40 million in funding, twice what's available. In Manchester, focus is on the west Granite Street area, and in Nashua, it's the "tree streets" section.

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GETTING TO KNOW YOU: Sen. Matt Houde and former Sen. Peter Burling, both of Cornish, are hosting get-to-know sessions for Democratic congressional hopefuls this month. Rep. John DeJoie had his day Thursday. Katrina Swett will be there on the 18th and Ann McLane Kuster arrives on the 25th.

The Hillsborough County Republican Party holds a Flag Day picnic in Greenfield next Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Barbara C. Harris Conference Center.

Tickets for the fund-raiser and 2010 campaign kickoff are $25. Speakers will include former congressman Charlie Bass, Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta and Jennifer Horn of Nashua.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Tim is one ignorant TAX AND SPEND LIBERAL that obvously cant see that he has drunk too much of the liberal Kool-Aid.

Pres Bush asked Congress 18 different times to reign in Freddie / Fanny and your liberal democrat congress stopped them all.

Quietly release at the end of business on Friday ( bad news from the Obama Camp is always released when no one will see it) was a report from his own people that reported that we would be better off today if they had done nothing at all and let normal economic principlas work themselves out.

But then again they would not be able to exert power over you without the deficit spending. Dont forget this administrations war cry.... "let no made up crisis go to waste"

Dont worry....... money grows on trees.....dont forget for every failure like Woolworth there is a new Target that replaces it ....loss of Pan Am Airline replaced with Southwest's of the world.
- Robert, Sunapee

Sue... Sue... Sue.... Wow... Where do I begin. Here's some bullet responses to your shallow comments:
1) The Federal Government had NO choice but to step in and stop a catastrophic meltdown in the US economic system while BUSH was in office (One could argue his spending / lack of oversight in the financial sector world, mainly the SEC and the Bernie Madoff's of the world were to blame).
2) President Obama was forced to step in on the GM issue because of this historical financial meltdown PRIOR to his inaguration. (yeah.. so blame him?)
3) It's the REPUBLICANS and others like you who have argued for LESS Government and LESS goverment oversight, Like former Senator John Sununu, yet this is the core of the problem where no one (federal and state regulatory agencies) as well as the Independent Audit firms (Arthur Anderson; now defunct after Enron) are / were incompetent.

4) Continue to blame on President Obama, or in your words the fact that we have too much government, and all I can recomend to you is 1) get a drug test; 2) take some courses in econcomics, accounting, finance. Focus on the audit profession and the need for internal controls. Seriously, you really don't have a clue what you're talking about.

I too believe a free market economy does work, and is the best system in the world. However, you have to have REASONABLE oversight (via periodic audits) by competent and independent auditors / regulators to ensure the taxpayers are not swindled.

Just Democrats are morally bankrupt? MMMM..... US Senator David Vitter, LA (hookers are us; he's still in office; US Senator Senator Larry "I have a wide stance" Craig- ID), former Senator Bob Packwood- OR - "his sexual advances to anyone in a dress were totally
"misunderstood;" Rep. Gov. Rowland of CT; mmm... money talks when it comes to kickbacks from Companies doing business in your state.

In NH you had former Republican Speaker of the House Gene Chandler (oh... those proceeds from the annual Corn roast are exempt from reporting, and go directly into my pocket; and even former Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin admitted taking money over the years for "wardrobe" / travel" but said it was all part of the job..... Right. I certainly have a list probably just as long for the DEMS, but don't even pretend this is a soley a Democratic problem...

I'll leave you with global examples of company failures that were the catalyst for the economic meltdown PRIOR to the new President:
Enron, Tyco, Bernie Madoff, Freddie Mac / Fannie Mae, AIG, etc.

Lastly, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it former Republican Gov. Steve Merrill that introduced the Business Enterprise tax here in NH? Hmmm.. that's a real tax to all companies. Wasn't Gov. Benson the one who required the Dept. of Administrative services build him a PRIVATE bathroom in the State House so he didn't have to share a public bathroom with others? Yeah, your ranting and raving really has some credibility.

PLease, please do your homework, then feel free to critisize. Just spewing partisan rants are useless.
- Tim, Windham

Democrats are morally and fiscally BANKRUPT and have ruined NH with their lack of originality. It's like some old nightmare out of the volkswagon bus era. They are the same old party of loony legislation and taxing and spending and controlling people. We may never be able to fix what they have done to our once free and fiscally sound NH. Worse is what is being done on the national level by party hacks taking over private businesses. I can't print here what I would do if that ever happened to me...

Please, put the adults back in charge... people who know that a legislator's job is not to pass more taxes and draconian laws controlling people but to have LESS government spending, and government controls and expansion kept in CHECK...

Just say NO to bankrupting NH and America!
Democrats are the party of bankruptcy!
- Sue, Manchester

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"N.H. eyes big payday from our tax hike"
By Laura Crimaldi, Sunday, June 7, 2009, www.bostonherald.com - Local Coverage

Bay State border towns, bruised by a brutal recession and drastic cuts to local aid, are bracing for a shoppers’ exodus into tax-free New Hampshire if legislative efforts to raise the sales tax by 25 percent prevail in coming weeks.

“We are already feeling the disadvantage we have today,” said Methuen Mayor William M. Manzi III. “We think the increase makes it substantially worse. We’ve seen a major flight of jobs and business investment into Salem, N.H. This is not good for Methuen.”

House and Senate lawmakers have passed separate proposals with veto-proof margins to hike the sales tax from 5 percent to 6.25 percent to help balance the state budget. House budget writers estimate the hike will generate $900 million next fiscal year, including $205 million for local aid.

Senate leaders, who based their estimates on 10 months of sales tax collections at the higher rate, say the hike will generate $633 million.

Their proposal does not boost local aid spending, but they claim the tax will generate an extra $192 million by letting municipalities add 2 percentage points to local option meals and lodging taxes.

Gov. Deval Patrick has threatened to veto any sales-tax hike if lawmakers fail to pass transportation, pension and ethics reform.

A Patrick spokeswoman referred questions last week about his position on the tax issue and the flight of shoppers to New Hampshire to an April letter to lawmakers detailing his veto threat. The House and Senate proposals are being debated by a joint legislative committee that will send a final budget plan to Patrick this month.

N.H. reaps benefits

In Salem, N.H., where shoppers flock to retail stores along Route 28, and at the Mall at Rockingham Place, cars with Massachusetts license plates have multiplied.

“There is definitely an increase in activity in Salem on the weekends and an increase in Massachusetts license plates,” said Donna Morris, director of the Greater Salem of Chamber of Commerce.

The state Department of Revenue estimates that the Bay State stands to lose $60 million in sales tax revenue from consumers who will shop online, by catalog or in New Hampshire to avoid a 25 percent sales-tax hike.

Critics say the sales-tax hike is regressive, and point to data that the state is already losing hundreds of millions of sales-tax dollars due to Internet, catalog and New Hampshire retail sales.

The National Conference of State Legislatures found that in 2008 the state lost $540 million in sales-tax collections on about $11 billion in retail sales from so-called remote locations, said Jon B. Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.

Data released last month by Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute found that a higher sales tax would cost the state 12,666 private sector jobs and $51.3 million in economic investment. There is also concern that a higher sales tax will discourage cross-border shoppers from the high-sales-tax states of New York, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut from coming to Massachusetts for a better deal.

“Why doesn’t the Legislature ask hard questions of the Department of Revenue with respect to how this tax increase will impact consumer behavior and how that would affect the amount of revenue that this tax increase will actually yield,” asked David G. Tuerck, director of the Beacon Hill Institute. “It’s a permanent benefit to New Hampshire’s economy and for New Hampshire to leave well enough alone as Massachusetts continues to raise the sales tax.”

Sales-tax revenues for the first 11 months of the fiscal year stand at $3.53 billion, which is $203 million less than collections at the same time last year, said DOR spokesman Robert R. Bliss.

“Use tax” collections on goods purchased out of state account for just a fraction of annual sales-tax collections. In 2005, 39,461 of the state’s 3.4 million tax filers shelled out $3.2 million in use taxes. Two years later, collections improved slightly, to $4.3 million from 53,514 taxpayers, DOR said.

A bill expected to be signed by Granite State Gov. John Lynch could make it more difficult for Massachusetts tax collectors to collect use taxes. The bill protects New Hampshire businesses from having to provide private consumer information to states where use and sales taxes are in place.

Major court case

The legislation is a response to efforts by Bay State tax collectors to force the Town Fair Tire chain, with stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, to collect the 5 percent sales tax from Massachusetts residents. The case is before the Supreme Judicial Court.

“We were concerned that they were going to put New Hampshire retailers into the position of being tax investigators for the state of Massachusetts,” said N.H. state Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-Exeter), the bill’s prime sponsor. “We have people come from all over the country and world to shop in New Hampshire because we have made the decision to be sales-tax free.”

House and Senate leaders defend the tax hike as a must during an epic state economic meltdown.

“We made tough decisions and passed a responsible, bare-bones budget that raises necessary revenue for the state and offers relief to our cities and towns,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said in a statement.

“There is no perfect solution to this economic crisis, but a sales tax is the fairest way to go because of built-in exemptions for food, clothing up to $175, prescription drugs, utilities, gasoline and other necessities that are especially important to the working poor and middle class,” she said.

A spokesman for House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) described the move as a “politically difficult yet responsible decision” to put $275 million toward the state transportation deficit and ease the $424 million in local aid cuts proposed in House budgets.

“We devised a conscientious and forthright answer to the epic fiscal difficulties that Massachusetts must now endure,” spokesman Seth Gitell said in an e-mail.

Joseph J. Bevilacqua, president of the Lawrence-based Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the sales-tax hike is a setback, but he expects that the bad economy could level the playing field.

“Things are equally as bad in New Hampshire,” he said. “They cannot sustain their economy without some kind of tax, whether it be an income tax or sales tax. They are facing the same struggles. This is a national recession.”
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Source:
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www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/2009_06_07_N_H__eyes_big_payday_from_our_tax_hike/srvc=home&position=also
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www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1177259&format=text
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Photo by Ted Fitzgerald
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"Charter school cap could cost NH stimulus money"
By Norma Love, Associated Press Writer, June 9, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. --New Hampshire's stimulus czar is warning that a proposed cap on charter school enrollments could cost the state some federal money.

In the new state budget, the Senate proposes capping charter school enrollment at 850 pupils in 2010 and 950 in 2011. But state stimulus director Bud Fitch told budget negotiators Tuesday that could jeopardize plans to use federal stimulus funds for school aid.

Critics complain the cap would force charter schools to ask some students to leave.

House Finance Committee Chairwoman Marjorie Smith later told Deputy Education Commissioner Mary Heath the proposed cap would be removed. Instead, negotiators are exploring ways for the state to avoid paying double for students who attend both regular and charter schools.

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State House Dome: Parties split over $11.6 billion budget
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, June 21, 2009

ALL IT TOOK was some late-night taxing and cutting, and the state got a balanced budget package early Friday.

The joint House and Senate budget committee passed $85 million in tax hikes and enhancements in the space of about two hours late Thursday night.

The budget spends about $11.6 billion overall, but so many changes went through the system late in the process that the Legislative Budget Assistant's office was forced to work into the weekend to finish an analysis. One thing for sure: There's no room for error. Back-of-the-envelope calculations show a projected surplus of $5 million over the two years, well less than one-tenth of a percent.

Even without the finished numbers, Republicans are being urged to vote against the plan as spending too much. Democrats are calling it a difficult compromise that spreads the pain fairly.

Quite a few taxes and fees go up. The only new tax is the 10 percent tax on gambling winnings of more than $600. The system will be tied to the IRS and casinos all over the country, and hit anyone who lives here or wins here.

Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, who fought to the end for gambling instead of taxes, had moved out of his seat as chair of the Senate delegation before the gaming tax vote.

He sat behind Senate President Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, shaking his head and smiling as Rep. Susan Almy, D-Lebanon, brought the gambling tax forward.

The House Ways and Means Committee had voted to kill the tax in committee earlier this year. But when it came time to grab $14 million in possible revenues, the budget committee grabbed.

The pro-gambling alliance missed their mark, big-time. They failed to win on slot machines, then watched the gambling tax pass.

Most of the tax changes hit businesses. One, the rooms and meals tax hike to 9 percent, hits everyone who eats out, or rents a room or a car.

Senate Minority Leader Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, thought extending the rooms and meals tax to include campsites was too much.

"You bring your own room, you bring your own meals, and the state still taxes you," he said.

Scott Spradling, one of more than a dozen lobbyists gambling interests hired this session, said the tax hikes "just gave people 85 million reasons to hate this budget."

Left slot-less, dog and horse tracks had one small victory. The budget dropped a House requirement that they pay for the roughly $500,000 it costs to regulate them. The small number of races that still are run at the tracks actually cost the state money.

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THE NEXT BIG VOTE will be Wednesday in the Senate, which sees the budget bills first. The usual 14-10 Democratic-Republican split is out of the question. D'Allesandro said he will not vote for tax increases.

"I am not for this. I will not speak in favor of this budget. And I will not resign as Senate Finance chairman," he said.

That leaves Sen. Betsi DeVries, D-Manchester, among the key votes the budget needs. DeVries said Thursday that from what she had seen to that point, "gambling would have to be part of the mix."

Count Sen. Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, and Sen. Jackie Cilley, D-Barrington, in the small crowd of fence-sitters, too.

Rep. Norm Major, R-Plaistow, was among the notables to approve the budget's revenue projections. Two years ago, he fought tooth and nail against the Democrats' projections. That gave Republicans a rallying cry when the economy went south: "Norm Major warned them." This time he thinks the projections fall in the right range.

But when he looks two years ahead, he gets nervous.

"This is the easy one," he said, estimating the 2010-2011 plan uses roughly $600 million in one-time money -- federal stimulus, medical malpractice fund surplus, and other non-recurring funds.

Committee chair Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, pointed out the same problem -- one-time money and short-term fixes.

She specifically cited the highway fund, which the House wanted to shore up with a gas-tax hike that Lynch promised to veto.

Smith said it was a relief to have the budget done, but felt badly about cuts that had to be made.

So did a number of social-service agencies. Health-care providers are flat-funded at current rates. Sen. Kathy Sgambati, D-Tilton, said they've been hit hard by inflation and increased costs, but not rewarded with increased payments.

New Hampshire Partners in Service criticized cuts for troubled kids who need a residential placement outside their home. The budget will send more of them to foster homes, but also cuts foster care, the group said.

The state American Cancer Society chapter noted that the state will get more than $400 million from tobacco sales, but spend nothing on smoking prevention for youth, or on cancer-prevention screenings for low-income residents.

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BUSINESS ESCAPED without a refinancing tax or a suspension of the business-enterprise tax credit, but Business and Industry Association vice president David Juvet still wasn't happy.

The committee shut the door on tax-free dividends for limited-liability corporations with about two weeks notice. If state tax collectors had a concern, the issue should have been addressed in a bill that got a full hearing, Juvet said.

"Why pass it in this fashion -- this shoot-from-the-hip, on-the-fly method that runs the risk of both making a mistake and having unintended consequences?" Juvet asked.

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GOVERNOR'S ROLE: Gov. John Lynch worked the hallways outside the work session. Several lawmakers he met with privately said he was urging not new taxes, but cuts. The idea of an entertainment tax went nowhere, and fear of that and the refinance tax may have made the higher meals tax more palatable.

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WHITHER FURLOUGHS? State workers face unpaid furloughs, but only if they agree to them in their new labor contract. Talks are crawling ahead. The budget bill revokes the "bumping rights" they've enjoyed, which allow them to move into other positions on a basis of seniority.

Lynch legal counsel Michael Delaney told the committee early Friday that bumping would slow the layoff process, extend expenses it's meant to cut, and force even more layoffs.

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OPPOSING THE AG: Before this week's budget vote, there's a Tuesday court hearing in Belknap County Superior Court on a move to block the state from using medical malpractice insurance funds. Health providers want to get Attorney General Kelly Ayotte kicked off the case, saying her office handles too many facets of the case. A hearing on an injunction is set for Thursday.

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WHAT'S IN A (NICK)NAME? During the gambling debate, it seemed like New Hampshire was looking for a new nickname. No, not Taxahampshire.

Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, said he didn't want the state to become New Jersey North, or Las Vegas East.

D'Allesandro answered that he'd like to think of us as Delaware North. "(That) state has farms and industry, plus successful slot machines operations at three race tracks," he said.

Kurk was among the most outspoken gambling foes.

"Raising taxes in a recession is problematic. But the consequences of this bill, this video-slot-machine bill, are worse," he said.

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-Exeter, defended the gaming plan. She spoke about someone with a serious gambling addiction. "He gambled in New Hampshire," she said, "by credit card, over the phone, over the Internet."

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ICE-CREAM INCENTIVE: House members get a full briefing by leadership on the budget bills on Tuesday at 10 a.m. Attendance should be good. There's free ice cream after lunch. Republicans will brief their House members on the budget at 9 a.m. Tuesday, one hour before the full House gathers for the briefing.

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TRANSITION: Gov. Lynch will have a chance to nominate a new liquor commissioner this summer. Commissioner Pat Russell said this week she will retire in August after 10 years on the commission.

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SHEEP-ISH SUGGESTION: The committee of conference spent hours trying to find a way to spend less than $1.3 million shutting down the Laconia State Prison and 40 buildings on the surrounding 400-acre campus. Crews at the site already spend a lot of time on upkeep. One guy spends every week just mowing the lawns. Sen. Harold Janeway, D-Webster, offered a cost-cutting move: "I have some sheep who will work for food," he said.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

When the Democrats said change they really meant it. No wonder they were so vague about what kind of change. They meant they'll take your money and give you back the "change".
This whole thing if anything, should teach people not to vote unless you know what your doing. I saw so many non regular voters at the polls last year that it was ridiculous. They were like a herd and now the herd is being led to the cliff.
When you moved up here from Massachusetts, to flee the spendthrift politicians, didn't you realize, you were the ones who put them in office? The reason New Hampshire was so livable before, was that vote buying by politicians was not tolerated like it has been recently. We even had a great Governor who wanted out of state tax agents arrested for loitering while they were spying on residents from their state while they were shopping at the State Liquor Store.
Voter education.
Vote in the primary. Vote for the unpopular candidate. He's unpopular because he'll put an end to the vote buying with your taxes and fees.
Remember they are making that guy look bad to fool you into not voting for him. Remember, thousands of people are trying to defeat that rogue candidate because if he gets in, he'll disconnect the engine from the "gravy train" they are riding on!
BTW, your paying for the "gravy train's" fuel with your taxes and fees!
- Steve, Raymond

Memo to Governor Lynch: that loud boo you heard coming from section 106 last night at the Fisher Cats game after you were introduced came from my father and me. He owns a cleaning business and I have been in the gambling business for 21 years. The ills of video slots that you and the other lawmakers seem to think will occur is just a figment of your imagination. There is more crime accross the street at the Rockingham Park mall than there is at the track.
You and the other lawmakers should listen to the public. They want to see an expansion of gambling and not higher taxes and fees.
I am sick of my taxes doubling every five or six years and I am also sick of the money that could be spent in this state going down the road to the two Connecticut casinos.
WAKE UP OR WE WILL BE VOTING YOU AND THE OTHER REPS. AND SENATORS OUT OF OFFICE IN TWO YEARS !!!
- Fred F., Salem

Timothy Horrigan,

You don't know much about what you speak!

Every state that has expanded gambling-- from Delaware in 1995 to Pennsylvania & Maine more recently--takes between 38% and 50% of the net profits for their respective states. This is understood from the very beginning...but there is still plenty of money remaining to be very successful. Delaware averages $225 million annually to the state, West Virginia is pretty similar, and Pennsylvania is over half-a-billion! None of these states have ever tried to renegotiate anything besides to add more machines. Also, about 85% of the money wagered through slots are returned as winnings to the patrons.

As for raising fees to horse & dog tracks in the state, these facilities don't even turn a profit on their live racing cards! Only through simulcast wagering on other tracks do they realize a profit..why do you think Rockingham runs harness racing now instead of thoroughbreds? They can't afford the purse structure for thoroughbred racing. The expansion of gambling won't simply generate thousands of jobs and millions of dollars annually for NH--it will also allow for the return of thoroughbred racing to the Rock which employs even MORE people! NH farms, horse owners, trainers, grooms, jockeys, etc will all be back in business.

Maine, Pennsylvania and Florida are just 3 examples of states which have given their repective homeowners rebates on property taxes directly from slot machines revenues.

The current budget, as presently constituted, will KILL property owners! It reduces the state's retirement contributions for teachers, police & firefighters which will create a $27 million funding gap that will come out of homeowners' pockets! It also suspends revenue sharing, which will cause another $50 million shortage to municipalities. All in all, an estimated $87.4 million cost to the municipal portion of the property tax rate results from this abomination of a budget!!!

VOTE THIS BUDGET DOWN...the NH citizens DEMAND expanded gambling as part of NH's budget!

Tired of the legislators ignoring our wishes? Join our facebook group for expanded gambling - http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=59364886595
- Bob, Hooksett

Get all your licks in now Mr. Kurk, you won't be there in 2010.
- George, Nashua

Cut $5 Billion? NH only raises $3.5 Billion, the remainder is federal funding.

Gambling will fix the problem? I seem to remember that scratch tickets and PowerBall would 'pay for education'. What now equates to about one percent of State education funding.

Video slots should be passed on their own... not as a budget fix. And definately not in the current format limiting the profits to only certain corporations and municpalities. Any business that has gambling, or wants it, should have access to video slots. Find out WHO opposes that!

As for the budget, its never the minimum the State could do... the minimum would be nothing. Its also never what is constitutionally mandated... that would also be pretty small. It includes all the 'special interest' projects of groups that want expenditures, but don't wish to pay for them.
- John Edward Mercier, Belmont

A tax to go pitch a tent?

Exactly what is it that they a taxing?

They need to cut back spending across the board. Cut back welfare and foodstamps and cut back all the other services that are non-essential.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

A tax to go pitch a tent?

Exactly what is it that they a taxing?

They need to cut back spending across the board. Cut back welfare and foodstamps and cut back all the other services that are non-essential.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

If they don't reform big spending, it won't matter if you move Las Vegas to Concord, lock, stock & barrel. The NH gen court is addicted to spending your money. Sweep the place clean in 2010!
- Mae, Plaistow

is the house gone crazy, the governor too. come on people we put you in office to help us make it though this recession. now you want to tax us on everything. gambling is not going to hurt our state at all everyone goes to conn to gamble so why not bring it here so we dont get taxed. are you trying to get everyone in forclosure so we cant stay in the state we were born and raised. i really dont understand what they are thinking. we have written to the governor but nothing is being done. NO MORE TAXES!!!!!!!!
- darlene, barnstead

It wasn't that long ago that when someone robbed an entire state they would be publically hung. Now they are lauded and re-elected.

Governor lynch in the 2126 page NH budget reccomends a 500,000 dollar bonus budget for the governor. Thats a career politiciasn and business as usual.

The slot machines are merely a distraction. If NH really is a live free or die state then let people spend their money wherever they want, including slot machines. Please do not however believe that the revenue from the slot machines is going to be the great economic fix. The projected income, roughly 200 million is sightly greater than 1 tenth of 1 percent of the almost 12 billion dollar state budget. Let me put it this way, 1 tenth of 1 percent of 10 dollars equals 1 penny. Thats what we are talking about as far as revenue goes.

NH could easily cut its existing budget in HALF. Easily, very very easily we could operate this state on 5 billion a year. Spend some time and look over the state budget. It is so full of fat, just like the free ice cream the representatives are eating.

Last point, if you are currently unemployed and have the desire ot work again in NH, please look at the budget and new taxes. If you do not understand them, ask what they mean in your next interview to the company you interview with. The new taxes mean companies that have a choice may not stay in NH. All the business taxes are really taxes that get appsed on to employees and consumers. Nh has the potential to bring in significant new businesses particularly in this economic climate. ironically we are losing out to the socialist commonwealth of massachusetts.
- Michael Layon, Derry

It seems we are to believe NH state government is providing the absolute minimum required services and is operating at maximum efficency. That is the only conclusion one can draw from the actions of the legislature and their efforts to increase spending and taxes during some of the worst economic times most working adults have experienced. if you believe this to be the case, keep a democratic majority in power. If you don't believe this consider another option come election day.
- Pete, Dover

Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, said he didn't want the state to become New Jersey North, or Las Vegas East.

We should also find out what republicans voted against gaming. Fair is fair.
- chatala, warner

Posting here helps, but calling or emailing them helps more.

Let them know we are furious. Let them know we cannot stand for this.

Contact your legislators, tell them they are wrong!

Find them here: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/ns/whosmyleg/default.asp
- Jason, Concord

Let me remind the pro-casino crowd of a simple fact. The gambling proposal included a new tax: a very large new tax. The state would have gotten 49% of the "net machine income" which is basically all the money the players lose. (It is all the money which gets fed into the machines minus the jackpots and minus any "non-cash considerations".) Milennium is eager to pay this tax right now because 51% of many millions of dollars is preferable to what they currently have, which is 100% of nothing. But a few years down the road, once the novelty of casinos in NH wears off, I am certain that the gambling--- ahem, "gaming"--- industry would be bitching and moaning about how high their 49% tax is.

I noticed during the budget debate that there was an outcry against a 10% tax on the winnings, although it did get into the final HB1/HB2 proposal. (I think it would be more consistent, by the way, to take 49% of the winnings as well.) I also noticed that a seemingly commonsensical proposal to raise the fees charged to dogs and horse tracks so they would actually cover the cost of the regulating the races was killed.
- Timothy Horrigan, Durham, NH

well... you people voted for dems... i grew up in MA, and can deal.. can those of you who are not used to tax and spend deal?
- mark, Rochester

Brother, has this state gone to the dogs. New taxes are going to be imposed. Existing taxes are going to be raised. When is enough, enough? It's obvious that these so call lawmakers we elected are not looking out for the welfare of the citizens of this state. They think the only solutions to solving the budget crises is to raise taxes and create new ones. What kind of idiots do they think the people of this state are? Do they think that because we're not at the state house making these decisions that we are stupid and we don't know how to manage money? I think they need to start listening to the people who elected them to protect our welfare. More then 70 percent of the people of this state want, and I repeat WANT legalized casino gambling. This in itself will relieve most of the tax burdon that New Hampshire citizens have to face. Imposing new taxes and increasing existing taxes only brings us to the low level of all these other states that tax their citizens out of house and home have shown for decades that taxes DO NOT balance a budget. If these elected officials can not protect us from all these idiotic taxes and look to the future for what all the revenues and relief that legalize gambling can bring, then the people of this state need to start a coalition to get all those who oppose gambling out of office and elect people who can look to the future for the welfare of New Hampsshire citizens. You're there to work for the people. You're not there to vote your conscience, religeous beliefs or anything else. There is an old saying, "If you can't do the job you were elected to do, then get out and we'll find somebody else who can."
- GL, Manchester

FLASH: Lynch legal counsel Michael Delaney told the committee early Friday that bumping would slow the layoff process, extend expenses it's meant to cut, and force even more layoffs.

Dear Mike:
An additional benefit to eliminating bumping is to allow department managers to rid themselves of mediocre and under-performing employees?
- Ray in Northwood, Northwood

Why is the state allowing people to double dip? There are workers who have retired, are drawing a pension, and continue to work for the State. I'm sure there are plenty of qualified people who can do the same job for a lot less money? Maybe I am just blind, but because furloughs have been mentioned, I think this issue should be addressed also.
- bob, alton

Attention Concord The WMUR survey comes up with 86% of the people who log ed in want expanded gambling, who the hell are you working for?
- Rich, Winchester

A member of the senate on WMUR said that they listened to the voters when they put together the state budget, this lady should have her hearing checked. Anyone who votes for this budged will NEVER get my vote in the future.
- Rich, Winchester

Close down the non-essential aspects of state government while a new budget is crafted. This would probably save money.

If gaming can't pass the House at least put it on the ballot as a binding resolution. People prefer not to be told what's best for them.

Also take a look at the contracts that the state negotiates with outside providers and see which ones are really necessary. When reading the governor and council minutes it appears a lot of these services can be provided by in house staff. Also some of these contacts can be avoided if in house staff were trained. This applies especially to Health and Human Service contracts.

Take a look at instituting formularies for medications at state run facilities. I would guess drug costs are prohibitive at such facilities. This is a way private insurances try to keep costs down. Also do not allow drug representatives access to prescribers who are affiliated with state facilities.

Consider reducing the number of House members to 100, the current number is way to cumbersome and completely unproductive.
- chatala, warner

Sen. Harold Janeway, D-Webster, offered a cost-cutting move: "I have some sheep who will work for food," he said.

We citizens will soon have to work for food if this legislature continues in power. The above comment pretty much sums up what they are doing to the state.
- chatala, warner

This budget should be voted down. Shut down non essential state services while a new budget is debated.Hopefully one that includes gaming and see how much money would be saved. Best I can figure Lynch and the legislature didn't lay a glove on the university system and that's where some of the largest salaries in the state are paid.Then again these institution do preach the democratic mantra. Go figure. We need real leadership. Time ran out during the budget negotiations because early in the session the gay marriage and bathroom bills took up so much time and discussion. Prioritizing is obviously not a democratic strength.
- chatala, warner

The legacy of the Democrats: LOTS of new taxes. Just like last year, when the Democrats gave us new taxes, they deliver the same this year. It appears that raising taxes is the consistent record of the last three years of Democrat control.

All of it was avoidable. These new taxes are only necessary because of reckless increases in unnecessary spending. Even during this economic crunch, the Democrats couldn't figure out how to tighten their belts and still raised spending by 7%. This is outrageous!!
- Jack, Concord

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"Governor John Lynch: Tough and responsible state budget must pass"
The NH Union Leader, Op-Ed, June 23, 2009, By GOVERNOR JOHN LYNCH

In the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, legislators and I worked hard to craft a responsible and balanced budget that will decrease state spending for the next two years, protect essential services and be funded without an income tax, sales tax, increase in the gas tax or any other major new revenue.

Tomorrow, the full Legislature will meet to vote on this budget. I call on all members -- Democrats and Republicans -- to do the right and responsible thing for our state and vote to pass it.

State revenues in 2010 are projected to be at about the same level as 2004. These tough economic times require tough budget choices, and we developed a two-year budget that actually decreases spending from the state's general and education funds for the next biennium.

As a result of this budget, the state's workforce will be reduced by at least 5 percent through a combination of layoffs, continuing a hiring freeze and unfunding vacant positions. We are requiring retired state workers to contribute to their health insurance costs for the first time and requiring new state employees to contribute more toward their retirement benefits.

We are closing the Laconia State Prison, several courthouses and the Tobey School. We are eliminating state funding for the Commission on the Status of Women and for medical education reimbursements for hospitals. We are cutting funding for the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program and delaying implementation of the state cancer plan.

We are making these tough cuts so that we can meet our essential obligations.

This budget funds an additional $123 million for schools, helping offset local property taxes. In fact, at a time when overall state spending is going down, combined funding for cities, towns and schools will increase 1.7 percent over the next two years.

This budget provides $18 million over the next two years to meet our responsibility to provide services to people with developmental disabilities. And it funds additional Medicaid costs to help our citizens who have lost their jobs and their health care as a result of the recession.

This budget ensures all taxpayers are treated fairly. Currently, people who receive distributions from corporations must pay the interest and dividends tax, but people who receive distributions from limited liability companies do not. This bill closes that loophole, ensuring people pay their fair share. It also cracks down on people who set up multiple companies to avoid paying their share of business or real estate transfer taxes and increases the meals and rooms tax and closes a loophole that treats campsites differently from other tourist destinations.

The people elected members of the Legislature and me to put partisanship aside and make the difficult choices. In a budget this complex, everyone could find an excuse not to support it.

Some legislators continue to call for "more cuts," although they refused to propose any specific cuts throughout the six-month-long budget process. Some legislators want to vote no because they support a specific revenue source and want to see it included in the budget.

Political grandstanding is not the responsible thing to do for members of either party. Failure to pass a budget on Wednesday will mean we must implement a continuing resolution. With a continuing resolution, we will not be able to make the spending cuts that we have already agreed to, or close the tax loopholes that need to be closed.

A continuing resolution will cost the state at least $11 million a month more than this budget. That will mean either deeper, less responsible cuts or higher taxes, or both. Holding our state hostage is not the way to win a political or policy argument.

This is a tough budget, but a responsible budget that fits with the times. It is now time for all lawmakers to do what is best for all the citizens our state and vote for this budget on Wednesday.
-
John Lynch is the governor of New Hampshire.
-
READERS' COMMENTS:

- Ruthie, Fremont: If you have such a passion about taxes, then you should offer what you suggest to eliminate. Your statement ". . . cuts out ALL unnecessary spending. . . " is made without specifying what you consider as unnecessary.
While I seldom agree with the male chauvinistic attitudes of Spike from Brentwood, he does offer his thoughts on what is superfluous in the present proposal for a state budget.

- Cathie S, Chester: Spending at the 2004 level may not be practical in 2009. The legislature has had five years of ADDED obligations since the 2004 budget, but has failed to complete its job to raise the supporting revenues during that time. If reality were to prevail, then the legislature would have to eliminate the programs passed during that time, put felons on the street, and let the rest of us fend for ourselves.
- Gary L. Kerr, Chichester

You know the sad thing is Lynch could care less what the voters of this state want, look what he did with the GAY MARRIAGE thing. I'm still waiting to hear back from his office about that. As a resident who voted for him (and sorry now that I did), he knows there is nothing any of us can do about the mess this state is in. I guess when you elect a man with no spine or morals you get what you deserve. Lier, Lier, Lier
- Dee, Merrimack

Hail Victory! We got exactly what the majority voted for. Governor flynch, showed his true roots from the socialist commonwealth of MA. His website decries how he is so ethical. His budget overview shows a great big drop in general fund spending. Whoopee!

I have said numerous times and will repeat: This state can and should be run on a budget of no more than 5 billion dollars, not 12 billion. The governor has become a career politician catering to every special interest group he can to get re-elected.

This budget and our state should never have to suffer the "bi-partisan" treatment. We need individuals who see public office as a sacrifice of their time for which to serve their fellow citizens and great state. Unfortunately we elect whoever has the most money for an election campaign. Guess who has the most money? Yup candidates who cater to rich special interest groups. Don't complain about flynch now if you are not willing to fundamentally change how you evaluate candidates for office. Do your homework. flynch has been a tax and spend all along, it is just now it time of crisis that it is becoming apprent we are all screwed. Socialism or Freedom, its your choice. Use it before the liberals make it for you.
- Michael Layon, Derry

To Bob Jean Northwood.
Bob did you forget to take your meds today or did you accidentally over medicate yourself? Other than intentionally trying to mislead people, what else could explain the kind of fantasy revisionist world you reside in? Blame republicans for the current economic crisis we are in? If you care to step into reality for a moment you’ll see it was a democratically controlled congress that voted the budgets, made the deals and passed the laws that put us where we are now. Barney Frank and the mortgage crisis are inextricably joined at the hip! You talk about Bush doubling the deficit yet Barack Obama has been in office only 6 months and he's already out spent every President that came before him! Lynch didn't do a good job, he and his liberals created the mess we are in now. He was warned many times that the revenue projection models he was using were flawed and unrealistic, yet he and his tax happy liberals continued on a spending spree. With all due respect Mr. Jean, please don’t pee on our backs and then tell us its raining!
- Rob, Manchester

Jack in Concord has it exactly right. The 17% increase in spending was justified by an overly optimistic revenue projection. Now the Dems in the State House are doing it again, another increase on optimistic revenue projections. They also took the route of Congress by claiming a crisis and then slipping in pet taxes under the cover of darkness hoping the public wouldn't notice.

There are several businesses quoted in this paper that will not come to New Hampshire now, with their jobs, because of this budget and taxes.

Love him or hate him, Benson held the State House accountable for their budget and left the state with a surplus. The current crowd is going to bankrupt us with their "cuts."

Finally, Lynch compromised his principles on gay marriage for political gain, what do you think he'll do to the no income tax pledge?
- Larry Owsowitz, Concord

A budget that allows spending to skyrocket, and taxes to be hiked to a degree we've never seen before in our state's history is NOT "responsible." It's the very opposite.

Hopefully, voters will know the difference next time the Democrats lie to them and tell them how responsible they will be in office. Including Gov. Lynch, whom Republicans supported in great numbers in the past two elections.
- Stephen A., Manchester

Spike, I know you usually like to tell other posters how and what to think through your constant soapbox/grandstanding, and now it looks like your taking your tired act to the Governor! You must be proud. Also, your comment about "pay-differential lies" for women in the workplace really shows your true colors; can't the UL editor not publish these misogynistic comments?
- Bryce Olsen, Nashua, NH

Dear Boss....My household projects that it will need to spend more for everything next year, you will be gib=ving me a raise to match it. Doen't everyone wish that they could overspend and have their boss give them a raise to match it????

Mr Lynch, if revenue projections are 10% less than budgeted, then do what us "normal" folks do..... cut the budget to meet the revenue. Raising taxes & fees when people are out of work, and thanks to your anti-business policies, don't see any good paying jobs coming back, is irresponsible.

CUT THE SPENDING...even my 10 year old undersatnds that.
- Mike, Nottingham

Don't just zero-fund the Commission on the Status of Women, kill it, or the gadflies now writing letters to our weekly shopper, their state-sponsored advocacy, their men-against-women conspiracies, and their pay-differential lies, will spring back. Don't just cut funding for LCHIP, kill it, kill the notion that the state has a duty to be a property owner not just for concern for watershed or "environment" but on a vague notion that someone else's property is my "community heritage." By that standard, the state should own or dictate the use of all property in the state! Don't just delay the "state cancer plan," kill it; if I own my body, you don't own my health. No cancer is contagious and many are the result of private, personal choices that bureaucrats seek an opening to dictate.

And don't describe any tax as "fair," as a matter of people "paying their fair share." All taxes are collected under threat of armed state force, and most are independent of the taxpayer's demand for state services. This is not about fairness, but covetousness. You have not raised taxes on campgrounds because they deserve to pay but because they are defenseless.

And, as for "putting partisanship aside" just before two paragraphs of overt partisanship: Who do you think you are, Barack Obama?
- Spike, Brentwood NH

I voted for Craig Benson, NOT JOHN LYNCH. But Governor Lynch has show independent leadership during his tenure.

He was elected Governor, not King. He's had to deal with the same political realities, and even many of the same Republican players, who ate Craig Benson alive for his conservative approach.

We all must remember, this budget crisis has been directly caused by the ultra-liberal, big government Republicans we sent to Washington during the Bush years who doubled our national debt DURING A GREAT ECONOMY!

The Democrats in Washington, and all state leaders throughout the nation, both Democrats and Republicans, are dealing with those consequences as they try very hard to lead their respective constituencies through our current economic battlefield.

Governor Lynch is doing as good a job as any Republican could, and the demise of Craig Benson by ultra-liberal Republicans, many still very influential in the NH Legislature, only reinforces that point.
- Bob Jean, Northwood, NH 03261

Gov. Lynch, Why do you refuse to respond, let alone listen, to the responses to your editorials? As in all of the other NH papers, the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of our citizens do NOT agree that this budget is responsible or balanced. You write and run, thinking that you know best, and do not represent the majority of your constituents. The budget is inflated and flawed, a byproduct of your previous spending without revenues to support it. Stop the train wreck and take the time necessary to redo a truly responsible budget reflective of the current recession. Losing $11 million to extend the process for one month is far less than the total amount that will be lost over the next two years if this budget is passed. Many specific cuts have been presented to you via qualified citizens both here and sent to you directly, but you pay NO attention. Could it be that your special interests come first? Let us come first for a change!
- CG, newfields

Govenor Lynch,

You have my support. Keep up the great work!

A taxpayer and a voter...
- Sue, Bedford

As a state employee and as a citizen in NH, I find this budget proposal to be the WORST that I have ever heard of. I have to worry about a job I have had for over 20 years and a home that I have had for over 10 years. Lynch started as a lollypop in a bag full of coal bensons and now he stinks worse than a bag of manure! Tax the crap out of us and then take our jobs....nice! I say gambling, income tax or gas tax would be better options since it wouldn't single out just NH residents...why are you trying to drive us all out???

NO TO NEW BUDGET!!!!!!!!!!
- JJS, Concord

Reject this mess of a budget. It is nothing but harmful. If the ruination of this state is what you seek then you've done a fantastic job.

In my opinion though you should print this budget on cardboard and wipe with it.
- Paul, Concord

Given the extraordinary circumstances, as the Governor points out, what would be the harm in spiking this budget and passing a continuing resolution that closed the Laconia State Prison, Tobey School, stopped Medicaid from subsidizing medical education, etc, and kept government running for a few months while they put together a better budget in the hopes that the revenue picture improves? That way, some of the more contentious tax hikes could be dropped if the economy improves.
- Greg Moore, Manchester

For this man to call this budget "tough and responsible" is being disingenuous in the extreme.
His argument that "A continuing resolution will cost the state at least $11 million a month more than this budget"....(resulting in) either deeper, less responsible cuts or higher taxes, or both."
My question is how do you know? You've already revised the revenue projections upward to meet your predetermined taxation requirements (oops, fee increases) so you can say the budget it "balanced". I'd say it's a crap shoot....oops, better not talk in those gamblin' terms, huh?!
And your assertion that "Holding our state hostage is not the way to win a political or policy argument." I would say that YOU and your legislature are the one's playing politics - all we the people want is FAIR and we want SPENDING REDUCTIONS NOT TAX INCREASES so you can keep spending, spending, spending.
If it takes a few weeks to put everything on the table in the light of day for all to see, what's the problem? Or are you afraid we'll really see the deceit and subterfuge and Politics that is being played in the darkness of night?
- Sandy, Thornton

"State revenues in 2010 are projected to be at about the same level as 2004."
'
Good news. Simply roll back every department's budget to what it was in 2004. I remember 2004 and NH did pretty well on that level of spending. It was the politicians that raised spending by 17.5% from 2006 to 2008... Dial it back.
- SeamusNH, NH

the resposible thing to do is reject the budget! this budget taxes those least able to pay and by ambush at that; strips long time workers of their right to tetain their job instead of losing it to someone who has but a little time in as a state worker, though that protects Lynch appointees; suspending bumping rights because they are too cumbersome belies the fact that administrators have had 5months to figure it out, it sounds more like patronage or incompetence; th bottom line is this budget is bad for New Hampshire.
- richard molan, manchester

Two Union Leader Columns in two weeks, Smiling John must be desperate. Mr. Nice guy has ruined our State. Go back to Lynnfied, MA.
- Jack Truman, Middleton, NH

Responsible would have been to wait on frivolous bills like the gay marriage law. Nice job to NH politicians. They should all resign!!! Including yourself governor!
- Larry, Manchester

Gov. Lynch,

I have voted for you in the past.

Never again.
- David Dodd, Raymond

After a very large budget increase last biennium to call these new taxes "tough choices" is insulting. It's like saying "Sorry I pushed you out of the boat, but now you are in the water you may as well drown." Sad state of affairs indeed.
- Phil, New LOndon

I think we could learn something from the not so free citizens of Iran. Between the federal government and our state governments we are all being sucked dry. The arroagance of your party combined with the ignorance of the voter giving too much power to one party is the problem. It's time we hold all our elected officials accountable and stop electing people based on feel good reasons. It does not take experience or leadership to raise taxes and spend like crazy. It only takes people who know how to spend other peoples money.

How about not taxing us and letting the sheeple find their own way as the founding fathers intended. I am less free now than I was as a child and that can only be explained by the actions of government. Next will be the take over of health care even though the majority of people don't want it.
- Deb, Derry

Mr. (not my governor) Lynch...
If revenues will be the same as those in 2004, cut spending to 2004 levels. It was you and this democrat legislature who increased spending by ridiculous levels and caved into the unions. You can decrease spending if you wanted to.
Oh, right, you really didn't have the time to think about this budget...you were all too busy with "gay marriage" legislation.

And to all the democrats who voted in these clowns, and the biggest clown of them all, O'bummer, are you all happy now? The democrats in this state have destroyed New Hampshire and O'bummer will do the same to this country.
- Cathie S, Chester

The proposed budget dramatically shifts costs to municipalities (meaning the property taxpayers) at a time when they can least afford it.
The proposed budget neither balanced nor responsible. It is regressive to an immoral degree. It is based on borrowing, downshifting, preposterously inflated revenue projections and accounting tricks reminiscent of Enron.
People with moralistic objections to gaming ignore the fact that today NH gamblers are spending their money either out of state or with illegal local operators who don't pay taxes. The social costs of gambling are already here. NH is paying the bills but criminals and other states are making the money. Gamblers are going to gamble. Drinkers are going to drink. Prohibition has never worked and will never will. Many of the objections being raised to expanded gaming are the same as those I heard in 1963 when the sweeps was proposed and sometimes by the same people.
If the legislators represent the people and not just the Governpr's puppets they'll reject this budget of the rich by the rich and for the rich

Tom Mullins
Webster
- Tom Mullins, Webster

Rarely are weasel words written so eloquently. Lynch clearly spent more time on this spin control confession above than on slashing a single nickel from abortion promoting Planned Parenthood and their ilk.
- Ed Holdgate, Sandown, NH

Governor, only you and the tax-and-spend liberals in Concord could call raising taxes, "closing a loophole." Boy, those campers outside the statehouse yesterday seemed awfully upset over that "loophole" they got away with for years! Who are you kidding?
- Kevin, Litchfield, NH

Whine all you want about John Lynch, but he's still more conservative than a lot of Republicans on fiscal issues. Especially Republicans in the northeast... he's well to the right of people like Pataki, Snowe or Douglas.
- John, Plymouth

I am surprised the state did not just levy a $500 state service fee on every person and claim no new taxes. The LLC distribution is just a state income tax for small business owners, it is the same thing as a company giving you a paycheck, then taxing you on the money each pay period as a distribution and then you change the word and call it income to be taxed again at the end of the year (of course no one as actually seen what it says). The polls showed the people wanted gamming but the lawmakers vote it down, polls showed the people did not want the bathroom bill or gay marriage but the lawmakers vote it in. Rather than call this a tough budget for the times I would call it a just budget with a lot of new fees. All short term fixes and all the fees will go up again next budget, but no new taxes.
- Jim, Loudon

They call this budget responsible????What a joke. A responsible budget cuts out ALL unnecessary spending, not add to the spending by taxing citizens more than they can afford. These jokers in Concord have no clue. I bet I could find millions of dollars in unnecessary spending in each department of state government. I've had to do it in my own budget. I suggest these idiots try again and bring in the slots. It will be a source of income that won't fluctuate as wildly as these idiots assuming how much revenue will come in year to year. Wake up Concord!!! Listen to what the people want.
- Ruthie, Fremont

Hes right about one thing, YOU DID ELECT HIM!
- Mike, Manchester

Please, Governor.......enough of the phony op-eds! Do you think we are so out of touch that we can be swayed by an editorial? This recession is now your recession. We have no more money available for you to tax. We are only a month or two from foreclosure or eviction. Your budget (like your administration) is a disaster.
- Mark, Manchester

An overall increase in spending is not the way to go in tough times. Visit Jeb Bradleys website for the real deal here folks - read what the GOvernor is NOT saying. People, wake up - between the President and the Governor we are not going to have any money left - 2010 we must take back control of the fiscal responsibility. Dems have too many friends and want to pay for everything for all - we have to stop this hemmorage.
- Joanne, Londonderry

NH is not only in a sad state, it has now become a sorry state.

How can you treat citizens 'responsibly' by wanting to close the Tobey school and prisons, then choking the retired? How can it be considered anything but grandstanding by putting more residents out of work?

Welcome to the proud state of New Hampshire. I'm embarrassed to live here.
- Frank, Merrimack

You can forget about lawmakers and the governor doing what is best for the citizens of our state, just look at the gay marriage fiasco. Lawmakers and the governor will do what they think is best for them and their liberal supporters and the citizens of NH can take a flying leap for themselves.
- Bill, Auburn, Nh

And another thing, governor: please explain to me how a 10.5% INCREASE in overall spending in the middle of a budget crunch is a "tough and responsible" budget. Nothing about your fiscal policy has been tough or responsible. You have increased spending by double digits almost every year you've been in office since the Democrats took control.

Yes, you cherry pick the portions of the budget that you cut, but conveniently fail to mention the double digit INCREASE in overall spending. This. Is. Insane.
- Jack, Concord

I wonder if we'd be in this budget crisis if you hadn't signed a grossly irresponsible 17% increase in spending, necessitating the state to take on DEBT for the first time. This budget is not even close to fixing the problem you and the other Democrats created by recklessly raising spending for your pet projects.
- Jack, Concord

This budget is a complete abomination!

It will cost municipalities at least $84 million dollars--money that will come directly from taxpayers' pockets in the form of MORE property tax increases! Add to that fact the increased room & meals tax, the camping tax, the increased fees for car & boat registrations, a new gambling tax...what exactly is there to recommend about this budget? It's a fiasco!

Get the expanded gambling back on the table! It's what the taxpayers want overwhelmingly! Start representing your constituency for a change.
- Bob, Hooksett

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"Hold the budget: More scrutiny is needed"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, June 23, 2009

Legislators need to reject the compromise state budget finalized by a small group of legislators at 1 a.m. Friday. The budget is balanced with significant tax hikes, the details of which were kept secret until after the vote.

People affected by substantial changes in government policy deserve a chance to speak out about those changes before they are made. Last week, as budget negotiators debated the details of numerous tax proposals, they refused to allow the public to see some of those details.

For instance, a proposal to apply the state's interest and dividends tax to partners in limited liability companies would tax those business owners to the tune of about $15 million, according to the Department of Revenue Administration. But when the Business and Industry Association asked for the language to see precisely how the tax would be applied and to whom, the request denied. Thus, the state's largest business lobby was unable to take a position on a proposal that could affect more than 10,000 businesses in New Hampshire.

This newspaper also withheld commentary on the tax because the language of the proposed statutory changes was not made public.

A proposal to apply the state's rooms and meals tax to campgrounds also caught those businesses by surprise. Had they allowed public examination of the plan, legislators might have learned that the tax will either have to be applied after-the-fact to thousands of vacation reservations already made or be absorbed by the businesses.

There is a huge logistical hurdle as well. That tax is to take effect on July 1, a week from tomorrow. State law requires that any business collecting rooms and meals taxes first obtain a Meals and Rentals Tax License. Campgrounds don't have these licenses because they've never had to collect the tax before. The Department of Revenue Administration says it takes a week to a week and a half to process the license application. Even if a campground applied for a license today, the paperwork might not be complete by July 1. Campground owners will be legally obliged to collect a tax that they cannot legally collect.

Some public debate on this proposal would have revealed this problem. How many other problems remain undiscovered?

Legislators should take four more weeks to come up with a budget that doesn't contain surprises of this magnitude. That should be enough time to allow for adequate public input. We shouldn't pass a budget that contains mystery damages to local businesses, which this one does.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Mr Thrope and others should proudly proclaim their view that we should consider the fundamental transition to a form of government called socialism. A government promising change and a socialist agenda won by a landslide victory in Germany in 1933.

For now I believe we live in a capitalist country where freedoms and liberites reign supreme. Those liberties are quickly disappearing and taking them away from you requires money. When you can't afford something you no longer have the choice to buy it, participate in it or live in it. It is this simple: do you want the government to provide for you and decide for you or are you comfortable as an American in the pursuit of your own happiness with your own money?
- Michael Layon, Derry

The NH's Demo and some others legislatures are now beyond ridiculous and into stupidity. They no longer represent the best interests of the people of NH. It seems they want to be expedient and pick items to tax that they believe will receive the least path of resistant versers being prudent and earnest and to cut, reduce, and not initiate expenses that are not essential and necessary. We have cut, reduced, and eliminated our household expenses. Yet, we have no control over escalating taxes passed by our "representatives" who no longer listen and respond to our pleas.
- Jan, Londonderry, NH

No Mr. Dodd, you don't get it. The inn, cabin and motel/hotel owners already pay property taxes locally on their property, but they pay an addtional "rooms & meals" tax on the renting of those same properties to the State. Its not double taxation, but a separate tax on the profit. The camp owner pays a local property tax to the town, in some cases, but through a loophole has not been paying his fair share of the State rooms tax. This budget closes that loophole. Thankfully Representative Horrigan and the majority of the legislture get it. I love all you whining campers that prescribe to that old adage "the only fair tax is the tax the other guy pays". 9 million dollars in lost revenus annually is something that needs to be fixed now!
- Thomas Thorpe, Portsmouth, NH

It seems odd to apply a Rooms and Meals tax to camping given that no rooms are actually provided...
- Jeff, Manchester

Let's see.....first, the campground owner is taxed on the land......then the individual camper is taxed on the trailer and the deck by the Town....Now the state wants another 9%? Are you kidding? This is getting worse than Taxachusetts! I thought the Dems were going to govern in moderation; instead they are ruling with an iron fist. I'm going to have to switch my affiliation to become an Independant.
- Paul, Salem

Thorpe just doesn't get it.

The campground is paying a property tax. If you have a permenent trailer at a campground, you are paying the town a tax on the value of that trailer. If the camper is not permanent, the owner is paying a tax on the value of the camper when they register it. How many times do you wish to tax the same people on the same item? It's not a loophole. It's been taxed properly already. Educate yourself for crying out loud.
- Dave Dodd, Raymond

I am a state rep from Durham, Lee and Madbury (and we have a few campgrounds in our district.) The many campground owners from all over NH who have emailed me are displeased, to put it mildly. This tax makes a bad season even worse for them--- and of course no one likes having to pay or collect taxes. BUT none of the camp owners... NOT ONE... has mentioned the license issue.

I think Thomas Thorpe explained pretty well why the logistics of getting the license are not a problem. I can add that cabins, lodges, etc. were already covered by Rooms and Meals taxes, so if your facility has those, you were already collecting some Rooms and Meals taxes. You can also begin collecting the tax before you get your license: you just can't send in the payment until the paperwork is done.

This is not an ideal budget, but I don't know if it will get any better if we delay passing it. And frankly, I probably would have voted for including campgrounds in the rooms and meals tax if it had been presented as a standalone bill.
- Timothy Horrigan, Durham, NH

Until now, I never really appreciated that the legislative process essentially collapses when you get into "end game". That's what is happening right now.

The scary thing is -- as you note in your editorial -- actual taxes can be decided on and enacted during this "twilight zone" experience.

The humbling aspect of this -- for me, anyway -- is that I was on the committee of conference for the operating budget thirty years ago and I never appreciated all this. I simply thought that we were reconciling two versions of the budget. Silly me.

Good luck, New Hampshire...
- Larry Gillis, Cape Coral FL

This typical NH budget, cobbled together with a patchwork quilt of taxes and fees, to serve a government that will not practice Yankee frugality, should be turned down. It is time to do zero base budgeting, streamline how we operate in NH, removing the clap trap that has accumulated in Concord. Remember that we won't have rosy economic conditions, by most accounts, when the next biennial budget is due to be crafted. Since we have no long term plan in Concord due to lack of adult supervision, we'll be right back in this swamp again.
- John Linville, Wolfeboro

Your assertion that campgrounds don't currently hold a rooms & meals tax license is false. Virtually all campgrounds sell food & drink from a variety of camp stores that currently require the license. Also, many campgrounds have rental cottages that have also required the posession of the license. At most, only a handful of some smaller type operation may not have the aplicable license. It is tine that campers pat their fair share, and 9 million dollars in revenue should be incentive enough for the legislature to do the right thing and pass this bill, with its campground loophole closed, tomorrow!
- Thomas Thorpe, Portsmouth, NH

The Union Leader has always slanted its news, but this is the first time I have heard the word scrutiny to mean reject. One strategy to win is that if it isn't what one wants, break it, and I think this is the case.

Maybe the legislators will look at values other than money and pass a budget that serves the people of NH rather than a budget that people of NH have to serve.
- Leonard Campbell, Center Harbor

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"Taxing the poor: The Democrats' plan"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, June 23, 2009

It is noteworthy that no one is noting how hard the poor are hit in the new state budget up for a vote tomorrow. The budget is balanced with a mix of tax and fee increases that fall on people of all incomes. The poor, however, will have a harder time paying some of the tax and fee hikes.

Consider a low-income family of four with a car and a motorcycle. That family will pay $15 more to register a motorcycle and $30 more to register a standard-sized car. (They'd pay even more if they had a truck.) If just one person in the family smokes a pack a day, that's another $164 in taxes in the next year. Under this budget, that family will pay at least $209 in higher taxes and fees. That's if they don't own a truck, have to renew a driver's license or go camping for vacation. Adding a 9 percent rooms and meals tax to campground stays could tack on another $40.

This is not to advocate hiking taxes on the rich. It is simply to point out how the self-appointed guardians of the poor and the downtrodden really behave in a pinch.

READERS' COMMENTS:

So if everyone quits smoking to save money, where are the millions of dollars in revenue for the State going to come from? They'll just raise another tax somewhere else and any savings from stopping smoking will be gone up in smoke (hee-hee).
- Billy G, Pinardville

Well, Rob in Manchester, I also found the comments of Sydney in Londonderry offensive, but I thought they sounded like they came from a true conservative. We do seem to agree, though, that raising taxes is not the answer to a balanced budget - reduce spending is the answer!
- Molly W, Manchester

Please, Lisa.....if Bedford has such great schools, move there - and do it quickly. The liberals don't care about the poor. They use the politics of envy to divide our country between "haves" and "have nots". Ironically, more liberals are in the "have" category than conservatives and they want to stay there. They just don't want the rest of us in their exclusive club.
- Mark, Manchester

- Mike R., Bedford: Is your response purposely dumb? You apparently do not comprehend what is written in my post. I suggest that the "essential core services" is determined BEFORE the tax code is established. Such an action eliminates your concern about ever increasing tax liability because by determining the core services, your category of "more entitlement programs" could not occur without the public's prior approval.

- Alan, Derry: By the way, renters already pay real estate taxes. Unfortunately, they are not allowed to take the credit because the property tax is forwarded from the owner to the renter via the monthly or weekly rent. They don't need to be hit with a DOUBLE real estate tax!
- Gary L. Kerr, Chichester

If you can afford a car you can pay the taxes on the car. Why shouldn't the democrats expect everyone to pay their own way? By the way - at one pack a day they can also stop smoking and get another $3000.00 towards their expenses each year!
- Sarah, Manchester

Problem solved.... stop smoking and not only can you afford more but you and the kids will be healthier.
- Tracy, Danville

April Fool's was almost three months ago April fools.
- Tom, Dover-Foxcroft, Me.

The UL only wants to point out that Dems are hypocrites. Great, thanks for the contribution to the discourse. And when they roll out a progressive tax I'm sure you won't decry the taxation of success. Most of your editorials are blatantly biases, which is your right. But this one is just pathetic.
- Chip, Wilton

Hello Union Leader editorial writer! Did you happen to read the front page article titled "School Board OKs Budget"? Manchester school children who participate in sports or the band will have to pay a fee to participate. These fees are passing on the costs of school expenses to the most disadvantaged youth in the state due to the great leadership of Frank Guinta. Instead of raising the tax rate to cover school costs, Mayor Guinta would rather take opportunity away from the school children. That is called taxing the poor through fees and taking opportunity away. Bedford raised their tax rate this year to fully fund their school district and provide salary increases for their teachers. The most privileged receive the best education. The least privileged receive the worst education and have to pay fees for sports, band and chorus!! Thank you Frank Guinta!
- Lisa Frisselle, 322 Huse Road

It appears as though our government has gotten a little too big for its country.
They have too many of their own special interests that they would rather work into the budget.
I agree with Alan in Derry. Some of us fortunate enough to still have employment, have had to endure layoffs of friends, cuts in paycheck to try to save others from layoffs and others have had to reduce their work weeks.
If the companies are doing what they need to survive, why can't our government do the same. They some how think that all the decisions they are making are for us the people. I wish they would keep in mind that they are also part of this group. If they were at risk of losing their position in order to balance the budget, I bet things would be a little different.
I know if I can't afford it, I go without until I can afford it. Seems simple enough.
Of course it is getting harder and harder to afford anything lately.
Give us people a break already. We can only give up so much of our paychecks and still live somewhat comfortably.
- DM, Manchester

Thank Gog Jeff lives in Vermont. Let's hope he stays there
- Jerry Thibodeau, Rumney

Income tax? That is just another tax to contribute to the real problem, which is rapidly expanding government that refuses to control spending. I lived in Alaska for two years and payed zero income tax, saw that the state schools were free for residents and the k-12 education was among the best in the nation. Why? because the state lives within their means. yes, they have money from oil, but we have the resouces to generate enough power and sell it to other states we could be just as well funded as Alaska. Instead the liberals are trying to find new ways to spend our money.

We need government for sure, without it we have anarchy. Too much of it and we transform to socialism and eventually some type of oligarchy. We have the best country in the world and I believe the best state with many freedoms. Everytime our elected officials decide to increase our taxes it takes away a little bit more of our freedom. This state can and should be run on 5 billion or less. To ensure that it stays run fairly we can impose a percent tax cap so that spending can only increase in times of prosperity.
- Michael Layon, Derry

This is actually a tax on the wealthy because they have more cars to register, smoke better cigars and travel more extensively.

Selective interpretation and spin make for amusing editorials.

State the facts, it's an increase in taxes for NH residents regardless of economic status
- Phil, Manchester

Oh no! My neighbor Joe T. from Derry dragged out that old liberal gem: "When will we stop punishing hard-working Americans because rich people don't want to pay their fair share?" Riiiggghht, because 20% of the people paying 80% of the taxes isn't enough. "Just take it from them, they can afford it", right? Not all "rich" people had it handed to them, you know. Some actually WORKED for a living and sacrificed to get where they are. No handouts or entitlements needed, thank you.
- Rich Taxpayer, Chester

Wow, Syndey...that's brilliant rationalization. So, NH taxes these goods/services, and factors revenue generated into its budget...then you go elsewhere to vacation, and quit smoking....and 5000 or 10,000 others do the same...where does that leave NH? I'd say with a pretty big budget shortfall, and a homework assignment to look for new revenue streams....because, we all know, once a tax is on the books, it ain't coming off. Brilliant liberal thinking....got any other suggestions where they can get their revenue? How about this...limit spending, limit entitlements, then count the windfall of surplus you'll have in your budget, and watch businesses, tourism, retail, etc. flourish here. Is that too difficult?
- Bob, Hampstead

Of course there are not any details of the bill in this story... Would it be safe to assume that EVERYONE has to pay that extra auto registration fee? So it probably doesn't target only low income people therefore not a very accurate headline. How is something that applies to everyone taxing the poor? Apparently the editorials are just practice for talk radio.
- david, hampton

Sydney & Crew:

Why should people be required to change? Shouldn't government change?

Shouldn't people decide how, where, and what to spend their money on? Maybe some don't deserve to buy new shoes when the old ones fit, or they can buy from goodwill.

Better yet, why don't we cut out the WIC/FoodStamp program? How many government dollars (everyone's money) is subsidizing food on WIC when those same people have a seperate grocery order with cartoons of cigarettes and beer.

Government is not the answer. Let the people fend for themselves and charity do the work. It's better for everyone.
- Rick, Manchester, NH

Taxes on items required for healthy living are regressive. Taxes on cigarettes, however, are a tax on, at best, an unnecessary and unhealthy luxury item.

The UL quoted an increased vehicle registration cost of about $30 and cigarette tax of $164.

Seems like the poor could avoid the vast majority of the tax/fee burden by quitting smoking.
- Dan, Auburn

haha right. The UL and conservatives are worried about the poor. Thats rich. You know darn well that if Benson was the Gov, the UL would fully support this plan by stating we all needed to make sacrafices and Benson was doing the best he could with a terrible situation. Wow UL, you didn't even try to hide your bias on this one!
- Jeff, Burlington, VT

There are THREE certainties in life which are here to stay until eternity: "Death, Taxes and OBD II Inspections".
- Larry, Nashua

I just hope we can sustain an economic recovery long enough that I can sell my house and get out of here. I never thought I'd leave NH however I can't think of any reason to stay. Hopefully, this will be the last winter I have to deal with. Atlanta, here we come.
- Wayne S, Manchester

CJ in Manchester says: "First, "poor" should not go on vcation - they don't have the discretionary funds." Unbelievable. Who died and made you the Vacation Czar?

This Libertarian Republican crap is why we're losing elections. Why are YOU telling people what they can and cannot afford to do?

If someone can't scrape a few bucks together to go camping, they aren't poor, they're truly destitute. Then again, even the middle class soon may not be able to afford it, given the ridiculous taxation schemes of the Dems.
- James, Manchester

It will cost more to live in N.H., but the critics of this editorial seem more interested in attacking the Union Leader for bringing it to our attention than criticizing the Governor and Legislature for enacting these tax hikes. Great example of liberal thinking, keep the unwashed masses ignorant and take their money.
- mo, derry

To Sydney Londonderry,
Your comments were offensive and yet spoken like a true liberal. Compared to a car a motorcycle is a fuel-efficient money saving way of getting to and from work, running errands as well as a source of enjoyment. Also in case you haven’t noticed, more and more people are doing away with a home phone in favor a cell phone. Cell phone plans are not that expensive and in most cases make more sense than a home phone. You are also obviously not in the low-income family category. Low-income families usually cannot afford vacations, a night out to a restaurant or the movies. Their main form of entertainment is usually home watching TV. Yet here you are suggesting low-income families do away with their main source of entertainment by eliminating cable service just so they can afford to pay these new fees and taxes imposed by tax and spend liberals? These politicians need to do as you suggested low-income people do, cut spending!
- Rob, Manchester

If they are going to tax the camp ground then why not put a tax on rental property why they are at it. Our Government is living in a dream world to think that everything can be solved by rasing taxes.
If a business needs to cut its overhead it lays people off, I know its hard to believe but it happens. Why can't our government accept that and start laying people off.
This is getting out of hand and I hope the people think hard the next time they vote.
- Alan, Derry

First, "poor" should not go on vcation - they don't have the discretionary funds.

Second, Why do we always think regressive tax is not fair? Let's punish success - that is the american way.

Do you people know that republicans give more of their personal money to charity than dems? Dems fight for the poor with other people's money, not their own.
- CJ, Manchester

A well reasoned case for an income tax. Thanks, Union Leader!
- Rob, Manchester, NH

This editorial subjected the Democrats' budget to a class-warfare analysis to score the debate point of calling the Democrats hypocrites. They may be hypocrites, but you thereby opened the floor to more class-warfare analysis, and the predictable leftie conclusion that a broad-based tax is the solution.

Please confine your argument to the destructive nature of all taxation--and the fact that serious work to limit spending (including Lynch's "stem-to-stern review") never happened. If it were persuasive to analyze tax proposals on the basis of what group pays them, to sculpt a tax policy to punish specific classes, then Mark Fernald with his easel of bar-graphs would now be Governor.
- Spike, Brentwood NH

Lets not bring up the fact that this "poor" family with a car and a motorcycle is probably collecting aid from the state in the form of food stamps, free health care for the kids, and who knows what else/. That and quitting smoking will no doubt cover the extra taxes...
- Steve, nashua

Let's see:
I don't smoke
Don't have cable
Camp in the woods
No motorcycle, rv, or camper

Huum.. this communist living is
easy. I wonder though .. what have
the Politburo given up? The governor lives in a mansion, the state workers all have easy jobs with big pay and a pension when they are still young enough to work, the illegal aliens get free health care at the ER, the poorest get welfare, the teachers take the summer off, the cops sit in cars and pretend to direct traffic, .... wait .. I thought in a communist state we all share in the joy of living here? Something is wrong .. what could it be? I know: democrats. It wasn't like this when the republicans were in office. Those rich country club, horse riding, golfing, yachting, wine tasting, cheese eating, snobs sure knew the value of a buck. I bet many of them work. Poor fools, work is so yesterday.
- Tommy, Manchester, NH

ANY tax that is NOT an income tax IS a tax increase on the poor. When will we get over our irrational fear of a more equatable form of taxation and stop pushing the tax burden downward? When will we stop punishing hard-working Americans because rich people don't want to pay their fair share?
- joe t, derry nh

Garry Kerr, the naive nonsense about "relief" if you add an income tax has to stop. Basic truth: TAXES NEVER GO DOWN.

If you add an income tax, they just spend all that money on more entitlement programs, and you're paying, surprise, two taxes, and neither go down. Ask anyone who lives in any of our surrounding states, including the failed regime just to our south. Why do you think they're losing people every year?

Also, this "eat the rich" sentiment here is more than disturbing. When was the last time a poor person opened a new business or gave you a job? If you chase off all the producers because they're "rich", taxing them till they leave, you get nothing but...Mass Failure 2. That what you want? Manchester to look like Lawrence? (It already does, more every year!)

I always thought I'd live in NH my whole life. But now I am really considering leaving, because it's not the state I loved anymore, and it's getting worse and worse. Higher and higher cost with fewer and fewer businesses, NO destination retailers because of the hostile business climate, and little given in return for the cost to live here. Welfare sponges get five years of free living, of course, so that's what this state will become. Wal-mart and welfare.

No wonder the old man fell off the mountain.
- Mike R., Bedford

taxes and death are the only thing guarenteed in life. you have paid your taxes all this time, and you will pay till you die. the dems raise taxes and the repubs raise taxes. why don't we take a different road next time.
- gpc, weare, nh

This is ok though. Considering the poor get free medical care for their children. Free medical care for their disabled (mentally) wife. Free food (food stamps). Electricity payment assistance. And so on. So, please stop with all the poor poor talk. Oh and they also don't pay any taxes. Great isn't it.
- Kevin, Dover, NH

The writer could have used working class or middle class instead of poor for the example, perhaps then not incurring your ridicule Leo and Dawn. The example doesn't really make any difference. It's the end result that matters...it's going to cost more to live, work, or play in NH.
- JP, Bedford NH

Is this editorial an example of the UL.com editors seeing a bit of reality? Probably not as their example of a "typical family of four" living on a "low income" (but what is so-called low), is not likely "typical".
However, one fact is true. The proposed tax hikes are regressive as they take more of a percentage of a low income than a high income family's disposable income. I also submit that if the senate had supported the hike in gasoline taxes, then many of the flat tax hikes would not be needed. Also, if the gas tax hike had been used, the those who use the highways more than others who don't would be paying their representative fair share of the cost to repair those highways. By the way, I prefer to pay an extra nickle a gallon to governments than to pay that same amount to the for profit and greed oil industry.
I do agree that the proposed state budget should be voted down, but likely for different reasons than given by the editors. NH needs to establish a list of "essential core services" BEFORE guessing how much money it can raise. Therefore, a continuing resolution should be done, hearings convened on the essential services list, and then a re-codification of the taxes be done. If necessary, then a broad based income tax with property tax relief be created to cover the cost of essential services.
- Gary L. Kerr, Chichester

This is a poor example. Let me offer some sound advice to this "low income" family. Lose the motorcyle. Go camp in Maine. Tell the person who smokes to quit. Now they'll have extra money to pay for the car registration and by quiting smoking it will save 6 dollars a day .....that will save this family $2,190 annually. If they unplug the cell phone too that an additional savings of $540. If they unplug the cable that's another $1,200. The money is there....just that peoples prioritys are not.
- Syndey, Londonderry

Regressive taxation has ALWAYS been the New Hampshire way! Lower income citizens always pay a higher amount of their taxes in NH than those making a higher income. It's time for a fairer broad-based tax. Enough already with these decades of nickel and dime-ing the taxpayer.
- Putney, Manchester

Gee, the low-income families I know can't afford a car and a motorcycle, they can barely keep the car. Riciulous example.....
- Dawn Gagnon, Manchester

That 'family of four' example is a joke, isn't it? Pitiful editorial writing.
- Leo, Canterbury

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"State House Dome: Court fight may unbalance NH budget"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, June 28, 2009

WE MAY HAVE a two-year budget, but it could wind up with a big hole in it.

Balancing the budgets for the year that ends Tuesday, and for the coming fiscal year, hangs on the idea of taking $110 million in surplus from the medical malpractice insurance fund run by the Joint Underwriting Association.

The board offers cut-rate coverage to doctors, saving them about 10 percent on malpractice.

Last week, the doctors and hospitals who are part of the JUA won their first round in Belknap County Superior Court. Justice Kathleen McGuire threw the Attorney General's Office off the case. She said the JUA is not a state agency, so the AG can't represent it while representing the Insurance Department, which is part of the lawsuit.

This case could slow down a bit while JUA's new lawyer gets up to speed.

But it means more than that. It means nobody touches the $110 million the state needs to balance its books, not only next year, but in the fiscal year that ends Tuesday.

McGuire said JUA "is not part of the executive branch of state government. Rather, it is akin to the New Hampshire Retirement System which the New Hampshire Supreme Court has held is an independent entity rather than an executive department or agency. If the JAU isn't part of the executive branch, can a governor dip into its reserves? Good question.

The first impact the standoff hits at the end of July, the date the new budget calls for a transfer of $65 million onto state books for the 2009 fiscal year. Another $45 million is supposed to come out for the 2010 fiscal year.

The state accountants are trying to figure several scenarios, including an appropriate move if the state ends up winning its case. We could end up listing the entire JUA account, at roughly $175 million, as the state's money. Given McGuire's initial finding, however, we'd better keep hunting for cash.

As for how critical the issue is to the budget, remember McGuire is interpreting law the Legislature creates, and can easily change.

Rep. Dan Eaton, D-Stoddard, said he's not worried about the situation now.

"Like all lawsuits, it will play itself out. My suspicion is it will be two years before it reaches a resolution so it's not going to affect this budget," he said.

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DOG RACING DILEMMA: The future of dog racing in New Hampshire is up in the air. Granted, tracks don't even have to run actual races anymore to make money off simulcast betting. The state loses money every time they come out of the gate.

The House pulled out $500,000 in costs of supervising live racing when it passed the budget. It directed the tracks to find a way to cover their own costs. Tracks already are billed directly for lab testing of race animals.

The Senate put all the supervision money back in.

By the time it emerged from the committee of conference process, the bill contained money for one year of supervision. After that, racing will stop unless tracks find a way to cover all costs, or the Legislature allocates more money for it when they return in January.

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NO FREE FUNERALS: The state will no longer pick up the cost of funerals for those who die while they are covered by Medicaid.

Sen. Kathy Sgambati, D-Tilton, said the change saves money, and was in all versions of the budget as it worked its way through the Legislature.

"Charitable organizations and localities will have to support those individuals, Sgambati told the Senate during debate.

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'EMPEROR SUNUNU' DECIDES: Charlie Bass? Kelly Ayotte? Fred Tausch? Ovide Lamontagne?

Or, maybe John E. Sununu will be the GOP candidate for U.S. senator. At least that's what John H. Sununu, GOP chairman, hinted to the Portsmouth Herald last week.

He said his son, who lost to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in November, will decide this week whether he'll run for the seat U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg will leave open with his departure in 2010.

In a statement that quickly ran through political circles, Sununu said, "I think if my son runs, there will not be a primary." The Herald said he told them that he expects Ayotte, reportedly being courted as a candidate by the national party, to step aside.

Victoria Bonney, state Democratic Party spokesman, said Sununu is clearly warning other candidates to stay away.

"I feel badly for a Republican candidate, who before he or she can run will have to wait for Emperor Sununu to decide if his son is going to get in the race. He shouldn't hold back candidates who want to run because he wants his son to go unopposed," she said.

Calls to the GOP Friday went unreturned. Hmmm.

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BLASTING DEMS, AGAIN: Earlier in the week, chairman Sununu stuck to his recent pattern of delivering body blows to Gov. John Lynch and Democrats.

"This is a disastrous budget that will have a devastating impact on New Hampshire families as they struggle to make ends meet during these difficult economic times," he said in a statement. "But as bad as this budget is for today, it is infinitely worse for New Hampshire's future and its long-term job outlook and fiscal stability."

He echoed Republicans who said the budget wrongly counts on one-time money, like the JUA funds and federal stimulus. Writing a budget that way leaves a big hole to fill in two years, he said.

During House debate, Eaton waved off the one-time money argument.

"Every budget I have ever voted on in this chamber has had the dark cloud of one-time money hanging over it," he said.

Democrats joined Lynch in warning that failure to pass the budget would mean spending cuts would not take effect, and new revenues would not start flowing.

Democratic chair Raymond Buckley said his party"passed a balanced budget that included deep cuts and reforms, protected the state's most vulnerable from the effects of this economic crisis and kept the overall increase at less than 1 percent. A breakdown by the Legislative Budget Assistant's office found the budget spends 3 percent less in general funds than the previous budget. GOP critics point out a lot of money was shifted off the general fund ledger, such as traffic fines, school building aid and liquor revenues. Add that back in, and the true increase is closer to 7 percent, they say.

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REGISTRATION FEES JUMP: An LBA list of 33 tax and fee changes shows the single biggest boost comes from the surcharge on motor-vehicle registration fees, which is supposed to go away on July 1, 2011. Cars cost an extra $30, vehicles from 5,001 to 10,000 lbs. cost an extra $45, and heavier trucks are assessed based on weight. Motorcycles cost an extra $10. The total new revenue over two years comes to $85.5 million, destined for the state highway fund, secondary road improvements and local aid.

Other big revenue producers in the next two years are the higher tobacco tax, up 45 cents to produce $59.2 million over two years, the rooms and meals tax hike, bringing in $61.4 million. The campsite tax alone will bring $9 million over the two years. The extension of the interest and dividend taxes to limited liability corporations will mean $30 million.

Taxing gambling winnings at 10 percent will produce almost $14 million. Not bad for a state that just rejected expanded gambling. The fact is, people wagered roughly $642 million in legal gambling venues last year.

Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, the Legislature's leading gambling proponent, said," "We have this mirage that gambling doesn't exist. And if it should somehow come to exist in the real world, bang, we tax it."

- - - - - -

RUSSELL RETIRING AT 78: Liquor commissioner Patricia Russell said she's concluded that at age 78, she's ready to relax.

"I'm just getting tired," she said last week. Appointed by Gov. Shaheen in 1999, she has been commuting from Keene to Concord ever since.

She leaves as Liquor Commission chair Mark Bodi gears up for changes in SLC operations he secured in the new budget. That includes selling the state warehouse for $30 million and opening up to eight private-agency stores.

Russell is leaving what she called, "a perfectly oiled machine with absolutely fantastic employees." She said she got along great with Bodi, whom she's known for 40 years. They also served in the Legislature together in 1976. Back then, former Democratic party chair Chris Spirou brought a crop of youngsters into the House that included Secretary of State Bill Gardner and Banking Commissioner Peter Hildreth.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief for New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS

Why do I get the feeling that the motor-vehicle fees will not be temporary?Why should I believe that in the next two years the state will not "need" more money and that this temporary fee will become permanent.I also have doubts that the 85.5 million will actually go to the state highway fund, secondary road improvements and local aid (I wonder who local aid is?).With this much money being raised (taxed) for state highways I will watch with interest what happens to Route 101 from West Milford to Keene.This road is supposed to be the main East to West route across southern NH and its condition is more like a town secondary road in several areas.
- Scott Bragdon, Wilton

Rep. Dan Eaton, D-Stoddard, said he's not worried about the situation now.

"Like all lawsuits, it will play itself out. My suspicion is it will be two years before it reaches a resolution so it's not going to affect this budget," he said.

How can it not affect the budget? Oh, I know, they'll legislate around it, and steal it bold as brass.

Folks, you better read this as "we're going to spend it any way, whether we have a legal right to it or not, and we'll approve a faulty, but balanced on paper, budget" as they thumb their noses at us all.

Personally, I think every legislator that voted for it, and the Gov, if he signs the budget, should be arrested, convicted, and impeached for the conspiracy to steal $110 million from JUA, with the AG's approval.

Eaton needs to dig his head out of the sand... but Stoddard enjoys a town rate of $8 per $1000, so he's sitting just fine with a low tax bill, and probably on a good sized home with all the amenities.

Do the right thing you legislative muckey mucks, and bring it back to committee and do your jobs as you were elected to do... too bad if have to actually craft a real, honest, balanced budget that includes the things that the majority wants, during your summer break...if you'd done it right in the first place, these pages wouldn't be filled with rage and you'd enjoy your well earned vacation.

And might as well face it now, in '10 I'll wager most of you are history. Buckley, Lynch, and Kelly for sure.
- Kevin, Keene

Let me ask all you democrat bashers out there some questions, and be honest. Do you vote for your town and school budgets every year? These budgets increase yearly with few exceptions and are almost always passed. Has your property tax more than doubled in the last ten years? Well you MUST be voting for higher school and town budgets!Are you saying if the legislature was republican controlled the state's budget would go down?You must be intoxicated.Some of the budget increases come from unfunded mandated programs from the federal government that we MUST fund. Have you called your federal reps.? Some are due to employee contracts with the state (who deserve a good paying job like anyone else) through wage and benefit increases.Some are due to energy,fuel and transportation costs and so on.NH does not receive federal funds for our highways and infrastructure because we do not participate in it's mandatory seat belt law. We must use state revenue to build and repair our roads and infrastructure.As the state population grows and the years go by the state budget grows like a families budget grows. The republican party had it's chance to help the homeowner with it's back breaking property tax for years when they had control of the legislature, BUT DID NOT.They also could have started the widening of rte 93 years ago BUT DID NOT. now it will cost ten times more to do.They were elected to STATE GOVERNMENT, but did nothing to raise state tax revenues when even I know the state budget like everyone elses would increase.They opted to shift the tax increases to our local government and school system. I do not want more taxation,just releif from the yearly property tax increases.Do not be fooled by this crybaby,blame the other guy bull from the republican's.They are just as much to blame for where we are as a state as ANYONE.It seems the republican party would like the state bird to be the ostrich, guess where their heads are at!TIRED OF HEARING THE BLAME GAME.So do we vote for the town and school budgets or not?They increase just like the state budget does.Why aren't these republicans screaming,MAKE YOUR TOWN AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS CUT BACK THEIR BUDGETS,VOTE "no"ON TOWN AND SCHOOL BUDGETS! Like they are saying about the democratic state budget. I called my state rep to ask her if she would support a small sales tax constitutionally garanteeing the revenue to be soley used for school funding to reduce the ever increasing property tax burdon,after all there are alot of tourist's who visit NH who will buy. She told me "it would be suicide to run on any tax increase,forget it". So hear we are,another day with no solution.I just can't blame the democrats while letting the republican's off the hook. Can you?
- Len Lobao, Danville

Gary Kerr, what is your problem with Sue? Of course her post is an opinion, hers! All of these posts are the opinions of the writers. Calm down and get a grip. Just because a writer doesn't agree with your ideas, doesn't mean he/she is writing a fact!


That said, is it just me, or does anyone else feel like maybe we should look at other Republican candidates? Like AG Kelly Ayotte, if she's interested. I liked Sen Sununu on many issues, but did not agree with him on many and felt he was not conservative enough for me. (Just my opinion.)

But maybe the NH GOP needs to stop forcing the old retreads down our throats and look for some new Conservative blood and let the voters decide.

The very last thing we need in NH is someone who has been part of the old system of corruption, greed and lobbyists. We have enough crooks who refuse to listen to us now.
- Melvin, Keene

Unbelievable that taxes that got leveled across the citizens of NH.

Was there any public input on these or was unilateral robbery of our wallets.

How many people this is going ot affect negatively. Not everyone can afford to go up to Bretton Woods for the weekend and not everyone can go and blow money at the greyhounds. Many people go camping a pop trailer or tent and the state has the audacity to charge them 9% tax. This is one of the poorest lamest excuse for a budget.

Anybody who thinks this money is going to to roadway impovements is out of their cotton pickin' minds. This is nothing than a free grab of our sticky fingered politicians reaching deeper into our wallets.

We aren't living in a world mandated by laws from our legislature, we are in a 3 ring circus with some of our legislature reigning as the Freak Show.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

Lynch reappointed Ayotte over many other capable Democrat prosecutors. What deal was struck with Lynch and a Democrat Executive Council to keep her job? Did she sell her soul?

Ayotte as Senator is as tainted as Newman. Gregg's fingerprints are all over it, and Fergus lost as party chair. An early declaration now will force her to take positions on many issues and undermine her effectiveness as Attorney General. There's no turning back.

New Hampshire Republicans are tired of one party rule. Democrats are the ones really funding her campaign. The bench is strong with potential candidates in Sununu and Tom Thomson.

Should a primary be necessary it benefits the party, and she's better off on the Supreme Court. Call her bluff.
- Steve, Manch

I have to say that Forest Gump said it best, stupid is as stupid does.
I do hope that next election is a complete change for all that are in office now. I will not vote for anyone running for re-election next time around.
Folks better wake up soon, sales, and income tax is next, they won't let gambling is thia state. There worried about crime, how could it be any worse then the crime that is in Concord.
- Rick, Manchester

To Sue in Manchester....
Before you put your foot in your mouth again, try to learn the law. The liquor Commission has 3 members...two of which are the same party as the governor. This has been the law since the Commission came into existance. Since there is already a Republican on the Commission (Mr. Simard), guess what?? Governor Lynch, a man who won an overwhelming victory in the last election gets to pick another Democrat to fill Ms. Russell's position!! I guess its cheaper to complain from the cheap seats rather than to offer some real solutions. Before you write yet another misguided commentary, at least learn the law.
- John, Concord

Tax FREE N.H.? A real "old wives' tale"!

NH nows has developed a new rule of economics: If business is poor (as it is now), RAISE fees (AKA taxes)!

What a fiction this state promotes! Look at the raise in FEES and you can just imagine what this does to the unemployed and the elderly on fixed incomes .

It is time for the state to also live on a fixed income. If WE don't have the money, then the state should follow suit.

TEMPORARY FEES? There is not such thing!
The voters of NH elected reps whose ONLY motive is to raise TAXES (aka fees)!

I do realize that I am just dreaming as this STATE now knows nothing about being frugal.

What have the LIBERALS done????
- E.R., Jaffrey

- Sue, Manchester "Any Republican will be more acceptable than a Democrat like Shaheen after what she and they just did to us yesterday. " That statement is only an opinion and just because you believe it does not make it fact.
- Gary L. Kerr, Chichester

If I was governor. First thing I would have done is to veto this budget. Tell law maker to stop robbering the poor and give to the rich.
Balance the Budget and fight higher taxes. But the Dem. have it all wrong.Spend,Spend higher taxes that not the answer.
- mo, plymouth

Any Republican will be more acceptable than a Democrat like Shaheen after what she and they just did to us yesterday.

Same for Hodes and Porter. Their 15 minutes of fame is up... wait til the poor and middle class find out about the huge TAX they just passed.
- Sue, Manchester

-----------

"Budget signed: 950 state workers could lose jobs"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, July 1, 2009

CONCORD – Gov. John Lynch yesterday put his signature on the state's $11.5 billion budget for the next two years.

The budget took effect at midnight and will run until June 30, 2011.

Lynch said the budget, "reduces general fund spending, protects essential services without an income tax, a sales tax or an increase in the gas tax, but by closing loopholes."

The two-year plan raises tax rates on tobacco, rooms and meals and closes business tax loopholes in the interest and dividends tax. It adds a 10 percent tax on gambling winnings, and boosts a variety of fees, including car and boat registrations, vanity plates, environmental and subdivision permits.

The budget also closes the Laconia State Prison, the Tobey School in Concord and the New London district court. More court closings are being studied. Correction: When first posted, this article incorrectly reported that the district court in Keene would close.)

The $11.5 billion package is balanced with the help of $110 million in surplus at the Joint Underwriting Association, a medical malpractice insurance pool for health care providers. A Belknap County Superior Court judge froze the funds Monday, blocking the state from taking them until she rules on a lawsuit brought by JUA members. They argue rules say the excess funds should go to those who paid the premiums.

Lynch said he is confident the courts will allow the transfer, saying an Attorney General's Office opinion says state government is entitled to the funds.

Republicans yesterday criticized Lynch for signing a budget that relies so heavily on funding at issue in a court suit.

"Senate Republicans warned this risky scheme would get tied up in court and could jeopardize the budget, but our attempts to stop the raid were blocked by the Democrats. Monday's court ruling has validated our warnings," Senate Minority Leader Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, said.

He urged Lynch to veto the budget and call a special session of the Legislature.

Late yesterday, a Merrimack County Superior Court judge froze $8.8 million in excess Medicaid money meant to help balance the budget. Justice Diane Nicolosi said a group of nursing homes appear likely to succeed in their effort to force the state to use the money to compensate them for the costs of providing care to Medicaid clients.

The budget cuts the state workforce by 5 percent, with 200 layoffs and another 400 vacant positions being eliminated.

Lynch said contract talks continue with the State Employees Association. He said he prefers worker furloughs to layoffs as a way to make $25 million in personnel savings the budget requires. But he said a voluntary furloughs system won't be enough. Up to 950 layoffs will be needed if a deal can't be reached on specific, predictable cutbacks.

"We need an approach with certainty and accountability ... It's difficult to see how we accomplish that on a voluntary basis," Lynch said.

He said the budget keeps the spending of state taxes roughly flat over the two-year period, cutting them by about 1 percent.

Republican critics disagree, saying that when accounting changes are considered, state spending is up about 7 percent. An analysis by the Legislative Budget Assistant's Office found the budget reduces state general fund spending by more than 3 percent.

When federal stimulus and other outside funds are added to the mix, the total budget increases by about 10.5 percent, LBA found. That includes spending of $625 million for highway improvements, much of it in federal stimulus funds.

Controversial measures in the budget include an expansion of the rooms and meals tax to include campsites, a change that will raise an extra $4.5 million a year. The rate of the tax, on all meals, hotel rooms and rentals, goes to 9 percent from 8 percent, raising a total of $31.2 million a year.

Towns and cities are left considering higher property taxes or deep cuts in their municipal budgets. The state cut $50 million in revenue-sharing money that it usually distributes, and has cut its share of pension contributions for local workers, from 35 percent last year to 30 percent in the first year and 25 percent in the second year of the budget.

Lynch said that when all municipal and school district aid are considered together, the state has increased overall local aid by nearly 2 percent.

Lynch also signed the state capital budget, which included $14.5 million for a new performance shell at Hampton Beach, a new ski lift at the Mittersill ski area adjacent to Cannon Mountain, and $35 million for community college and technical education center improvements.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

I voted for Lynch and now I'm sorry for it. I even voted for other Democrats I didn't know because of the loyalty I felt for Lynch. That has all changed now and I plan to vote straight Republican, no matter who it is. It was wrong to not put expanded gambling into the mix and I'm incredibly disappointed that Governor Lynch chose not to listen to the citizens of NH.
- Doug, Chichester

Dan, I didn't disparage anyone for their political affiliation - my wife is a Dem! I said anyone who voted for these same clowns next year is an idiot. That's an important distinction. There's nothing wrong with being a Democrat. I know many, and like Republicans and independents they tend to be fine, hardworking people. I do have to question the intelligence of someone who votes AGAIN for people who seem intent upon driving up state spending and taxes over and over again.

What would you call someone who votes AGAIN for candidates who implement a 5% income tax on small business owners, creates a 9% tent tax, adds $30 to vehicle registration fees and drives up state spending 28% over four years? Do you defend these policies?

And if you actually intend to vote for these jokers AGAIN, then sayonara, Dan. I'd rather go out of business and move (with my entreprenuerial spirit) again then live in a state with a punishing income tax. I did that for 25 years, and I swore I'd never do it again.
- Keith M., Manchester

I think our Gov should take a cue from what the California Gov is doing. Shutting down the government and telling all state workers that "IOUs" a paycheck and get back to cutting to meet credible budget numbers.

Have some spine Gov and do what's right, but then again you think you have. you are taxing the "what ifs". It didn't work for Enron or Madoff. I know what I am doing this summer. Nothing......
- Barney F, Colebrook

I've just been notified my insurance deductible will double in September. There hasn't been anything official but the premium is rumored to double also.
I'm going to have no choice but to fore go eating out. I stopped lottery tickets at the end of May. I did manage to avert the registration surcharges this year. I'm going to have no alternative but to further rein in spending. My income is down from last year 15 ~ 20%. I will not forget that state spending increased over 10%. I never miss an election. I certainly won't vote for the one "they're" pushing, either. If you want to stop getting clobbered, you'll do the same.
- Steve, Raymond

As much as I may agree or disagree with here there is one thing that is certain .. with the budget against the ropes now is not the time to build some new ski facilities or a new performance shell with state funds. Those were just bad decisions .. period.
- Jim M, Hooksett, NH

Not only is Lynch a lier, he's also a thief. Trying to steal money from the nursing homes and the malpractice fund. Thank god a judge put a stop to that.
- Denise, Merrimack

WOW, I love these comments! Yes we get the government we deserve. I haven't voted for anyone who has won in nearly ten years. I hope next time everyone will join me and vote for some representatives that will not steal our hard earned money and give it to others.

Lynch's and Obama's Ponzi is going to cost us more than Madoff ever did.

Where are all my lefty friends who screamed that Bush was spending our children's future? Why aren't you screaming bloody murder today?
- Sunshine, Henniker

Taxes, taxes and more taxes. Then some fees on top of it. That's the budget.

If the Democrats remain in power, they will continue their record of reckless, bloated spending. If spending continues to skyrocket, NH *WILL* have an income or sales tax. Period.
- Jack, Concord

Kristen asks: "Gov. Lynch How do you sleep at night placing NH residents in this position? "

I am sure he sleeps very well in his 11,000 square foot mansion, like all liberal elitists do.
- Mike R., Bedford

950 state workers to be layed off, is completely unreasonable. It seems that Governor Lynch does not understand the implications of this decision. The hardworking people of New Hampshire are becoming financially drained and layoffs eliminate jobs. This budget has already significantly impacted the current generation. Now, my generation will have to deal with this budget for a long time. I fear that people such as me, will have the worst impact. My generation must willingly, help to change this country. I am already willing, to help make this happen.
- A.T., Laconia

To Keith Murphy:

This "complete idiot" used to like frequenting your establishment. As a matter of fact, I last spent money there less than a week ago. But if you're going to disparage patrons based on their political affiliations, I think I'll take my business elsewhere from now on. Might as well add another couple hundred bucks to that $6500 annual loss.
- Dan, Manchester

wel it just sucks to be them now doesn't it!

They could have kept their jobs but because no one wants to expand gambling & create jobs these people have to be unemployed. Maybe Gov Lynch & Jim Rubens can find them jobs or maybe the Governor & Rubens can be out of jobs themselves. Just think what would happen if Suffolk Downs got the Slots & everyone flocking to Massachusetts to spend their money on the slots. We can have gay marraige, a tax on cigaretts, liquor, room & meals but the government can again tell us how to spend out money - not gamble it - create a better life - well all these unmployed people will think so, now won't they! Send the Governor & Rubens a thankyou note & thank they for not supporting expanded gambling -

susan miller
amherst nh
- susan miller, amherst nh

Be careful what you wish for. I'm a "transplant" from CT, whose citizens enjoy a 6% sales tax (at one time, it was 8%; the list of taxable items can change), an income tax, a 12% room tax, and lots of other taxes as well. The more income the state government brings in, the more they spend. After being laid off by the State of CT and luckily getting an early retirement, I happily moved to NH.
- Barbara, Dover

Bad typing aside, you don't get it (and it's scary to think that you're probably a State employee).

First, your math. If every employee took an average of one sick day per year, that would only be 0.4%, not 10%. Hardly worth adjusting your workforce for that small amount. One day per month works out to about 5%. Now that's a significant amount. For every 20 employees, one (maybe you) is unnecessary.

Second, as for vacations, I included those in my calculations. If my employer decided to cut my vacation in half (which he is free to do), I could accept it or find another job. I work in the "Real World", Brian, and the fact that I'm on vacation next week doesn't mean that I won't have to work if something comes up. I don't have a state workers union fighting for the lowest common denominator (speaking of a race to the bottom).

State spending is over $35,000 for each average family of four in the state. What do we get for that amount?
- Mike, Manchester

There is still no state income tax or sales tax. What did you think would happen?
- ed, londonderry

Dan from Manchester...

Its because the budget can not be compared straight on. Under previous budgets a large part of the General Fund expenditure was actually transfer (subsidies) to the municipalities. So the monies that were not transferred in this budget got added back in for comparative purposes.

As it works out the campsite tax is an extension of the R&M to offset an advantage within a business group (hospitality) and I believe wouldn't apply to seasonal sites leased in excess of 185 days per annum.
The increase in vehicle registration does not go into the General Fund, and is an offset for a proposed increase in the fuel taxes. For the average auto owner using more than 200 gallons this will be a savings...
The tax on gambling winnings may be challenged in court under the NH Constitution... but is for all intense purposes a new income tax.
- John Edward Mercier, Belmont

If I loose my job because of this then I will be forced to organize the largest march on Concord that has ever been witnessed.
- Charles, Keene

I have two businesses, both LLCs now subject to the 5% interest/dividends tax. Every penny I earn comes from those businesses, so this is essentially a 5% income tax for me and my family. One of my businesses is a restaurant, so as of today I have to raise taxes 12.5%. I dare not pass on that increase to my customers right away - certainly not in a recession - so my business will absorb the $6500 annual loss.

My businesses created 40 jobs. Governor Lynch and the Democrats have put those jobs and my family at risk, just so they can steal my hard-earned money to fund their personal wish-list. I moved here from Maryland because of a favorable tax climate, and now my reasons for moving here are disappearing.

Anyone who voted for a Democrat last year got fooled, but anyone who votes for a Democrat next year is a complete idiot. Serious small-government Republican candidates can look forward to a check from me next year.
- Keith Murphy, Manchester

If the GOP doesn't start coming up with ideas other than Pro-life, Family Values and guns for all, and just continues to whine and complain, they will become the Grand Obsolete Party. The voting "No" as a block is going to come back and bite them once the economy turns around (and it always does).
- Frank, Dover

Gov. Lynch How do you sleep at night placing NH residents in this position? We are not making our property taxes in Keene and it has exceeded our monthly mortage it is now the highest bill we PAY! It must be nice that you have a brand new home for yourself and family, enjoy while many of us suffer!
This is not right!
- Kristen Coates, Keene NH

I was going to buy a motor boat for my family this summer; instead I'll by a canoe. I was going to register that 3rd vehicle with a vanity plate, instead I'll park it forever. I was planning to go on a family camping trip this summer; instead I'll pitch a tent in the back woods. I was going to buy some cigars when my son is born; instead I'll buy bubble gum stoagies. I was going to bet on some race horses at the Rockingham track; instead I'll gamble online where you can't see it. I'll purposely not do these things to spite the NH tax and spenders in Concord. Also, I'm throwing my EZ Pass transponders away and I'll take the back roads from now on. Enjoy lib/commie/progressive/socialists.
- Jim, Epsom

Hey... you all started voting for change 2 years ago. Its here now. With all the taxes and fees NH now has... are we really better off without a sales tax? I pay more in property taxes than people in Mass. My car registration in higher. Everything is going up. Message to our supposed lawmakers: MA sales tax is 6.25%, VT is 6% and ME is 5%. Would it hurt that bad to impose a sales tax of 2%? Even if it had a sunset clause of 2012, just to get us of the spending pickle you've put us in??
- Kenny, Rochester

Finally, an income tax here in New Hampshire. Those who own campgrounds pay state and local property taxes on each and every one of their lots, and then they must give the state 9% of whatever they gross on the "use" of that land. Tell me that's not an income tax. And, tell the gambler there is no income tax in New Hampshire.
Our democrat-filled General Court marches in lockstep with our democrat-filled Congress in Washington, D.C., and practices deceit as a matter of routine.
- George Edmunds, North Sutton

Dan, Manchester - That document does not take into account all of the money that was moved out of the budget into bonds.

Add the bonded monies back, which we now have to pay interest on, to see the total spending in this budget.

Governor Lynch has turned the NH budget process into a 3 card monte game - where only the dealer wins in the end.
- David R, Manchester

"Bravo" to our fearless leaders!!!! Oh and do be sure to raise the property taxes, lord knows we don't pay enough. Soon there will be no home owners left to cover your rears. And what are you going to do when the entire state is on welfare?
- Nicole, Manchester

Much of this is fear mongering. I'll bet anyone a year's subscription to the UL, including the Sunday paper, that there is no way 950 state employees are laid off by 2011. No way.
- Anita Khakinmi, Keene, NH

It appears that Republicans are once again using faulty accounting methods to claim massive (7% this time around, apparently) spending increases in the state budget.

Two years ago, Republicans cited general fund expenditures to claim a significant budget increase. This budget cycle, since general fund spending is actually down 1%, Republicans have scrambled to find a new way to claim that spending has increased. It would be interesting to hear how they arrived at this number, since it doesn't appear to be rooted in fact.

Anyone who is interested in factual information regarding trends and spending levels in the state budget should check out the following report from the non-partisan NH Center for Public Policy Studies:

http://www.nhpolicy.org/reports/pub_and_how_much_will_the_budget_grow_final.pdf
- Dan, Manchester

What is Lynch thinking? We won't be able to afford to go to Hampton to see the new shell because of the tax hike and increased tolls. Is he deliberatly trying to destroy what NH depends on most, tourism, by breaking the bank with taxes. We already can not afford the bills and the increased cost of living. We need the republicans back!! Have fun in your nice huge house Gov. Lynch all the people that will be cold or homeless this winter will thank you.
- Jason Clay, Derry

Mike from Manchester: dis you actually read your post before publishing it? Here's your logic, if everyone takes 1 day off is state govt, then why do we need all those people if the ork can still get done?

OK, so if your employers sees that on average every employee took at least 1 sick day in a given year then they should lay off 10% of the workforce because the work still got done. How about your employer cut vacation in half? How about they shift to unpaid vacation as the work obviously gets done while you're gone but why should you get paid to be away?
Good luck with your "race to the bottom" mentality.
- Brian, Manchester

Peter Bragdon: "but our attempts to stop the raid were blocked by the Democrats. "
This is why people are so disillusioned with the GOP. No solutions, just whining. Please Peter, tell us where your $110 million proposal in cuts is gonna come from? Oh wait, you don't have a proposal. How does the senate minority leader no have suggestions?
- Chip, Wilton

So if the registration cost and cost on vanity plates goes up next year, I'm not keeping the vanity plate.

Yeah, that accomplished lots.
- L. Capen, Derry

Well, it is time for this life-long Republican say it -- "We told you so!" You elected a Democratic Governor and Legislature and you got higher taxes and nothing to show for it.

When you vote like you live in Massachusetts, you become Massachusetts....
- CJ, Keene

Should have kept Benson in. You got what you deserved.
- Todd, Merrimack

how about, wait for the irony...

laying off everyone who works for the NH department of "unemployment" security? i know no person who has EVER been helped in getting a "job" from those people. talk about a useless bunch of chair inhabitants. why would they want to help anyone find a job? they get PAID for you to be unemployed! well, now there is no wonder as to why THEY think it's called employment "security!"
- scott, chichester

It bears repeating a few facts every once in a while, to cut through the ranting and whining and the posts from folks like Melvin. NH has one of the lowest tax burdens in the country. NH is consistently rated as one of the best places to live. NH employs a lot fewer state workers per capita than any of our neighbors. All the chicken littles are really really silly.
- Steve B, Derry

I'm disgusted with this budget and with the state government.

My vote will not be cast for anyone who approved of this "budget".

Camping is by far enjoyed by working class folks not the rich and here are our wonderful elected officials stealing from the poor to give to the budget. I'm considering removing my seasonal camper and NOT contributing to this so called budget.

You guys in Concord have really screwed this one up.

David Plante
Newport, NH
- David Plante, Newport, NH

I know how to save 13 million cut the House of Rep. Budget they have and operating cost of 13 million and all that does is cost the tax payers more money because the nuts vote any way they want and don't care what the people want. I see a big change coming in the next election
- Bob, Hooksett

The first State Employee to be cut should the Governor's Driver. 130,000 salary last year. I think we could find some state employee making a lot less to drive him around..like maybe one of the laid off corrections officers
- Bob, Hookstt

I am not unhappy about this, I actually thank Governor Lynch and the Dems for what will turn out to be a fair size pay increase for me. The wife and I will quit smoking, that puts $60/wk back in our pockets. Of course the State will lose what it was getting plus what it anticipated getting from the tax increase. And I guess I will stop wasting that $20/wk mad-money on scratch tickets. I've never won any big prize anyway, average maybe one $5 "winner". So instead of the 50-cents they thought they were going to pick up they are going to lose $15. I am ahead by $75/wk!

I hadn't done the math before reading this article. I am pleased that in these times I can give myself a tax-free pay raise of almost $4000/year. That is enough for a very nice vacation at Foxwoods! Thanks Gov.
- Bruce, Derry

Increases everywhere, except my paycheck.
The newest state in the union, Taxachusettes,New Hampshire Edition
- Robert W, Manchester

I'm a professional gambler in a state with no Income tax! How can Lynch be allowed to put a 10% tax on my income???
- George, Manchester

I've voted for Democrats in NH elections for years but this is the final straw. Those wingnuts in Concord don't have a clue. From now on it's a straight Republican vote.
- Bill, Tuftonboro

Let's do the math. $11.5 billion divided by 1.3 million people in NH (estimated 2008 population from Wikipedia) equals $8,846 per person. For a family of four, that's $35,384.

What are you getting for your $35K?

And don't say corporations pay most of it. They don't pay anything, consumers pay so it all comes back to you.

Another observation. If there are 11,000 state employees and each takes one day off each month, that's 132,000 days of no work. Yes, we are saving the money because they are non paid days but you have to ask the obvious question. If we can get by with 132,000 fewer days worked by the state workforce, why do we need to employ the nearly 600 people (and pay them benefits which are not saved by the furlough) who make up 132,000 days of work in a year (48 weeks times 5 days per week minus holidays)?

We need to start asking these questions and demanding answers. We are being treated as fools.
- Mike, Manchester

Lets gert rid of the 950 laybouts and not layoff the worker bees. Every state agency has dozens and even hundreds of those retired on active duty.
- Shawn, Concord

"must have been razzled and dazzled by your smooth talk..."

I haven't heard anything of this nature from Lynch, EVER!
- JAC, Manchester

go figure! i was wondering why the state decided to put up those useless, "reinvestment" signs on rte 101 and 93! I guess it was a sign of a guarantee that our wonderful state will be embezzling money, through taxes, then laying off 100's of people. why? they couldn't balance two bricks that weighed the same!
- scott, chichester

Ever hear of the expression "we get the government we deserve?" You're living out the truth of that now!
- Jeff T., Alton Bay NH

Great carbon footprint on the mansion,do as I say not as I do.
- Sean O'Keefe, Londonderry

Once again higher taxes and no balance budget. More pork spending!!!!Lynch no guts you do not know how to stand up for NH. Spend, spend, it will cause NH to steal money from the poor and give to budget. While the rich get to keep their money. Why not tax golfers,etc include high sin taxes. Cut DCYF Budget from32 to 30%. Also do not use Medicaid , etc.money to balance the budget.Let bring gambling into play.
My goal is to balance the budget and lower taxes without a civil war.
- mo baxter, plymouth

Spend and tax. Spend and tax. All in a days work for government hacks.

Thanks Democrats!
- Mark, Amherst

Woo hoo! New taxes, increased rates on existing taxes, and swiping funds intended for other purposes to use in the general budget! Kudos! Now if the tax and spend crowd could only harness all of this creative energy to figure out how to spend less and tax less, the state of NH would become a powerhouse. As for the course it's on now... Taxachusetts North! Luckily, NH is blessed with an abundant amount of natural beauty that somewhat offsets the sting of the worsening financial prospects for the folks living there. Unfortunately, that won’t pay the bills, however.

Now if the folks in Concord would institute a sale tax, income tax, breathing tax, etc… Think of all the investing spending they could do in an effort to run your lives… It overwhelms one’s mind… Or perhaps just my simple, but happy one. :) Either way, good luck productive people of NH. The slackers don’t need luck. They have the government available and willing to redistribute the wealth. After all, it is our patriotic duty to pay taxes! LMAO!

Peace to all.
- Thom, Hummelstown, PA

nothing like charging more for things in a recession especially things like vehicle registration you know the thing we use to get to work everyday. this way the people who you are laying off now won't be able to even register their vehicles! glad you got elected into office! thanks governer lynch! stop wasting the states money then you wouldn't have to layoff people.
- heather, manchester

Maybe the legislature and governor could have deducted one day's pay from the lazy non working slugs who come to NH to live off the hard work of NH residents. Instead, they have taken over a month's salary over the next 2 years from the working people. You just can't make this stuff up when it comes to Democrats.

No, I'm not a state employee, and cutting funding for 400 positions sounds fair, but laying off 900 and keeping welfare the same is insane.

And then there is the great move of borrowing $18 million from the benefits fund of the Retirement System in the last biennium budget, then taking money from the retirees to pay for it! I now see why we pay the boobs in Concord $100 a year. I think we're over paying, at least in the House. Thankfully the Senate is more reasonable.
- Melvin, Keene

So once again the people of New Hampshire are punished because the morons at the State House can't handle our money. Typical. Great big ponzy scheme.
- Carmel Bechard, Merrimack N.H.

"...The rate of the tax, on all meals, hotel rooms and rentals, goes to 9 percent from 8 percent..."

Remember an increase from 8 to 9 percent is in fact a 12.5% increase. I wonder if that will help stimulate things?
- Rex V., Manchester

Can't pay the bills but we can build a new ski tow and a shell at Hampton Beach.
Governor Lynch, what were we thinking when we put you in office, must have been razzled and dazzled by your smooth talk on how you will take care of the State. How is that new house you just built? You got room for them 200 you laid off? They may need a place to stay when it gets cold.
- John Croteau, Candia

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"State House Dome: State gambling tax follows federal tax"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, Union Leader, July 5, 2009

THE STATE'S new 10 percent tax on gambling is not as complicated as some people think, Revenue Commissioner Kevin Clougherty said last week.

The Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission raised issues about the tax. The commission said the new law leaves a host of questions unanswered, from IRS compatibility to collection issues.

Clougherty said the tax is hooked to federal tax laws, making it somewhat simple.

He said he told commissioners they actually have few responsibilities for enforcing the tax law "because they don't pay anything out," he said.

The state's tax is based on federal gambling taxes, Clougherty said, "anybody in this business should be complying with federal laws already." When a gambler's winnings hit the level that triggers an IRS form -- the W2G -- game operators should continue issuing the form as they always have, he said.

Clougherty said auditors will be watching. It's up to each individual to comply with the law, he said.

Race tracks said the tax will hurt their charitable gaming simulcast betting businesses. There are plenty of tax-free alternatives in other states, they said.

Although lobbyist Rick Newman said early last week that tracks were considering a "Hail Mary pass" of a lawsuit over the tax, he says now the group will work through the Legislature to change the law.

Newman will probably bump into the folks from Grey2KUSA, who say they plan to work next year for an outright repeal of laws that allow dog racing.

Seabrook and Belmont dog tracks last week dropped their racing schedules, saying it is too costly to maintain. Grey2K wants to be sure there's no backsliding in the future.

Seabrook owner Karen Keelan delayed the track's race dates from July to this fall, before finally pulling the plug last week. She said her track lost money in the first part of the year.

"It was just not working out that well -- We really regretted having to do that," she said. Right now only four dogs, all recuperating from injuries, are at the track, she said.

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POT SHOT: One of the bigger lingering questions from the legislative session is the fate of the medical marijuana bill.

Gov. John Lynch said he's reading the bill, but hasn't decided whether he'll sign or veto it.

Lynch said he still is focused on how the bill handles distribution, to make sure marijuana does not get outside the loop of patients and compassion centers that dispense it.

Supporters said they tried to tightly control access. The finished bill allows a patient up to 2 ounces of marijuana every 10 days. That sounds like a lot of marijuana.

Matt Simon of the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy said smoking is the most effective way to release active chemicals in marijuana, but it's also the least healthy. Those who mix it in food or release active ingredients with vapors don't run the same extra health risks as those who smoke it, but they use much more of the drug, he said.

The conservative Cornerstone Policy Research center is urging Lynch to veto the bill.

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WHAT DID'T PASS: Aside from a two-year budget, tax bills and gay marriage, there were plenty of other bills to watch over the past six months. A lot of them failed.

The idea of making it illegal for a bank to charge $6 to cash a paycheck written on its own accounts sounded like a good way to kick banks in the shins. Testimony in the House was that only Bank of America collects the charge. The Senate held the bill for more study.

The idea of switching to Atlantic Daylight Savings Time actually came to debate in the House, and was killed.

Lawmakers also spent a lot of time on bathrooms, with Republicans attacking Democrats over what was spent to renovate a third-floor women's room. The dustup came during debate on a transgender rights bill, dubbed the bathroom bill by GOP critics. It passed the House by a single vote. Then it was killed unanimously in the Senate, where Democrats said opponents used fear-mongering to smear the bill's intent and effect.

Parents can continue to legally smoke when children are in their cars, after a bill to ban the habit, based on a child protection argument, died in the House.

Lawmakers agreed to study death penalty laws. The House actually passed a death penalty repeal, but the Senate let that bill die on the table. Lynch had warned he'd veto outright repeal.

A mandatory seat-belt bill fell short. The bill expired on the table in the Senate when the session ended last month.

The idea of giving New Hampshire's governor a four-year term passed the Senate 19-4, but crashed on the rocks in the House, rejected both in committee and by the full House.

The Senate voted to kill outright a bill that would have made lawmakers' e-mails and other electronic communications completely private, not even subject to subpoena. Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, argued that voters should know their communications with elected officials will be kept confidential. The Senate wasn't buying, even though the House did.

One refreshing exception to all these failed efforts was pushed by a group of Bedford middle-schoolers. Their work helped make the Chinook the state's official dog breed. Chinooks join lady bugs, white-tail deer and newts as an official mascots of New Hampshire.

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THE DEAN: Rep. Laura Pantelakos, D-Portsmouth, has a new set of license plates that make it clear to all on the highways she's the "Dean of the House."

Speaker of the House Terie Norelli presented Pantelakos with the plates at the conclusion of the last House session of the year on June 24. Pantelakos, vice chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, has been in the Legislature for 32 years, serving 16 terms.

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REMEMBERING JOHNSON: Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, wants to name the Grafton County Superior Court building after the late New Hampshire Supreme Court Associate Justice William Johnson. D'Allesandro has asked to address the Executive Council to discuss his idea.

Johnson, who lived in Hanover, sat in Grafton County during his time on the Superior Court. Prior to that, he was a state senator, serving as Senate Majority Leader under Senate President Stewart Lamprey. D'Allesandro mentioned that Johnson also worked as campaign manager for Gov. Walter Peterson in 1968.

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DISTRICT COURTS: The new budget closes far fewer district courts than Gov. Lynch had proposed. He thought eight could be shuttered for a $2 million savings. The budget closes two, and even one of them doesn't really go away.

The Keene court is funded at its current location for only one year. A court accreditation committee has found that the current facility in Keene City Hall does not measure up, largely on security issues.

So while the court has to close there, the budget states that a district court "shall be located in Keene." Judicial branch spokesperson Laura Kiernan said the courts are accepting proposals for either a new building or space in existing building. Among possibilities are the municipal complex and the Cheshire County court house.

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SAY THAT AGAIN: In the Department of Redundancy Department, the state will use $2 million in federal economic stimulus funds to expand the state Office of Economic Stimulus to watch over the spending of economic stimulus funds. The director of the office, to be appointed by the governor, will make a salary of up to $110,036 overseeing four other workers.

The Legislative Fiscal Committee approved establishment of the office, part of $36.5 million it accepted at a meeting last week.

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DOWN ON THE FARM: The Obama Administration last week named former state Rep. James Phinizy of Acworth as state executive director for the Farm Service Agency at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Phinizy chaired the House Environment and Agriculture Committee from 2006-08. The FSA provides income support, disaster assistance and conservation programs, as well as loans for equipment, seed and fertilizer.

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FOR THE RECORD: Last week we reported that Medicaid won't pay for client's funerals under the new budget. Actually, it was the Aid to Permanently and Totally Disabled and Old Age Assistance programs that paid up to $750 for funerals. The new budget has no money for them at all.
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Tom Fahey is the State House bureau chief for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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YOUR COMMENTS
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The income tax on gambling winnings referenced above does NOT follow the federal law. Under federal law gambling losses are deductable against winnings.

The NH tax has no such provision, a player could win $700.00 on the first race at a track go on to lose all of it back over the course of the day and he is still subject to a 10% tax on the $700.00. Under the federal law he would be liable for zero tax under the same scenario.
- Rick Newman, Nottingham

So if the state is going to follow the Federal government then that means the state has to create an income tax form for all of it's people to fill out. In every other state when you prepare your taxes the Federal W-2G form is a question and a spot to fill out on your taxes. It is also proof that you properly paid your taxes plus it provides an audit paper trail for the state. As it stands right now a person would have to pay the state and yet no paper trail at all would exit. It is just the word of the people running that department that they have collected revenue or did not collect the revenue. This appears to be an idea that is just ripe for someone to skim the money. Of course knowing this state they will not do a thing until after someone figures out how to do it and then they will have a big hearing and the main question will be "well how did this happen".

It reminds me of years ago at one of the banks in Boston that had an inside worker that managed to skim out close to a million dollars and they could never figure out how he could have done it. When they tried to prosecute him he proved to be smarter than they thought. He had opened an account at another bank and deposited it all there plus he claimed it as earned income and fully paid his state and Federal income taxes. The end result was no one could prove any sort of theft and he had reported the income and paid the taxes. The bank first fired him and then rehired him to work in fraud security.
- Don Armstrong, Henniker

Nice job ripping off Firesign Theater with "the department of redundancy department." Aren't you supposed to give credit when you use someone else's material? I heard a journalist in Boston got fired for that sort of thing of few years ago . . .

*** Editor's note: A literary or pop culture reference in a column is perfectly legitimate. The Boston case was plagiarism of multiple columns. No comparison. And remember, the Firesign Theater didn't credit Kate Smith or Irving Berlin for the milkman song. ***
- Rick, Manchester

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"Crunch time for SEA contract talks"
Tom Fahey, NH State House Bureau Chief, The NH Sunday News: Union Leader, NH STATE POLITICS THIS WEEK, Sunday, July 12, 2009

STATE WORKERS are getting ready for crunch time on contract talks.

Leaders of the State Employees Association ended a meeting Thursday with a vote to give talks two more sessions before workers just "go evergreen."

The two-year contract that expired June 30 had an evergreen clause that leaves work conditions and pay scales in effect as long as there's no new collective bargaining agreement.

If workers decided to coast under evergreen status, massive layoffs would result -- between 700 and 1,000 depending on whose estimates are used. That would amount to as many as one in roughly every 10 state jobs. SEA has a list of demands that may be hard to nail down completely, such as restoring bumping rights the state-budget law specifically eliminated.

Both SEA and the state say a settlement is within reach. Talks resume Tuesday.

Dennis Kinnan, SEA negotiator, said outstanding issues come down to "final tweaks and language issues."

Tom Manning, who leads Gov. John Lynch's team, said he's asked for an impartial outsider to join the talks.

"We're not at impasse, but we're close to being stuck on a couple of issues. We're hoping a fresh perspective will push us to agreement, so we can wrap up and avoid laying people off," Manning said.

SEA has agreed to give up on the idea of a voluntary furlough, since Lynch said that won't provide the certainty he needs to save the $25 million the 2010-11 budget demands.

Kinnan said SEA hopes for a furlough deal that shuts down government offices one day at a time. A Division of Motor Vehicles office for example, might close for a three-day weekend. Maine has adopted a similar plan, he said.

"We've definitely got more than the bones of an agreement. We're stuck in that place you hit when you're in the final stage," Kinnan said.

Among SEA demands for a final deal: early-retirement incentives that could attract up to 300 workers; guarantee against more layoffs; requiring part-timers to be part of furlough orders; limits on rehiring retired workers; and a "share the pain" agreement that all management and labor take the same furlough hits.

Some cynics say SEA could have avoided all this by agreeing to forgo the raises that workers collected on Jan. 1.

Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon estimated the savings would have come to about $7 million in state funds for the fiscal year that ended June 30, and close to $17 million in state funds for the full calendar year -- still $8 million short of the budget target.

MOVING ON: Attorney General Kelly Ayotte says goodbye to staff on Friday as she heads off to a likely U.S. Senate campaign.

Her next and most important consideration: money. If the 2008 contests between U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and former U.S. Sen. John Sununu are an indication, she'll need $10 million or more to get through a primary and general election. Sununu and Shaheen spent a total of $16.6 million, and neither faced a primary opponent.

You don't raise that kind of money staying at home opening the mail. Ayotte will see a lot of the country as she travels in search of campaign donations. In her rear view will be wealthy investor Fred Tausch, who's already throwing money around on his "Steward" anti-stimulus plan. He demurs on whether he's a candidate, but his mail campaign targets announced Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, D-NH. Tausch has hired experienced campaign staffers from the Sununu and John McCain camps.

Stay tuned. Only 479 days until Election Day.

STEPPING STONE: One fact that the Ayotte's episode points up is that serving as legal counsel to a governor is a great career move.

Ask Mike Delaney, counsel to Gov. Lynch and now Lynch's nominee to be the next attorney general.

You might also ask Ayotte herself, who moved from legal counsel to Gov. Craig Benson over to deputy AG, then to the top slot. Superior Court Justice Tina Nadeau, former counsel to Gov. Steve Merrill, moved to the bench as Merrill's administration wound down. Former state Supreme Court Justice and congressman Chuck Douglas, who worked under Gov. Mel Thomson, is another example of success, as is former U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman, who was legal counsel to Gov. Walter Peterson before he was tapped to be AG in 1970. And that's not even the complete list.

JUST SAYING "NO": Gov. Lynch vetoed the medical-marijuana bill, HB 648, Friday. That's not the end of the bill, though. Its next stop is likely to come in the fall, when the Legislature meets to consider all Lynch vetoes.

The marijuana bill had support of two-thirds of House members who voted on the final version last month, 232-108. But the Senate total was only 14-10 in favor both times it voted, on the original bill and the final version.

Senate Minority Leader Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, pointed out that the bill is short two votes in the Senate to reach the two-thirds majority needed for an override.

"Two is a lot," he said. He's not switching, he said, and the caucus has been tightly against it all along, except for co-sponsor Sen. John Gallus, R-Berlin.

There's not much reason for anyone to change his vote at this stage, Bragdon said, since legislative action is all but over.

"There won't be much horse trading going on because there aren't many horses to trade," he said. That is, unless the state's attempt to take $110 million in surplus funds from the Joint Underwriting Association fails, Bragdon added. That could throw a wrench in the works that is felt far from a simple budgetary issue.

TAXING WINNINGS: Last Sunday, Revenue Administration Commissioner Kevin Clougherty downplayed worries that a gambling tax will be tough to administer. It's hooked to the federal system, and will be collected and audited as such, he said.

But his office has asked the Attorney General's Office for its opinion on some aspects of the tax law. High on the list is whether the law requires taxes on gambling winnings for the entire year, back to Jan. 1.

Assistant Commissioner Margaret Fulton said the issue is that the tax law states, "Taxable income is income that is received from gambling winnings during the calendar year."

Another question involved those lucky folks who win big lottery prizes and take their winnings as annuities over 20 years. Does the jackpot count as a one-time gain, or is each annual payment a separate gambling win?

DRA is hoping for a quick decision at the AG's office to make sure its collection efforts are fair.

Rep. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he's making it a mission to nail down the intent of the Legislature.

He said Ways and Means never touched on making it reach back through the entire year. "Clearly it is not what the Legislature intended," Boutin said.

Ways and Means voted unanimously to reject the idea of the tax. The idea resurfaced during the committee-of-conference procedure on the budget and passed as part of the whole two-year, $11.5 billion package.

HELP WANTED: The state's 2 1/2-year search for a controller is moving ahead. Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon said a $27,000 contract with the executive search firm Snowden Associates of Portsmouth has led to interviews with several candidates. Legislators recently gave the go-ahead for Hodgdon to offer up to $110,000 a year as salary for the job, which has gone begging since January 2007.

The salary level matches the cap the state has placed on a director for the Office of Economic Stimulus.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Well, well, well, the shoe is finally on the other foot.

Dam the government employee until he serves me personally.

Lay them all off, great concept. Iraq, here I come.

You all should be ashamed of yourselves.

Freedom for those who protect us. God Bless You All and THANK YOU very much!
- frank, merrimack

So many questions about how, when and how much can we take from our citizens!

Now I see why things move so slowly in Concord. We wouldn't want to miss a single citizen who might have an extra dollar or two.
- Melvin, Keene

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"NH's Lynch creates gaming commission"
AP, July 17, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. --Gov. John Lynch has issued an Executive Order creating a 15-member Gaming Study Commission to conduct a review of various models for expanded gaming in New Hampshire.

The order directs the commission to undertake a thorough and comprehensive review of various models for expanded gaming and their potential to generate state revenues, as well as an assessment of the social, economic and public safety impacts of gaming options on the quality of life in New Hampshire.

Membership will include public members and representatives of the Legislature, law enforcement, the business and tourism communities, local government, labor and social service organizations.

It will be headed by Andrew Lietz, former president and CEO of the Hadco Corp. from 1995 to 2000.

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AP: "State and SEA have contract deal"
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS - via NH Union Leader - 7/24/2009

Concord – Gov. John Lynch says 750 layoffs will be averted with a tentative contract agreement with the union representing most of New Hampshire's 11,500 state workers.

Lynch and union president Gary Smith said Friday the deal calls for 18 unpaid days, including 12 from government shutdowns. It also restores limited rights for laid off workers to bump junior workers from jobs.

The contract also includes protections against layoffs for workers who aren't otherwise already at risk as part of the budget enacted in June.

Lynch is directed to cut labor costs by $25 million over the next two years.

Smith said the agreement reflects the unfortunate economic climate. Union members still must ratify the contract.

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"State reaches accord with employees' union"
By GARRY RAYNO, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 7/25/2009

CONCORD – After months of often contentious negotiations, state negotiators and the union representing state workers have reached a tentative, two-year contract agreement that will save $25 million over the next two fiscal years without additional layoffs.

The agreement, which includes a salary freeze in the second year of the biennium and the limited return of bumping rights, was reached late Thursday night and still needs approval of the 11,900 state workers and a joint legislative committee.

"I am pleased that we could reach an agreement that protects both taxpayers and our employees," said Gov. John Lynch in a statement.

The day before an agreement was reached, Lynch instructed state department heads to begin preparations for up to 750 layoffs in order to achieve the $25 million in savings required in the two-year budget approved by lawmakers last month.

State Employees Association negotiators called the statement "bullying" and filed an unfair labor practice complaint against Lynch, saying he violated a gag order imposed by a mediator. The union's chief negotiator, Dennis Kinnan, said yesterday the complaint to the Public Employees Labor Relations Board will go forward.

Yesterday, SEA president Gary Smith said in a statement, "We feel this agreement reflects the unfortunate economic climate we find ourselves in."

The union's collective bargaining senate voted Thursday evening to send the proposed agreement to members. The process will take several weeks before a vote can be held, Kinnan said, but the agreement would be retroactive to July 1 if ratified.

Senate Finance Committee chairman Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, who pushed to include furloughs in the Senate's version of the budget, said yesterday, "This is a good start, but the real challenges lie ahead."

Senate Minority Leader Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, said he is concerned about the bumping rights provisions, but noted he has not seen the agreement and did not want to say too much. The two-year budget passed by lawmakers last month eliminated bumping rights for senior employees.

The agreement calls for state employees to take 18 unpaid furlough days over the next two years, with 12 days coming as government shutdown days, much like holidays. The days are yet to be determined, but negotiators said they want to avoid high-volume days at the end of each month.

Workers in departments operating around the clock, such as the state hospital or state prisons, would not receive pay for 18 holidays over the next two fiscal years.

In return, workers will receive 18 paid personal days to be used over four years beginning in fiscal year 2012, but the days will not count toward retirement and would be lost at termination.

Salary increases that workers received July 1 will remain in place, but employees will receive no increases in fiscal year 2011.

Under the tentative agreement, there will not be additional layoffs of general funded positions, although layoffs still could occur if programs lose federal funding or departments are restructured.

Under the current state budget, about 200 state workers will lose their jobs with the closing of the Laconia prison and the Tobey School for students with severe behavioral problems, and through the restructuring of the state's largest agency, Health and Human Services.

Bumping rights allowing a senior employee to take the job of a junior worker within a division are partially restored June 30, 2011 under the tentative agreement.

Health plan changes include a wellness program and mandatory mail-order prescriptions for maintenance medications.

Also, part-time employees would be the first to be laid off within a division directed to reduce personnel.

While the layoffs would be the state's first in many years, other states are laying off hundreds if not thousands of workers, said D'Allesandro. "This is a good compromise. I always thought furloughs had to be part of the budget," he said, noting the state spends about $1 million a day in salaries.

Senate President Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, said "We're pleased to see there's a proposed contract agreement that avoids layoffs and results in significant savings for the state."

The state's lead negotiator, Tom Manning, who has negotiated 15 contracts for the state, said this year has been tougher than most because the $25 million savings required in the budget law reduced options.

"You try to do all you can to accommodate everybody's interests, but it was a bit of a challenge this time," Manning said. New Hampshire is not unique, he said, noting similar reductions have occurred in both public and private sectors around the country.

Kinnan said, "In negotiations between two parties, neither side gets everything they want. We brought back to our members what we believed was the best deal we could get. The state side probably says the same thing."

While New Hampshire has fared better than many states during the current economic downturn, lawmakers have still had to make significant budget adjustments due to shrinking revenues.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

every time the state gets into financial trouble it takes away from its workers. this has happened in the past also. instead of having a sales tax or gambling, or comming up with other ways of raising revenue. the geriactric club in concord needs to go.
- jpl, hooksett

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"Judge's ruling puts $110 million hole in state budget"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, July 29, 2009

CONCORD – A court ruling today blocked the state from balancing its budget with $110 million from a medical malpractice fund.

Belknap County Superior Court Justice Kathleen McGuire said the state had no right to the funds because they belong to the Joint Underwriting Association.

The JUA was established by state law in 1975, but operates independent of state control. The recently enacted state budget bill counted on the funds to balance both the fiscal year that ended June 30 and the current year.

A group of doctors, hospitals and other medical care providers challenged the state’s attempt to tap surplus funds, arguing the surplus should be paid back to them through rebates or lower premiums.

Attorneys for both sides in the case had stated before the ruling that they would appeal an adverse decision.

The ruling leaves the state needing $65 million to balance last year’s books, and another $45 million for the current biennium.
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www.courts.state.nh.us/superior/superorders/tuttle.pdf
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"Big budget gamble looking like a loser"
nashuatelegraph.com - Editorial, August 2, 2009

For a governor who has never been a big fan of gambling, Gov. John Lynch certainly played the odds in his bid to balance the state budget by snagging $110 million from an insurance fund created to help doctors obtain malpractice coverage.

From the moment he proposed using surplus from the fund to balance the state budget, critics were apoplectic. Doctors and health-care providers sued. Republicans warned it would never work. A judge quickly ruled that the Joint Underwriting Association, which manages the fund, is not a state agency subject to the governor’s authority.

Now that same judge, Associate Justice Kathleen McGuire, has ruled the state had no right to claim the money as its own. Unless the state succeeds in appealing McGuire’s ruling to the state Supreme Court, lawmakers will be faced with a $110 million hole spread over the previous and current state budgets.

Considering the spending cuts, tax increases, state employee furloughs and other measures taken to balance the budget, finding this kind of money isn’t going to be easy. Banking only on the hope that the Supreme Court will overturn McGuire’s decision would seem to be doubling down on an already losing proposition.The governor and key lawmakers should be huddling now to map out a contingency plan, pending a court decision. If the court refuses to hear the case and allows the lower court ruling to stand, that plan could be needed very soon.

If the court agrees to hear the case, the process could drag on for months, during which time a huge question mark would hang over the state’s fiscal health and potentially its bond rating.

Lynch needs to demonstrate to the voters and the investment community that he has a contingency plan for the $110 million, should he lose again, which is not entirely unlikely since he is playing the same hand.

No one can say what the Supreme Court will do. But given the lower court ruling, it’s clear that lawyers for the JUA made a good case. The fund was created in 1975 to help doctors and health-care providers who were having difficulty obtaining affordable liability or malpractice insurance.

The JUA currently underwrites policies covering 900 of the state’s 11,000 health- care providers.

Premiums have been coming in at a level that exceeds claims and other costs, so a surplus has been generated. According to the attorney for the policyholders, that surplus should be used to lower insurance premiums or return dividends to policyholders, not balance the state budget.

The only card the state is holding is the tax-exempt status it has granted the JUA since its inception. While that tax exemption may not make the insurance program a state agency, it does give rise to the state’s claim on the program’s surplus. After all, much of that surplus would have been taken by the state in corporate profit taxes had the exemption not been made.

Whether the tax-exemption card will work in the state’s interest remains to be seen. But some contingency planning is clearly necessary.

Never mind the next biennium. The lower court ruling also jeopardizes the fiscal year that ended June 30. That budget counted on using $65 million in JUA money to balance the books.

Without an alternative, the state will end the most recent fiscal year in the red.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, said that could be avoided if the state wins the case on appeal before October. If not, he is one of the few legislative leaders who has brought another option to the table.

“The expansion of gaming is a very reasonable alternative that has been represented by us for a long period of time,” D’Allesandro said.

And the odds have never looked better.

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KEY POINTS

BACKGROUND: A Superior Court judge has rejected the state's claim to millions of dollars from a tax-exempt, medical malpractice insurance fund.

CONCLUSION: The governor and key lawmakers should be huddling now to map out a contingency plan, pending an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

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"State cuts just first battle in retirement system fight"
seacoastonline.com - OPINION - July 26, 2009

The first legal shots have been fired in what we expect will be a long and brutal battle over who will fund a struggling New Hampshire Retirement System that taxpayers simply cannot afford.

This week the city of Portsmouth announced it is joining numerous New Hampshire municipalities and school districts in a lawsuit to challenge the state cutting its contributions to public employee retirements from 35 percent to 25 percent over the next two years. The lawsuit may also challenge the state's cutbacks in revenue sharing with cities and towns. Under this budget, Portsmouth will pay $170,000 more this year and next year toward its employees' retirement, a $340,000 hit, according to City Manager John Bohenko. The Portsmouth school district will lose an additional $73,000 a year due to this retirement contribution change, according to the N.H. School Boards Association.

Under the revenue sharing changes the city stands to lose another $657,000 in 2010 and 2011. That's a $1 million-plus burden heaped onto Portsmouth's taxpayers with the stroke of a pen.

This decision leaves Portsmouth and other local towns such as North Hampton and Seabrook, which have already signed onto the lawsuit, to either cut vital local services or raise taxes on citizens who are weathering the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. We expect other towns, such as Stratham, which this week announced a $90,000 budget shortfall that includes a $38,000 cut in retirement and revenue sharing funds from the state, will also join the suit. Rye Selectmen will discuss helping to fund the suit when they meet Monday night.

Essentially what state officials have done in these two cutbacks — and in so many of their other budget decisions — has been to avoid making tough decisions themselves and leave them to municipalities and school districts.

"Every year the financial downshifting increases," said John Andrews, executive director of N.H. Local Government Center, one of the groups organizing the lawsuit. "Revenue sharing with municipalities, Medicaid reimbursements to counties and catastrophic aid to schools have all been eliminated or changed by decisions of the Legislature.

"Municipalities, schools and counties are struggling to maintain the services they provide to their residents while keeping property taxes in check. Critical jobs, such as teachers, police, firefighters and nursing home staff, are already on the chopping block due to tight local budgets, and this downshifting only puts more local jobs at risk.

"The property taxpayer can no longer be the state's credit card when it needs revenue to pay for programs and services. This is a clear violation of the long-standing agreement between the retirement system and local governments and is exactly the kind of cost shifting the voters tried to prohibit with their adoptions of Article 28-a in the state Constitution."

Article 28-a prohibits the state from imposing unfunded mandates on cities, towns, schools and counties.

We agree with Andrews and support the municipalities, school districts and counties that are going to court. However, as we said at the outset, this is just the first of what we are certain will be many battles fought in years to come over our state's retirement system that is slowly collapsing under its own weight.

This legislative session our elected officials not only pushed retirement costs down to cities, towns and schools, they also did absolutely nothing to address the larger issue of a retirement system that is completely out of balance. Even a feeble bill that passed the House that would have required all new hires to work 25 years instead of 20 before collecting retirement was killed in conference committee. Police and firefighters in particular can still apply overtime, detail pay and even payouts on unused sick time to inflate their retirement pay to the point where many are making more in retirement than they did while working.

If you are not outraged yet you will be as household income continues to shrink and unions refuse to give an inch on these outrageous retirement payouts. Get ready, the fight is on.

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Jennifer Coffey: "More than $300 million in tax and fee hikes isn't 'major'?"
The NH Union Leader, Op-Ed, August 6, 2009

On Sunday, New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Victoria Bonney was quoted in this newspaper as saying the current $110 million hole in the state budget will be an issue voters won't care about by next year's elections. "This will not be an issue in 2010. By then, people will be saying that in the worst recession in decades Gov. Lynch and Democrats in the Legislature were able to craft a responsible budget with no major tax increases," she said.

How can anyone say there were no "major tax increases" this year? Is it because the Legislature didn't pass one large tax, but instead taxed citizens on most every aspect of daily life? From increased fees on car registrations to a new camping tax to a 5 percent increase on small business taxes, the list goes on and on.

I know voters do care about these issues and the effects these increased fees and taxes are having on their lives. How many Granite Staters are making cuts elsewhere to afford the increased fees on their vehicles? How many limited liability companies are struggling to hold on to their businesses?

Recently I was in a restaurant that had a sign posted informing its patrons of the increase in the meals tax. The sign stated that the restaurant owners were going to try to absorb the increase for as long as they could, but foresaw having to raise their prices and possibly cut staff.

Regarding the possible loss of jobs, think about the numbers of people who are under-employed or unemployed but have used up their benefits. The numbers we see in news reports are not a true picture of the realities of unemployment and under-employment in our state.

The bottom line is that it now costs more to live in New Hampshire, and many continue to lose their jobs and their homes. Many more are cutting their budgets on groceries and other essentials simply to survive.

Legislators writing a state budget should have done what most citizens are doing with their own household budgets. Cutting government spending and streamlining costs, not increasing revenues, should have been the focus. This is not what was done, and every New Hampshire citizen is now paying the price.

Perhaps the state Democratic Party thinks that raising more than 40 taxes and fees -- increases totaling more than $300 million -- isn't major. But the voters of the state are feeling the pain and, hopefully, they will respond to the Democrats "tax and spend" policies in the next election.
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Jennifer Coffey is a Republican state representative from Andover.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Republicans offer an alternative plan, and Mr. Buckley claims that Republicans did not offer a plan. Mr. Buckley simply can not be trusted. I would trust Representative Coffey far more than I trust Mr. Buckley.
- Nick, Manchester

This bickering between the parties is ridiculous! The state needs a new revenue stream and has needed such a thing for decades to alleviate the burden on property owners.

Expanded gambling bills have been introduced numerous times, primarily by a Democrat--Senator Lou D'Allesandro. This is a new form of revenue that the overwhelming majority of citizens prefer, yet it is always defeated. 3 Reps were responsible this time for defeating the bill--2 Democrats (Susan Almy, Marjorie Smith) and one Republican (Neal Kurk). Also, Speaker Terie Norelli (an admitted gambling hater) hand-selected these individuals so as to assure a defeat of the gambling element of the budget.

This is not a Democrat / Republican issue. This state needs expanded gambling or we property owners will continue losing our homes. The property tax rates in NH are absurd and grow worse every year.

You want real change? Vote OUT these people who continue making decisions based on their own agendas rather than the will of their constituency. 39 states have expanded gambling including Maine, Delaware, West Virginia, South Dakota, Florida...with huge success.
- Bob, Hooksett

Why is it that some of you can do nothing more than repeat the tired Democratic mantra and then snigger under your breath at how smart you are.
None of you seem to have anything to say except such wonderfully intelligent and helpful statements like blaming the party of no, and calling those who disagree with you koolaid drinkers, neocons, (we won so get over it) losers" and republicraps (and worse). You need to revise your vocabulary and your talking points. You really are quite crass.

The Republican's and other moderates and conversatives never get beyond saying no, or we need to cut spending when they are rudely and viciously shut off by liberals who believe that they and only they have the right answer and anyone not agreeing with them is an obtuse obstruction needing to be kicked out of the way.

If you really want to know how all these taxes and fee increases impact the middle class read the commentary from Keith Murphy of Manchester. If that "little" rooms and meals tax increase is costing him $1000/month how long do you think it will be before he lays off an employee or two?
If the only way we can reduce costs at the state government level is to reduce by a certain percentage across all departments - or lay off more people - than so be it. No one is indispensable.
- Sandy, Thornton

Can't people think for themselves? Why do we have to believe everything the party we whink we relate to says? Thomas Jefferson right that a party system is a bad idea. All we have is finger pointing and political union bullies - didn't Geroge Orwell warn us of "group speak"
- CJ, Manchester

Victoria Bonnie and the rest of the liberal Lynch mob are in for a very big surprise next election! Victoria, can you wave bye bye?
- Rob, Manchester

You asked me for more information, I see a Restaurant Owner has already answered that specific question, Thank you Keith.

Most importantly, the Republican Caucus from the Finance Committee developed an alternative budget with specific cuts (not just a cut across the bottom line). There has always been a list of them available, visit: www.nhhousegop.com to see the list.

We proposed NO new taxes.

Specific General Fund Appropriation Reductions totaled 181.9 million dollars and not one increase in any taxes or fees. Not one reduction to cities or towns forcing increases in property taxes. No cuts to direct care, debt service or safety services.

I would like to know how Democrats plan to deal with the 400 million dollars included in the budget of one time only federal funds in our next budget. So now we are looking at a minimum 400 million dollar deficit to start the 2010-2011 budget.

When you look at a budget you must look at how you will fund in the future, you can not just look at today and hope for tomorrow.
- Rep. Jenn Coffey, Andover, NH

It is interesting to read how citizens have no problem with getting the bill from government fiscal irresponsibility. This budget crisis did not happen suddenly, the Dems have made promises over the years based on fuzzy revenue projections. Your correct at saying Reps are good at whining and not providing alternative solutions...howver; Connely is RIGHT and their needs to a balance in Concord b/c this political dictatorship is not working. I did not move to NH to subsidize fiscal foolishness. If people enjoy paying more and getting less please let me send you all of my bills to subsidize.
- Hughan, Manchester

Democrats in NH and around the country have shown very clearly that they do not have ANY good ideas. They're solution to everything is to take more of our money and more control of our lives. I wish I could say something better for the Republicans, but I can't. If we are to take back our state and country, we first need to have liberty-loving Americans take back both parties, starting with the Republicans.
- Andrew J. Manuse, Derry, NH

Mr. Buckley, a $1,000 meal? No wonder you can call it a "responsible budget" with a straight face.

I am far more bothered with the standard refrain that it was a "responsible budget" than I am with the hundreds of tax & fee increases.

I no longer go out to eat, I no longer go camping, I will be turning in my vanity plate, and I will continue to find ways to cut my budget because I do not have the luxury of pretending that borrowing counts as income or hoping I will be allowed to dip into funds that don't belong to me. I really and truly have to balance my budget and not just use smoke and mirrors to make it look like I have done so.
- Tom Grinley, Bradford

I have also been absorbing the tax increase at my restaurant - and making sure my customers know it. We do NOT simply collect the tax, as several people incorrectly posted. From the customer's perspective, a $3.50 beer is a $3.50 beer, so I used to charge $3.24, so that with tax it came to $3.50 even.

Even numbers are very important for busy nights, so the servers/bartenders can do the math in their heads. Two Bud Lights @ $3.50, customer hands you $10, change is $3. Two Bud Lights @ $3.53 (what the price would be if I hadn't lowered my actual price), customer hands you $10... quick, what's the change?

You see my point. Speed is key in my business.

Now, I'm charging $3.21 for a domestic beer, a price decrease of three cents per beer, so that the actual number given to the customer remains $3.50.

Absorbing that tax increase is costing my business about $1000 per month. Nice try, Ray, but that's a 12.5% tax increase. At some point, in order to pay rent, utilities, salary, etc, I will have to raise that beer price to $3.75 ($3.44 plus 31 cents tax), or not hire to replace departing employees to save the equivalent payroll costs. Raising prices in a recession, however, is suicide, so I'm going to continue absorbing the tax increase for as long as possible.

Democrats just don't understand basic economics or know the first thing about running a business. If they did, they would be Republicans.
- Keith Murphy, Manchester

Jennifer Coffey is the only Representative to get an (A) rating by the NHLA in her district, That to me says a lot about her integrity and taking her oath of office seriously.

All of you liberal thieves who are bashing her for speaking the truth.

I expected no less from people of low moral character.
- Billy, Andover

These issues will never go away!
Unless.... Let's devide into 3 groups: for Democrats, for Repablicans, and for Ourselves! See which group does the best. Everyone of us has pros and cons. Fighting isn't going to help. We have to either unite or go different ways. But still, we all swim in the same boat.
- Kseniya, Merrimack

I will always for the party of "no" before I vote for th party of "more".
- Ron, Manchester

To Joan of Pembroke, I ask you the same question. What ideas have the NH Dems offered us besides higher fees, taxes, and a Democrat approved plan to rob the malpractice fund. Maybe your ok with politicians continually confiscating your income, but I sure am not. The NH GOP offered an alternative budget, which was blocked by NH Speaker Norelli & NH Senate Leader Larson (aka the Tyrant Twins). In addition it doesn't matter what the NH GOP offers, the Democrats have majorities in both chambers, and have shown by past votes that they will block GOP alternatives.
- Alex K., Deering, NH

Oh, for crying out loud! Give me a break! When the Democrats were the minority party ALL they did was criticize the Republican party. When the Democrats were the minority party, ALL they did was assure voters that when they were in power, they'd say "yes" to everything. The Democrats accused Republicans of "hurting" the kids, the elderly, the mentally ill, our retirees, our state workers, etc., etc., when Republicans were balancing our state's budget. Well, the Democrats did get in power. Three years ago, they began saying "yes" to everything, as promised, while running for office--and now they have to fund it. When the Democrats were running for office, when they were asked HOW they were going to fund all these new programs, they mentioned a sales or income tax, if they "could", knowing full well they'd not get the three-quarters vote to override their governor's promised veto, and NO ONE asked them for their backup plan! Ray Buckley, you know right well there were many plans offered by Republicans throughout these past three years, when the Democrats were in power; and you know Republicans don't have the votes to bring anything forward. The Democrats brought the State of NH to the brink, and they own this problem. And, quite frankly, with the Democrats' own history of criticizing with no viable solutions, the Republicans have EVERY right to criticize Democrats, in an attempt to get ideas out there for public discussion! Now, let's stop with the crap, call in a special session, and let ALL our elected officials come out to play and be heard!
Kris MacNeil, Concord (who, incidentally, as a Republican, does NOT oppose gaming options!)
- Kris MacNeil, Concord, NH

There were two possible budgets. The Democrat plan was to greatly increase taxes for everyone and make it hardly for struggling families to stay a float in this economic mess. The Republican plan was to actual cut taxes so that folks would have more of their money to decide what to do with in this economic mess.

Personally, I feel that you know more about your needs than some folks in Concord know about your needs. I think you are the best person to decide where your money goes. Clearly, the elected leaders in Concord disagree and they proved it with massive tax increases and new taxes.
- Keith, Keene

If this si the best the Rep. party can come up with, they're doomed.
- Tim L, Dover

Boy are they wrong! We will most certainly remember and elect officials who are indeed working in our best interests! They are trying to fool people into thinking we had no big tax increases by implementing small ones along the way. It's incredible that she stated this and actually believes it. Shame on you
- Elizabeth, Manchester, NH

I'M SO SICK of the party of NO. They offer no suggestions on how to fix anything! THey just complain. Governor Lynch and this Legislature worked long and hard to create a responsible budget while the Republicans sat in a corner and whined.
- Genie Hamilton, Concord

The GOP offered absolutely no leadership on the budget. All they said was "CUT CUT CUT". The local, state, and national republicans have no plan for moving this country forward. Editorials liek this do nothing but illustrate that point. All this woman is saying is the Democrats are bad. Why should I vote Republican? Why?
- Amy Matheson, Rochester

isn't anyone else sick of the republicans complaining and not offering any new solutions? in this entire article, i don't see jenniffer giving any solutions, she is just complaining about the democrats. this is why i left the republicans in the first place--don't care about solutions, don't care about working people, don't care about making things work. only care about power and attacking others.
- robert, merrimack, nh

In his post below, the chairman of the state Democrat party shows that he believes every dollar in the new budget is absolutely necessary and inarguably serves a vital interest. In his mind, there is not a dollar of waste in state government and every dime is spent wisely and with care. In his mind, the tax and fee increases are only paid by wealthy tourists who run up $1,000 tabs for dinner. He is, of course, delusional, as is the Dem majority in Concord. They simply can't understand how the myriad ways their fees and taxes hit the average Joe in the wallet, from car registration to taking the kids out to McDonalds. Their beloved bureaucracies are more imporant than we are, and we're supposed to shut up and be happy to give them more out of paychecks that aren't getting any bigger. We need a return to common sense and responsibility in Concord -- the Dems have got to go.
- Rick, Portsmouth

Let's take a closer look at this. What Representative Coffey is really advocating here is an increase in property taxes. If the state were to slash 300 Million from the general budget, local city and towns would have been decimated. They would have lost all of their local aid, forcing them to raise property taxes to make up the difference. When local property owners are struggling to pay their bills, the party of 'no' would have forced them to pay even more in property taxes! That is truly outrageous.
- Patrick, Goffstown

New Hampshire has been a model state! The Governor and the Dems have passed a balanced budget with minimal cuts and minimal fee increases. If only every state were run like New Hampshire has been run, then this country would be a lot better!

All the GOP wants is gridlock and crisis. Just look at other states that are on the brink of collapse, like California! The Republicans are taking advantage of suffering people to try to score political points and that's WRONG.
- Mark K., Manchester

This editorial is ridiculous. How can Rep. Coffey write an entire article slamming the Dems without proposing any cuts of her own. What would you have cut, Representative?
- Tom S., Manchester

I'm sick of all these Republicans complaining about the budget.

Their only plan is to WHINE and WHINE and WHINE without offering any alternative plans whatsoever. They have no ideas and no leadership.

Their only plan was to cut across the board by 7%. Well, anyone who has ever balanced their home budget knows that cutting across the board is the most fiscally irresponsible thing you can do! You can't just pay 7% less rent or 7% less for your health insurance!
- Joan, Pembroke

Robert Smith, Since 75cents/week isn't much for you, and since I already don't eat out, and pack my lunches, don't have cable tv, not even a tv or internet at home. Please post your CC number so I can charge my 75c extra/week to you. Sounds like you'd be happy to help.

If you don't stop them when the increases are small they will get bigger. I want someone in office who will start rescinding the taxes. Less is better!
- Poster10, Nashua

I cannot stand this back and forth anymore. As a voter, I want to hear about ideas and how we are going to fix things.

I always hear the same things from the Republican Party: "Democrats are taxers, sales tax, income tax" blah blah. And you know what? We still don't have one!
- Sylvia, Berlin

Where did the GOP say they would cut? Oh wait, they didn't. Where would they get more revenue? Oh wait, they oppose gambling.

More of the same from the party of NO!
- Caroline Boisvert, Manchester, NH

Oh bother, another Republican who says the sky is falling under Democratic Leadership. Come on, already!

Didn't they lay off hundreds of state employees? Close a prison? Cut Health and Human Services by a significant amount?

Where is the plan, Rep. Coffey?
- Pam Thompson, Derry

When people are elected to serve in the Legislature, they take an oath on the Constitution. I wonder how many NH State Reps have actually read the NH Constitution?

I know for a fact Rep. Coffey has -- I've spoken with her about it at the NH Center for Constitutional Studies annual event.

People like her, both Republicans and Democrats, who understand their job is to PROTECT their constituents FROM overreaching Government -- /these/ people are the future of NH politics.
- Denis Goddard, Hopkinton, NH

This OP-ED is nothing short of ridiculous. Under the GOP's cut across the board plan, local property taxes would have skyrocketed due to a dramatic cut in state aid to local cities and towns.

I am sick of the GOP's lame scare tactics. Name your cuts or shut up!
- Frank, Concord, NH

I don't think many small LLC businesses will forget in 2010. Even though I have never laid off a person in 32 years of business, my unemployment taxes just increased 10 fold and I am looking at a $10,000 increase with the new LLC taxes.

If Obama health care goes thru I figure costs could run as high as $40,000. And then cap and trade would also increase my utility bills, an area where I cannot cut back due to the nature of my business.

This all means that I will, by necessity, need to reduce my payroll and for the first time, lay off employees. You can be assured that I will let any laid off employees know they can thank the Dems and Obama.
- CathieS, Chester

Ms Coffey,

salient article indeed. We must ask ourselves why the massive increase in spending happened. The "why" points to the root cause of most new and increased taxes. Without adressing the "why" pressure to increase taxes will always be present.

In the case of New Hampshire, new spending increases "forced" or elected representatives to raise our taxes. The foolish spending, much of it on "social do gooder programs" is among the root causes. One can not be for social welfare programs and at the same time against raising taxes. They are in direct opposition to each other. Those who support social welfare programs reject the age old proverb of give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and feed him for a lifetime. The government is here to empower and enable the people, not cripple them.

I hope to help elect like minded representatives from Derry to Join you next year!
- Michael Layon, Derry

Hey Ed! Who is going to pay the overtime on xmas morning to keep the roads plowed? Who pays for the salt and the sand for the roads? The gas for the plows? Who is going to pay to fill the potholes and repair the bridges? Mickey Mouse? Those who use the roads must pay for them! STOP Complaining. Or don't register your car and stay home.
- Henry Swanson, Goffstown

Robert Smith from Manchester,

If you want to get clever and break down annual taxes into a weekly figure, figure this: Monday I work so I can pay the Federal government and they LET me keep the other 4 days pay. Half of Tuesday goes to the state and they let me keep the other 3.5 days pay. When you figure in car registrations, tolls, meals tax, gas tax, etc., you should realize that the government LETS you keep 3 days pay, and this is a state with one of the lowest tax burdens. How dare you justify raising NH taxes by using Mass as an acceptable standard. Furthermore, if we "losers" don't resist at every level, we will end up worse than Mass, remember the saying give em an inch they'll take a foot or perhaps give em a diuym they take a fut you commie!

Brian
- Brian, Exeter

It isnt a major tax increase to the zero-liability voters who vote to help themselves to more public money, who don't pay taxes..and also to the democrat tax cheats who don't pay the taxes anyway.
- Mike R., Bedford

America is not the affluent country that it used to be and it's time for the Democrats to see this and stop spending what we have and taxing the hell out of all of us.
- Suki Moore, Phillipston, MA

Mr. Buckley

As usual you step up with the same tired liberal talking points. Oh it is only one percent more just pennies. That next year will be a few more pennies and a few more the year after that. You learned from the mistakes of the past. Don't tax people alot all at once be patient and we will get the taxes up there eventually. The Republicans did offer cuts yet every program to you and the Democrats are "too important" including millions to fund arts.
- Brian, Wakefield

Interesting that there stil is no mention of how much our property taxes are going up because of these increases,m the extra 5 cents on every pay dollar for a municipal employee wqsn't in our towns and cities budgets, just for one example.
The Republicans offered bills to lower spending all refused by the Democrats and unlike in our homes when less money comes in we spend less the Democrats introduced new spending.
- Harriet E. Cady, Deerfield, NH

Hey Henry from Goffstown
I went to register my car and the fees went from $92.00 to $198.20. What part of my social check should I take that from!
- ed, alton

In response to Ray Buckley, Ronald Reagan Put it best when he said:

"For Republicans, every day is the 4th of July. For Democrats, every day is April 15."
- Paul Mirski, Enfield Center

Let's not make it out to be worse thatn it is...

"Recently I was in a restaurant that had a sign posted informing its patrons of the increase in the meals tax. The sign stated that the restaurant owners were going to try to absorb the increase for as long as they could, but foresaw having to raise their prices and possibly cut staff."

What is there to absorb? The customer pays the extra tax, not the restaurant. Meals tax does not impact the bottom line of the restaurant - unless you think people will eat out less to save 5c cents on a $50 food bill.

The restaurant is only trying to prepare people for then they raise prices that impact theri bottom line and make the custome feel like it is th ebig bad gov't that is causing it.
- CJ, Bedford

We need more like Jenn Coffey! Whether they are Ds or Rs isn't important.
- W. Marriott, Manchester

Thanks for the great article, Rep. Coffey!

More information like this needs to see the light of day. It's not unreasonable to ask that our elected "representatives" actually make an effort to reach a realistic budget. As you so well put, we are all having to struggle with obtaining the basics these days. Yet, the legislature, for whatever reason, seems to think that increasing the amount of money they spend each year is actually a good thing.

It would really be nice to see those that "represent" us, actually do so in a way that's reflective of reality. While many of us are going without food, fuel, medications, jobs, or are losing the homestead altogether, they are attempting to taxing us into submission.

I believe the real reason behind the unrealistic budgets that have been put forward by the recent democrat majority, is an attempt to force NH into accepting a sales or income tax.

By creating so many burdensome taxes on everything, people will be almost relieved to have a sales or income tax instead, thinking it will reduce all the other taxes that have been forced upon us. It's wrong, and the big tax and spenders need to be stopped before it's too late.

I hope the people of NH wake up before that happens and reverse the tide of the "Tsunami" that gave those big spending, big governemnt folks their majority.

Phil Greazzo
- Phil Greazzo, West Manchester

Finally- a politician who speaks for us. Run for Congress!
- Danielle, Manchester

The Dems will take a beating if they name Lynch as their leader and he runs again. He will do for the Democrats in NH what Bush did for the Republicans. People will hold their nose and vote against Lynch and perhaps the whole ticket.

RTE
- Richard Elliott, Claremont

So Jennifer, what cuts did you offer? Do you support cutting monies going to local cities and towns forcing higher property taxes? Do you support cutting programs that would downshift the responsibilities to local property taxpayers? Where is your plan Jennifer? Time to put up a plan Jennifer.

The 1% increase in the Meals and Room tax means that on a tourist's $1,000 meal at a fancy restaurant they will pay $10 more. Tourists from out of state still enjoy a significant tax break in NH - many of our sister states have a Meals and Room Tax AND a Sales Tax.

NH continues to have the lowest tax burden (other than AK which has oil revenues) of any other state.

But back to my point, Jennifer where is YOUR plan?

For the past three elections the voters of NH have rejected the empty rhetoric and tired sloganeering of NH's minority party, by offering nothing more than hollow attacks the NH Republicans will continue to remain in the minority.
- Ray Buckley, Manchester

"This will not be an issue in 2010". I am sorry to say that I think Ms. Bonney is correct - the voters in NH (and the US) have a very short memory and the make-up of NH voters has swung too far to the left. I don't see a strong enough Republican candidtate emerging who can reverse the trend to NannyState that we have seen over the last 5 years. Be prepared for even more tax increases in the future.
- Mike, Derry NH

This person is a state Rep? Rooms and Meals tax is paid by the customer not the establishment. The business owner collects the tax on behalf of the state. What exactly is it that they are going to “absorb?” The customer pays it. All these whining lately is silly, $30 additional for car registration, so what? In MA you have to pay a sales tax on the purchase as well as yearly excise tax. We have very low taxes in NH.
- Henry Swanson, Goffstown

If the ballot says Democrat, please remember one thing in 2010.......JUST SAY NO! You get what you vote for.
- gr chase, Exeter

Jenn Coffey is the kind of representative that NH needs in the state house! Thank you Jenn for doing such a great job!
- Joan, Portsmouth, NH

Jennifer, stop being silly. You aren't supposed to do the math, you are supposed to look at the increases as they affect you only. A few pennies here, a dollar or two there - that's what they mean by "it's nothing major".
- Catherine, Manchester

Anyone who believes that there was no major tax increases in this year's budget is naive. Rep. Coffey hits the nail right one the head!

We need more reps like Jenn Coffey in the State House.
- Tammy, Manchester

"...taxed citizens on most every aspect of daily life...."

What? Where's the beef in your complaint?

We have a couple new fee increases, like 75 cents a week for car registrations. The whining is pitiful, are you all unable to rub two nickels together? Try eating out less if you can't afford it instead of whining. Get some wax paper and make yourself a sandwich to bring to work, you losers.

Really, try coming up with something that actually matters. If you think a hike in a camping fee is going to change election results after the GOP destroyed the economy for Obama you are indeed deluded!
- Robert Smith, Manchester

The tax & fee increases will likely be forgotten by too many NH residents. Sadly the evidence is found in the re-election of Shea-Porter or the election of Jean Shaheen, two people who represent democrats first, thier voters later, maybe. The 300 million is small change compared to what the extremist controlled left wing democrats really want to do. Sadly they just do not grasp that taxes have a negative impact on those who pay them, and that by leaving those dollars to be spent by those who earned them have a far greater positive impact than if they are filtered thru the inefficent and ineffective hands of government. Lower taxes means increased economic activity (real activity, long term, not short term faux-stimulous that we see today).

Even more sadly, the usual left wing kool-aid drinker will come out and whine about republicans and blaming President Bush, and fail again to offer any serious, workable alternatives.
- Jeff, goffstown

We need more people like Ms. Coffey in the legislature who are sensitive to these issues and not people who think we will forget!

Way to go, Jenn!
- Sue, Manchester

From Republican"Tax and Spend" to Democrats "Spend and Tax" Thats the change Obama and the Obots were talking about. Next election. Thats funny.
- Jeff, Hollis

I don't think there is any doubt that NH democrats are going to take a beating in 2010.....the question is just how big a beating it is going to be.
- Jay Collins, Laconia

"Victoria Bonney was quoted in this newspaper as saying the current $110 million hole in the state budget will be an issue voters won't care about by next year's elections. "This will not be an issue in 2010. By then, people will be saying that in the worst recession in decades Gov. Lynch and Democrats in the Legislature were able to craft a responsible budget with no major tax increases," she said."
I say that from what I hear, your going to suffer the worst political defeat in history.
How do you rationalize with people who elected you to improve their financial lot only to find themselves harmed more, financially by you than the ones that you replaced?
People are very angry today. They have been getting hit left and right by the "private sector" for years. You were elected to stop it not to partake in it!
- Steve, Raymond

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My Turn: "Many years of sacrifice: State worker woes predate this budget"
By Diana Lacey For the Concord Monitor - August 09, 2009

The Monitor's July 31 editorial, "State employees should take the deal," incorrectly describes the backdrop for the tentative agreement between the State Employees' Association and the Lynch administration.

Although contract negotiations spanned eight months, the road to this deal has been under construction for several years due to the state's historical failure to adequately fund and preserve quality public services. Back-of-the-budget cuts, hiring freezes, abolished positions, below-average wage scales and an uncontrollable desire to privatize public programs have progressively taken larger and more serious chunks out of our state employee workforce. So much so that now, when a true economic crisis is faced, all the normal legislative tricks that have patched our state budget together can no longer be relied on to save the day.

New Hampshire's state employees have been living through these slick tricks for more years than most care to remember. Your editorial indicates the sacrifices we are now facing will not go unnoticed. The sacrifices we have been making all along have gone unnoticed! In the past two years alone, we saved $40 million delivering services with hundreds of fewer workers, and we saved over $30 million in reduced health care costs.

Our sacrifices were greeted much like an alcoholic greets the next bottle of booze: Give us more! Those vacant positions were abolished, budget cuts were doubled in many agencies, the governor was ordered to take a whopping $25 million cut out on employees, and our retirees' promised health plan was attacked.

The Monitor previously urged state employees to forgo their January 2009 pay raise for the sake of the state budget. Now you see why we didn't. It would have been just one more sacrifice for an out-of-control addict demanding another fix a short time later.

The Legislature and Gov. John Lynch failed to lead us through this financial crisis and actually fix what is broken in New Hampshire government. Meaningful revenue solutions, like gambling or a broad-based tax, were not adopted. In the absence of enough revenue, they failed to cut out discretionary programs, rein in contractor spending or even trim upper management.

Worst of all, they said they preserved critical public services, when they actually under-funded them by more than 2 million labor hours (closer to 4 million when you add individual agency back-of-the-budget cuts).

What is broken today didn't start with the current political leadership, but it could have been fixed by it. Instead, in typical "I want it all, even if I can't afford it" American fashion, the leadership chose yet again to put off to tomorrow what it should have paid for yesterday.

This agreement, if favorably voted on by SEA members, represents the first time in 20 years that the failure to adequately fund public services will be made abundantly clear to New Hampshire residents. With the demand for services so high and staffing so low, it was only a matter of time that the serious consequences of under-funding could no longer be masked by employees.

It is not for the Monitor or any other media outlet to urge members to take this deal. Our members will vote their conscience, and together we will own the outcome of that vote.

If ratified, 100 percent of workers will jeopardize their own financial well-being to save 6 percent of workers from the unemployment line. In this way we will experience solidarity with each other; unfortunately, we cannot equally protect the public.
-
(Diana Lacey of Belmont is the first vice president of the State Employees' Association of New Hampshire and chairs the SEA bargaining team.)
-
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"Taxing times?: The state budget fight is over, but the spin goes on."
The Concord Monitor staff - August 09, 2009

Nearly six weeks into the new fiscal year, State House watchers are still debating the impact of the tax and fee increases signed into law by Gov. John Lynch to help balance the budget. Are they, as the Democrats say, modest in scope? Or, as the Republicans argue, are they already hitting New Hampshire residents hard?

The answer, of course, is a judgment call. No, there was no income tax, no sales tax, no gambling. But if you like to eat out or stay in hotels, you're likely to feel the pinch. Likewise if your car is sporting vanity plates or if you're still smoking cigarettes.

Here are two ways to think about the increases. The illustration above includes most of the words in the tax and fee portion of the state budget; the bigger the word, the more often it appears.

Below is a list of more than three dozen new tax and fee increases, as compiled by the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy:

• LLC tax change: a new tax applying the interest and dividends tax to LLC distributions.

• Tobacco tax: an increase in rate, from $1.33 to $1.78 per pack.
• Meals and rooms tax: an increase in the tax on meals, rooms and rental cars from 8 to 9 percent.

• Campsite tax: the addition of campsites to the list of items covered by the now 9 percent rooms tax.

• Gambling winnings tax: a new tax on gambling winnings from any source, in or out of state for New Hampshire residents and New Hampshire sources for non-residents.

• Wine charge: an increase in the rate for wine charged to retailers.

• Extension of the real estate transfer tax: a change in the definition of "holding company," resulting in more payers.

• Business profits tax extension: a requirement that companies below the filing threshold pay the business profits tax on certain transactions.

• Meals and rooms operator bond: a requirement that every meals and rooms tax licensee file a $5,000 bond to secure payments.

• Tax on other tobacco products: increases the tax on non-cigarette tobacco products from 19 to 48.59 percent.

• Motor vehicle registration fee: an increase of $30 to $75 for car and truck registrations.

• Semi-trailer and utility trailer fee: an increase in registration fees of $5 to $10.

• Motor vehicle registration transfer fee: an increase in the fee to transfer registration from $10 to $25.

• Vanity plate fee: an increase of $15.

• Inspection sticker fee: an increase from $2.50 to $3.25.

• Motor vehicle records fee: an increase in the fee charged to insurance companies from $8 to $15.

• Driving records fee: an increase in the fee for a certified copy of driving records from $10 to $15.

• Saltwater fishing license: a new fee of $15 per person, $75 per charter boat and $150 per party boat.

• Boat registration fees: an increase from $12-$46 to $24-$92.

• Lake restoration and preservation fee: an increase from $5 to $7.50.

• Registration agent fee: an increase of the boat fee paid to the registering agent from $1.50 to $5.

• Vessel transfer fee: an increase in the fee to transfer boat registration to another vessel from $3 to $5.

• Boat license examination fees: an increase in the examination fee from $4 to $15 for captains, masters, pilots.

• Subsurface fees: an increase in fees to review plans for subdivisions and for sewage systems.

• Department of Environmental Services State Revolving Loan Fund administrative fee: an increase from 1 to 2 percent.

• Real estate commission fee: allows commission to charge an additional 2 percent for electronic collections.

• Criminal records annulment fee: an additional $100 fee.

• Reduced ignition propensity cigarettes fee: a $250 fee to certify cigarettes as less likely than a conventional cigarette to ignite soft furnishings such as a couch or mattress.

• Non-resident pistol license-to-carry fee: an increase from $20 to $100

• Food protection fees: a plan to give the Department of Health and Human Services new power to set higher fees.

• Health facility licensure fees: a change in fees for 23 different types of facilities.

• Application fee for condo and land sales: an increase from $300-$2,000 to $600-$5,000.

• Judicial branch fine extension: a new fee of $25 for extension of fine payment terms.

• Court system fees: Increases to be made at the discretion of the judiciary.

• Judicial penalty assessment: an increase from 20 to 24 percent.

• Nonresident commercial saltwater license fee: an increase from $300 to $500.

• Lobster and crab landing license: a new license fee of $50 for residents and $500 for nonresidents.

• Small claim mediation fee: a new fee.

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"John Lynch: NH weathering recession better than most states"
By GOV. JOHN LYNCH, The New Hampshire Union Leader Online, Sunday, August 16, 2009

IN THE FACE of a deep national recession, New Hampshire stands as an example for other states in crafting a budget that makes tough cuts and lowers spending, while protecting essential services and avoiding major new taxes.

Other states have raised their sales and income taxes, and slashed aid to education and social services. California has resorted to issuing IOUs. Several states are still trying to cobble together budgets more than a month after the start of the fiscal year.

New Hampshire, like other states, faced significant challenges in crafting the current two-year budget. For example, revenues for this fiscal year are projected to come in below 2004 levels.

But unlike what is occurring in other states, legislative leaders and I chose to avoid the creation of major new taxes or wholesale elimination of essential services.

We worked together to produce a budget that does not include the creation of a sales tax, an income tax, a capital-gains tax or a hike in the gas tax.

We crafted a responsible budget that makes changes to just about every area of state government and sets state government on a path to greater reform. Overall, state spending was reduced by about 1 percent.

This budget reduces the state's workforce by at least 5 percent, closes district courts so the judiciary can run more efficiently, closes the Laconia State Prison and focuses the Department of Corrections on keeping released offenders from returning to prison. We have reached a tentative agreement with state employees that includes 18 days of furloughs over the next two years for $25 million in personnel savings.

This budget continues to support our communities, sending more direct aid to our cities, towns and schools than the previous budget -- about 1.7 percent more. This budget required hard choices, and funding for many worthy programs had to be delayed until better times.

New Hampshire continues to be a leader and a model for the rest of the nation. Our state was just recently named the best state in the nation for raising children due to our focus on the well-being and health of our children. New Hampshire is the safest state in the nation, and the state is continually ranked as one of the most livable and healthiest states in the country.

New Hampshire has an unparalleled quality of life and a low-tax, business-friendly environment. But I also understand that while New Hampshire is weathering this economic storm better than most states, hard-working men and women have lost their jobs, families are struggling to keep their homes, and businesses are fighting this recession so they can keep their doors open.

Just because we have passed a responsible state budget does not mean our work is over. That's why we are continuing to work for our families and businesses in these difficult economic times.

Through New Hampshire HealthFirst, small businesses now have access to low-cost health insurance. A new buy-in program through New Hampshire Healthy Kids will give young people ages 19 through 25 the ability to purchase more affordable health insurance.

We have made education a top priority for our state. We must continue working to retain our high quality of life, our business-friendly environment and all that makes New Hampshire such a great place to work and live. This is key to building on the progress we have made over the last several years once we have climbed out of this recession.

While the national recession continues, we must continue to monitor the state budget carefully and be prepared to make changes as necessary. For example, there has been a court challenge to the state's transfer of surplus funds from the Joint Underwriting Association, and the state is vigorously appealing a lower court decision that has blocked that transfer.

The state established the JUA to provide a service to doctors and that service has, and continues to be provided. The people of New Hampshire are entitled to the surplus funds from that state-created entity.

But regardless of the outcome of the court case, we will continue to responsibly manage the state budget. That's what we have done for the past two years, making cuts and adjusting as the recession deepened.

When I first ran for governor, I said I wanted to bring people together -- Democrats, Republicans and independents -- to make progress on the issues that matter most to New Hampshire families.

And now more than ever, the people of this great state are counting on us to put partisan differences to one side and work for them. That is exactly what I have done and will continue to do.
-
John Lynch is governor of New Hampshire.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

If I hear him say "the other states are doing it" one more time....
- Frank, Merrimack

Governor, you say that the "people" are entitled to the JUA funds like you are going to use it to give it back to the "people" in the way of a tax break. The reality is, you believe the STATE is entitled to that money so that you can "balance" the 7% increase in state spending along with the 38 tax and fee increases. Once again, we are finding out that your word simply cannot be trusted.
- Kevin Smith, Litchfield, NH

When Governor Lynch's popularity is still well over 60%, and a gaggle of delusional right-wing commenters claim he's unpopular, it's very easy to see who's *really* out of touch.
- Peter, Canterbury

I want some of whatever Lynch is taking so I can have such a rosy outlook on the recession. Lynch, you say the state is doing better than other states,but you dont have a clue! Why don't you talk to the people who have lost their jobs, homes, and some of their income that you took away with the taxes and fees you increased. I bet you wouldn't have such a rosy outlook anymore. You are a jerk and you need to go before you and your liberal spend and tax cronies completely ruin this state. I feel like I'm living in Mass. again.
- Ruthie, Fremont

The Governor's optimistic outlook reminds of an old joke.

The difference between a recession and a depression is that a recession is when someone else has lost a job and a depression is when I have lost a job.

The state's budget would be a joke if things were not so serious and people were laughing.
- Stephen Campbell, Salem

According to the Bureay of Labor Statistics, NH govt employment has increased 3.7% over the past 12 months. Considering the govt is the 3rd largest block next to Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, and Education & Health Services, I'd think that if we didn't have this increase, the unemployment figure would'nt be so Lynch-Rosy. But anyways, a great big You're Welcome from our property tax bills to all these new guys; I'm sure you'll do very well and you'll own a good portion of my income for - ummm - ever actually.
- Mike Duggins, Londonderry

Governor Lynch has brought a rare balance between real and practical business experience and a real commitment to meeting our State's governmental responsibilities.

And yes, in spite of the ideologs unfounded attacks, he has navigated our state thought the severe recession waters, a recession created by very big government Republicans who doubled our national debt during a great economy; and the same ideologs who want to hold everyone else accountable for their irresponsible, big national deficits, big national debt and big interest payments on that national debt policies of the Bush years.

Governor Lynch is doing a great job with the cards he has been dealt during this recession.
- Bob Jean, Northwood, NH 03261

How many stray dollars laying along the way have you picked up along the way Governor that belong to other people? Hopefully people have found out the true John Lynch as someone who lacks compassion and is just another politician.
- don, nashua

NH is doing better because of its overall low tax burden compared to other states. Give the Democrats and Lynch another few years and that advantage will completely disappear. Just look at how much they've raised spending and taxes in the last 3 years.
- Jack, Concord

Governor Lynch is doing an outstanding job. Only the most partisan right wingers will fail to give him the credit he is due.
- ed, londonderry

Lynch I don't know what world you live in but in my world people in NH are struggling. I lost my job in Feb and cannot find another job at all. Can yu tell me how NH is fairing better than most states? show me proof!! You have become a tax and spend Liberal who does not care about the little folks you just care about the special interest groups. Instead of passing gay marriage bill when not focus on the needs of the NH citizens instead of your special interest groups.. It is time you stop spitting in in the air to see which way the wind blows on how you are going to sign a bill that could have waited while you focused on the common folks.. I am a Democrat and will vote to get this clown and all the other clowns out of office and elect people that will focus on NH.. That goes for Rhodes, Shea Porter and Sheehan. That right Lynch and his fellow dems you have turned me into voting for a republican!!!
- dave, Manchester

The NH economy is better than everywhere else because we still have some of the last vestiges of the NH Advantage in play... NO THANKS TO YOU, Governor Lynch. Sadly, the stage is set for an upcoming budgetary "crisis", forcing our esteemed politicians to have "no choice" but to "save" us with a broadbased tax. THANKS FOR NUTHIN', Guv!
- Doug Lambert, Gilford

Governor.

You also left out how many non government jobs you have enticed into the state. You know jobs not loaded with promises such as pension plans the average person must pay for out of their taxes and will work twice as long as the recipient to pay for. From what I see happening out there it is zero.

There is something about a person who writes their own pat on the back speech that leaves me unimpressed. A true leader would also point out a few short comings or failures to correct. I'm sorry but I don't see an independent leader, I see someone who is playing right out of the socialist handbook as told to him by those who got him elected.

Those who represent us such as yourself had little trouble making it to Obama's visit, while at the same time felt the need to hide behind a telephone to address the people you claim to serve. Many of us are not happy Governor and it is my guess you will find plenty of Democrats who are not socialists in that crowd. If you truly want to serve the people then throw away the handbook, get rid of those who bought you, and be a independent leader. No matter what the party affiliation you will still find people want the means to take care of themselves and their loved ones rather than the false compassion of a nanny state that in the end only bleeds the people dry and robs others of their dignity.

I will end by saying I do not think you a bad man. But you should be governing for the people and not the socialist handbook. Even a Libertarian like Thomas Jefferson would be rolling over in his grave at what is taking place in America today.

Thank you for reading my book. Unlike Obama I don’t have people who will make it a million dollar best seller though by pushing my propaganda.
- Deb, Derry

I would bet that John Lynch never lived on unemploymet. I would be amazed if he knew what a gallon of gas cost.
- Paul, Milford

Gov. Lynch – what State are you talking about? You made three statements alluding to how you all crafted a responsible state budget and that we now have a responsibly managed budget. You actually had the gall to state that you and the legislature made tough cuts and lowered spending. Do you really believe that we citizens in the state of New Hampshire are so unintelligent as to believe this? You have not lowered spending, what you have done is continue to borrow from Peter to pay Paul, reduced the amount of municipal funding to be returned to communities, which will force municipalities to increase local taxes to make up the difference, and increased taxes and fees on existing services. No where do I see any reduced spending; it was spending as usual. You sir, are totally delusional.
- Sandy, Thornton

Gee, Gov, if things turn around economically, will you roll back the umpteen taxes you piled on NH residents? Doubtful. Your spending policies put us here in the first place.

You shoved gay marriage down our throats even though no less than 2/3 of the state didn't want it. And after you said civil unions adequately handled the situation.

Then you tried to get access to money illegally to balance a budget filled with irresponsible spending and the medical community fought back legally and won. Got a viable Plan B? Probably not.

Man, is this guy kind to himself.

Get ready to take your name off the door, Gov.
- Gary, Lincoln

Captain of the Titanic just after it hit the ice burg: Ladies and gentlemen we have just struck an ice burg and are going to sink. Most of you will die within the next few hours; however, I would like to direct you to our excellent dining room where you can have an exquisite cup of coffee and a light breakfast. I hope you have appreciated our fine menu and superb service. Thank you for using the White Star Line and hope you will use us again and tell your friends.

Thank you,

Captain John Lynch
- Lee, Exeter

I guess if I wanted too I could say I'm not as bad off as other people. But I'd be lying as that I'm struggling too.

Sugar coating the truth are you Lynch?
What do you call that budget deficit that we are in, a divot? 110 million is not a divot, it's a hole.

I can sum it up in two words.

Irresponsible Spending.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

Governor Lynch. Your non-partisan mantra is over. You have effectively killed the state with your spending policies and your inability to protect families. The roads are deplorable, mental health services are in the trenches, the unfunded mandates onto insurance companies (the ones who can even work in NH), the gutting of the unemployment compensation fund, gay marriage over the economy, lack of jobs coming into NH, the increased tax on our energy bills, accepting special interest money for your campaigns, mandating 18 year olds to stay in school, bloating the education financial responsibilities onto communities, taking money from a medical fund that is illegal, increasing rooms and meals taxes hurting small businesses, signing nanny-state laws, and the list goes on.
Your intregrity is in question and stop BSing the public. Your days are numbered and ultimately no one likes a soft spoken manipulator.
- Jack Truman, middleton, nh

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"PSNH proposes new rate delivery charge"
The NH Union Leader via The Associate Press - August 19, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. --State regulators say they're concerned that a Public Service Company of New Hampshire proposal could increase the average residential electric bill by $5 a month.

PSNH would like the state Public Utilities Commission to use a new method to establish rates, saying the current method has left the company with insufficient funds. The New Hampshire Union Leader reports the proposed change would mean bills for commercial and residential customers would be determined less by the amount of electricity used and more by fixed charges.

PSNH spokesman Martin Murray says sales have been declining because the weak economy has caused businesses to shut down or reduce operations, and the cooler summer overall has reduced demand for air conditioners and fans.

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"We took from the town and gave to the school"
By CHARLES M. ARLINGHAUS, The NH Union Leader, Op-Ed, August 19, 2009

The governor's latest communications piece highlighted what he believes are some important accomplishments of his budget, but it also served to underscore a few troubling, long-term trends in New Hampshire's budget writing.

In recent opinion pieces, the governor touted increases in transfers from the state budget to local government. The level of acrimony in Concord is great enough that my phone rang off the hook with people asking "How can he say that? Isn't it a lie?" He can say that because it's true.

The legislative budget office published a helpful summary of state aid programs to cities, towns and schools over the last dozen years. It shows quite clearly that the total of the 26 different state aid programs, ranging from "adequacy aid" to landfill closure grants, are $2.377 billion or $44 million higher in the 2010-11 budget than they were in 2008-09, an increase of 1.9 percent.

So why is local government up in arms if they're getting more money? Essentially because aid to schools is crowding out aid to municipal government. The 16 different aid programs to schools (15 of which aren't part of the Claremont kerfuffle) have risen to more than $2 billion in the next two-year budget, an increase of $102 million or 5 percent. However, in difficult budget years, a large increase in one place requires sacrifice in another. Aid to cities and towns themselves took a big hit. State aid to run city and town government was reduced by 19 percent. In essence, we took from the town and gave to the school. In a few cities, the budget is done together so it doesn't matter. But in most towns across the state, towns and schools are separate and have separate government or separate town meetings. So a 19 percent cut isn't offset in any way by the school budget.

In broader terms though, the state has been moving to separate the local and state budgets for the last decade. In the 2000 budget, transfers to cities, towns and schools were 36 percent of the total budget. In 2010, they will make up about 21 percent. It's not that we haven't increased total aid. It just hasn't increased as fast as the rest of the budget. In some ways at least, this change is healthy. The state used to pay 35 percent of the retirement cost for a local employee. Reducing that share gradually will require a town to pay a larger share of the cost of anyone it decides to hire instead of a portion of that cost being passed on to the people of other towns.

Another change though is unhealthy. One aid program crowds out all others and not because we've made a policy choice, but because we think we have no choice. Adequacy aid is a complicated formula policymakers wrote to try and satisfy a court decision. We increased spending on that one formula by more than $100 million while everything else was flat or cut. So an aid formula that no one likes goes up, but special education aid is cut by 7 percent, municipal revenue sharing is cut by 19 percent.

The other troubling trend relates to the governor's claim he cut the budget. Of course, it isn't true. We're spending more in 2010-2011 than we spent in 2008-2009. You can pretend there's a cut by saying it's less than we hoped to spend but weren't able to last budget. In addition, $208 million that we spent in the operating budget, the general fund, last time was transferred offline to dedicated funds. Of course we're still spending it, just calling it a different "fund."

It used to be that most of the budget was in the general fund with some small dedicated funds to segregate hunting license fees or gas taxes. Ten years ago, 58 percent of the non-federal portion of the state budget was in the general fund, the state's basic operating account. That percentage keeps decreasing. In FY2010, the current fiscal year, only 40 percent of the non-federal portion of state spending will be in the general fund.

The problem is not just statistical. Moving spending offline means lawmakers look at it differently at budget time and when there's a problem. Cuts and spending freezes apply only to general fund spending and general funded employees. The trend forces cuts and freezes to a smaller base. It also masks increased spending and hides the majority of the budget from the more intense scrutiny that comes from cuts and hiring freezes.

Hiding some spending from budget scrutiny and elevating one of the 26 local aid programs to special status over the others obscures decision making. Both create a class of spending with special status that forces tough decisions on an increasingly small pool of programs.
-
Charles M. Arlinghaus is president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Concord.
-
READERS' COMMENTS:

All these transfers diffuse accountability. The state disclaims the taxation because "we gave the money to localities." The localities disclaim it--they tend not to even include the statewide component when they list their tax rates--because someone else raised it.

Even in my town, whose few advocates of spending restraint are tied up in vendetta and lawsuit, I'd have Town Meeting vote on 100% of the money the town spends, rather than rely on Concord for "free money." This would deny Concord the power to say that any new taxes are "for the children" and local needs.
- Spike, Brentwood NH

We teachers were just told about supplies WE can personally buy at Staples for our students. It is absurd! Parents and the city need to provide pencils and paper!
- ELL, Manchester

"Never Give a Sucker An Even Break" was the title of a W. C. Fields movie. It also describes Democrat's philosophy on governing.
- Leo, Canterbury

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"State House Dome: Lottery panel faces angry allegations"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, August 23, 2009

AN INCREASINGLY heated legal dispute has locked up a major six-year contract for state lottery operations in the Executive Council.

The state Lottery Commission reached a deal with Intralot Inc. last spring on a system for a new online lottery.

Scientific Games International, the Lottery's current system provider, was on the losing end of the bid. Its price was $11 million over the Intralot price of $31 million for six years.

But SGI lawyer Robert Dunn cried foul for several reasons, including a complaint that the review panel improperly allowed Intralot to change some of the specifics in its bid, and improperly withheld documents that SGI needed to file a protest.

Lottery Commission Executive Director Ric Wisler handed SGI's complaint to the Attorney General's Office. He contends the commission followed all the rules.

Assistant Attorney General Rosemary Wiant wrote SGI that the Intralot changes were nothing out of the ordinary. She also said Dunn's letter misrepresents the facts and process followed by the Lottery, and that some points "are neither accurate nor relevant."

That set Dunn off. He wrote Wiant that her criticisms were "unwarranted and outrageous. I have never before been the recipient of a letter containing such reckless accusations."

Despite the price advantage Intralot had, the panel gave it a low grade for relying on satellite phones to hook the system together. Wiant told Dunn the commission got Intralot to promise it would stick to its price if the Lottery said it wanted a different communications mix.

The bid panel gave the satellite phone plan a 65 on a scale of 100. In its report, the commission said the grade equates to a finding of "poor," with several serious flaws and concerns. SGI preferred DSL and cellular phone hookups to satellite. The review panel found that in this weather climate, -- with snow, ice and all that -- satellite phones wouldn't work.

A final report found Intralot was 7 percent behind on technical features and 25 percent ahead on price. It got the deal.

The council is holding up the contract at the urging of Executive Councilor Raymond Wieczorek, R-Manchester. He said SGI didn't get information it needed for a formal protest until the day before the Council was asked to approve the contract.

"That's a ridiculous thing when you're dealing with a big important contract," he said. "We want to make sure things are done properly. If we're going to make an error, we want to make sure it's on the side of caution."

The contract takes effect in June 2010, but Wisler said it's important to get this settled soon.

"There's a lot to do between now and then," he said. "This involves 1,200 sales terminals plus 300 instant-ticket vending machines, a communications network to link all 1,200 retailers. New software has to be written and tested, too," he said.

Wisler defended the contract, saying, "We believe the process was followed; anytime you have a non-selected vendor, you're going to have some discussions."

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ROSY REVENUE FORECAST: Gov. John Lynch expects healthy growth in state revenues to return for the next two-year budget cycle. He told Concord Rotary Club members Tuesday he thinks they'll grow at 4.5 percent in 2012-13. That could mean more than $200 million to the state in the next biennium. The current projected revenue shortfall for those two years is in the $500 million range. Lynch said the 4.5 percent is a historical norm.

"I think that's a pretty realistic and pragmatic assumption, that revenues will return to historical growth levels, and we'll then be back again on an even keel going forward," Lynch said.

Budget watchers at the N.H. Center for Public Policy Studies think 4.5 percent is a bit much.

Executive Director Steve Norton said 3 percent is more the norm, and we won't hit that until the end of 2013.

"After the 1990 recession it took five years to come back," he said.

The center's Deputy Director, Dennis Delay, said it all hinges on how quickly business taxes, composing 25 percent of state revenues, recover.

"They've gone to such a low point, it's hard to see how we can get back to where we were in the next three or four years," Delay said.

State Republican Party chair John H. Sununu was even more critical, saying unwarranted optimism two years ago has damaged state finances.

"This current budget is irresponsible, and hoping for magic growth in the future doesn't make it any less irresponsible," he said.

The state won't know until after Oct. 15 Supreme Court oral arguments if it can take $110 million in medical malpractice insurance surplus to balance the 2009, 2010 and 2011 budgets.

Meanwhile, the state has to close its books on Sept. 30 and ship results to private auditors.

Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon, who oversees the state's work, said the key is to completely disclose the situation. Changes to the numbers can be made as the process goes along toward an audited report in late December, she said.

Lynch said he's not worried about how the case will affect the state's bond rating. Wall Street is more interested in "how trends affect the state, as opposed to a particular situation," he said.

While the state needs $65 million to balance 2009's books, Lynch said, indications are that the audit will show an unexpectedly high amount of state tax money was budgeted but not spent last year.

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NEW AG: Michael Delaney will take the oath as the next attorney general tomorrow at 10 a.m. Taking his place as Lynch's legal counsel will be attorney Jeffrey Meyers, who has served as Senate legal counsel for the last three years.

Meyers, a former assistant attorney general in the Environmental Protection Bureau, is also in private practice with the Nelson, Kinder, Mosseau and Saturley law firm in Manchester. Like Lynch and Delaney, he holds a law degree from Georgetown University.

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HOSPICE COVERAGE: Gov. Lynch signed a bill allowing hospice care to qualify for Medicaid payments last week. This is not exactly a groundbreaking move. According to the Home Care Association of New Hampshire, we are the 49th state to adopt the practice. Hospice care can be delivered in an institutional setting, or at home with the help of home-care health providers. It provides support to patients dealing with terminal illness and to their families.

Of the 4,000 people who received hospice care in 2007, about 100 would have qualified for Medicaid, HCANH said. The new law requires the benefit to be in place by July 2010.

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TO-DO LIST: A list of committees that will study issues left unresolved this spring will start work right after Labor Day.

The structure of the Liquor Commission is one topic, with a possible move toward a single commissioner. Gov. Lynch said that as he fills vacancies on the commission, he'll do it with the understanding that things could change.

What to do with the Laconia property where the shuttered prison now sits is another. There's also a study on sustainable revenue sources for highway and bridge upkeep.

School districts may want to keep an eye on the study of the school building-aid program, which dates from World War II, long before state aid to schools hit the $1 billion mark. The program sends $40 million a year to local districts for school-construction costs. There are few limits on the program, although indoor pools usually get nixed.

Another notable panel will review the state's death penalty laws.
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Tom Fahey is state house bureau chief of the N.H. Union Leader and Sunday News.
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"Activist launches bid to be governor"
By KEVIN LANDRIGAN, Staff Writer - klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com - September 2, 2009

CONCORD – Conservative political activist Jack Kimball on Tuesday launched his somewhat quixotic, Republican bid for governor in 2010.

Kimball, 62, of Dover, said the genesis of this move to seek the first political office of his life began in March when he placed a tongue-in-cheek sign outside his business that read, "Let's all stop paying our mortgages."

The placard and thousands of messages Kimball said he got from brief coverage by Fox News of the protest convinced him it was time to wade into the middle of elective politics.

"This is something that would not have ordinarily entered my mind," Kimball said during an interview. "I felt I had to fight for my country again."

The single father of one hosted a reception in a Concord restaurant after he filed papers forming a 2010 political action committee known as JackPAC.

Kimball said he stands for cutting taxes and government spending and for gun owner rights, while opposing abortion, gay marriage, stimulus money and government-run health care.

"Unlike John Lynch, I'm a small government guy all the way," Kimball said. "I believe in making tax cuts that can produce additional revenue."

Asked how he would have balanced the current, two-year state budget, Kimball said he would have trimmed expenses and opposed the 39 tax and fee hikes contained in the final document.

"It's a tough job but very necessary," he said.

The would-be candidate's Web site currently under construction is www.jackforgov.com.

Kimball is not the darling of the Republican Party establishment, which is still seeking a higher-profile figure, such as 2002 candidate Bruce Keough, of Dublin, or former Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Morse to try to deny Lynch a historic fourth, two-year term.

"People will give me a slim chance to none, but I will win," Kimball told The Portsmouth Herald last week.

The long odds didn't stop Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley from trying to link Kimball to the GOP elite, recalling Kimball's online claim that America is in danger of becoming a communist country and that he is storing large amounts of ammunition to be prepared for the "serious things coming" our nation's and state's way.

"Today, the real face of the New Hampshire Republican Party stepped forward," Buckley said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, Mr. Kimball represents the radical right wing and not New Hampshire values."

"In these tough times, we need proven leaders who will work across the aisle to solve problems," Buckley said.

Lynch has already formed his own PAC and began fundraising for an expected run in 2010.

Kimball has said he owns a 9 mm handgun and an M-4 assault rifle but is not a member of the National Rifle Association.

A native of Medford, Mass., Kimball attended Winchester, Mass., public schools and then his parents – his father, a firefighter, and his mother, a homemaker – told him that they were unable to afford college tuition for him.

Kimball attended college at night while working days and got a two-year degree from the University of Lowell. He said he fell three courses short of a four-year degree, aborting his studies when a messy divorce left him with full custody of his daughter Tammy, now 40.

He's president of Great Bay Facility Services on the Route 1 Bypass in Portsmouth that offers cleaning services for small business and does some small renovation jobs.

"I wasn't interested in running for the Congress but the office of governor did intrigue me as it's an administrative job, and that's what I've been doing my whole business career," Kimball added.

But Kimball said he will not self-finance a campaign he estimates will cost $1.5 million.

A Navy veteran, Kimball helped start Granite State Patriots and volunteers as a greeter welcoming arriving military personnel at Pease International Tradeport.
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Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com.
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My turn: "This state employee will vote no"
By PETER R. BRUNETTE, For the Concord Monitor, Opinion, September 01, 2009

I am a state employee and a member of the State Employees' Association. I am sick and tired of being asked to balance the budget by agreeing to forego pay and benefits.

I am a field worker for a child protection unit who, like most skilled and professional state employees, is paid far less than my counterparts working in the private sector. And now, I am being asked by my union to vote for a biennial contract that calls for further cuts in pay and benefits. This I cannot and will not do.

The pending contract was negotiated by the state in bad faith. Even before formal negotiations began, on Dec. 10, 2008 (15 days before Christmas), Gov. John Lynch went to the press, publicly asking state employees to forego a long-overdue 5.5 percent raise called for under the last contract, knowing full well that a vote of the membership was required and that the rank-and-file, already reeling from the effects of the recession, would not approve the measure.

Through this outrageous cynical ploy, he attempted to make it appear that state employees, having already agreed to benefits reductions the last time around, are selfish and unconcerned about the budget crisis.

When the union finally sat down at the table, the governor threatened massive layoffs unless the union agreed to further unprecedented reductions in benefits and pay. It is this threat, from which the Lynch administration never wavered, that forced union negotiators to agree to terms that would have been inconceivable in prior years, terms that will nonetheless do little to reduce the deficit, without any guarantee that layoffs will not occur.

In other words, state employees are once again being asked to give up something without receiving anything in return.

The underlying problem here is an appalling lack of courage on the part of our elected officials. The governor and our representatives in the House and Senate are so afraid of not being re-elected that they will not consider any legislation to raise the revenue necessary to provide essential services and property tax relief to its citizens. These pledge-taking, issue-dodging cowards continue the willful deceit that reduction of expenditures is the only way to balance the budget. Until and unless their moral character improves to the point that they are capable of doing what is right, and not just what is politically expedient, state employees and their union representatives will continue to be shown nothing but bad faith and disrespect.

Fiscal responsibility in state government must be achieved, but it has been unfairly dumped on its hard working and underpaid employees. I call upon all my union brothers and sisters to draw the line here, now before it is too late. Let us send a clear message that we are not going to take it anymore, and vote NO on the pending contract.

And, however this vote may go, let us never forget those elected officials who have shirked their responsibilities, especially when they seek re-election next fall.

(Peter R. Brunette lives in Lakeport, NH.)

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"State revenue falls behind: Income for August off by $17.6 million"
By SHIRA SCHOENBERG, Concord Monitor staff, September 3, 2009

State revenue for the month of August came in $17.6 million lower than expected.

According to a report released Tuesday by the Department of Administrative Services, the state took in $93.9 million, instead of the $111.5 million the Legislature had predicted. The revenue this August was $4.8 million lower than last August.

The new figures drew fire from Republican leaders, who accused the Democratic majority in the Legislature of inflating revenue predictions. In a press conference yesterday, House Republican Leader Sherman Packard compared the state to a person who generally works 40 or 45 hours a week, then one week works 50 hours. "If you make your household budget, do you predict it based on 50 hours for that one week a year?" Packard asked. "The Democrats projected revenue estimates on 50 hours a week."

But Democrats played down the significance of the numbers. "No one who has any familiarity at all with the process, including people of both parties, expects to see a significant signpost until the end of September," said Rep. Marjorie Smith, who chairs the House Finance Committee.

Colin Manning, spokesman for Gov. John Lynch, defended the revenue estimates as "conservative projections" that the ranking Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee had agreed with.

Tax dollars come slow

The biggest drop from what was anticipated came in the rooms and meals tax, which brought in $24.8 million, or $3.7 million less than predicted.

The state's two business taxes brought in $9 million, which was $2 million below what was expected. The tobacco tax came in at $22.8 million, also $2 million below predictions. Earnings from the liquor commission, interest and dividends tax, lottery commission and "other" revenues were all at least $1 million behind predictions. No category of revenue exceeded predictions by more than $100,000.

The figures looked a slightly sunnier when compared to last year's August revenue. The rooms and meals tax brought in $1.9 million more this August than last. Revenue from the tobacco tax was up by $7.5 million. But business taxes were down by $2.9 million this year and "other" revenues by $3.7 million.

Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon said part of the reason for the shortfall is economic, and is due to the way the projections were developed. The yearly revenue projections were set by the Legislature, working with commissioners and economists. Once the budget was passed, state agencies made the monthly projections.

Hodgdon said the monthly estimates were based on three-year averages, and the economy has worsened over those years. Because she did not know when the economy would recover, Hodgdon made the estimates as if the economy would remain the same throughout the year. That means revenues might be lower than expectations now, but could exceed expectations if the economy rebounds. "I didn't assume that by a particular month that's the month the economic recovery will happen, and more heavily weight revenue in that period," Hodgdon said. "There's no one right way to do it because no one can tell you exactly when economic recovery's going to happen."

Where's Plan B?

Hodgdon said some changes made in this year's budget - for example, to the liquor commission - will only be felt later in the year. She, like Smith, said September and October were much more significant months, with revenue projections of more than $200 million each month. September is also when taxes that are collected quarterly come in, and Smith said the state will then have a better handle on revenues like business taxes and the rooms and meals tax.

But the monthly deficit, combined with a pending lawsuit over a medical malpractice fund that could affect another $110 million, renewed calls by Republican leaders in the state House and Senate to further cut state spending. A group of a dozen legislators held a press conference yesterday to ask Lynch to develop a "Plan B."

Led by Senate Republican Leader Peter Bragdon and Packard, they called on Lynch to hold a special legislative session to address the budget, and to release copies of preliminary budgets submitted by department heads that would maintain spending at a level of 97 percent of last year. (Manning said the governor's office would release the budget reports.)

"We're facing a budget problem of significant size," Bragdon said. "We should not look for ways to increase taxes and establish fees, but to decrease spending."

Packard estimated that if revenues remain below what was expected and the state loses the lawsuit, the state could face a revenue shortfall of $200 to $300 million by next year. "Thirty eight taxes and fees were raised this past budget," Packard said. "We can't increase them any more than we have been."

The Republicans did not make specific proposals on how spending could be cut. Finance committee member Rep. Neal Kurk said the group wanted to first get the commissioners' budgets.

"They know how to save money on a micro level, that legislators only do on a macro level," he said.

October surprise

Although the final result of the medical malpractice case, which is now pending before the state Supreme Court, will not be known until at least October, the Republicans said the government must start working on a plan now.

"We need to be ready in October to do something if we have to," said Rep. Gene Chandler.

Manning said Lynch would continue to do what he had always done: "We're going to be monitoring revenues closely, monitoring spending closely and continuing to effectively manage the budget," he said.

Manning said Lynch already took steps to deal with the loss of revenue due to the recession.

"When the impacts of this recession were felt on state revenues, the governor and Legislature worked to reduce spending and freeze hiring, out of state travel and equipment services," Manning said. "The governor worked with legislators in crafting a responsible budget that makes significant cuts, protects essential services and didn't create any major new taxes."

Democratic Sen. Lou D'Allessandro, a Democrat who chairs the finance committee, said after the press conference that he has heard enough negativity.

"We have to think creatively and we have to start talking positively," D'Allessandro said. "What can we do to promote economic recovery and promote jobs? We need private investment producing jobs that can bring in business enterprise, business profits taxes and rooms and meals taxes."

Smith also challenged the Republicans to come up with specific suggestions. She said the House and Senate committees already had the commissioners' 97 percent budgets during the budget process.

"Not one of my Republican colleagues had any suggestions to make," Smith said. "The only suggestion was the easiest and perhaps most irresponsible suggestion to just make across the board cuts." Smith said she believed a special legislative session was unnecessary.

Despite the revenue numbers, Smith said she was confident that "we'll end 2009 with a balanced budget and we'll end 2011 with a balanced budget."

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"LLC tax: a matter of fairness and perspective? - BIA: Levy on LLCs a 'step down the road towards an income tax'"
By Michael McCord, business@seacoastonline.com - September 6, 2009

The expansion of the New Hampshire interest and dividend tax to cover the distribution of limited liability companies' after tax-assets was a last-minute addition to the state budget bill passed in late June.

LLCs are business structures allowed by state statute and have become very popular because they are a hybrid of a partnership and a corporation — and its owners, also known as members, are shielded from personal liability while all profits and losses pass directly to them. LLCs are commonly law, accounting or service sector partnerships or can be single-owner, single-employee companies.

It's the distribution of after-tax profits aspect that has been on the radar screen of the N.H. Department of Revenue Administration and lawmakers seeking more ways to generate revenue to balance the state budget. While profitable corporations pay dividends to shareholders — and those dividends are taxed by the state at 5 percent — LLC profits distributed among members have not been subject to the tax.

The last minute inclusion of the interest and dividends tax expansion to LLCs was cited by lawmakers as closing a loophole and providing an estimated revenue stream of $240 million (for the total interest and dividend inclusion) for the 2010-11 biennium budget. But critics of the plan said the proposal did not have public hearings and wasn't properly vetted for its potential impact on the more than 10,000 businesses.

"It's not something we ever supported," said David Juvet, senior vice president with the state Business & Industry Association. Juvet said while the BIA supported the passage of budget as necessary, it wasn't happy with many of the 36 new or existing tax and fee increases in it.

"The BIA really never had the opportunity to oppose it because it was never a part of any budget discussion language, there was no public hearing, no public input," Juvet said. "Our main criticism initially was more process orientated. This sounds like a major change to business tax policy and it passed literally at 1:30 in the morning."

DOR Commissioner Kevin Clougherty said closing the alleged loophole was a matter of fairness, legal accountability and to bring the tax code up to date.

"We didn't look at it as a revenue raiser but as a way to make sure that everyone was being taxed fairly," said Clougherty, who started his job last December as the state was caught in a major budget crisis. "It's been very apparent for a long time that on the interest and dividend tax that corporations paying dividends were being treated differently than LLCs distributing their profits."

New Hampshire is only one of the two states in the country with a state interest and dividends tax (Tennessee is the other) and it has been in place since 1923. Clougherty said LLCs are a relatively new phenomenon — first allowed by law in the state in 1996 — and that tax law has not kept pace with them.

"This is a fairness issue. We either need to tax it fairly or have no tax it all," Clougherty said.

Karl Haefield, a managing principal at the Manchester office of Baker Newman & Noyes, a certified public accounting firm, is a tax advisor to the BIA. His firm, an LLC, is one of those that will be impacted by the change.

"It's kind of a complicated scheme they have put together," Haefield said. "The idea is there was some perception of inequality about how distributions from corporations are passed to shareholders, and who are then taxed. The purpose of the new rule is to put all those businesses on a level playing field. But, we think there's some debate about the extent of the inequity."

That "extent" comes into play because the distributions to LLC members are already subject to federal income tax. It's not a problem for 48 other states or those with income taxes because the distribution is taxed as income and not dividends. Haefield said New Hampshire is "unique" in its tax system because it doesn't have a broad-based tax but a patchwork of taxes and fees, such as the business profits tax and rooms and meals tax.

Clougherty had mentioned the LLC distribution formula while testifying in the state Senate earlier this year and admits "it would have been better to have things go through the regular legislative process."

To capture as much public input as possible, Clougherty said rules have not been finalized and that the DOR is working with accountants, businesses and those impacted before final guidelines will be put into effect by late November. The DOR Web site has more information about the rule-making process at www.nh.gov/revenue.

Haefield said his firm has received scores of calls from LLCs about the change, but its staff hasn't been able to say much until the final rules are implemented.

While Clougherty emphasizes the fairness aspect of the expanding the interest and dividend tax to LLC distributions, Juvet at the BIA said it's too early to say what the impact might be on entrepreneurial and business activity. But he does believe this expansion is "one step down the road towards an income tax."

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"State House Dome: Mental-health budget cuts on the table"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, September 13, 2009

A BUDGET FIGHT is developing over a plan to cut funding in state mental-health services.

There's even a disagreement over whether the cuts are $4 million, as the Department of Health and Human Services estimates, or $7.5 million, as the mental-health providers say.

The New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association is e-mailing warnings about the proposed cuts to a list of hundreds of mental-health providers, consumers and health-care advocates.

A public hearing on the plan is set for Tuesday at the Brown Building at the Gallen State Office Park. The Legislative Fiscal Committee will take up the HHS request on Sept. 29. The plan, slated to take effect Oct. 15, also needs lawmakers to approve several rules changes next month.

Roland Lamy, executive director of NHCBHA, said the cuts mean longer waits for services, fewer residential beds in community centers, more admissions to the state hospital, higher criminal-justice costs and elimination of transportation services the mentally ill depend on to take care of basic needs. He noted that the budget assumed case loads would increase during the next two years.

"Our position is that approval of these reductions would be effectively turning our backs on those most in need, knowing what the outcome will be," Lamy wrote Erik Riera, administrator of the Bureau of Behavioral Health.

HHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas said Friday that the program proposes caps on the hours of support services that are covered, and cuts hourly pay for case managers and support staff. Riera said the pay cuts equal about 5 percent for case managers and nearly 9 percent for support workers.

Toumpas said, "Frankly, even with those measures. I'm not quite sure it's going to get us to be able to close the projected gap."

A budget footnote ordered Toumpas to find $21 million in savings before June 2011. This is part of that work, he said, and the result of careful, painful reviews.

It was just a year ago that Toumpas and the NHCBHA released a 10-year plan for restoring the mental-health system that was once a national model. The day it came last Sept. 22, Toumpas said, "New Hampshire's mental-health care system is failing." Among his aims were more beds in residential settings and for those who are involuntarily committed.

Riera said the mental-health system serves about 48,000 people per year, roughly 18,000 of whom are adults with severe mental illness or children with serious emotional disturbances.

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TARGETING RECIDIVISM: Gov. John Lynch plans to unveil a plan tomorrow at 1 p.m. aimed at slowing the revolving door at the state prison.

Corrections Commissioner William Wrenn, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick, Attorney General Michael Delaney and other state and private foundation officials are joining Lynch to talk about a program to reduce recidivism.

Several reports by the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies show a large portion of the prison population is locked up for violations of parole and probation conditions. In the 25 years up to 2007, population went from 394 to 2,615.

In 2008, violent criminals made up half the population and nearly 60 percent of all inmates were behind bars for violation of parole, a 2008 Center study found.

Lynch has told business groups across the state he wants to cut costs by helping prisoners deal with drug and alcohol addiction before they are released so they don't end up back behind bars.

The budget Lynch signed in June sets up a community corrections division designed to steer low-risk criminals away from state prisons. It also closed the Laconia State Prison as a money-saving measure.

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SICK TIME: Lynch isn't a fan of a bill that would require employers with more than 10 workers to give paid sick-time benefits to staff, full and part-time.

"I don't think it's necessary," Lynch said during discussion of the state's response plan for flu outbreaks. He said he's counting on businesses to do the right thing and let sick workers stay home.

Health officials encourage the stay-home policy, saying it gets workers better faster, and avoids the risk of infecting co-workers and customers.

Business leaders say they do not need any more mandates from state government.

"I don't like mandates either," bill sponsor Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, D-Concord, said. She's looking at ways to amend the bill to make it more palatable. One idea is incentives such as tax credits for businesses that provide all workers with paid sick time.

The hitch on the tax credits is that, to be fair, companies that already offer paid sick time would have to see a benefit.

Gile also is working on a self-funded version of HB 661, which sets up family- and medical-leave benefits of $250 a week for up to six weeks. Cost of the original bill was estimated at more than $22 million.

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ALLIANCE AGENDA: The House Republican Alliance, a group of about 50 House members, has set its agenda for the start of business in January. It includes easier access to firearms and ammunition, repeal of gay marriage and several new tax bills, constitutional amendments limiting taxation, repeal of workforce housing laws, two abortion bills, proposed removal of a judge and two marital masters, and investigation of the state's railroad lease to a rail line owned by Rep. Peter Leishman, D-Peterborough.

HRA also would open the state to health-insurance companies that are licensed in at least one of the 50 states.

The group also wants to push for a change in law that would clearly enable cities and towns to put spending caps into place.

The gun bill would allow New Hampshire gun makers unlimited sales of weapons and ammo to state residents, free of federal gun regulation tied to interstate commerce laws.

"We'd just open it up," said HRA co-chair Rep. William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon.

The rail study would be part of a regulatory reform on how the state qualifies bidders on state contracts. Health insurers licensed in any state could only come here if they agree to plain-English policies that inform customers of their coverage and its limits.

"We have great confidence these are the kinds of bills that will be attractive to the citizens of New Hampshire and, hopefully, attractive to the Legislature," O'Brien said.

Democrats say they'll continue work they set out for themselves last year, including finding more consolidation of state departments and operations, work on alternative sentencing to keep non-violent offenders out of prisons and expanded broadband service, not on only in the North Country, but in the under-served western part of the state.

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PROGRAM'S DEMISE: For the first time in more than a decade, there won't be a Women's Recognition Awards program in New Hampshire this year.

Sylvia Gale, executive director of the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Women, wrote those who nominated someone for the award that not only will there be no program this year, but that she will be out of her full-time job as of Sept. 30.

The commission had its funding severely cut in the current state budget. It cut a part-time assistant in July, and Gale's full-time status is next.

The budget cut the commission to $62,001 for the next two years and the Commission on the Status of Men to $51.

Gale wrote nominators: "We fully expect that as the year unfolds, we will revisit this program and revamp it so as to appropriately bestow honor on those who are so deserving of such recognition."

Those who were nominated this year will get a letter telling them they were up for the honor.

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TALKING HEADS: U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen will join Sen. Susan Collins R-Maine, and Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., on CNN's "State of the Union" today, starting at 9 a.m. House Republican Whip Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., will respond during the "Last Word" segment.

State Democratic Party executive director Michael Brunelle boasted of Shaheen's appearance, "It shows that after only eight months in office, she's emerging as one of the real leaders in the U.S. Senate."

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LEADERSHIP RECOGNITION: Rep. Alfred "Gus" Lerandeau, D-Swanzey, has been selected to attend the Council of State Government's Robert J. Thompson Eastern Leadership Academy in Philadelphia this week.

Lerandeau, a three-term House member, sits on the Public Works and Highways Committee. He is one of 35 elected officials from around the country and nearby provinces selected to the academy.

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BEVERAGE BATTLES: When he's not fighting a battle over tobacco increases or wine prices, New Hampshire Grocers Association president John Dumais worries about the sick-leave bill and a pending bottle bill.

In fact, two bills that would slap fees on beverage containers are under review in the House Environment and Agriculture Committee. One, HB 238, would charge the fee, about 1 cent per container, at the distributor's end, and put an estimated $10 million into a solid-waste management fund. The other, HB 675, would impose a 5-cent deposit at the cash register and require retailers to take back used bottles.

Subcommittee work on both bills is scheduled for Sept. 23. Estimates are that unclaimed deposits would put $1.2 million into the state's treasury, but beer sales would fall and offset any gain.

There's also a drive by beer distributors to get their product into state liquor stores. The idea was rejected earlier this year but persists, Dumais said.

"We thought it was a dead deal," he complained.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

What if the state used prisoners to do work around the state as part of their dept to society? That way maybe the repeat offenders won't want to come back and the tax payer gets a little relief from having to pay workers to do the work? Nothing could be more discouraging than a hard days work for no pay, just a room to sleep in and three meals a day. Or we can keep the prisons set up as a form of welfare where you get a room, food, weight room, TV, social time with other gang members, books and maybe a college degree for doing wrong. It seems we’ve kept the rehabilitation part but got rid of the effort and hard work part.
- Deb, Derry

put in the bottle bill -- I don't think that the beer consumption has decreased in any state that already has it -- and NH booze will still be cheaper -- add selling beer to the Liquor stores and we have true one-stop shopping
- terry, goffstown

Are these taxpayer dollars spent for the "greater good" - and what is with the men getting just $51?
Quick - give me some other area you would support that $61,000 going to - or maybe, not spent at all!
As for the "bottle bill" (deposit) please note that this not about recycling - this is about more revenue for the state to spend.
All of the Dems and some Republicans need to go next election.
bnyoung@metrocast.net
- Niel Young, Laconia

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"SEA negotiator says ongoing talks have been frustrating"
By JIM FENNELL, New Hampshire Union Leader, September 16, 2009

Diana Lacey, lead negotiator for the State Employees Association, called yesterday's contract talks with the state frustrating.

Lacey said the state's negotiating team left the table with the intent of using today to review a counter proposal the union offered up Friday. Lacey said it's good a sign that the state is willing to consider compromise, but she thinks time was wasted by waiting four days to start the review process.

Union leaders, meanwhile, will spend part of the day hearing a presentation on the point-of-service health plan the state wants all employees to be enrolled in.

The two sides agreed to resume negotiations tomorrow morning at the SEA headquarters in Concord.

A spokesperson for Gov. John Lynch said department heads will continue to formulate a plan to layoff upwards of 750 employees.

The governor has made it clear he intends to trim $25 million from a new contract with the 7,500 state employees that belong to SEIU Local 1984. If it can't be done through furloughs, the governor said layoffs are unavoidable.

The two sides came to a tentative agreement this summer, but that fell apart last week when union officials asked the state to clarify a clause the union believes is unfair to the 500 or so corrections officers that are part of the union.

The state is eliminating 15 minutes of overtime for the officers to attend briefings before shift changes. The SEA wants a change in the officers' pay scale that would restore that lost pay and be in line with other law enforcement and fire officials.

Otherwise, the union contends, the officers would take an 8.5 percent pay cut under the governor's plan, while everyone else would take a 3.5 percent cut.

Also in dispute are health care, furloughs and bumping rights. Lacey said the two sides agreed to the 18 furlough days state employees will take. She said 12 will be designated government shutdown days, while six will be individual selections.

"It's unfortunate," said Colin Manning, press secretary for Gov. Lynch. "Instead of getting to final language, the union has come back with more demands."

Lacey said the union's proposal would give the governor the $25 million in savings he is seeking.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Such silly statements. There are fewer union people now than at any time in recent history, yet all our problems are their fault. Asinine.
- Steve B, Derry

Hey SEA members, you voted this guy and his cronies into power so deal with it.
- Alex K., Deering, NH

Maybe union members think they deserve to be rich, retire at 50 and have all the benefits during retirement that were provided during working years. This is completely unrealistic. The pie is only so big and that pie is created by other people producing goods and services. In free markets, buying goods and services is the choice of the consumer. If the consumer doesn't have the money or doesn't want the product, guess what? The entity selling those goods isn't profitable and people don't have jobs because they are not needed. Government has few services that people need or want to buy. It is time the government stops the hiring binge, catering to unions, and the money grab to support their unproductive existence.
- Lynn G, Dover

Evergreen the contract. Layoff as many as you like. Unlike most employers, the State has to pay dollar for dollar for unemployment benefits. I wonder if this is in the Governor's master plan.

By the way, DES uses exactly ZERO state funds, but he wants them to share the pain (or is it to scare them into supporting his rediculous contract proposal?) Including these incredibly overwhelmed hard working people only results in a loss of Federal money.

Does this make any sense to anyone?

Governor, your hand is being called. Make your move, and let's get on with more important matters.
- Johnny, Nashua

Do what you gotta do, governor. I'm tired of the cuts we've taken, even before the contract. Let's keep the current contract in 'evergreen' and let the layoffs begin. Add 750 more people to the caseload at DES, with unemployment benefits being paid.
- Dan, Concord

Not what Albert was trying to get across, but I do agree with his statement about the state finally needing to wake up.
Stop spending our money and stop planning to take more of it. The Unions and their greed are destroying our country. Unions, when they first started up had valid reason to exist and I thank them for labor laws, minimum wages and such things, but their greed is bringing all of us down. Time they look at what they have done and make concessions. Most union people I know are either laid off (as their companies can no longer afford to run) or in danger of lay off or making unreasonably high wages and getting better than the average person's benefits and the like. Look around you, people. Politicians and union people seem to be the only ones who are doing OK, unless they union people have put their companies out of business.
The rest of us are very tired of paying your way.
- LHemy, Plaistow

Please Gov. lets stop all the bull and let the layoffs begin!!! The contract the state proposes will never gather enough votes from the union rank and file when it comes up for a vote.
State Employee
- Mike, Bedford

When will the state finally wake up to the fact that it has always balanced the budget by cuttting needed services to the needy, poor and elderly. The Democratic party controls the` state but has proven to be as poor a leader as the Republicans. Neither party will wake up out of their comma and face the real world. New revenue is needed slotswere in this state before and functioned well, many great resorts relied on nthem and it helped keep them open. the crime rate never soared Sunapee, Bethlehem, Brenton woods and pike failed to become sodom or gammorh the state profited from gambling.
- albert, northwood

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"Lynch says layoff notices by Oct. 8 if no deal reached"
By NORMA LOVE, The Associated Press, September 16, 2009

CONCORD – Gov. John Lynch says pink slips will go out to as many as 750 state workers by Oct. 8 if there is no agreement on a new contract with the union representing most of the workers.

Lynch reiterated Wednesday that he prefers unpaid furloughs, but without union agreement he has no choice but to prepare layoff notices. He said the state should know the names of the targeted workers by the end of next week. Layoffs would be completed by the end of October.

"State employee jobs are in jeopardy because union leadership will not allow the state employees to vote on the tentative agreement," said Lynch.

Lawmakers ordered Lynch to save $25 million either through furloughs or layoffs. A tentative agreement with the State Employees' Association fell apart this month.

Since then, the two sides have blamed each other for the deadlock. Diane Lacey, chairwoman of the SEA bargaining team, said it was ridiculous for Lynch to blame the union for putting jobs in jeopardy.

"We have given him his $25 million over and over and over again," she said. "The governor can say yes to this. We are not walking away. We have given him the savings. He may not like exactly the way they look, but which part of the state budget did people really like?"

Lynch said the state will continue to negotiate, but only an agreement will prevent layoffs. Lynch accused the union of making new demands that were not part of the tentative agreement, a charge union officials denied.

The main sticking points have been furloughs, health coverage, and whether corrections workers should get 15 minutes of daily overtime pay. The Legislature eliminated the daily overtime guarantee in the budget and used the money to save corrections jobs when the Laconia prison was closed.

Lacey said the furlough and corrections pay issues have largely been resolved, but the union has serious concerns about health coverage.

"The lingering question is moving thousands and thousands of workers from an HMO plan, a traditionally less-expensive plan, to a point-of-service plan, which is generally more expensive," she said.

The tentative agreement called for 18 unpaid furlough days over two years. Furloughed workers would get 18 paid personal days in repayment spread over four years beginning in 2012.

The furloughs would save the state $20 million while other provisions would save $5 million.

The layoffs announced Wednesday would be in addition to about 200 workers laid off by closing the Laconia prison and a school for students with behavioral issues in Concord and restructuring at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The tentative agreement would limit layoffs to those already planned for in the state budget. The protection does not extend to programs that lose federal funding or fall within state agencies that are restructured.

The state also agreed to restore partial bumping rights suspended in the budget law. Senior employees being laid off could take jobs held by junior employees who worked for the state for less than 10 years.

The union also asked for bumping to be retroactive to apply to the workers laid off by the budget measures. Lynch said that would be too disruptive.

Layoffs also would be applied first to part-time workers.
-
Associated Press writer Holly Ramer contributed to this report.
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"State's cash crunch isn't as bad as feared"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, October 1, 2009

Concord – New Hampshire ended the last fiscal year with a surprisingly healthy cash reserve, a report released today shows.

The unaudited numbers in the annual financial statement show the state’s Rainy Day Fund balance at $76.1 million on June 30, when the books closed on fiscal year 2009. That’s $56 million more in reserves than lawmakers expected three months ago.

A year ago, the Rainy Day Fund balance was $89 million. The budget plan was to tap it for $69 million. The report released today shows the state had to take only $13 million out of the fund.

Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon said the extra funds are the result of a combination of steps. Agency heads worked hard to implement money-saving executive orders Gov. John Lynch put into effect, she said. Another $18 million in federal stimulus money was added to the year’s balance by shifting it from 2010, and revenues for the year were $15 million ahead of the budget plan.

The results give the state a cash cushion should it lose its appeal at New Hampshire Supreme Court of a lower court ruling that denied it access to $110 million in medical malpractice reserve funds. The budget planned on using $65 million of that to balance 2009. The other $45 million from the Joint Underwriting Association reserve is planned for use in the current budget.

Lynch’s press secretary, Colin Manning, said the report shows “we have a state government that in these financial times is really scrutinizing every penny, and working hard to manage the budget.”

He said early in the recession, Lynch issued executive orders to freeze hiring, equipment purchases, out-of-state travel. “We have achieved greater savings than we originally projected, and that has come through good fiscal management,” he said.

Hodgdon said she’s not relaxing yet.

“Given the slow climb out of the recession we have been hearing folks prognosticate, we’re watching this carefully, watching revenues very carefully and watching our spending very, very carefully,” she said.

Revenues for the month of September are due to be released tomorrow. Through July and August, tax revenues were off by $17 million.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

This is good news, but we all need to realize that if the Supreme Court rejects the state's procurement of $65M from the JUA, then we are only left with just over $10M in the rainy-day fund. This is certainly better than a deficit, but it would leave the state in a very precarious position. Clearly, we still need to be very cautious with our budgets.
- Dan, Auburn

The employees did such great work saving money AND their getting laid off?

What the...
- Greg, Nashua

If revenues are off 13% and cash on hand is greater than expected, the answer could be payment of bills was delayed to make year end cash balance look better than expected.

Would not be shocked if this is accounting trickery.

JP
Amherst
- JP, Amherst

You know either way the gov is doing us all a favor, layoffs or furloughs will take money out of the hands of many who vote for those democrats and donate money to liberal causes. There will be less of that money going around.

The Gov plan is a win win for republicans as it only hurts the democratic base of state workers.
- Billy, Penacook

Yes the jobs are starting and the economy is saved, yet people are still being laid off. This story should read more into the stimulus money part of this and I'm willing to bet it going to stop the layoffs that Terney in Concord is referring too and still be at the expense of the nations young down the road.

This administration is not pro business and is not about job creation unless it's state or union or both. No matter what they print we will know the recession is over when our neighbors are working again. Well at least the ones who want to work.
- Deb, Derry

Terney.... The Governor has no other option but to pursue this Legislatively approved reduction in payroll as part of the budget agreement. Also, certain State Agencies continue to struggle with their respective budgets, whereby expenses will be undoubtedly higher than anticipated (budgeted), which will negate this positive news (i.e. Medicaid, where the economic downturn is causing higher than anticipated enrollments and utlization.) Revenues are also lower than anticipated in certain Agencies. Also, should we run a deficit at the State level, the State's bond ratings could be downgraded, thus costing the taxpayers millions more in interest on any existing or prospective capital projects in the State.

I don't know of a single soul, past or present, that would like to lay off anyone in State Government. (Correction.. Gov. Benson) However, like all businesses in the US, the State is trying to survive in the worst recession most of us have ever seen. The Governor must continually look to reduce any and all expenses he can, including reducing payroll and dead end programs, to end up with a balanced budget.

In my opinioin, the State Employees Association members have an easy choice to make which could avert layoffs; take furlough days. I think they would be awfully foolish not to take this offer. State employees could keep their jobs, as well as their great health insurance and benefits package (pensions).

Governor Lynch is trying to be fiscally responsible, prudent and fair. He must look to reduce any and all expenses accross the State in order to balance the budget.

Finally, as a State employee and SEA member, I can honestly state that there are programs and people that could be eliminated in State Government without affecting services at all. It's true that all organizations (I repeat all, government / private / public businesses included) that have some layer of fat that could be trimmed. Any good CEO or fiscally responsible Governor must look at all areas of the budget, both on the revenue and expenses.

For years, no Governor ever wanted to consider "layoffs" or be brave enough to even talk about it (3rd rail of politics) Governor Lynch, however, is totally being fiscally responsible and fair in his commitment to balancing the state budget, and yet offer the SEA members a really really good deal. The Union (SEA) would be foolish not to take the deal offer of "furloughs" versus "pink slips." I think the SEA leadership is also being totally unreasonable and unrealistic in their recommendation to union members to reject the contract, and even think that the Republicans could offer them a "sweeter deal." SEA Leadership, I believe is playing games.

Even if I personnaly got laid off at my job tomorrow, I would still support my position that Gov. Lynch was trying to do the right thing, was up front and honest with the State employees, trying hard to minimize the amount of damage accross State Government without disrupting services. For the SEA union to "court" the Republicans during this time, hinting that the Republicans would offer them a better deal?.... Wow.. Talk about out of touch.
- Tim, Windham

Boy - awful quiet here when the news is good. Where are all the naysayers?
- Art, Portsmouth

Spin spin spin. What hiring freeze? A recent report by the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy state that Lynch granted 352 waivers in 2009. Those revenue numbers are BS too. As of 9/29/09, state revenues were off by 13%. The state reported $176 million in revenues which is a $25 million shortfall of the $201 million budgeted for 9/30/09.
- Alex K., Deering, NH

The one fallacy in this report is that they were already counting $55 million of the $110 million in the medical malpractice account toward FY 2009 to help balance it. So, at best, you need to subtract that $55 million from the number in this story, because the Governor is going to lose that case.
- Dick, Gilmanton, NH

I'm guessing the democrats will immediately spend this found money on entitlement programs. That, or "arts".
- Mike R., Bedford

Lynch should stay the execution with the state employees now, it would only be right!
- Mike, Bedford

So why would Lynch push for layoffs or furloughs when either move could spin the NH economy downward?

Both would affect NH economy badly. lynch should pull back his tentative agreement and go back to the negotiating table and fix his replation ship with his employees.
- Terney, Concord, NH

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"Retiree hike hits with thud"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, November 10, 2009

CONCORD – Towns, cities, school districts and the state itself could see pension costs for police, teachers and other public workers increase by an average of nearly 23 percent July 1, 2011.

Consultants for the New Hampshire Retirement System yesterday recommended the rate hike. The steep increase stems from a combination of investment losses -- 18 percent for the year that ended June 30 -- and the need to catch up with a long-term funding problem that began building nearly two decades ago.

The rates won't take effect until the NHRS board of trustees formally adopts them in September 2010. At that point, they will become a factor in budget planning for towns and school budgets. A year ago, rates were projected to go up between 25 and 35 percent.

Under the new recommendations, pension payments for teachers would increase by 30 percent; for police by 31 percent; for firefighters by 25 percent; and for municipal workers by 21 percent.

State government is not immune, but fares best, with rates going up 11 percent in fiscal 2012. All rates include payments that fund a health insurance subsidy for retirees who qualify.

Assuming the rates stand, a school district would have to contribute $13.95 for every $100 a teacher earns in 2012, an increase of $3.25 per $100 over current pension rates. Teachers are required to contribute 5 percent of their pay to the pension plan.

NHRS provides pensions to 24,000 retired public sector workers from all walks and has 51,000 active workers enrolled at 475 employer groups.

Kenneth Alberts, of the actuarial firm Gabriel Roeder Smith and Co., said the NHRS, which lost nearly $1 billion on investments in fiscal 2009, could have done worse.

"You did very well given the catastrophic events that occurred this past year," Alberts said.

Admitting the new rates will be painful, he advised, "Bite this bullet, take the increase and move forward."

Barbara Reid of the New Hampshire Municipal Association, said rate hikes of this size can't continue.

"This is just the retirement piece of a benefits package. This doesn't include what is being paid for other benefits, like health and dental coverage," she said.

The value of NHRS assets now stands at $5 billion, up substantially from a low point of $4.3 billion when the fiscal year closed June 30.

Because of the annual loss through June 30, NHRS' unfunded long-term liability rose to $3.5 billion, compared with $2.5 billion a year ago. The percentage of funding on hand for long-term pension costs is 58 percent, compared with nearly 68 percent a year ago.

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"Tax increases are killing small business"
The Nashua Telegraph, Letters, December 22, 2009

Just two years ago, we opened our sixth and sevent restaurant in Laconia, where we created some 75 new jobs in the area.

Three years prior to that we created another 75 new jobs when we opened a T-Bones in Derry. We were committed to continued growth here in New Hampshire as a result of these three successful ventures.

But then the legislature started making decisions against business.

In 2008, the minimum wage increase effectively raised tipped employees wages by 50 percent, which is the equivalent of an added $200,000 expense to our businesses. Then this past year rooms and meals taxes rose to 9 percent, taking away our ability to raise prices by that 1 percent increase.

Add to that unemployment tax increases, the mounting annual escalation we are all seeing in health insurance coupled with added expense to discount and advertise to draw in customers during this Great Recession, and you have a recipe for disaster with any restaurant or hotel.

Did you know the hospitality industry contributes the most taxes to the state of any industry? When adding up Business Enterprise Tax, Business Profits Tax, Rooms and Meals Tax, Beer Tax, Communication Tax and a myriad of other taxes, the hospitality industry contributes 20 percent of all taxes the state collects from its citizens and business.

Most in the hospitality industry have returns of less than 5 percent. Most are small businesses such as ours. Adding a proposed new tax on Limited Liability Corporation (the LLC tax) will likely stop growth for thousands of LLCs and will put many others out of business.

What a shame that our company, Great New Hampshire Restaurants, Inc., which just celebrated 25 years of doing business here in New Hampshire – that has created some 150 jobs in the past five years and now employs over 400 employees – is forced to reconsider plans for expansion.

Small business is getting smaller by the minute.

Tom Boucher
CEO and owner, Great New Hampshire Restaurants

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"LLC tax sparks lawsuit"
By GARRY RAYNO, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, January 15, 2010

MANCHESTER – The state's controversial expansion of the 5 percent interest and dividends tax to Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) violates New Hampshire's Constitution a suit filed this week claims.

Wennin, LLC of Manchester sued the state Department of Revenue Administration seeking an injunction to block the agency from collecting the tax.

The suit -- filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court North -- claims the tax violates the state Constitution's equal protection, retroactive taxation and due process provisions. The suit is the first to challenge the new law.

Manchester attorney John Cronin of Cronin and Bisson PC said: "All LLCs are haunted by this tax because they don't know how it will affect them. They call us and we can't tell them the impact, except to get their checkbooks ready because it will cost more than they thought."

Currently the state Department of Revenue Administration is adopting rules for collecting the tax. The rules are expected to be issued next week after the comment period ends Tuesday.

Department of Revenue Administration Commissioner Kevin Clougherty said he did not know about the suit.

Mike Skelton, vice president of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said he is not surprised the suit was filed and expects others as well.

"We sensed that businesses and our members are very upset about how the bill came about and how it was implemented. They feel misinformed and misled and they did not have a chance to voice their opinions," he said.

The tax was approved in June as part of the state's biennial budget package, but without a formal public hearing. The tax is projected to raise $30 million over the two-year biennium.

Small business owners subject to the tax and their advocates claim the tax is unfair, unexpected and will shutter many struggling companies.

According to Cronin, the long-standing constitutional provision against retroactive taxation is intended to give businesses an opportunity to plan and manage their finances, but the LLCs were hit in June with a tax that reached back six months to Jan. 1, 2009.

In the suit, Wennin, LLC, a real estate holding company that owns the building housing Cronin and Bisson PC, claims it is taxed differently than the individuals and trusts who own similar properties along Chestnut Street in Manchester.

Cronin said under the Constitution, similarly situated people have to be treated the same. For example he said, a plumber as a sole proprietor, keeps whatever he earns, while the same plumber as an LLC is subject to the 5 percent interest and dividends tax.

"The plumber does exactly the same thing and has exactly the same civic burden -- police, roads etc. -- but one pays nothing and the other one pays 5 percent," Cronin said.

The suit also claims the tax violates the company's due process rights because the rules have not defined distribution nor established how the tax will be applied.

"The year has come and gone," Cronin noted, and the rules are not final.

Cronin, who represents a number of LLCs, many of which are real-estate holding companies, said the new tax will depreciate the valuation of commercial buildings. One method used to determine valuation is the amount of money a building produces, he said. If that figure is taxed at 5 percent, the value will be less and a community will receive less property taxes.

"The $30 million is not all new money," Cronin said.

Southern New Hampshire businesses also claim all the public hearings on the new rules have been held in the North Country and not in Southern New Hampshire, where the vast majority of the state's LLCs are located.

"There's been no discussion with people in the triangle," said Cronin. "If they don't want to talk to us here, we'll bring the state down to court and they can talk with us in our forum."
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READERS' COMMENTS:

The next time any of us hire's a LLC business to do work for us remember not to whine about the cost. They are only raising their rates to pay for government and as always this is like simply raising all our taxes. The increase will also trickle through the economy and raise the cost of other things as well. But those raising the taxes will try and point the finger at the evil business or blame it on Bush most likely.

This is not going to help business or our economy, but it will benefit government and when this money is squandered or inflation sets in it will have to be raised again. Does anyone else but my self see a pattern here? In the end government wins and the people loose, but they work for us right? We just get no say on the size of government or our tax rates.
- Deb, Derry

Hey Michael from Cambridge, MA
Your comments display your contempt for the New Hampshire way. Strangely, this reminds me of a person who lives in your fair town; perhaps you know him?
He once had the audacity to stand in front of his students and complain about the how “measly” his compensation package was as a professor for UNH. Imagine that?!? Imagine standing in front of your “boss”, you know the one who pays you, and complain in such an audacious manner!
Hmmm, interesting isn’t? Think about it: here was a man paid in the upper 80’s with a benefits package most would be overjoyed and thrilled to receive; yet like you, his arrogance was almost too much to stomach. As if this wasn’t enough, he is PAID by UNH to go abroad and study/teach in Italy, where incidentally he happens to be a dual citizen. All on the back of the citizens of New Hampshire, you know the taxpayer!!!
Your shared views of this capitalist are like that of this professor. Yet, if it were not for this capitalist, you know …the one who has taken the risk and generated jobs to pay into the tax coffers, how else would the revenues be generated?
If it were not for this capitalist and other like-minded individuals, how would this poor professor get his “measly” pay package and teach in sunny Italy?
Come to think of it, why would this professor even leave your highly evolved city and fantastic state and come up here at all? (Sorry, slight digression.)
To the point: This business owner does in fact have THE RIGHT to employ those he deems fit and with regards to his greed, well Michael from the republic of Cambridge, you should thank your lucky stars for his greed. After all, that is what pays for your comfy position—right?

I for one THANK Marty and those like him job creators! I only wish I knew for sure where his business was so I could support it more.
Abigal Adams
- Abigal Adams, Bedford

If state government stops taxing interest and dividends, businesses especially small businesses may have an easier time obtaining capital to create jobs and buy plant and equipment. More businesses may be willing to locate in New Hampshire.

More people may visit State Liquor stores if they have slot machines.

New Hampshire may obtain more money from rooms and meals tax and business profits tax if it allows restaurants and hotels to have slot machines and other types of casino gambling. State government could charge people a fee to gamble in restaurants and hotels, tax gambling winnings from restaurants and hotels, and tax gambling revenues from restaurants and hotels. Local governments could charge people a fee to gamble in restaurants and hotels.

If people are allowed to smoke in restaurants, rooms and meals tax revenues from many restaurants may increase.

If the rooms and meals tax is 5 percent, more tourists may visit New Hampshire and they may stay longer. People may eat out more often. Business profits tax revenues from many restaurants and hotels may increase. Rooms and meals tax revenues from many restaurants and hotels may increase.

If the business profits tax is less than 5 percent, more businesses might decide to come to New Hampshire. Local governments may obtain more property taxes from businesses helping them to pay for schools and other essential services. Unemployment may decrease reducing the need for food stamps and Medicaid.
- Ken Stremsky, Manchester, NH

This tax only shows that an income or a sales tax or both cannot be too far away--as long as the Democrats hold the reins. Before the tax oassed, virtually in secret, Democrats tried to justify it by saying that it was a matter of fairness--that corporations have to pay a dividends and interest tax and therefore so should LLCs. First of all, I&D for LLCs under this law is not determined in the same way as it is for corporations, as other posts have stated. But beyond that, if it were a matter of fairness, WHY WAS IT NOT DONE LONG AGO?? Did fairness just become the "in" thing??

If Democrats want to retain their jobs in November, they had better find ways to make do with what they have, to root out waste, and to cut where possible. Government is not supposed to be everything to everybody--although the Democrats seem to think so. It's not about balancing the checkbook with more taxes, it's about finding ways to boost the economy. They're killing us.
- Jim L, Bedford

To Gregg in Brookline. LLC owners ("members") are NOT ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION in NH, even if your LLC has been paying into the NH unemployment system for years. Only non-owners (non-members) are eligible. So, once your LLC goes out of business, then you're really stuck, since YOU HAVE NO UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS to cushion the blow. The state gets taxes up-front from LLC owners (members), and then doesn't pay unemployment benefits when you're down and out.

"Yep. Tax small businesses even more. That way the state can pay, in the form of unemployment, many more times the amount of the tax.
- Gregg, Brookline"
- Jake, Bedford

Mike, Manchester: "In all this, I have yet to see ANYONE come up with a resonable plan."
Well, Mike, I don't have a comprehensive plan, but I have a start. Try spending only what you have. If you have a revenue shortfall, cut your spending to match rather than creating new and unfair taxes to cover the shortfall. If YOUR income is less than your expenses, do you increase YOUR income? No, you cut your expenses, right? Government should be the same.
- Whitey, Strafford

Jim, Sutton says "Everybody needs to pay their fair share of taxes."

Does that include the 40% that pay no taxes, mostly parasites on permanent welfare?

If not, Jim, why not? WHY DO I HAVE TO WORK AND PAY FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T WANT TO?

Why work at all?
- Mike R., Bedford

Jim,Sutton

"Everybody needs to pay their fair share of taxes."

Yes Jim,many of us are painfully aware of that.Now heres a question I can never get my liberal friends to answer.When is it enough?What percentage of my income is the government allowed to take?

And how long are we as a people supposed to put up with government malfeasance?We have billions of dollars being stolen every year in Medicaid/care fraud.Do you think we should see a parade of criminals going to jail?No,it is basically ignored(maybe you could point out some convictions?)because it was built into the system.Until we get this and a myriad of other wasteful government spending under control,don't come looking to me for more,more,more.
- Tim Oliver, Allenstown

Mike in Merrimack - My two businesses (both LLCs) already pay thousands of dollars per year in Business Enterprise Taxes, not to mention Unemployment Taxes (though we've never had a successful claim). My restaurant also collected over $120,000 in meals taxes last year.

I don't mind paying a reasonable property tax to pay for the police/fire/roads (essential public services). I do mind paying yet more money - money for which I work 80+/hour weeks - to pay for a neverending series of Democratic programs. Programs that seem designed to replace private charity (which I'm happy to voluntarily support) with government bureaucracy (which I hate being forced to support).

Here's a message from NH's small businesspeople: LEAVE US ALONE. Let us do what we do best: create jobs and drive up the quality of life for all around us while we feed and house our families. Keep screwing us and we will shut up shop and put our money and talents elsewhere. We always have that option.
- Keith Murphy, Manchester NH

Mike,Merrimack

"it is taxes that pay to keep the roads clear in the winter, the police and fire salaries" I and many other people have no problem paying taxes for this.As long as they are fair and reasonable.

"various social programs that keep people from starving and loosing their homes, and many many other functions"This is the part nearly all conservatives have a problem with.Since when is it the governments job to make sure you don't lose your house?

You seem to believe that whatever the government wants we should just give it to them and shut up,regardless of the financial burden it puts on us.If you libs believe in the second part so strongly,why don't you set up charities and such like churches do?No you guys would rather use the power of the state to force people to pay for things that make you libs feel good but are fiscally irresponsible.All the while(and this is the part that really burns me)you guys/girls are sending tens of millions of dollars to "save the whales" or PETA or some other sick socialist cause.

When will it ever be enough for you people.Our government is in the process of destroying what is left of this economy with this ridiculous healthcare bill,and here you are,basically saying shut up and pay what your masters demand of you.It stinks that the American people had to vote you socialists into power in order to see how incompetent you are.I guess even with all the proof out there of incompetent Democrat control(Cali,Mass,Illi,Mich,need I go on)there were still enough suckers out there who fell for it one more time.
- Tim Oliver, Allenstown

Hey Marty,Portsmouth

I sure hope you used an alias.As you can see,you will have liberals lining up around the block to sue you out of your business.That way all your employees can be as miserable as the Obama one.

Liberals,unable to accept responsibility for 100 years and counting.Hows that war on poverty going for you?

The buck stops here comment from Bambi the other day was hilarious also,did'nt he say it at the same time as he was blaming Bush for something or other?Unfortunately for us,Republican politicians have learned to lie as well,and as often,as liberal ones.
- Tim Oliver, Allenstown

What do you expect from Democrats. They believe they are the political Imam's, and you have to do everything stupid thing they think of.

China's communist committee could learn a lesson from this legislature.

The state does not care what they do to the rank and file of NH; they exist to kiss the unions and their own a--ses
- john, goffstown

Everybody needs to pay their fair share of taxes.
- Jim, Sutton

Whitey, thanks for the response. I suppose the fact that we're debating this just shows that the details on this tax haven't been communicated well by either DRA or the media.

My point on "reasonable compensation" is that there's nothing new there. My understanding is that LLCs have always had to compute "reasonable compensation" to avoid getting hit with the business profits tax. It seems like DRA would just apply these existing rules for I&D taxes.

As far as differences between a corporate officer's salary and an LLC owner's salary, I don't see why different standards would apply. You can google "reasonable compensation" for discussion on how the IRS applies this for corporate tax purposes.

Again, this reasonable compensation stuff doesn't seem to be anything new, either for NH or for federal taxes.
- Jim (GraniteViewpoint), Newfields

Now business or person likes to pay taxes. However it is taxes that pay to keep the roads clear in the winter, the police and fire salaries, the various social programs that keep people from starving and loosing their homes, and many many other functions. Show me a state where a business (LLC, S, C or any other form) does not pay taxes. Oh, by the way, don't consider moving to Mass, NY, Pa, NJ as there tax rates are higher.
Don't want taxes, volunteer your time, material and resources to do the work that won't happen. Of course NH could always go the way of Calif or Ill and declare bankruptcy. That would be interesting.
In all this, I have yet to see ANYONE come up with a resonable plan. Laying off people, cutting salaries and other options don't go far enough.
Show us a plan that is fair and workable.
- Mike, Merrimack

Well, this tax will make our decision to move to Mass. very easy. So much for a business friendly environment in NH. My guess is that NH will have one of the largest tax burdens for LLCs in the U.S.
- James, Salem

Just wait 'til we get an Income tax to pay the health bill...wonder how far back that will go?
- Rachel, Exeter

Yep. Tax small businesses even more. That way the state can pay, in the form of unemployment, many more times the amount of the tax.
- Gregg, Brookline

Jim (GraniteViewpoint), Newfields:

Your assertion that Cronin's "incorrect" example of the plumber is, itself, only partially valid. A sole-proprietor plumber does get to keep everything beyond expenses, while an LLC plumber's bottom line, less "reasonable compensation" is subject to the I&D tax. First, who is going to determine "reasonable compensation", and what gives the government the right to say how much money a business owner should earn? When the bureaucrat who makes that determination has finished his/her 8-hour day and is at home relaxing, the small business owner is still at work trying to grow or just sustain his business. Does "reasonable compensation" take into account the numerous nights and weekends a small business owner must work in order to keep his business afloat? Not likely.
Second, your example of an LLC plumber with 10 or 20 employees being subject to I&D tax just like C or S corporations doesn't take into account the fact that corps can pay their officers a healthy salary that is not subject to I&D tax and is considered a business expense when compensation audits are conducted. That LLC plumber cannot pay himself a salary and treat it as a business expense in the way a corp can. So all gross profit (income less business expenses) for that plumber is subject to the I&D tax law, meaning that the DRA will determine the plumbers net income, while a corporation officer can earn an exorbitant salary and not be subject to any income tax except whatever amount gets reported as a dividend or distribution. Fair??? I don't think so.
- Whitey, Strafford

Marty,

That's a pretty smart way to find yourself in court too.
- Jim Wilson, Manchester

The Suit is a good idea but now they will waste more taxpayer dollars to fight to get more taxpayer dollars. What a circle!

I saw on the news today that 58% of the people in NH approve of the job Lynch is doing. I cannot see how that can be after what I have read. You think Channel 9 might be a little bias. I do!

Good Luck with the Law Suit. Maybe it will force these people to see that fiscal responsibility is the answer not tax and spend.
- John D., Danbury

Hey Marty, what you're about to do is discriminatory and illegal. It's people like you who make me want to restore tax levels on the rich to their pre-Bush levels even more. I'll make sure to tell everyone to avoid doing business with greedy Martys in Portsmouth.
- Michael, Cambridge, MA

This issue has been wrought with misinformation from the start, and the comments by Mr. Cronin do nothing to change that.
- Dan, Manchester

Politicians never met a dollar they couldn't spend at least twice! And the folks in power now excell at that, spending fantasy (income) dollars in the budget. Next on the agenda... a sales and/or income tax. Vote the bums out before they completely trash your state's business environment.
- Thom, Hummelstown, PA

This is classic. Obama marches bank presidents up to the White house and DEMANDS that they lend money to small businesses so they can expand. The whole idea behind a small business expanding being an increase in profits. So what does the Democratic Legislature do? They pile on a additional tax to SMALL BUSINESS!!! You can't make it up! This is what you get with the Democrats in charge....and if you take a hard look at the people in Concord who are making these idiotic laws...well that's another story in an of itself. What kind of people can afford not to work and get $200.00 a year plus mileage in The Legislature? That would be people who are rich, or have other means of income and don't have to work. Did you know that there are people in the House and senate who do not own property or pay property tax, but they continually vote to raise taxes?
This tax penalizes the people who get up every day and try to make something from nothing, even in this economy. It's a joke, and so is our legislature, quite frankly.
- George, Stoddard

Only way to fix this is to remove the tax and spend Democrats from office. From the do-nothing Governor on down, we need a house cleaning in order to get our state back.
- Mike, Bedford

"Cronin said under the Constitution, similarly situated people have to be treated the same. For example he said, a plumber as a sole proprietor, keeps whatever he earns, while the same plumber as an LLC is subject to the 5 percent interest and dividends tax."

Based on my understanding, this is factually incorrect. I wish we could have better reporting on this tax to help clear up the confusion on this "reasonable compensation" stuff.

It's my understanding that reasonable compensation is excluded from taxation under the plan. There have been some concerns raised about "compensation audits", but those concerns already existed with the business profits tax and are not new. AFAIK, there are no changes to these standards, so profits that have been excluded from the BPT due to the reasonable compensation exception, will also be exempt from the dividend tax. I believe that an individual plumber has nothing to worry about from compensation audits, but again, some clarification would be helpful.

OTOH, if the "plumber" actually owns a heating and air conditioning firm with 10 or 20 employees and makes a healthy profit each year, then any extra distributions (above fair compensation) will be taxed under the dividend tax (just like distributions from a C or S corp).
- Jim (GraniteViewpoint), Newfields

Now the state is going to spend tax payer money defending it's quest to tax us even more. Do these legislators have a clue or is nothing going to get in the way of expanding government and taxing the people in to poverty?

Keep telling yourself class warfare is making life better for any of us as the democrat party does every thing it can to hurt business in the private sector and then wonder why you can't find a job. Then if you end up on government support they expect you to thank them when it is they who helped get you there and now have complete control of your life. Such a scheme is fine for those who don't want to work or want to start a business and help the community.

If we can stop the state from hurting the LLC's we can then work on stopping the hurt placed on us the tax payer who did not get away. Or we can keep ignoring the fact we work more days every year to pay government until we no longer remember what freedom is.
- Deb, Derry

I plan to lay off a 40 hour week employee so that my business and life style does not change! I'm laying off the employee with the OBAMA sticker on their car. They voted them in and I'm laying them off. When they ask me why them, I tell it's George Bush's fault. How's that for hope and change.
- Marty, Porstmouth

there was a LLC meeting yesterday in the building behind the State House. The Commissioner of the DRA was there sharing his support for the tax. A gentlemen from Wolfboro asked the Commissioner outside the room why in these tough times would you add another tax to small business? His response was-----if you don't like it go elsewhere. I say those who support this tax vote them out in 2010.
- glen wyman, wentworth

Jerry of Claremont, There's one major flaw in your logic. You claim that "They need the money and you have it." Their "need" is disputable; the state operating budget had an $11 million shortfall. So in true Democrat fashion, the legislature decided to institute a biased, unequal, and illegally retroactive tax rather than cut spending in order to balance the budget. Incidentally, since the new tax is projected to raise $30 million, what's going to happen to the additional $19 million? No one seems to be talking about that. A new entitlement program? A raise for the department heads who can't manage their budgets now? How about a new health care benefit for the state union members: eyeglasses for their pets? I'm sure the tax-and-spend liberals in the general court can find innovative ways to squander the additional $19 million.

November can't arrive soon enough.
- Whitey, Strafford

Cronin has a good point. Dissolve an LLC.... buy a large umbrella policy perhaps and write that off? It could be cheaper than a 5% tax and offer better protection. Too many small businesses blur the lines between personal and business transaction that the protection afforded by the LLC from a business liability standpoint can be penetrated by most attorneys. Translation, they may still be personally liable for unfortunate business activity. Or... why not just establish multiple LLCs? Hmmm....
- Chuck, Chester

Congratulations NH, it's no longer worth-while to work hard and bring your ideas to life. Our gov. thinks we are all better off if we stop trying and start working for Walmart.
- DL, Manchester

The is just the first volley in the battle to run these bums out of Concord. They play class-envy politics hoping the mis-informed will vote for them. No more. We are finally standing up for our own rights as citizens of not only NH, but for the USA.

This wealth transfer is patently unconstitutional and they know it. But rather that listening to honest debate, they simply ram it through and expect us to take it.

Get used to looking for a new line of work, libs. Your gravy train ends this year.
- Spence, Danville

The manner in which this tax was passed is demonstrative of how the legilsature has become an, "Us against them" crowd. Despite a weakened economy, this state seeks to expand its revenue stream and NOT tighten its belt. Having public comment after the fact was a waste of time because it changed nothing. Despite the widespread opposition, this crowd in Concord is gong to do what they want and to hell with the rest of us. I don't think we have had such an arbitrary legislature, ever.
- Rick Olson, Manchester

Some of the people who are struggling the most in today's economy are those I know with small businesses, the LLC corporations.
If there is to be an income tax, let it be for all instead of selecting a group of struggling small business owners. This is very sad, I know a few that are barely putting food on the table.
Cut spending or make ALL pay the same tax, period. This is one of the most unfair taxes I have ever heard of and of all places, in the Live Free or Die State.
- LHemy, Plaistow

Hopefully Cronin was mis paraphrased in the paragraph addressing commercial building valuation...they are appraised pre-tax with property tax being the only tax allowed as a line-item expense. So the claim that the community will receive less property taxes in not correct.
- Stephen, Sullivan

You can't stop the rain?They need the money and you have it.Don't like it,leave?You'll find you have to pay ,no matter what state you go.
- Jerry, Claremont

The state of NH is being run by children. Angry, radical, leftist children who think they can just make up any rule, or any law they want and not at least understand how the state constitution works before they go off like they did with this LLC mess.
- Jay Collins, Laconia

As a candidate for Hillsborough District 12, State Representative, this was completely unfair the way the Democrat Delegation of Manchester and others in Concord handled this during the budget process. Here in Manchester as well as in the southern tier of the state, many companies are LLC as stated. This will drive more businesses out of our state than bring them in. Time to request that a public forum be held here in Manchester as well as other southern towns/cities so our 'right to know' laws are upheld as well as our constitution.

Robert M Tarr
Candidate for Hillsborough District 12,
State Representative
Manchester
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Rainy day fund drained for budget: Committee closes books on 2008-2009"
By SHIRA SCHOENBERG, Concord Monitor staff, January 23, 2010

The state's rainy day fund will be left with less money than any other time in recent memory, after the state Fiscal Committee voted to take money from the fund to balance the 2008-2009 budget.

The committee voted unanimously to take $79.7 million from the state's revenue stabilization account, also known as the rainy day fund, to close the books on 2009. That leaves the fund with less than $10 million on hand.

"We had a gap from 2009 that needed to be filled, and because we wanted to be fiscally responsible and end the session in the black for 2009, we approved using the rainy day fund," said Senate President Sylvia Larsen, a Concord Democrat and committee member.

Since 1993, the fund's lowest point was $17.3 million, said legislative budget assistant Jeffry Pattison.

Originally, the state planned to use $65 million from the Joint Underwriting Association medical malpractice fund to balance the budget. (Another $45 million from the fund would be used in 2010-2011.) But whether the state has a right to that money is the subject of a dispute pending before the state Supreme Court. Legislators pledged not to use any JUA money until the ruling comes down.

The joint legislative Fiscal Committee already delayed taking money from the rainy day fund for a couple of weeks, in hopes that the court would rule. But in the absence of a ruling, committee members from both parties decided to go ahead. "The world goes on, and we have to close our books," said committee member Neal Kurk, a Weare Republican. "If we wait too long, it's not viewed as prudent management by the lending community."

The committee voted to recommend that if the state is awarded the JUA money, some of it would go to the rainy day fund. The Legislature will have to approve replenishing the fund, since by law money can only be added to the fund at the end of each biennium, if the state has a surplus.

Larsen said even with the low amount left in the fund, the state will maintain its high bond rating. Bond agencies knew the money "was going to come from JUA money or it was going to come from the rainy day fund," Larsen said. "They still gave us an AA rating and still believe we are fiscally a well-run state."

Larsen said the state is still struggling - revenue has dropped as household incomes are down, and the state is reviewing ways to reduce spending, particularly in Health and Human Services. She said legislators will continue to "be responsible about how we make choices" in further cutting spending.

Senate Minority Leader Peter Bragdon, a Milford Republican and committee member, said the only prudent action to take financially was to use the rainy day fund to balance the books. But he said that did not address the major problem of state spending. "The key thing is we shouldn't be in a position of having to make that transfer," he said. "We spent $80 million more than we raised in 2009."

Kurk blamed the Legislature for the need to dip so heavily into the rainy day fund. "The budget, while it was in balance at the beginning of the year, was balanced on unreasonably optimistic revenue assumptions and unreasonably optimistic spending assumptions," he said.

Kurk said it is now up to legislators to cut spending for the current biennium. "If we don't take strong action early on, it will be unbalanced when we close the books in a year and half, and then we won't have the rainy day fund as a cushion," he said.

Gov. John Lynch said in his State of the State address on Thursday that the state balanced its budget in 2009. Republican leaders have jumped on that statement, in light of the need to use the rainy day fund. Rep. Fran Wendelboe, a New Hampton Republican, pointed to the withdrawal and other one-time revenues used in the budget. "It's obviously not balanced," Wendelboe said.

The $80 million "is a deficit, no matter how much Gov. Lynch and the Democrats try to pretend it is not," Bragdon added. "This kind of fiscal leadership and accounting gimmickry will soon bankrupt the state."

State Sen. Maggie Hassan, an Exeter Democrat, defended the governor's claim on Thursday. "We know we have money in the rainy day fund or the JUA - it's balanced," Hassan said. "You're left with a mechanical question of which source of funds you do it with."

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"Property protected: The JUA's significance"
The New Hampshire Union Leader, Editorial, January 31, 2010

The New Hampshire Supreme Court's Thursday ruling refuting the state's claim to $110 million sitting in a private medical malpractice fund has ramifications far beyond the current state budget.

Had the state succeeded in reaching into the Joint Underwriting Association's coffers and withdrawing $110 million for the stated goal of using it for a more publicly beneficial purpose, other raids on private funds might have followed.

The state argued in part that it could take the funds because the insurance policies that governed their use were subject to "applicable law" and the state, by passing a law confiscating the $110 million, had changed the "applicable law."

The Supreme Court correctly dismissed that argument, citing, in the words of a previous ruling, "the deeply rooted principles that persons should be able to rely on the law as it exists and plan their conduct accordingly." In other words, the state cannot void contracts whenever lawmakers desire money protected by those contracts.

The state also claimed it would put the money to better use than the JUA would. The two dissenting justices liked that argument. They wrote, "The Act was passed to protect a basic societal interest -- affordable healthcare for underserved populations.... In our view, the Act is a reasonable decision by the legislature that it can better meet this need by transferring funds to programs that provide such access instead of retaining them in the JUA's coffers."

Thank God the majority disagreed, writing, "the Act expediently accomplishes the legislature's stated purpose of supporting programs that promote access to needed health care. But such expediency does not, in and of itself, render the transfer of these funds reasonable and necessary."

Were the state's claim ruled a sufficient justification for confiscating private money, where would such confiscations end?

The court majority (including the only two justices appointed by Gov. John Lynch, who proposed the JUA raid) has issued a substantial defense of private property against the aggression of the state. The people of New Hampshire ought to be deeply thankful.
-
READERS' COMMENTS:

Agreed. This would have set precedent to raid every other reserve fund held by Insurers doing business in this state.

Insurers are required to hold adequate reserves to meet their obligations, that's mandated at a state level across the country. The state n o doubt would have used this argument to claim other mandatory reserves.

Kudos to the high court for slipping in the "retroactive" unconstitutional references. That set precedent to destroy the LLC retroactive tax.

The state is going to go through another extremely difficult fiscal year and it's going to be hard medicine for us all to swallow. But its going to be necessary medicine.

Voters across the socioeconomic spectrum in NH will never forget who got us into this mess, who overspent, who tried to steal private money, who drained the rainy day fund, and who proposed illegal retroactive income taxes.
- Chuck, Chester

Thanks for writing the editorial. I agree with you.


People should remember that

Amendment Five of the United States Constitution says "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution

No State shall ... pass ... ex post facto Law
- Ken Stremsky, Manchester, NH

I like your quote from the majority: "Persons should be able to rely on the law as it exists and plan their conduct accordingly." The reason for the rule of law is not to pick winners and losers based on what they did yesterday, but to tell us what we may and may not do tomorrow. The reason this recession is so long and deep is that President Obama--by his often-stated intention to "transform" America and by his rhetoric that suggests it will involve new transfers from achievers to excuse-makers, has undermined the rule of law. It may be that Obama's defeat on "health care" may spur recovery. The end of the magical cult may indicate that 2010 will not be as unpredictable as we had thought.

Separately, citizens analyzing the words of a court ruling--as readers here did with the federal campaign-finance decision here, one day after it was issued--shows how far we have come from the primitive English colony of farmers and tradesmen whose Founders did not trust them with democracy.
- Spike, Brentwood NH

It was the AG Kelly Ayotte's legal opinion that gave Lynch the go-ahead.

She deserves much of the blame.
- Putney, Manchester

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"State budget woes just got a lot worse"
The Nashua Telegraph, Editorial, February 3, 2010

If the state budget were a giant tire, now would be a good time to send someone out for a bigger patch.

Already facing a revenue shortfall of about $65 million one quarter of the way through the two-year budget cycle, state officials will have to plug another $45 million hole now that the New Hampshire Supreme Court has rejected the state’s bid to tap into the treasury of the state’s medical insurance underwriter.

Last week, in a much-anticipated decision, the state’s high court voted 3-2 to uphold a lower court ruling and block the administration from using $110 million of the $152 million surplus held by the New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association.

Previously, a superior court judge ruled the state’s bid represented an unconstitutional taking of private property. This time, the court majority rebuffed the state on the grounds that seizing surplus funds dating back to the formation of the JUA would violate the contract clause of the state constitution.

Originally, the state had intended to use $65 million to balance the previous two-year budget and divide the remaining $45 million equally over the next two years. Last week, however, the Legislative Fiscal Committee decided to withdraw $65 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund in order to close the books on the 2008-09 budget year that ended June 30.

Reaction to the court’s ruling was both partisan and predictable.

Democratic Gov. John Lynch expressed his disappointment, noted the amount represented less than 1 percent of the state’s $11.5 billion budget and promised that “we’ll manage through it.”

Republicans renewed their criticism of the governor for engaging in such a risky scheme, claimed the budget shortfall is much larger than projected and called for a reduction in spending – not “more taxes, fees and tricky financial gimmicks,” in the words of Senate Republican Leader Peter Bragdon, of Milford.

At the risk of saying we told you so, we thought this budget was headed for trouble even without rolling the dice on the JUA money.

Back in June, with only a week remaining before the start of the fiscal year, we called on lawmakers to “reject this work of fiction, get back to the table immediately and spend the next week putting together a two-year budget more rooted in reality.”

We didn’t believe the rosy revenue projections, nor did we believe the administration had done enough to reduce the bottom line. At a time when governors were recommending budgets showing an average decrease of 2.5 percent, according to a report by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers, state lawmakers were preparing to put their stamp of approval on a spending package that was up slightly from the previous two-year budget.

Clearly, lawmakers from both parties are going to have their hands full trying to maneuver this budget to a soft landing when the two-year budget closes June 30, 2011.

Unless the economy stages a rapid recovery – which seems pretty unlikely at the moment – some analysts believe the shortfall could grow to between $200 million and $300 million by the end of the biennium.

That would be challenging enough even if we weren’t in an election year, which means you can expect the political rhetoric to be hot and heavy this summer in anticipation of New Hampshire voters heading to the polls Nov. 2. Of course, none of that political posturing is going to help one iota in crafting a solution to the state’s mounting budget problems.

Given that, we would encourage our elected officials to put aside the urge to play the blame game, recognize that New Hampshire – like virtually every state in the country, be they led by a Democrat or a Republican – is reeling under the weight of a recession of historic proportions, and pledge to work together for the common good.

That’s one pledge we would like to think everyone can get behind.

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"Police union negotiations stall"
By ALBERT McKEON, Nashua Telegraph Staff Writer, February 21, 2010

The economic climate has many men and women in blue seeing red, as several local police unions have failed recently to reach contract agreements with town officials aiming to toe the line on spending.

Three area towns couldn’t come to terms with their respective police unions, leaving voters in Amherst, Hollis and Milford to decide on solutions offered by an independent party.

Another town almost faced the same situation, but a last-minute move by Hudson Selectmen allowed for a new deal that met police union approval.

And in Merrimack, town officials couldn’t reach a consensus with the union representing police and firefighter department supervisors.

The stalemates occur as municipalities try to reconcile shrunken tax revenue with services that don’t have fixed costs. The expired contracts were consummated when the economy was humming, but now, town leaders and employees must try to agree on fair compensation with a smaller revenue pool.

“When you have 10 percent unemployment, you have an extra seven to eight million people not paying taxes,” said John Romps, an associate professor of economics and business at St. Anselm College in Manchester.

“Corporations are not paying as much taxes. We’re not driving as much, so you have less coming in from a gasoline tax. Every municipality faces the same problem: Revenues are being cut, 10 to 15 percent.”

Municipal workers are thus asked to keep their salaries constant, or even take a pay cut, Romps said. That’s the preferred course for municipal officials, who don’t have the political will to raise taxes to fund employee pay raises, he said.

An official from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3657, the union that represents the police and fire employees who have been negotiating contracts in the Nashua area, didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story.

Municipalities could have prepared for the rough economy by saving money when their budgets were flush, Romps said. But most communities “don’t set aside for rainy days,” he said.

Here is a summary of developments in the towns having contract issues:

Amherst

Disagreements on three issues – wage increases, the cost and issuance of protective body armor and an upgrade of radio communications equipment – led to this town’s impasse.

Amherst Police patrolmen and sergeants rejected a tentative agreement last month. They’ve been working without a contract since the last agreement expired on June 30, the end of the 2009 fiscal year.

An independent fact-finder stepped in, and sided largely with the union on the issue of wages.

Now that the issue has gone on the town warrant, residents will vote on whether to accept the fact-finder’s report. In a separate ballot question, they can choose whether to give selectmen authority to call one special meeting to address the cost-only items in the report in case the report is defeated.

If voters accept the report, it clears the way for the town and union officials to return to the bargaining table. But even if an agreement is reached, Town Administrator Gary MacGuire said, the new contract will still have to wait until next year’s elections.

Hollis

A fact-finder’s report recommends that the town and the union representing Police, Fire and Communication Department employees accept a three-year contract, retroactive to April 1, 2009, that provides for step increases and cost-of-living adjustments.

But this idea has been accepted only by the union. The town rejected the fact-finder’s recommendation.

The issue must now go before voters. If they reject the fact-finder’s recommendations, the town and union are required to negotiate all over again.

Union members said they don’t recall a more difficult bargaining process.

“There’s no secret about it. It’s contentious,” said police Detective Angelo Corrado, head of the bargaining unit. He said members attribute the conflict to “a lack of communication and understanding on the part of the town.”

But Town Administrator Troy Brown said the recession is to blame.

“I respectfully disagree,” he said, responding to Corrado’s comment. “We’ve been responsive to all their requests for information. We have met with the union upon each request, and the town is simply trying to negotiate a contract that reflects the current economic times.”

Hudson

The police union and Hudson officials also had an impasse over salaries. But an eleventh-hour vote by selectmen at the Deliberative Session led to a last-minute new proposal, which the police union ultimately approved.

A fact-finder had recommended cost-of-living adjustments from 3 percent to 4.5 percent for fiscal 2011 and 2012, but selectmen had balked that salary raises could have potentially reached the high end of the scale, saying it was unaffordable.

As voters reviewed warrant articles at the Deliberative Session, Selectman Ken Massey proposed no wage increases for the fiscal year ending July and fixed 3 percent raises for 2011 and 2012.

Massey and others at the session said local police are paid in the middle of the salary range for neighboring towns. The amended article would keep Hudson from falling behind other communities, they said.

The police union approved the amended contract at a later meeting, and taxpayers will now vote on the new proposal. Police Sgt. Mike Gosselin, the local union president, commended the board for breaking the stalemate.

“I understand times are tough,” Gosselin said. “The town wants to keep appropriating only what the budget is … so 3 percent is certainly fair. I attribute this to a show of support for the Police Department.”

Milford

Town Administrator Guy Scaife has gone so far as to speak out against a proposed contract for police because it includes a provision for sick-time buyouts, something not available to other town employees, including members of the Teamsters union.

“Sick time is not an entitlement,” Scaife said at a town budget hearing last month. “It’s there for when you are sick. I am baffled why 17 employees should be treated differently.”

Through elimination of the sick-time buyout for Teamster and non-union employees, $54,000 was saved this year, but the AFSCME contract sick-day buyout provision would cost the town $6,200 for the 17 employees, he said.

The fact-finder recommendation before voters calls for no wage increases this year and a 2.5 percent across-the-board increase for 2011.

Scaife said he’s proud of the police force, calling it an “outstanding organization.” He emphasized his disagreement is with the sick-time issue.

“It’s a small issue, but you can’t in good faith say one class of people should be treated differently,” he said.

Merrimack

The contract for police and fire supervisors will expire in June, so they’ll likely work another year under the terms of the current contract. It’s too late to forward an agreement to voters this year.

In addition, a new union, representing police dispatchers and support staff, is still working on negotiations for its first-ever contract.

Town Manager Keith Hickey said he couldn’t talk about specifics, but said in general that salaries and benefits have been the main issue in talks.

“The economy is coming into play, certainly,” Hickey said. “Another big sticking point, and I’m assuming other communities are facing this like Merrimack, is the increased cost of benefits, specifically in the retirement system.”

Hickey said he anticipates meeting again with members of the union to kick-start negotiations within the next couple of weeks.
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Staff writers Hattie Bernstein, Kathy Cleveland, Karen Lovett and Dean Shalhoup contributed to this report. Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-5832 or amckeon@nashuatelegraph.com.
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"Tom Fahey's State House Dome: Battle looms over state's budget woes"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, March 21, 2010

The House and Senate start the head-banging this week, voting on opposite approaches to the state's budget problems.

The House will vote on the first of what it says will be several cost-cutting bills. It wants to trim $47 million in a grab bag called HB 1664 that runs the gamut from elimination of the state film commission to a $6 million cut in services to disabled and brain-injured adults.

The Senate Finance Committee walked down a hallway full of wheelchairs on Thursday, then looked at millions in proposed human services cuts and rejected them, 7-0.

The Senate plan, pushed as always by Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, is to expand gambling to allow slot machines and table games at race tracks and casinos.

Sen. Kathy Sgambati, D-Tilton, came on board with gambling when D'Allesandro agreed to her move to dedicate the first $50 million in gambling fees to fund programs at Health and Human Services.

The Senate has made itself clear, D'Allesandro said -- no cuts, bring in gaming revenue. He said if Gov. John Lynch wants to cut services, that's the governor's decision.

Lynch has been sounding more negative on gambling with each passing month. Over the past four years he's ratcheted up insistence that gambling not affect the state's quality of life. Lately, he has added that he is concerned about how quickly gambling will spread, pointing out that before video slots are even legalized, each succeeding gaming bill has more proposed locations.

In all, it portends a long and difficult spring season. And it's Democrats in the House, Senate and corner office who are going to have to figure this thing out. With November elections looming, the GOP is not eager to look for a rabbit in the hat.

DON'T BE DUPED: The LCHIP program survived the House Finance session, but lost $1 million.

Jane Difley, president of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, said people who pay an LCHIP fee at the registry of deeds are being had.

"The Legislature shouldn't deceive the people of New Hampshire who've been told that when they pay this fee they are supporting conservation and historic preservation, not general state government," Difley said. She noted that of the state's 200 dedicated funds set-ups, LCHIP is the only one being diverted.

So LCHIP keeps $721,000 for the coming year, more if real-estate sales pick up.

More than $17 million of the cuts suggested in the Republican-sponsored HB 1664 were based in part on returning to levels that Gov. Lynch proposed in his budget last year. That includes cuts to the developmental disabilities and brain-injured wait lists.

Health and Human Services, as the state's largest agency, takes the largest hit in the House plan, at $14 million. The biggest impact is on roughly 220 disabled and brain-injured who will go onto a waiting list for services in 2011.

There was a series of other losers and winners.

Family planning centers escaped unscathed. Domestic-abuse and violence programs also were spared.

School dropout prevention took a $1.7 million hit. That means local districts will pay for alternate programs to keep kids in school to meet the new law that makes attendance to age 18 mandatory. Sounds like another unfunded-mandate argument in the making.

The community college system and UNH were spared $13 million in cuts, not because the committee was generous, but because federal stimulus rules would have forced the state to hand any savings back to the feds.

Public employees will pay more in retirement costs and retirees under 65 will pay more for health insurance.

The Office of Information Technology was ordered to cut $5.6 million, which HHS Commissioner Nick Toumpas said will also hit his agency because OIT handles its tech issues.

The court system took a double hit. The proposal in HB 1664 was to cut $2.3 million of its budget, then close Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester to save another $2.5 million. The committee voted to keep the court open, and ordered Judiciary to save the full $4.7 million anyway.

With Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick complaining recently that the state has too many district courts, the bill shoves him toward shutting a few.

Taken on top of furloughs that already were expected to close all courts on 17 work days in the next year, Broderick appears to be losing his fight to keep the court system accessible to the average person.

The N.H. Bar Association board of governors sent an e-mail urging lawyers to complain to legislators. It says the cuts mean 90 workers lose their jobs, and that courts will be closed for 30 days. Taken with current vacancies, one in every four court jobs will be gone, NHBA said.

There are more cuts to come in the next couple of weeks as Lynch works toward his $140 million savings plan. Some watching the process closely say entire, albeit smaller, state departments could be merged out of existence.

WHEN THE House Finance Committee was looking for cuts, the idea of leasing Cannon Mountain ski operations came up, as it usually does.

It is often a partisan issue, but this time, even most Republicans said no. First, a lease wouldn't save much in general funds, since Cannon and other parks are self-funded. No one knows what a lease would bring. Most importantly, Cannon's doing well under mountain manager John DeVivo. In fact, it's 19 percent ahead of budget right now and in a good position to post its third consecutive profitable year.

Rep. Lynne Ober, R-Hudson, said, "We should give them at least a couple more years." Rep. Larry Emerton, R-Goffstown, added, "It's running better than I've ever seen it."

WITHOUT THE OLD MAN of the Mountain to watch over it, the Franconia Notch Parkway could get wider.

A plan to run a four-lane interstate through the notch in the 1970s stalled over concerns that blasting and construction would send the Old Man to the bottom of Cannon Mountain. The result was a two-lane parkway.

Now that he's tumbled anyway, the new 10-year highway plan up for a vote this week would launch a study to make the whole road four lanes. There's plenty more in the plan, including a study of where toll booths in Bedford and Merrimack should be placed; cuts in turnpike projects if the Executive Council does not approve a toll hike; and a restatement that the widening of I-93 to four lanes in both directions is the state's top highway priority.

It also requires the full Legislature to approve the capital and operating budget of any passenger rail program before any state money can be spent. Mass-transit efforts will have to meld bus and rail service.

If federal funds are reduced, projects are cut, starting with the lowest on a set priority list.

ALTERNATE ENERGY backers are angry about an amended bill on how a special fund should be used.

The Senate votes this week on changes that would let Public Service of New Hampshire use up to $5 million in alternate energy funds to build a 1 1/2-megawatt solar energy array at the former Manchester landfill.

The fund gets money from a surcharge on all ratepayers. The bill was meant to encourage small-scale installations by homeowners and businesses.

Sen. Harold Janeway, D-Webster, isn't too pleased. "It upsets a very delicately crafted system," he said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Maggie Hassan's plan to set up a committee that sets hospital rates statewide, SB 505, continues its slog toward the finish line. A vote on the bill has been delayed twice already. It's been cut to a plan to recommend charges, and could be weakened further before a vote this week.

THE IDEA of a four-day work week for state employees has been floated before as a cost-saver.

This time, a Senate bill would order a study to report on it by September.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a four-day week in Utah has cut energy use in state buildings by 10 percent, saved on operations and custodial costs, and cut consumption of gasoline in state cars 524,000 gallons. More than four of five workers there like the new system, which has produced lower absentee rates and a 30-percent cut in overtime.

THE DIVISION of Motor Vehicles is likely to have a new director sometime in the next month. Virginia Beecher, who has been running the agency since 1995, is expected to step aside when her term runs out March 31.

Beecher was the first major appointment Lynch made five years ago. The then-Republican Executive Council pressed for Beecher's reappointment, and Lynch was not eager to pick a fight after just 10 weeks in office. The move placated then-Safety Commissioner Richard Flynn but disappointed Democrats who'd hoped to see a change there.

STATE DEMOCRATS plan to hold their state convention at Nashua High School South on May 22. They plan platform meetings in five cities around the state between now and then.

House Speaker Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, and Senate President Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, are co-chairs of the newly-named McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club dinner at the Grappone Center in Concord April 29. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is keynote speaker.
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Did anyone else pick up on the Alternate Energy scam in this article?

A current surcharge on ratepayers (veryone who uses electricity and pays for it) is being collected by the State. The State is in turn proposing giving OUR money to PSNH so they can build a new solar energy array and sell us the electricity it produces. Why is that surcharge being collected in the first place? Shouldn't electric companies being providing their own funding for producing energy? We The People are paying for this. While customers of PSNH, including myself, might benefit, what about customers of Unitil and National Grid? They pay the tax (rate surcharge) and get zero benefit.

Who knows best how to spend your money, you or the government?
- Michael Layon, Derry

If we listen to our current leaderships solutions to the budget we may as well think the solution for alcoholism is to more booze to the alcoholic.

It’s a spending and government growth issue and creating more of the same is not a solution. Go ahead and cut the government jobs. Maybe then we will see just how important the private sector really is and how much of a drain on society big government is. We are going to implode the same way the Soviet Union did and that just might be the actual plan.
- RM, Derry

Hey Lynch.

Did it occur to you that by not cutting spending and not allowing gambling you are adversely affecting the quality of taxpayers lives. An important group of people in this state are taxpayers. We need a break. You and the legislature (both parties) have not got this concept, why not?

We as taxpayers are sick of your concerns about this little special interest group or that little special interest group.

We as taxpayers are sick of the overstaffed, overpaid, over benefited state government. Taxpayers do not get these benefits, why should they. We are not guaranteed jobs so why should they.

Does anyone represent us?
- Bob, Salem

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"Gov. Lynch's Budget Plan Includes $85 Million In Cuts: Cuts Mostly Affect Health And Human Services Department"
WMUR.com - April 8, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. -- Gov. John Lynch on Thursday proposed laying off 30 to 35 state workers and raising the tobacco tax by 20 cents as part of a plan to close New Hampshire's projected $220 million budget shortfall over two years.

The plan includes $85 million in general fund spending cuts, compared to the $47 million proposed by House budget writers. Under the proposal, most agencies would face 2 percent reductions for the rest of the year and 8 percent next year.

Most of the cuts affect the Health and Human Services Department, but some funding would be kept for programs such as the developmentally disabled waiting list -- a law saying that adults with mental or physical disabilities that require constant care can't wait more than 90 days for state services.

"These cuts will not be painless, and services to some citizens will in fact be impacted. We recognize that," Lynch said. "But I believe this is a balanced approach for what is admittedly a very difficult problem."

He said he is open to suggestions from lawmakers for other places to cut, but he remains opposed to another revenue source some lawmakers have proposed: expanded gambling.

The Senate has passed a bill that would allow slot machines and casino-style table games at six locations around the state, but Lynch has opposed the measure because he worries about gambling proliferating in New Hampshire. Instead, his plan instructs the state Lottery Commission to look into offering fantasy sports leagues, in which paying participants create teams comprised of real players and track how well they perform.

Although the plan includes layoffs, the state employees' union said the plan does have some benefits.

"There are some good things in this proposal," said Mike Barwell, spokesman for the State Employees Association. "Cutting back on retirees being rehired by the state. Cutting back on private contracts -- services that we are paying for that we could do more effectively in state."

The proposal also includes cutting state aid to cities and towns by 1 percent.

"A lot of the things that are being presented need to have discussion," Gatsas said. "And people need to come back home and tell the local communities what they are planning on doing."

Last summer, the tobacco tax on cigarettes went up 45 cents to $1.78 a pack. Under the governor's proposal, the tax would increase to $1.98.

The shortfall includes about $19 million from the recent repeals of taxes on small businesses and on campsites and $45 million the state had counted on from a surplus in a fund that underwrites malpractice insurance. Courts rejected the state's claim to that money.

Lynch said having to count those expected revenues as losses did not reflect mistakes made by his administration.

"We are facing the same economic challenges that over 40 other states are facing in terms of revenue shortfalls," he said. "If you look at their expected revenue shortfalls, ours dwarf in comparison. So if anything, it's a testament to good fiscal management here in state government."

His office did not specify which departments would face layoffs because employees have not yet been notified.

Last year, the state laid off about 200 workers because of program cuts, a prison closing, and the state workers' union rejecting an alternative furlough plan.

State Republicans said cuts didn't need to be this deep.

"The effect of them is just amplified on people now by waiting one year into a two-year budget to do it," said Sen. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford. "We are very concerned about bonding again for operating costs and the kinds of things that got us in trouble the last time."

The plan also calls for state universities to give back $25 million, although it comes with a promise from the state to pay back that money through the capital budget next year.

Chief Justice: $4 million in cuts devastating
New Hampshire's top judge says an additional $4 million in budget cuts sought by the governor would be devastating to the court system.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick sent Gov. John Lynch a letter Wednesday urging him not to further undercut the branch's ability to operate. Broderick said he has already taken the unprecedented step of closing courts on 14 dates to save $3.1 million in staffing costs.

Broderick said that to reach the governor's goal, he would have to suspend all civil jury trials, not fill 10 vacant judgeships and cut court security costs -- or lay off 71 staff members.

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"NH Governor John Lynch's plan to balance the budget"
New Hampshire Union Leader, April 8, 2010

Cuts: $85 million in state spending, $20 million less to cities and towns and $9 million less in education aid.

Debt: Refinancing and restructuring to save $39 million.

Tobacco tax: Goes up 20 cents, to $1.78 per pack.

Collects: $25 million repayment from the university system.

Saves: $4 million on juvenile services costs through adjustments at Sununu Youth Center.

Continues: Funding for disabled and brain-injured adult services, and restores $1 million in low-income child care aid.

Layoffs: Up to 35 state workers; leaves up to 20 percent of state jobs vacant in some agencies.

Courts: $4 million in court system cuts, with jury trials to be cut by half.

More cuts: Trims the Legislative branch $1.2 million and executive office spending $400,000.

Repeals: Includes axing campground and LLC tax, and review of state business tax structure.

Counts: $8.3 million in savings from federal health care reform.

No dice: No new gambling of any kind.

By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief

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"Lynch: Slash $85m, layoffs and higher taxes"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, April 8, 2010

CONCORD – Gov. John Lynch wants to cut $85 million in spending, raise the tobacco tax 20 cents, lay off workers and restructure state debt to close a budget shortfall now estimated at up to $220 million.

Lynch said Wednesday he will have to go through the Legislature to win approval for some of his plan, meant to restore balance to the state's budget by June 2011. Lawmakers will start work on the plan next week.

Lagging revenues during the worst economy in decades, heavy demand for social services during high unemployment, and the loss of an expected $110 million in medical malpractices surpluses earlier this year helped prompt the need for a new round of spending cuts, Lynch said. They are in addition to savings from job vacancies, travel restrictions and spending freezes and cuts already in place.

"These cuts will not be painless, and services to some citizens will be impacted," Lynch said. He said the plan spends 3 percent less than the budget two years ago.

Republicans have laid blame for budget problems at the feet of Democrats, saying they overestimated revenues for 2010 and 2011 and spent too freely over the past three years.

Senate Republican Leader Peter Bragdon of Milford said he supports many of the cuts, but argued they should have been made a year ago.

"Prudent action at that time would have lessened the cuts in direct services to those in need and reduced the call from Gov. Lynch for yet another tax increase," he said.

John Stephen, Republican candidate for governor, dismissed Lynch's plan as a tax hike, borrowed money and "accounting gimmicks ... We need real change, not more of what got the state into this mess."

Speaker of the House Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, said "we are committed to working with Governor Lynch and the State Senate to ensure that we address these issues while also protecting our most vulnerable citizens."

It cuts 30 to 35 state workers, and transfers or demotes others. It cuts $25 million in Health and Human Services programs, including cuts to contractors, nursing homes and hospitals. HHS will close the Anna Philbrook center for youths in distress, make wider use of the Sununu Youth Center to cut outsourcing costs, and take over more welfare support programs. Nursing homes, home-based health and child welfare agencies also see cuts.

Michael Barwell, spokesman for the States Employees Association, said the union supports many of the changes. A closer look at personnel costs in state contracts would save even more, he said.

"We think that's worth going after, and every contract allows them to do that," Barwell said.

The plan also hits local budgets heavily. It cuts aid to schools and municipalities, with $6 million less from rooms and meals tax revenues to towns and lower special education, tuition and transportation and dropout prevention aid.

The state's share of retirement contributions for public workers will also be cut -- to 20 percent from the 25 percent law provides in 2011, shifting $9.4 million onto local governments. Cuts in that area last year prompted a lawsuit now in the courts.

Lynch said local aid of all kinds comprises 45 percent of state spending.

"It is almost impossible to make cuts of the size we are proposing without touching cities and towns," he said.

Judy Silva, acting government affairs director for the New Hampshire Municipal Association, said the plan hits communities too hard.

"Town meeting season is past and budgets have already been adopted. That means budgets have already been cut at the local level," she said. "This means either an increase in property taxes or further reductions in services."

The plan does not count on any changes in state gambling laws. Lynch wants the Lottery Commission to report by November on how it can modernize its games, including the feasibility of fantasy sports betting.

A big part of the plan calls for a swap with the University System of New Hampshire. USNH will return $25 million to the state treasury, in exchange for an additional $25 million in bonds for the system's campus improvement program. The plan would restructure some state debt to save $39 million in 2011.

Lynch said the plan does not increase the state's debt ratios much beyond current levels, and keeps them at about half the limit that Moody's Investors Services sets for top-rated debt.

The proposed tobacco tax increase will bring New Hampshire per-pack tax to $1.98, compared with $2 in Maine and $2.51 in Massachusetts. New Hampshire's lack of a sales tax helps it retain price advantages over both states. The increase -- the fifth in six years -- will bring an estimated $12 million to the state, most of it in 2011.

The plan shifts $80 million in federal stimulus money for education from 2011 to fiscal 2010 to balance this year's budget. Lynch said the move will give confidence to bond rating agencies.

Among those taking bigger hits is the Judicial branch, which has to find $4 million in savings. The courts have already gone to a furlough program and one-day closings to meet current budget cutbacks.

The Education Department will see 16 percent of its state funding cut, much of it in programs that help local school districts pay for the most expensive special education students, state testing, court-ordered placements and dropout prevention.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Greg from Ossipee: Use the state police helicopter?? Thats one of your suggestions? Do you know how much that costs to run???

Get rid of more troopers? do you actually know how many trooper vacancies there are? and how understaffed state police are (when you compare area coverage)? You obviously have no clue....
- Billy, Webster

Lynch is all set now for his petty cuts and more tax hikes. The flood photo op pictures came in and things are looking good for the November campaign. He figures at least 10 % of Registered Republicans will vote for him just like last time. Lynch knows that people's hearts will bleed and melt when they see his acts of compassion in his campaign ads. Lynch will be that compassionate caring Governor during difficult times when he goes up against that "mean and angry" John Stephen. Remember all the “smart people” in NH don’t like “mean and angry”. Come on folks you wouldn’t want your neighbors to think you are not “smart” and you might be “angry”. In 2008 70% of NH’s voters voted for Governor Lynch and in 2006 it was 77%. Going along to get along is the NH Way. Governor Lynch is counting on you.
- Chris, Merrimack

It get's even better when you look a little deeper at his proposals to "cut". The Governor's plans to "adjust" the Sununu Center involve closing three programs in rural areas of the state where they are some of the biggest non-seasonal employers. The youth in those programs, by law, must still be served. Do you really think that state employees at the Sununu Center will be able to do so with net savings? Nor is the Sununu Center, a detention program, an appropriate location for these services. Let's not forget that just a few short months ago, Lynch gave riases to management at state agencies because, in hiss words, "It was only fair". Cutting successful programs and putting increased burdens on cities and towns, after everyone has had their town meetings, is supposed to be fair? The long term effects of this attempt to fix long ignored budget issues will be devastating. Yes, we need to cut but it needs to be done more intelligently, not to mention it should have been done a long time ago.
- Tom Grinley, Bradford

This is not a revenue problem it's a spending problem. I tried to warn the NH populus back in 2008 when I wrote columns for six area newspapers and often contributed to these online comments (Google the Granite View). Spending is out of control and the grossly inflated revenue projections were, and are, preposterous. Thomas Jefferson said our system would fail when the general populous realized it could vote itself largesse from the public treasury. Spending more money than you have while baselessly inflating future revenue projections is irresponsible and results in the inevitable crisis we now face. Does anyone remember when our state had a nearly 100 million dollar surplus just a few short years ago? Before holding any taxpayer-paid position above receptionist, all persons should have to take at least one each fully-accredited college class in both Economics and Financial Management.
- Joe Kenick, Exeter

no more tax on cigarettes. How about something more evenly spread out like plastic /glass bottles. How about alcohol? It is so much easier to tax a few, with a system that is already in place, than to work, and come up with a more equal and long term solution.
- bs, newton

Funny how all the liberals are screaming for a sales or income tax as the answer to our problems. Look at New York, New Jersey, and California who all have sky high Sales tax, Income Tax, and some of the highest property taxes in the nation. THEY ARE ALL BANKRUPT !! They are raising there already astronomical taxes and slashing services.

It has been proven over and over that when broad based taxes are added, the property tax barely changes while the overall tax burden to the citizen goes up.

Governments are like Drug Addicts, as soon as they get a fix, they want more. The more they get, the more they need. The solution is simple, go back to 2008 level of spending by cutting all budgets 18% and we will be able to decrease taxes and have a surplus.
- economics professor, bedford

So Gus, you think the single mother working three jobs to make ends meet should see taxes increase 2.5% to help lower your property taxes? Think her rent will go down?
Or do you think the high paid individual working in one of the surrounding States that will already be paying to them, and thus will not to NH needs a further tax break?

Steve B, Derry...
Though I'm not a Republican. I will gladly explain where the structural deficit is.... and why it can't be fixed through revenue.
- John Edward Mercier, Belmont

I am in favor of a 2.5% state income tax and lowering the property tax. The income tax is fair and makes sense.
- Gus, Hollis

Hey Joe from Durham...make sure to gas in NH before your trip to VA so we can at least collect the gas tax.

Smoking is a filthy and disgusting habit that effectively has a negative impact on everyone specifically the cost of healthcare. I have no sympathy for people that choose to inhale potentially lethal toxins into their body knowing the negative effects it could have on their health. I perplexed why people choose to smoke as much as motorcyclists who drive 50 MPH with only a crew cut protecting their brain from the pavement.

Tax the smokers Lynchy...you have my vote!!!
- Ryan, Manchester

Jerry, Derry

Don’t fret; Government (at every level) has never weathered sustained cuts. Taxes, deficit spending and entitlement programs will continue to grow, you just hang in there. Also, don’t be so hard on the Republicans, they’re spenders to.
- Wally, Manchester, NH

Passing the "cuts" down to localities via less transfers and reducing the state portion of the pension funding contribution, combined with another deficit borrowing (the $25mm in UNH borrowing in exchange for cash) once again shows that the Governor is not willing to address the politically sensitive area of public sector pensions.

NH is $3 billion underwater already on the pensions. And that's if you accept their accounting. A recent study by University of Chicago/Northwestern University, using current market rates of returns reviewed state pension obligations, and NH's liability in this study was about $10 billion.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1352608

Reform the pensions in order to avert at least some of the layoffs and protect necessary services.
- Ditmar Kopf, Hollis

Lynch is a disaster. We need a real casino/resort/entertainment complex now! Video poker will not create jobs or balance the budget.
- Steve, Manchester

I just want to caution anyone who is promoting a broad based tax as the solution to this issue. I'm not a NH native but I have called NH home for the last 23 years. I am originally from NJ. If you want to see what will happened when a broad based tax has been put in place Google "History of New Jersey property Tax Relief." You will find an article from Enlightened-New Jersey. The article spells out in great detail what can and will happen if we enact a broad based tax here in NH. A new tax is nothing more than an additional revenue stream giving our Legislatures more money to spend. The problem is now, and will always be excessive spending! If you spend more money than you have you have deficits. The only real solution is to spend less money.
- Steve, Andover, NH

Keep something in mind.

The bloated state government...all those workers who are whining to keep their pensions paid by your tax dollars are the same bureaucrats who, every day at work, strangle small business here until it dies or flees. And they are rewarded for this.

We would all be better off with a massive reduction of state government.
- Mike R., Bedford

You know what would be a great companion article? One where the Republicans list their specific cuts to balance the budget while cutting taxes. I would read that with relish.
- Steve B, Derry

Steve it is those like yourself who set up all the feel good programs, then turn your head when they get riddled with fraud, waste and corruption and let it fester and grow. It's also those like yourself who make the claims of entitlement and create the burdens on those who work and pay taxes and take the money from the people they would otherwise give to charity that could then be held accountable. The more you tax us with no choice the less freedom we have to donate the money to those we want to freely help and right now no one has much left except those lucky enough to still have a job. And lucky they are and I'm willing to bet half of those still working don't spend a minute thinking about it.
- RM, Derry

@JW Welome back from the dark side. I know the misery of working for the state - corrupt and clueless. The more you accomplish, the more they target you for elimination. The press and the elected officials in this state could care less about what happens to the most talented and dedicated state employess. Apparently, it does make for a great national news story - coming soon!
- Marie, Tilton

Get rid of welfare for one then they can all migrate back to MA.Use the state police helicopter for rescues only not flying around looking for pot plants.Get rid of more troopers and social workers.
Put inmates to work doing road work they do it down south.If the corrections people complain replace them with folks who want a job.Cut positions at UNH and other state schools if the unions complain fire them all and hire non-union folks who want to work.
- Greg, Ossipee

You know what would be a great companion article? One where the Republicans list their specific cuts to balance the budget while cutting taxes. I would read that with relish.
- Steve B, Derry

The Governor is cutting jobs and reducing pay to state workers while Cannon Mountain ski area continues to get money for capital improvements. All capital improvements at Cannon Mountain should be placed on hold until the economy recovers and people can keep their jobs. It’s obscene to fire people from their jobs while the state builds a new bar and chair lift for skiers.
- Gary, Bedford, NH

The easiest thing to do is raise taxes. It's not like the legislature is affected. Why don't we open up the books for the voters and let us decide what is "waste" and what isn't. I guarantee you that we can slash a lot more than 1.2 million in the legislature, and $400K in office spending. let's see what their salaries are, their expenses, and what they pay their staff, and let's also include all the perks they get. None of these people pay tolls, don't forget. More liberals in office hiking tobacco taxes, don't they know that this is a tax hike on the lower class too? Or do they just promise more giveaways a week before the next election to win their votes?
- Eric, Merrimack

We already have gambling (NH LOTERY/RACETRACKS/BINGO) CASINO is a NO Brainer!!!! Gamblers go out of state now, might as well kept them here and their money. I have seen people spend over $100 on Scratch Tickets at one time.
- Chuck Leeds, Hooksett

Watching the inept in action has gone from sad to downright entertaining.
Here's a tax for you Johnny. A "stupid tax". For those that elected you and those like you, dems and reps (rino types). Stupid for thinking they were going to "get some free stuff".
Taxpayers!! Veterans Park 4/15 5:30pm
- Michael, Manchester

Let's tax this, let's tax that, tax the evil churches, we need a sales tax; we need gambling and hate the rich and tax them so they move to China also.

Or we can go back to limited government and taxation by going back to basics since it is government with the spending problem and who then taxes us to pay for it. A simple look back in time can show us what the basic needs of the people should be from government and the rest can be done through charity or the private sector by those smart enough and with enough ambition to start a business. Then if the business decides to spend too much and get out of control someone can start another business and challenge them with lower rates and no one has to use or pay for the service if they don't want too. Unlike government who holds us all up for ransom and raises taxes while stripping us of the freedom to choose at the same time.

And the best part will be those of you who think government is the answer to everything will be free to give it all the money you want as if it were a charity or move to a nation that already has a communist style government to take care of you. But I doubt that will happen as those who have this belief are the same ones who give less to charity year after year while raising everyone else’s taxes with little thought as to who it effects in a negative way.


Freedom and big government taxation can not live in the same house. At some point one has to dominate the other.
- RM, Derry

Gov. Lynch is a fraud. He claims to be
a democrat but he acts like a typical
republican. All he can do is cut, cut, cut.
He is like a cowardly lion.
- Jerry, Derry

Cuts to Legislature are long overdue, high pay for six months of work, calendar clerks, chief of staff, and legal counsel all should be cut! Legislature turns to every other department but never cuts themselves. We pay tens of thousands of dollars for mileage reimbursement per legislature, enough is enough.
- Matt, Peterborough

Karl/Manchester

It is the governor's fiscal management over the last 3 years that got us in this mess. What is the smoke in your eyes?
- Ray, Raymond

Karl, drink somemore kool aid, The Gov let the Democraticly controlled House vote in an unfunded 23% increase in the budget a couple of years ago. Oh yes, I forgot you Dems have selected amnesia. Blame Bush its his fault.
- Michael King, Epping

Just send the Legislature home for two years and we would all be better off.
- j, danbury

OK, now I'm laughing. Though the current gambling bill has been pointed to be unconstitutional from both sides of the aisle... I do not see Governor, how you come to the conclusion that cutting State education funding or jury trials would be.
So you need about $13 million or so to reach balance. Would you like some suggestions as to how to achieve this?
- John Edward Mercier, Belmont

No new gambling of any kind is a huge mistake! NH's was the first state lottery in the nation. Lynch thinks it's OK to allow a state lottery, but no new gambling? Where's the logic? Hypocrisy in action at the highest level of State Govt !!
- Ron pearson, Alton Bay

Wasn't there recently an article about hiring more state troopers? To do what, sit at the toll booths and arrest people for texting messages. Get a grip. Stop all the road work and let the D of Safety be replaced by flashing blue road-signs.
- jack, manchester

raising the tobacco tax is regressive and targets a small segment of the general population unfairly. Why is there never any mention of raising the liquor tax? Because everyone drinks, Lynch knows he would have a real fight on his hands. The smokers are an easy mark. Stick it to those evil smokers Lynchie boy...
- Ron Pearson, Alton Bay

This is awesome. No sales tax, no income tax, no rise in the gas tax and no hike in business taxes. How could anyone complain about that? I know how - Republican hacks upset a Democratic Governor is schooling y'all on fiscal management. Go, Gov. Lynch, go!
- Karl, Manchester

As a State employee that came from the private sector, I will be returning to the private sector in just a matter of days. Although the State has many good employees, there are those who really should be cut (and it would not affect a single service). There are many shady deals, including people who are 'appointed' or promoted for their political views. There is an aura of cluelessness that permeates the departments. It's sad to see hard workers who are never promoted and to make matters worse, are actually demoted under incompetent supervisors. These poor employees are also pushed around and reprimanded unfairly. I, for one, can no longer watch this show. Hello again, private sector!
- JW, Concord

Seriously? More than one person here has equated Gov. Lynch with Cabletron? That was Craig Benson. Even a fourth grader whose studied NH history and has just a little common sense knows that.
- Buford T. Justice, Manchester

Count me in! I'm sick of P.B.J. too! People on welfare eat better than my son and I. I am self employed and work 7 days a week.
Tax the churches! Look at how well the priests live. At Saint Elizabeths in Bedford, they have high end appliances, no Whirlpool or GE. They have Sub Zero etc. They have maids and personal chefs, daily, to take care of them, like they were God or Kings. Look at Bishop Mc Cormack, living like a "king" on River Rd., in the mansion. Why are we taxpayers footing the bill for the "Rock Star life styles"? The up keep on that home is huge $$$$. Why are you standing for this Manchester?
- Kathy, Manchester

People who seem to still find the need to blame George Bush and/or Craig Benson really really really need to get over it! All you're doing is embarrassing yourselves by making ridiculous comments...while you're at it, you might as well just blame Benning Wentworth too!
- Mike, Epping

I'm not a smoker, I never was. They can tax tobacco as high as they want. But oh my god! They actually hit the smokers every time they need money! What would they do if half the smokers decided it was finally time to quit?

This is freaking nuts. The State has to spread out the love, and screw us all equally. The renters get pummeled, the property owners get pummeled, how about a nice little sales tax just to get us out of this "crisis". I small, 3% sales tax. Call it the crisis tax, it applies to everything sold, and it expires in 2014, and between now and then learn how you got us all in this fiscal crisis and don't do it again..
- Ray Allen, Milford

As a taxpayer in the State of New Hampshire, I want to see the State Budget - ALL OF IT - on a website in accounting format. Obviously, the crew running the show in Concord can't balance the budget, maybe a NH citizen can help them with the cuts. It's our money - right? We pay the tolls, the property taxes, the cigarette tax, the rooms and meals tax, etc.

I am really tired of eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so I can pay taxes while the fat cats in Concord dine on steak and lobster.
- Karen, Manchester, NH

Determine what % the shortfall is and cut EVERYTHING across the board by the. Pay, services, EVERYTHING. We can't be buying things we can't afford.
- Jay, Manchester

Once again Gov Flick does it again. We're not just 120 million in the red, it's 220 million, and the most he can find is 85 million bucks. In the coporate world they'd be having a fire sale and laying off everyone except the cashiers. They better come up with a good excuse why they can't balance the budget and address the shortfalls.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

Working in the mental health field, I'm more than a little concerned about the implications of this strategy.
-Sam, Manchester
Don't worry Sam, we can put your clients in the tent cities and you can be released into the private sector.
- Bill, Manchester

How about a property tax on Churches? They seem to be big money-making institutions. Want to go to church? Pay for it.
- George Carleton, Derry

Craig Benson was a fraud and the reason we got into this mess. Another one to blame is republican president George W. Bush.
- Henry Swanson, Goffstown

It's time for NH to crack down on illegal immigrants who have taken jobs away from NH citizens and are a burden to the welfare system with their kids. Also, cut welfare. Aren't you the Live "Free" or Die state? Well, live free from the shackles of welfare dependency. Or have them move to NY instead.
- kat, Lexington,ma

Every one loves to come to New Hampshire to shop because there is no sales tax - although it would be another tax, impose a sales tax and then the State would get the extra revenue. NH is stangling property owners with the sky high property taxes. Also, the rooms and meals tax is high. We may not have a sales tax, but there is a tax on seeing, tasting and touching.
- Maryann, Hooksett

Yesterday it was 140 million shortfall. Today it's up to 220 million. Does any of these people in Concord have a clue. One thing is for certain, it is not Lynch! Can anyone say Cabletron or remember how badly they, him and his cohorts, destroyed it. Of course that was after they made their money by dumping all their stocks.

Wake the hell up NH!
- John D, Danbury

Are you kidding me?? Raise the tobacco tax?!? Again?!?!

How many times will Governor Lynch go to the tobacco tax bucket? This has to be at least the third time the tax has been increased since he's been in office.

I'm sure all the non-smokers out there are happy to watch the tobacco tax go up, but, somebody has to think that enough is enough. Smokers can no longer smoke inside. Fair enough. Then, they can't smoke in front of doorways, so people don't have to walk through the cloud of smoke. Almost fair as well. Now they would like to pass laws preventing smoking at State Parks. Where does it end?? The message this government (and the non-smoking lobby) is sending is....we would like you to continue spending money on tobacco and supporting our excessive budget....but we don't want you to consume the tobacco anywhere that we can see you.

Am I the only one that sees the tobacco tax as a diminishing revenue source? First, more people are quitting smoking for the health benefits. Secondly, people will end up quitting because of the sheer cost implications. Where is the Lynch administration going to go for cash at that point?

This has got to be one of the worst financial plans that Governor Lynch has floated during his tenure.

Pass expanded gambling. Now.
- Robert Duval, Bow

lets just build a new toll road on 93 south to get more revenue, why not mass has stick it to us when we travel through there state
- jim, manchester

The christian and the right thing would be to stop enabling people to live off the system (our tax dollars) There are many of us in NH that would donate to help those that REALLY need help instead of being forced to donate through our tax dollars to support programs that people abuse.
- Bobbie Wilson, Alstead

stop taxing smokers,always th first tax. Long at the buget and cut out things not needed instead... Someone needs to look at al the pogram and see where money raised is going..
- david, concord,nh

Dave, New London
Inhumane and unChristian?

Tell them to quit smoking, drinking and buying lottery tickets!
- Kathy, Manchester

Dave in New London,

If you want to pay taxes on everything, why don't you move to California. You can pay all the taxes that you want out there. Guess what? California is still broke. You want to know why? Because taxes breed more taxes, and more taxes breeds more spending. And more spending breeds raising taxes. It's a vicious circle that never stops. Get it now?
- Paul, Merrimack

Cigarette taxes are $1.78 per pack now, this will make it $1.98 per.. Clever, just below the two dollar mark. I was thinking about making a road trip to Virginia this summer, (30 cents per pack) now it's for sure.
- Joe, Durham

Oh yes, MP. Let's get rid of licensing and safety boards... Are you kidding me?
- Kevin, Manchester NH

tabacco tax......what the hell would we do without cigarette cigar smokers,my god if we didnt smoke the state would be in even an uglier mess.... no tax raise on tabacco ....what bout soda,beer......this is bs
- joe, epping

No experienced person in state government believed for a second that the court would award the $110 million to the state.

The Repubs have it correct; this has always been a spending issue and the glaring failure of the majority party to exercise reasonable fiscal discipline that would have seen us through the difficult economy.

The real fix will be realized in November.
- LM, Milford

Here's an idea...why doesn't John Lynch turn down his salary? He's already a multimillionaire, and his gubernatorial salary could pay for two or three low-lever state workers. While we're at it, why not trim the governor's state house staff, or at least ask Colin Manning and Pam Walsh to take a cut i their bloated salaries?
- Padraig, Manchester

Don't smoke, don't drink, lost the house, no job, can't afford to drive, ... gee, when is the gambling casino opening, can't wait.
- Thomas, Manchester, NH

1% Sales Tax and Gambling will put the state in the positive. oops...I said it...a sales tax. That is such a bad word.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this stuff out. Sales tax and Gambling casinos will bring in $$. Do it.
- Jeff, Manchester

Hey Gov,

Why don't you retire and maybe you could try to run a Diary Queen.

We'll see how long that remains in the black.

Dick - New boston
- Richard St Cyr, New Boston, NH

I think that NH govt should conserve what they spend. why spend hundreds of dollars on food for their meetings they have why can't they brown bag it like the normal blue collar worker does. and stop spending money foolishly like the darn signs about obama's plan for the roads. each sign is $500 to $1000.
i'd say put a head tax on people who rent apartments, that would help. why not just keep beating people down who smoke just raise the pack of buts to $20 Per PACK...!!!
you can only get so much water out of a rock before there is nothing.
- Ernest Koch, Goffstown

We elected these people to put a balanced budget in place each year and that doesn't get done properly along with the general workings of the capital.
Why would anyone hire lynch in the private sector? He can't balance a budget and over estimates revenue. gov. lynch, what can you (with the help of others) do right? How's free trade treating you now? It's treating the business owner in China very well.
- deter, derry

We have to raise taxes. We just have to.

Income, gas, whatever... just raise them. We can't keep cutting services to the most vulnerable in our state. It is inhumane, it is unChristian, it is unkind.
- Dave, New London

I cannot believe this clueless governor and not ready for prime time legislature. These fogies sit and do nothing but hope that revenues will somehow miraculously increase in future months. Well elected ones, get a clue, the answer is right in front of you, work out the best deal possible and get gamming in here or we will elect those who will. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. You can’t tax and cut your way out of this problem every month. Its time for some decisive, growth oriented, innovative leadership to take hold in Concord. These folks have been there too long and have done absolutely nothing for this state; if they were in private industry they would be fired by now.
- Joe, londonderry, NH

See, layoffs, increasing taxes Yet to add gambling in the state in order to prevent that not a good idea. More now to collect unemployment, welfare and for us to take care of. Less help to our schools for better education for our kids. Geeze when will it all stop?
- Lou, Concord, NH

Hey Jack LaMonda from Concord You don't honestly believe that if they put an income tax in place that our property tax will go down do you????? Complain all you want about high property taxes. Add together the property tax & income tax of someone living and working in MA and you know what it adds up to what we pay in propert tax. Income tax is not the answer and even with the expanded gaming I don't expect my property taxes to go down...They have to stop spending plain & simple.
- Steve, Manchester

Dennis from Greenville, do you hear yourself, tax gas so it is equal. Sure lets make it harder on people who have to commute to work that do not drink or smoke. Great idea, Not!!!!!!!!!!. You should not tax more on things that may be necessary to live, you tax things that are not necessary ie booze, cigarettes, then at least if people who do use them, they cannot gripe about the money lost. Sit at a gas station and watch some people digging for change to pay for their gas bill, if it is because they used their money on booze or cigarettes too bad, if it is because they can barely afford to drive to work to support family it is sad, if it because people like you put a higher tax on a needed item shame on you.
- Mike, Laconia

Jim Wilson from Manchester

Your response makes as much sense as the 3000 page "healthcare" reform bill. Wake up. Taxing anything to bridge the budget deficit means the state is spending too much money PERIOD. If you drink, would you accept paying a tax on alcohol where the people who don't get away scott free? If you say yes, you're lying. The state spend too much of our hard earn money every year, and every year they bitch and moan about deficts. until they start cutting out real spending, it will never end.
- Paul, Merrimack

Good grief Lynch can you please get a clue!? How much more can YOU and Our lovely goverment tax us? WE'RE TAPPED OUT!! Work to pay all these foolish taxes.
You wonna tax something why not booze? oh, I forgot y'all like that too much, silly me! what about your wasteful spending gov? get a life, and leave us alone!!
- DEBI, Manchester NH

Is this guy for real? HELLOOOOO is there anybody home in these offices? there are NO JOBS now..What are you thinking? Lynch you're one of the biggest morons along with that guy in the white house (passing HCR 4 everyone) you're also a hypocrite You always say one thing and do another. I would NEVER VOTE for you. You're dispicable as a Gov, for NH. GET A GRIP WE ARE TAXED BEYOND HOPE NOW!!! JEEZ
- Deb, Manchester nh

Hey, someone has to pay for the health care and retirement programs for Gov Lynch and his band of bandits.........!! and the rest of us keep paying the price.... Whats up with that??
- Bob, Milton

Government formula for Economic Growth.

Job Loss+Higher Taxes=Economic Growth??
- Harry, Atkinson

Layoff 50% of the DMV employees and replace them with cardboard cutouts, since half of them ignore you and avoid any and all eye contact with you while you wait your turn. Just as you think they are going to wait on you, too bad! They're off on break.
- C, Manchester, NH

I hate taxes just like everyone else, so why pick on certain areas to tax...ie: smoking, booze, licensing ,etc., and not just add .20 tax on gas so that everyone pays equally...I don't smoke, and that tax is going to hurt people with low income, but alot of you don't care because it won't affect you...well I say tax everyone equally!
- dennis, greenville

NO CRAIG BENSON!!!! There is NOTHING worse than that jerk!

MP-Hampton Falls- I sure hope you never need the state services from departments you want cut!

JUST ALLOW GAMBLING FOR C$$%%%SAKES! Mamby pamby lynch needs to break away from cuts and move toward revenues!
- JJS, Concord

I keep reading about people bemoaning the call for gambling and or an income tax, always talking about how it will take a toll on NH QUALITY of life. Where is the Quality of life when you are out of work or losing your home because the taxes are through the roof. PLEASE dont tell me that these are not sources of revenue with out having an idea how we can find a different source. Wake up Lynch and the rest of you DEMs grow a pair and do what is right for the people of NH. My mom always told me dont spend more than you take in, I guess she her idea was spend as much as you can shake from the public and then ask for more.
- Jack LaMonda, Concord

I have never seen a governor mismanage government as badly as John Lynch has. From giving his friends sweetheart jobs to overspending by HUNDREDS of millions of dollars; John Lynch is well on his way to destroying the State of NH. Once again Lynch will attempt to balance the budget on the backs of State employees, RAISE taxes once AGAIN, to blindly cutting services to the point that government is ineffective.

We already have expanded gambling in NH; it is called NH State Government and every day the Gov. pulls the handle on his slot machine to see what new taxes are necessary, what layoffs are necessary, and what Dept. Heads need to be moved to give another buddy a great job. If Lynch keeps it up NH will need to file Chapter 11.
- Calvin K., New Boston NH

The full list of bloat can be found at:
http://www.nh.gov/government/agencies.html

So what would I cut? Let's start with the A's:

* Accountancy Board
* Acupuncture Licensing, Board of
* Agriculture, Markets, and Food Department
* Air Quality, Environmental Services Department
* Allied Health Professionals, Office of Licensed, see Licensed Allied Health Professionals Office
* Americorps, New Hampshire
* Amusement Ride Safety, see Safety Services, Safety Department
* Animal Cruelty, see Governor’s Task Force on the Humane Treatment of Animals
* Architects, see Joint Board of Licensure and Certification
* Arts Council, Cultural Resources Department
* Auctioneer’s Board, Secetary of State
- MP, Hampton Falls

How about that money they got from the Federal Gov't that they used to repave Route 101 from Epping to Exeter last year? Couldn't that have gone toward one of these issues---say, the special ed program? Priorities are really out of whack here. And who is funding all that work to the tollbooths on 95? And what will those changes achieve? Time to pull it together and make us democrats proud before we all jump ship.
- Natalie, Epping

If you don't like the tax increase, don't smoke.
- Jim Wilson, Manchester

MP - Which departments do you want to eliminate?

Mary Mags - NH ranks 46th in taxes per capita. The article talks about increasing the cigarette taxe $0.20 and eliminating two other taxes. What, exactly, are you talking about?

Jane - To follow your logic, we would have a fair number, not all, of State employees making more than they are right now. Particularly those in DHHS. I imagine that you would be ok with that thought, because that is what they would get paid in the private sector, right?

Mike Smith - I come from a divorced household and have never been to juvenile detention or prison. What is your point and how does it relate to the news article? That was just weird...

Doug St Pierre - I hope you would be able to say that to the face of those you are advocating get laid off. Hopefully you would never have to access any of the services (including police, fire, education, health, transportation or infrastructure) that would be hurt through the layoffs. We'd also have to hope that the criminals, psychopaths, and hungry children you come across fair just fine without any government involvement.
- Kelly, Bristol

Why don't you idiots in Concord just STOP SPENDING!!!!!! Try cutting some sky high salaries, or better yet, get rid of them. Raising taxes doesn't help, haven't you figured that out yet????? I'm glad I quit smoking and I wish everyone in the state would quit just so they don't get any money. This is just crazy, raise taxes when people are out of work, losing homes, getting pay cuts or losing hours. This government is a JOKE. Vote them out!!!!!
- Ruthie, Fremont

I believe that if government lived within its means over the years we would not be in this mess. Because politicians cannot say NO to anything regardless of who it harms, i.e. taxpayers, here we
are struggling to close this unmanageable deficit.
This entire country is struggling to survival. From the top down we have helped to nurture a society
who no longer wants to do for themselves. What happened to pull yourself up, take care of yourself and be proud of that fact??
- marilyn pelleiter, concord nh

How many times are we going to commission people to do something before a decision can be made. Lynch wants to wait until May for the Gambling report, when the New Hampshire
Gaming Study Commission
Interim Progress Report on December 21, 2009. I don't think there are going to be a lot of changes in the 5 months since that last report came out.

Make a decision and be done with it. Hell, just flip a coin, that seems to be the way decisions are made in Concord now adays.
- Jeff, Keene

here we go again with the gov. going to the cash cow cigarette tax...wonder what he did with the tobacco settlement money anyway...?gaming...is where the money is...and he knows it
- dave m, manchester

Why don't the Democrats spend with in their means? They nickle & dime us every year!

I agree with you Corey - Craig Benson was the best Governor that NH has had in a number of years!
- C Cumming, Rochester

That's it Lynch. Way to go. I'm sure the few jobs you do eliminate and smokers willing to ante up 20 cents per pack will miraculously bridge the gap on your bursting budget. Get real. Unless government leaders like you start to eliminate the thousands of pork fed state jobs for good, lower taxes for all and give true tax breaks to businesses so we can get the economy moving, you will be fighting a budget deficit forever.
- Paul, Merrimack

Watch out taxpayers more "fingers" in your wallet!
Massive tax increases on the way!
Don't fret its "for the children" or some other lame excuse.
Only 30 to 35 employees?
Are these the so called non essentials?
- art, Hampstead

I wish we could reincarnate Mel Thomson.
- Bill, Wolfeboro

how long till he pops the income tax prize? add to that another liberal tax, the V.A.T. and we might as well just ALL STOP WORKING becuase the government is killing the producers.
- mark, hooksett

Hey How about our state govermment stop spending money like druken sailors. You all have had 2 years to make the adjustments stop cooking the books and work with real hard numbers not forcasted numbers thoese days are gone. Lay off who you need to and start acting like your in charge and stop worring about getting reelected cause your not going to. Lays offs are part of life and town or state jobs are no better than the private sector.
- Doug st Pierre, Boscawen

Incompetent, dishonest government is expensive government.

"Bigger changes at Health and Human Services are the closing of the Ann Philbrook center for youths in distress, more diverse use of the Sununu Youth Center to save on contracts with outside youth services agencies, and the assumption of welfare support programs by HHS staff."

Fact: In 2008, 79% of NH youth detention inmates came from father absent homes. (Source: NH DHHS)

Fact: NH State prisons' inmate population went from 216 in 1969, to 2716 as of 2009. 1969 was the year CA had the first 'no-fault' divorce law in the U.S., eventually followed by NH. (Source: NH Dept of Corrections)

"Youth distress", crime, high school failure, etc. is primarily of the Government of the State of New Hampshire's own making, as the State of NH promotes so-called 'no-fault' divorce and other 'non-traditional' family structures which statistically tend to place children at vastly higher risk of hundreds of adverse child outcomes.

Every resource in NH is shamelessly exploited for political ends by politicians and activist judges, including NH's children. For example, the more often the words 'the best interests of the child' have been spoken in NH, the more NH children have ultimately suffered as a whole.
- Mike Smith, N. Hampton, NH

Why are people just so naive to think Democrats have the answers ? They are the least qualified to lead anything! Time for a real change come November 2010! Adios incompetents!
- Larry, Salem, NH

Take the average income of the people the people in NH make.

Make it so that no state employee, including the governor, commissioners make it so that state employees are compensated for the work they do as they would be with in the private sector. The governor can not represent the residents of NH if he does not understand that we all have to live with in our means as well as how to live with an average income.
- Jane, Loudon NH

"Tax Free NH"? What a joke.
- Mary Mags, Bedford

For the love of everything why wont this do-nothing Governor just agree to a pared-down version of the slots bill and let the tracks have slots - - Corey, Dedham, MA

Hey Corey, Say no to expanded gaming at Rockingham Park, Save Salem!
- JeffD, Salem

Wow, a demoncrat actually cutting spending. I wonder if this will be the start of a trend reaching all the way to Washington...

Nah....
- steve, nashua

More taxes from a Democrat, what a surprise.

Only 35 layoffs, why not 135.

Accounting hocus pocus to boot.

Lower spending marked to 2008-2009 levels. Why not to 2005 levels when he took office?
- Bob, Salem

And they still won't cut welfare from five years to two, like Mass did.

WHY?!
- Mike R., Bedford

The state's huge budget deficit calls for bold, decisive action. Gov. Lynchie just served up a limp noodle.

What a weenie
Get serious-cut more spending, the people derserve some tough decisions NOW

On second thought, maybe he's just setting the plate for a broad based tax
- Peon Pete, Holderness

Oh boy, the revenue is failing, so the State decides to add more taxes to smokers. How about the raging alcoholics out there? Tax them. They're actually a danger to more people than just themselves. I'll never understand why alcoholics are free from taxation, but smokers get the shaft every time. Oh, that's right....politicians love their booze.
- Billy, Manchester

Never mind the 3% below 2008-9 budget, get to 3% below revenue for this year. You can't spend more than you take in. I can remember Mel Thompson asking department heads to submit budgets with a decrease for the 1978-9 budget year because the SURPLUS declined the previous year. It is time we put someon in Concord that understands ZERO BASED BUDGETING and pay as you go. The taxpayers cannot coninue to pay more and more into Concord. Time to live within your revenue. Since 2006 the federal government and state government have been like college kids with a no limit credit card. Time to cut the card up and pay the bills.
- Don, Bedford

I'll never understand why states are looking into casinos and gambling as a way to bring in revenue. Personally I see more harm done to people will gambling issue at the expense of the all might dollar
- Frank, Londonderry

Thankfully, I"ve quit smoking.
- john, goffstown

Does anyone else remember that before he became governor, he and his buddies drove a multi million dollar company into the ground (after they sold their stock).
Anybody remember Cabletron?

All they are doing with their ineptitude and puritancial governance is forcing the legislature to enact an INCOME TAX.
- john, goffstown

Flynch to the rescue........more taxes, and 35 job cuts. Watching Lynch "manage" this fiscal cisis is like watching a 2 year playing in the mud. This foolishness needs to stop come November.
- Jay Collins, Laconia

Corey, Dedham, I agree there needs to be hundreds of employees cut, period. And he can start with the sea of faces in DMV. But, if he gives the green light to gambling, the arrogant spendthrifts in the state legislature will not cut a dime, but put forth all manner of new spending programs to make the population of the entire state dependent on state government for subsistence, that's why!
But, that this guy is useless, you bet he is. He is singularly responsible for letting this disaster happen, because the buck stops with him.
- Sandy, Thornton

I am not a smoker, but the tax on tabacco keeps getting raised at some point I would think people will say enough & quit. At some point that tax revenue stream will dry up, then where will we be? How about something a little more creative Mr. Govener???
- Steve, Manchester

Working in the mental health field, I'm more than a little concerned about the implications of this strategy. Not just for those employed by HHS, but for all of the people we serve. There has got to be a better way to get through this than to cut back services that some people absolutely require to fully function.
- Sam, Manchester

Consider me not voting for Lynch next election. He had answers to help close the state deficit right in his face. Medical marijuana and gambling together could bring in BILLIONS. But he'd rather lay people off and increase taxes....
- Ted, Manchester

Wow! USNH has an extra $25 Million to throw around!

I wonder if Trustee Chair Dupont's old Racetrack client helped out. Or maybe it could have been Dupont's Speedway client. Who knows?
- Bill, Rye

35 workers? Seriously? That's the best you can do? What a joke. Entire departments should be eliminated. Suck it up, Lynch.
- MP, Hampton Falls

Despite my being a Democrat, and a former NH State Rep who served while Lynch has been Governor, I have never seen a more useless man in the corner office in recent memory! At this point, I'd welcome Craig Benson back as Chief Executive!

Fantasy Betting?!? Can you say FANTASY REVENUE!

For the love of everything why wont this do-nothing Governor just agree to a pared-down version of the slots bill and let the tracks have slots - oh, and why not INSIST on ZERO-BASED BUDGETING as a condition of getting the slots - make the various departments justify their spending based on ZERO, not on the prvious years spending....
- Corey, Dedham, MA

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Tom Fahey's State House Dome: "Lynch cuts with surgeon's hand"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, April 11, 2010

GOV. JOHN LYNCH wields a scalpel, not a cleaver, in his budget rescue plan.

There are surgical cuts to state programs, a couple of savvy financial steps and that old stand-by, the cigarette tax.

The cuts in Lynch's "Ensuring a Balanced Budget" plan are not as severe as a unanimous House Finance Committee was willing to make last month.

He avoids the pitfall of creating a long waiting list for services to disabled and brain-injured adults. The House plan ran into trouble when it froze the services at 2010 levels and created a 2011 wait list of 195 disabled and 20 brain-injured clients.

Lynch does not touch funding for the popular LCHIP preservation program, something the House tagged for $1 million.

He also rejected a House change that required public workers put an additional 2 percent of their pay into retirement contributions. Lynch did push more retirement costs onto towns and school districts. That should make for some interesting bargaining by local boards next time contracts are up for renewal.

There are lower payments to hospitals, nursing homes, child-care agencies, a shift away from private contracts to state workers, delayed hirings, demotions, and up to 35 layoffs.

Some big changes involve moving money around. There's a shift of $80 million from 2011 into 2010 to balance this year's budget. It's offset in 2011 by the money from cuts and extra federal stimulus funds.

There's also a restructuring of debt to shift some principal payments on $45 million in bonds out to 2012. That gets the state a $39 million one-year break.

Some Republicans seized on the financial maneuvers for criticism.

State GOP spokesman Ryan Williams dismissed the steps as "smoke and mirrors ... We have real questions as to whether those are real savings." John Stephen, Republican gubernatorial candidate, called the moves "accounting gimmicks."

Democratic House leaders were pretty lukewarm on the whole proposal. Speaker of the House Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, said little more than the House is committed to working with Lynch and protecting vulnerable citizens.

Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, chair of both the Fiscal and Finance committees, said, "We will do what we must do."

Not quite the endorsements Lynch staff might have hoped to hear.

Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, was generally receptive.

"It's a thoughtful plan, and a good first step for the Legislature to look at," he said. But he characterized many of the changes as "tweaks -- more of a stop-gap approach than a restructuring of state government. We really need to reduce the size of government."

Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, said he thinks the need remains for the gambling bill he has proposed. "Anybody with a half a brain would see the damage from these cuts, and would appreciate the impact this bill would deliver," he said. "People have to start thinking, 'How can I solve this problem?'"

Senate Majority Leader Peter Bragdon of Milford said he's not convinced that Lynch has solved 2011. In part, he said, the plan relies on Department of Revenue Administration future tax receipts.

"Those have been woefully inadequate. They've been way off for the current year," Bragdon said.

If Lynch's plan meets with general approval, the backers of expanded gambling will really be pushing the boulder uphill. It faced a tough fight in the House as it was. But without glaring social service cuts staring at them, the arguments for gambling may not seem so urgent.

There's also the fact that Lynch said he wants a gaming commission report in hand before he considers gambling expansion, and told legislators they ought to take the same approach.

Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, who helped craft an amendment that whittles D'Allesandro's six-casino, 17,000-slot plan down a bit, said he'll continue pushing the issue.

"It's not so much because I'm pro-gambling as it is that I think we have a revenue problem," he said. "I think we have an imbedded deficit of $500 million to $600 million in our next budget, and we have an ongoing need for some form of new revenue. We need it this biennium, and we're definitely going to need it next time."

- - - - - - - -

One area that got hit equally hard by both the House plan and by Lynch is the courts. The House demanded $4.7 million in cuts on top of the $3.1 million it already has made. Lynch wants a flat $4 million more.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick, who's been on a six-year mission to mend fences at the Legislature, must be wondering what he's doing wrong. He wrote Lynch about this latest cut that courts are already hurting, and he cited the fact that he has begun one-day closures.

"Never in my lifetime have the courts of New Hampshire been closed because the state could not afford to keep them open," he wrote. Broderick said he could cut the number of part-time judges, halve the jury-trial budget and shut courts more often to save on security to work toward the $4 million cut.

Noting half the courts' business involves juvenile cases, domestic violence, divorce and guardianships, he wrote that even with the current furlough schedule, "citizens will be denied timely access to justice."

- - - - - - - -

Pity the smokers among us.

Yes, they should never have started and ought to stop. But it's getting to be a darned expensive habit.

A pack of cigarettes now goes for close to $6. And if Lynch's budget-repair plan passes intact, smokers will be hit with a tax hike for the fifth time in six years.

The plan counts on $12 million from an extra 20 cents per pack tobacco tax, with $10 million of it in the fiscal year that starts in July.

A tax hike is not a guarantee, though. It's got several problems. It brings prices here closer to border states, hits the same shrinking group of people, and brings less per penny than ever before.

New Hampshire will be at $1.98 per pack if the Lynch plan passes. Maine is $2. Massachusetts is $2.51. After sales taxes are added on, we'd be 52 cents cheaper than Maine and $1.14 cheaper than Mass.

Roughly 20 percent of New Hampshire residents smoke, according to the state chapter of the American Cancer Society.

Even without the Lynch increase, smokers are expected to pay $217 million in tobacco taxes in the two-year budget that ends June 2011. It is the third most lucrative tax after business taxes and the rooms-and-meals tax.

Five years ago, the state bumped the tax up 28 cents and got $44 million a year extra. That's $1.6 million per penny. In this latest proposal, the state gets $500,000 per penny, roughly one-third the effect.

John Dumais of the New Hampshire Grocers Association said he worries the stores along the Maine border will be hit hard by a small price differential. Southern border stores felt the pain when Massachusetts adopted the Powerball lottery. Dumais said sales of the game are off 14 percent among his members. Customers seldom walk in for a single item, he said.

"We're concerned we're reducing our customer base, tourism, sales of gas, food, beer, wine, and that will affect state revenue," he said.

ACS spokesman Peter Ames said he's "disappointed by the increase." He wants a bigger one. "Climbing the stairs 20 and 25 cents at a time doesn't discourage smoking," he said.

"Had we just done a $1 increase years ago, it would have had a much bigger health impact, and we'd have had better revenue," Ames said.

Don't tell that to Big Tobacco. Bill Phelps of Phillip Morris USA said, "We think it's time for government to get spending under control instead of turning to quick fixes like tobacco taxes.

"Tax, spend and repeat is not a long-term solution."
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Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His e-mail address is tfahey@unionleader.com.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Thanks Senator Lou D'Allesandro, senator from Manchester and Goffstown, for your hard and tireless work in propping up the economy of Salem and Hudson.... "Half a brain" you say? You sir are shameless in your pursuit of the golden suitcase at the end of the political rainbow...Go out on a dignified note, represent Manchester... PLEASE
- Andrew, Manchester

...Lynch wields a scalpel, not a cleaver...
...his budget rescue plan.
...surgical cuts to state programs, ...
...not as severe as a unanimous House Finance Committee...
He avoids the pitfall...
He also rejected a House change...

The Governor and state legislature put the state in this budget crisis - some might say they knowingly did it. Is Mr. Fahey a Governor Lynch fanboy or an optimist wearing blinders?

There isn't enough sunshine to cast Governor Lynch in a favorable light. You'd have better luck putting lipstick on a pig.
- David R, Manchester

Gov Lynch and his Democrat Party are finding out the hard way that the problem with passing a smoke and mirrors budget cycle after cycle is that eventually, the smoke clears, the glass breaks, and the citizens see it for what it really is; fiction. The truth of the matter is, the Democrats' claim of balancing the budget is in itself, an urban legend.

The State's budget problem is primarily the result of blind planning and reckless spending---and everyone knows it.

The Democrat Party has all but destroyed the NH advantage; all the characteristics that have made NH a great place to live and raise a family have been mortally wounded by a Governor that refuses to listen to the people and business leaders of NH.

This November, the Republican Party is the best chance that hard working and play-by-the-rules citizens have at reclaiming out citizen government from the Washington influenced left that are currently calling the shots for you and for me.
- LM, Milford, NH

I say begin a cat registration program one that is comparable to dogs. Millions in untapped revenue!
- John in NH, Londonderry

Fish and Game isn't bloated, and in any case is largely self-funding. Outdoor sports are a key component of our tourist sector, so those biologists increase our rooms and meals tax revenues. And the conservation officers are surely the most respected law enforcement operation in the state, doing an outstanding job of enforcing the law while maintaining a mutually respectful relationship with the public. And they can even deal with armed citizens without freaking out!
- Rich, Manchester

What a complete sham these "cuts" are. Nothing but more of the same from this failed Governor - play the shell game, phony credit swaps, increase taxes and increase everyone's property taxes by pushing the burden down to the cities and towns. What a complete joke. But heaven forbid we ask state employees to contribute more to their own retirement. And let's certainly keep wasting money on useless programs like LCHIP.

Had enough yet?
- Mark, Amherst

The F&G dept. is bloated. There is 38 biologists in this tiny state. How about cutting that number back to where it was in the seventies.
- NVW, Milton, NH

If Flynch was so 'savvy', he would have vetoed the spending in the first place.
- sally, candia, nh

Jim in Loudon said it best.

Controlling/cutting spending is the best way to balance a budget but it will never happen.

Whether it's Washington DC, NH or anywhere else a politician's first impulse is to reward those who bought and paid for their position with copious amounts of spending.
- Dana, Candia, NH

I'd like to see real figures on how much our state government has grown in the last decade and look for cuts there. When it comes to draining more money out of every dollar in every state agency or state run feel good social program with administrative costs nothing does this more than government. Charities can always do these things better than government and don't use it as a weapon to raise taxes. Then we have the pension plans created that were not a strain on us when the first recipients got them, but then we had to pay for the same job again when the state worker retired and we had to fill the position with another state employee and I would imagine we end up paying three people over time for the same position since some retire after fifteen or twenty years working time. Each time it raises the cost to the tax payer for one job.

Seriously why can't we have a democrat tax since they seem to like taxes so much? We single out so many others in society for taxation like smokers, especially when it does not affect others who support the tax. I think singling out democrats might make them see and feel what it's like to be singled out for their own schemes and I'd be willing to bet they would view it in a negative way for once. Suddenly raising taxes would be a bad thing no doubt. The rest of us can give to charity what we can afford like free and kind people do. What a concept democrats feeding their own beast and letting others live in peace and freedom from that beast and it’s endless appetite, lies, and manipulation.
- RM, Derry

""smokers are expected to pay $217 million in tobacco taxes in the two-year budget that ends June 2011. It is the third most lucrative tax after business taxes and the rooms-and-meals tax.""

Keep raising the tax and you may force people to quit due to the cost alone. Then the budget will be $217 million shorter. But I guess that addiction trick works well for the state here, tax the ones that find it the hardest to stop. I don't smoke but why doesn't the state tax everyone, not just certain groups.

Lynch needs to bite the bullet, lower property taxes by 75% and institute an income tax to equal that 75% amount. Then as income goes up the revenue goes up. Everytime the state gives all those raises they will get some of it back! Everyone pays the same share. I would also say to control spending but we all know that will never happen.
- Jim, Loudon

"Savvy financial steps??!"

By borrowing money from the 2011 budget to backfill the 2010 budget, and then using non-recurring money to balance the 2011 budget?

By pushing off repayment of $45 million of debt?

By pushing down funding responsibility to towns for a larger portion of the pension payments?

While at the same time, once again, refusing to address the funding problems in the state's pension system, already $3 billion in the red (or up to $10 billion if less rosy assumptions are assumed)?

I call that kicking the can down the road, past the election, and putting off any real, hard decisions.
- Ditmar Kopf, Hollis

Pass the gambling. Stop the other taxes. Do it now.
- Glen, Manchester, NH

It is not a matter of brain injured children or the disabled. This is a false choice. Cut the Hacks out of the budget Governor. How about some real leadership. The people in the state called constituents are hurting and you are playing the fiddle.
- Bob, Salem

Lynch already had a commission study the gambling issue. The study was put out in December 2009. I see nothing that has or will change in May 2010.
- Tim, Keene

Lynch turns a blind eye to child exploitation via 'no-fault' divorce. (Check out the four publications at www.nh.gov/csm/publications.html and the explosion of the NH State prison inmate population from 219 in 1969 (U.S.'s first 'no-fault' divorce law) to 2716 in 2009 in the historical information on the NH Dept of Corrections webpage on that State website.) Setting aside the massive annual human costs, the massive annual State outlays additional in court costs, correctional costs, law enforcement costs, special education costs, DHHS costs, etc. is a major portion of the State budget that has been needlessly burning and wasting taxpayer cash for decades. Gov. Lynch's sexism (hating men), intellectual dishonesty, and de facto resulting incompetence is very expensive. Buy votes with your own money!
- Mike Smith, N. Hampton. NH

Broderick is warning that litigation for failing to protect constitutional rights is at hand. Now all we need is for more people to request jury trial, and this budget is a bust.
- John Edward Mercier, Belmont

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"Courts Closing 3 Days To Save Money: Closures In Response To Budget Cuts"
WMUR.com - April 16, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire courts will be closed three days this summer to save money.

All 78 courts in 40 locations statewide will be closed July 2, Aug. 6 and Sept. 3. Court employees, including judges and marital masters, will take unpaid furloughs.

It's not the first time: Courts were closed April 2 and plan to close on April 30 and May 28, also to save money.

The court closures are in response to a request by Gov. John Lynch to cut judicial expenditures by $3.1 million during fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

The justices also have designated eight additional dates on which courts could be shuttered to achieve additional savings.

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"House votes to partially close NH budget gap"
By Norma Love, Associated Press Writer, May 12, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. --The New Hampshire House passed a budget plan Wednesday that only partially closes a gap that could approach $300 million in the next year.

The House voted 182-173 after five hours of debate to use spending cuts, taxes and borrowing to narrow the gap by $182 million. House Finance Chairwoman Marjorie Smith said the state needs to do as much as it can to close the gap, but does not have to do it all now given the uncertain economy. Smith said further adjustments can be made next year when the revenue picture is clearer.

House Republican leaders criticized the plan for raising taxes and borrowing instead of making deeper spending cuts. Rep. Neal Kurk of Weare, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, referred to the combination of budget cuts, tax increases and borrowing the "good, the bad and the ugly," respectively.

"We don't borrow our way out of tough times," he said.

The House bill makes $37 million in spending cuts, reduces state aid to communities and restructures some state debt. It also raises taxes on some tobacco products -- excluding cigarettes and hand-wrapped cigars -- as well as insurance premiums. The Democrats' plan also calls for new taxes on electricity generation and estates larger than $2 million.

The bill also would lay off 30 workers at the youth reformatory in Manchester and require state managers to take 12 unpaid furlough days.

Republicans offered 13 amendments to delete taxes, fees, borrowing and other provisions they opposed. One proposed legalizing video slots -- something the House has steadfastly rejected for years. Democrats shot down all but one proposed amendment. Democrats backed deleting a proposal to transform the youth reformatory into a women's prison and moving the juveniles elsewhere. The prison proposal would be studied instead.

Smith insisted failing to act would be irresponsible because the governor could not raise revenue, leaving him with one main option.

"The governor cannot cut the legislative or judicial branch budgets. But he could cut the executive branch and cut it and cut it and cut it," said Smith, D-Durham.

Democratic Gov. John Lynch last month presented his plan to the House to close a projected $220 million budget gap by July 2011. The governor's office said Tuesday it has raised its estimate of the gap to $290 million due to poor tax receipts in April.

The spending cuts would be made to the state's $3.2 billion, two-year budget supported by general state taxes. The total budget is $11.5 billion once federal and other funds are included. The budget period ends June 30, 2011.

Many senators object to the budget cuts if they could be avoided with gambling revenues. The Senate planned to vote on a video slots bill this week as the chamber's way of closing the budget gap. The House has already rejected one Senate bill to legalize video slots.

Senate Finance Chairman Lou D'Allesandro, the sponsor of the Senate's latest gambling bill, criticized the House budget plan as containing too many tax increases with questionable estimates of how much the taxes would yield.

The two chambers have two weeks to negotiate a compromise budget plan.

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"Good budgeting? Buckley says so"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, June 11, 2010

To quote state Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, the $295 million budget fix legislators approved on Wednesday is "responsible."

Here is just some of what this package does. It:

• Borrows $25 million from the future to pay university maintenance expenses;

• Slices $1 million from the state court system;

• Reduces state subsidies for juvenile justice programs;

• Reduces state subsidies for residential child care programs;

• Reduces state spending on retiree health care by more than $2 million;

• Reduces state spending on the Governor's Commission on Disability by more than $40,000;

• Cuts hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending at Environmental Services, including money for lakes and rivers management, shellfish management, wetlands administration and dam maintenance;

• Nearly doubles the license fee for pet stores;

• Repeals the unpopular LLC tax, which Gov. John Lynch and other top Democrats had insisted was merely "closing a loophole" in business tax law.

Those are merely a few of the dozens of provisions in the bill. It is worth pointing them out for this reason: Had Republicans done any one of these things, Ray Buckley would have been the first one to call them "irresponsible."

But now Buckley is on the record supporting state cuts in child care and juvenile justice programs, environmental services, retiree health care, the Governor's Commission on Disability and many more state programs and services, as well as repealing the tax on LLCs.

Voters should remember this during the upcoming election campaigns and afterward should Republicans win back power in Concord. It can't be long before Buckley attacks Republicans as irresponsible for proposing cuts to these very same programs and services.

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"Much finger crossing with new budget bill"
The Nashua Telegraph, Editorial, June 11, 2010

Nearly one year ago, Gov. John Lynch authored an op-ed piece that urged the Legislature to approve what would become the current two-year, $11.5 billion budget, calling it a “responsible and balanced budget” and one that “fits with the times.”

On Wednesday night, the same governor issued a statement praising the same Legislature for approving legislation to close a projected $295 million shortfall in that same budget, calling it a “sensible plan that makes difficult, but responsible cuts, and allows us to balance the budget without any new taxes.”

And given how the projected budget deficit has been rising like a thermometer in summertime – from $65 million in February to $216 million as recently as April – it wouldn’t surprise us if we end up going through a similar exercise at least one more time before the two-year budget cycle ends June 30, 2011.

We say this as one of the many voices that didn’t buy the assumptions that served as the foundation for the original budget.

“We don’t believe the rosy revenue projections,” we wrote June 24, 2009. “We don’t believe enough was done to reduce the bottom line. And we don’t believe the administration will make it until the end of the year without having to make significant adjustments when revenues fail to meet expectations.”

That’s exactly what happened Wednesday when the House of Representatives (177-167) and the Senate (14-10) approved a $295 million budget-balancing bill, which a relieved governor signed into law less than 24 hours later.

The bill (Special Session HB 1), which was crafted behind closed doors by House and Senate Democratic leaders, consists of a combination of spending reductions ($54 million), tax hikes ($5 million), lapses and transfers among state agencies ($51.2 million), borrowing ($65 million) and an assortment of revenue-generating ideas ($112.9 million) that includes the sale and leasing of unspecified state assets.

Predictably, reaction to Legislature’s action depended on your partisan point of view.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley praised Lynch and his fellow Democrats for their leadership, characterizing them as “responsible stewards of the state budget during these difficult economic times.”

Conversely, Senate Republican Leader Peter Bragdon, of Milford, criticized the governor for going light on spending cuts in favor or borrowing and relying on “$180 million of one-time revenues and accounting tricks.”

Overall, the Democratic- controlled House rejected nine separate bids Wednesday to either reduce spending or cut tax increases from the bill during more than six hours of debate.

As we mentioned earlier, we feel no more confident that the actions outlined in this 60-page bill will keep the budget in balance through next June than we did when the original budget was adopted last June.

In short, it’s difficult to put much faith in a $295 million budget-balancing bill that:
* Relies on only $54 million of actual spending reductions, a miniscule 18 percent of the entire package.
* Resorts to $65 million in borrowing – $25 million from the University System of New Hampshire and the issuing of new bonds as part of a $40 million restructuring of state debt.
* And counts on closing nearly 40 percent of the budget hole with a $112 million wish list made up of $60 million in the potential sale or lease of state properties and $48 million from the federal government in extra Medicaid funds, even though the U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to strike the source of that money from a pending jobless benefits bill.

Unless the economy recovers much quicker than experts anticipate, thereby driving up state revenues in the process, either this Legislature or the next one is going to find itself back in familiar territory.

Which should make this year’s election all the more interesting.

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KEY POINTS

BACKGROUND: Gov. John Lynch has placed his signature on legislation that’s intended to close a projected budget deficit of $295 million in the two-year budget cycle that ends next June.

CONCLUSION: We have about as much confidence in this potpourri of new revenue and spending cuts as we did when the original budget was approved last year – which isn’t saying much.

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"State Agencies Told To Reduce Budgets: Lynch Says Agencies Should Prepare Budgets With 5 Percent Cut"
WMUR.com - July 13, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. -- A month after approving a budget that required government agencies to make spending cuts, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch is telling them to get ready to cut 5 percent more.

Lynch's instructions Tuesday came as departments are developing budget proposals for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. Each agency is required to submit a maintenance budget by Oct. 1; Lynch requested that they submit a separate budget by Nov. 12 set at 95 percent of their current authorized budget.

Lynch said the state has maintained a strong credit rating and worked to cut state spending, but it will continue to face more challenges.

He said departments should identify services that have the lowest impact and propose their elimination or restructuring.

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"State wants to redirect half of school stimulus money"
By NORMA LOVE, The Associated Press

CONCORD – New Hampshire would keep half the $41 million in emergency federal funding intended to protect teachers’ jobs and use it for other state spending under a plan facing a legislative committee’s approval.

The joint legislative Fiscal Committee will take up the plan Monday afternoon. Documents provided to The Associated Press show the plan is to distribute all the money through the existing school aid formula in place of state tax dollars. The state would then distribute $20 million in additional aid from the state funds that would be freed up.

The total aid distribution for this fiscal year would rise from $957 million to $978 million.

Federal education officials estimated the $41 million would save 700 teachers’ jobs in New Hampshire, but a survey by school administrators last summer determined roughly 200 jobs had been cut going into the school year.

In documents filed with the Fiscal Committee, Christopher Clement, director of the state’s Office of Economic Stimulus, said the state increased school aid by more than $100 million in the current two-year budget, which fully funded its aid commitment.

He said federal law requires schools to use the funds for pay, benefits and other expenses needed to retain existing employees, to recall or rehire former employees and to hire new employees. Schools that have excess funds at the end of this school year can use the money to hire new teachers through September 2011, he said.

The state’s tactic isn’t new. The state – with Gov. John Lynch’s support – substituted federal education stimulus funds for state-funded school aid in the current budget. State tax money was freed up from being spent on school aid and used instead for other spending, including state aid to communities.

The federal law calls for the money to be distributed either to schools under the Title I formula – which targets schools with high concentrations of low-income students – or through the state’s aid formula. Not all schools receive Title I money.

Mark Joyce, executive director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association, said Friday that schools are squeezed by rising costs and by voters opposing property tax increases to pay those costs. Districts could use all the money, he said.

“I guess that’s half a help,” he said.

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FOR REPUBLICANS, NEW DAY BRINGS NEW PUZZLES: "After routing rivals, GOP in N.H. now must make good on vow of deep cuts"
By Brian C. Mooney, Boston Globe Staff, November 13, 2010

Of all the states swept up in the Republican wave that washed across most of the nation this month, New Hampshire may be the most surprising. After trending Democratic for several election cycles, the Granite State was inundated by the great GOP tide.

Republicans flipped both the House and Senate by enormous margins, broomed Democrats from both congressional seats, easily held the US Senate seat being vacated by Judd Gregg, and scored a 5-0 wipeout in the Executive Council, which, unlike its counterpart in Massachusetts, has significant power.

Governor John H. Lynch, a moderate Democrat, hung on to win a record fourth consecutive two-year term, but he will be a speck of blue in an ocean of red on Dec. 1 when the new Legislature holds its organizational session in the old granite State House in Con cord. He faces veto-proof Republican majorities in both chambers.

“There was such a violent turmoil at the bottom of the ballot,’’ said Dante Scala, a professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire. “It was like a meteor hit. A whole generation of Democratic legislators was just gone when it was over.’’

The shift promises to have the most significant impact on the state’s approach to its budget problems, with the new class of Republicans vowing deep budget cuts instead of the tax and fee hikes, borrowing, and federal money upon which Democrats relied.

“It’s beyond dispute that the legislative tidal wave was about the budget mess, and they have a mandate to fix it, and I think that means spending cuts,’’ said Charles M. Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank in Concord.

But cutting programs or education aid to cities and towns could be a double-edged sword for Republicans, said Arlinghaus, a former Republican political operative.

“It’s going to be difficult to fix it,’’ he said. “They can’t play games. It will be easy to politicize the process, so they have to be able to say we’re making the adult decisions that have to be made.’’

Arlinghaus projects the state is facing a $691 million deficit in its next two-year operating budget and estimates it will require a 10 percent cut in expenditures to plug the gap.

It was not so long ago that Republicans were lamenting what seemed like an inexorable leftward march by New Hampshire voters. In 2006, Democrats grabbed both congressional seats, majorities in both bodies of the Legislature, and the governorship in a landslide.

The Legislature soon adopted same-sex civil unions and ultimately gay marriage, increased the cigarette tax, and came close to enacting a mandatory seat belt law, long resisted in the “Live Free or Die’’ state. There was a distinct sense that the landscape was changing.

But on Nov. 2, Republicans, fueled by concerns about the economy, made a dramatic comeback, particularly in the Legislature. They picked up more than 120 seats, an astounding figure in the 400-member House of Representatives, which the Democrats have dominated for the last four years. That is almost one-fifth of the state legislative seats picked up by the GOP in the entire country this fall. Republicans in New Hampshire hold a 298-102 advantage in the lower chamber. In the Senate, where Democrats have held a 14-10 edge the past four years, the GOP picked up nine seats and holds a commanding 19-5 majority.

“Was it a bad year? You bet,’’ said Ray Buckley, chairman of the state Democratic Party. “We’ve been through this before, and after Republican national tsunamis in 1984 and 1994, the Democrats bounced back in New Hampshire.’’

Buckley warned that the Republicans may have trouble fulfilling their promises.

“We look forward to their ideas, because they didn’t really offer anything or participate the last four years,’’ Buckley said. “They said they will cut taxes, cut spending, increase services and support for municipalities. Logical people understand that it’s just not possible and we’re going to hold them accountable.’’

The state of the economy and New Hampshire’s budget problems were major factors behind the big swing to Republicans, said Andrew E. Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center, who also conducts polls for the Globe. Smith saw the sea change coming in prelection surveys that determined voters’ generic party preference in state legislative races. For both chambers, the GOP lead hit unprecedented double digits, he said.

“The economy’s bad, the president’s party is being blamed, and Republicans were mad as hell,’’ Smith said. “There was a litany of things to get people riled up and they looked for someone to blame, anyone with a ‘D’ next to his or her name.’’

Democrats outnumber Republicans slightly in the Granite State, but independents (called undeclared voters in New Hampshire) make up about 42 percent of the electorate. They led the stampede to Republican candidates, Smith’s polls indicated.

Lynch, who was reelected twice with at least 70 percent of the vote, was the exception, maintaining his popularity with independents, particularly women. But he had to spend at least $850,000 of his own money to fend off Republican challenger John Stephen by about 7 1/2 percentage points.

In the other statewide race, former attorney general Kelly Ayotte trounced US Representative Paul W. Hodes, 60 percent to 37 percent, in the contest to succeed Gregg in the Senate. With Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire becomes the fourth state in the country with two female senators, joining Maine, California, and Washington. A number of potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates began to curry favor with Ayotte during the campaign, and as the highest-ranking Republican officeholder in the state that holds the first primary, she could be a key player in the GOP nominating contest.

In the two congressional races, Democratic incumbent Carol Shea-Porter was easily ousted by former Manchester mayor Frank C. Guinta in the 1st Congressional District, and former representative Charles Bass, a moderate Republican, completed his comeback, narrowly defeating Democrat Ann McLane Kuster in the more liberal 2d district.

John H. Sununu, the New Hampshire Republican Party chairman and former governor, said Republican candidates spoke with one voice during the campaign.

“They’re very strongly committed to a tax climate that encourages investment and growth,’’ said Sununu, who took charge and began rebuilding a demoralized party after devastating losses in 2006 and 2008. “They really made a unified public call to cutting spending dramatically.’’

Pamela Walsh, who managed Lynch’s campaign and will resume her duties as his deputy chief of staff, said the new political reality in the State House will not change Lynch’s style.

“Throughout his tenure, the governor has worked to do things across party lines,’’ she said. “His major initiatives and priorities are bipartisan, and the governor is going to keep focusing on solving problems and will work with anyone willing to do the same.’’
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Brian C. Mooney can be reached at bmooney@globe.com.
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www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2010/11/13/nh_republicans_have_mandate_for_deep_budget_cuts/?comments=all#readerComm
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"NH gov: Balancing budget is top priority"
Boston.com - December 14, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. — Democratic Gov. John Lynch is upbeat about working with the state House and Senate next month despite overwhelming Republican majorities in both chambers.

Lynch said Tuesday he is looking forward to the legislative session that starts next month.

"I am going to do everything I can to be cooperative and I expect that the leadership of the House and Senate will do the same," Lynch said in an interview.

Republicans won 298 of the 400 House seats last month and 19 of the 24 Senate seats.

Some have questioned whether Lynch will play a significant role in the coming months, but Lynch pointed out he worked with Republican legislative majorities -- though not as large -- during his first term to find common ground and will again. Lynch won an unprecedented fourth consecutive two-year term in November and will be inaugurated Jan. 6.

"I don't think either Republicans or Democrats are monolithic in terms of their positions," he said.

Lynch said economic issues are his top priority, especially producing a balanced budget for the upcoming two years.

"For me, the focus is going to be on jobs, getting people back to work, doing what we continue doing to promote economic development and ensuring a balanced budget for the next biennium. If we can do that and address some of the education funding issues, then it will have been a successful legislative session," Lynch said.

Former Republican Party Chairman Fergus Cullen isn't sure a majority of Republicans will work with Lynch.

"Lynch likes to talk about bipartisanship, but it's not his choice anymore. It's up to the veto-proof Republican caucuses to decide whether they want to work with him or simply pass their own legislation and override the governor as needed," he wrote in an opinion piece published after the election last month.

On Monday, Cullen said Lynch is going to have to pick his fights carefully to avoid antagonizing Republicans, who already have begun forming coalitions.

"If he vetoes the wrong thing, it can serve to reunify a large caucus," said Cullen.

Lynch said he generally won't prejudge bills before they reach his desk, an approach he has taken in his three previous terms. That includes efforts to enact limits on minors seeking abortions, he said.

In 2007, Lynch signed legislation repealing a 2003 parental notification law that was never was enforced. A federal judge declared it unconstitutional because it lacked a provision to forgo notification in emergencies where the mother's health is at stake. It required abortion providers to notify at least one parent 48 hours or more before performing an abortion on a minor.

The state appealed and the U.S. Supreme Court sent it back to the federal court in New Hampshire to determine if the law could be salvaged. The Democratically controlled Legislature voted instead to repeal it, but abortion opponents have filed bills to revisit the issue next year.

But Lynch reiterated Tuesday that he will veto legislation that repeals gay marriage. Lynch signed a law last year legalizing the unions.

Lynch said he expects he'll have an easier time working with the Senate because it has fewer members.

Senate President Peter Bragdon said Monday he thinks he and Lynch will "get along fine."

"We understand we're going to have differences of opinion," said Bragdon.

Cullen noted that the House and Senate GOP caucuses are so large they can win even if Lynch and Democrats woo support from some Republicans on particular issues.

"There is a huge number in the House that feels it wasn't elected to cut deals with Democrats or anyone else," he said.

That bloc of votes could make life difficult for Lynch.

"I think the governor will have some real frustrating times over the next six months, but I think he really wants to get things done. He's basically a pragmatist," said Cullen.

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"Current recession hitting state budget harder than last"
By PATRICK MEIGHAN, Nashua Telegraph Staff Writer, 12/31/2010

CONCORD – The impact of the current recession on the state budget is much deeper and more serious than the bank failures of two decades ago, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree.

Republican State Rep. Neal Kurk of Weare was a member of the House Finance Committee in 1991.

Back then, the state found a mechanism to balance the budget through what came to be called Mediscam, Kurk said.

Federal money the state receives in Medicaid reimbursement is supposed to go back to Medicare, he said.

However, the state used the money instead to balance the budget.

“Everybody thought it was reasonable. It was justified because the state paid out more than it got back,” he said.

New Hampshire, one of the nation’s wealthier states, got back only 87 cents for ever dollar spent on Medicaid, Kurk said. Poorer states, such as West Virginia, got back more than they paid in, he noted.

Still, the Medicaid money helped the state weather the crisis, he said.

Currently, however, the state faces a budget deficit of $675 million, about 13 percent of the general fund. That’s far worse than any deficit in the early 1990s, he said.

Democratic state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester agreed. In the early 1990s, D’Allesandro chaired the Senate Finance Committee.

Nationwide, the current recession “is probably a little deeper,” D’Allesandro said. “It’s definitely had more wrinkles in its effect on every aspect of the economic system.”

That’s particularly true in the economy’s inability to create and replace jobs, he said.

Nationwide, unemployment continues to hover at 10 percent, although New Hampshire is faring significantly better at 5.4 percent.

By the early ’90s, New Hampshire’s shoe manufacturing industry was already gone, D’Allesandro said. The electronics industry “didn’t fare well,” but most other industries emerged from it well, he said.

The current recession “put the death knell on the paper industry,” with the last of the North Country mills closing, D’Allesandro said.

“Also, when that stimulus money disappears, you’ve got to replace it. That’s a huge hole,” D’Allesandro said.

Health and Human Services Department numbers show the depth to which this recession has impacted people.

Food stamps are an excellent indicator of economic conditions because people are eligible based on income and the money they have in the bank, said Terry Smith, director of the state Division of Family Assistance.

In May of 1994, there were roughly 24,000 households receiving food stamps, even though the economy has started to improve in 1992, Smith said.

Typically, there’s an 18 month period between when the economy starts to improve and food-stamp caseloads hit their maximum, Smith said.

Today, with the recession, there have been 52,960 households receiving food stamps.

Of course, the state’s population has grown in the ensuing 16 years, “but it hasn’t doubled,” Smith said.

From March of 2009 to February of 2010, the number of cases grew by an average of about 1,000 a month.

The rate has slowed since then, but the number of cases continues to increase, Smith said.

Since June of 2008, the number of households receiving food stamps has increased by 21,130, or 66 percent, he said.

“Caseloads will continue to increase until the economy turns around, and then 18 months past that,” Smith said.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com.

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Jack Kimball to lead party.

"Hard turn right worries GOP moderates in N.H."
By Sarah Schweitzer, Boston Globe Staff, February 1, 2011

New Hampshire Democrats conceded a dramatic loss of power to a Republican insurgency last November. Now another group is coming to terms with its sidelining.

Moderate Republicans, the practical-minded mainstay of the state’s venerable GOP, have watched in dismay as conservative legislators have proposed restricting state education funding to English, math, science, social studies, and physical education and urged that officials no longer “bear faith and true allegiance’’ to the United States and New Hampshire, but rather, only to New Hampshire.

With the recent ascension of Tea Party activist Jack Kimball to head the state Republican Party, many moderates now say they are resigned to having little sway in shaping the state’s agenda.

“We know we don’t have much of a chance of convincing anybody of anything,’’ said Representative Priscilla Lockwood, a moderate Republican, who said she fears that abortion will be restricted and gay marriage banned.

Kimball’s election also carries national implications because he will act as host to candidates in the nation’s first Republican primary in 2012. Prior to his win, Kimball had pledged to vet presidential candidates to ensure their conservative credentials, a departure from the party leader’s traditional neutrality. Last week, he softened that stance, saying all candidates are welcome.

The turn to the right comes after Democrats had assumed dominance in a state that had been previously reliably Republican, with power tending to swing between moderate and conservative wings of the party. Two years ago, Democrats held the governorship, majorities in both legislative houses, and three of the state’s four congressional seats.

The 2010 election produced Republican supermajorities in the Legislature, but with many new members leaning further right than their predecessors; in the House an estimated 100 of the 400 members are Tea Party-affiliated. The election also yielded a Republican US Senator, Kelly Ayotte, backed by Sarah Palin, and two Republican US representatives.

The impact of the conservative sweep has been evident in the Legislature where conservatives’ first order of business, with the backing of William O’Brien, the new speaker of the House, was to change rules on weapons in the Statehouse, making them explicitly welcome rather than tacitly permitted. A string of proposals followed, including those on restricting school funding and the oath of office.

Democrats have labeled the conservative initiatives radical. A number of moderate Republicans say they are withholding judgment until a fuller picture emerges of the conservative agenda, though one who is no longer in office said he has seen enough to be worried.

“I am sure I would have had a heart attack if I were up there having to fight each one of these issues,’’ said Anthony DiFruscia, a moderate Republican who served 12 years in the legislature until a primary defeat last year when he said he was targeted by a grass-roots group for his views, particularly support of gay marriage.

Kimball’s ascension to party leader at a Republican meeting Jan. 22 surprised moderates, who had assumed the victor would be the handpicked successor of outgoing chairman John H. Sununu, the former governor credited with guiding the recent Republican sweep.

As the results were announced and chants of “Jack! Jack! Jack!’’ erupted, Representative Alida Millham, a moderate Republican who had not voted for Kimball, thought to herself, “Oh boy, what’s coming?’’

Conservatives say their agenda taps into the true ethos of New Hampshire political thought, from which moderate Republicans have strayed in recent years. With the election of Kimball, they say they have one of their own to forcefully ensure a conservative agenda.

“Jack’s election is frosting on the cake,’’ said Jane Aitken, a Tea Party Coalition activist. “It gives people hope that the Republican platform will be reinforced and that people will start acting like Republicans.’’

Kimball, 63, came to attention in March 2009 with eye-catching signs in front of his medical facility cleaning business in Portsmouth that read, “Let’s all stop paying our mortgages’’ and “Congress — We don’t want socialism.’’ In an interview with the Portsmouth Herald at the time, he said he had bought “as much ammo as I could get my hands on’’ and was adding generators at his home and planning for a worst-case scenario because “our enemies see us as weak and they are going to test us.’’

Kimball sought the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but lost in the four-way primary in September 2010. In December, he announced his bid for Republican Party chair and quickly took some members aback with his vow to use a litmus test of Republican primary candidates’ conservative positions.

Kimball did not respond to requests for an interview.

Some Republicans have sought to downplay the significance of Kimball’s election, noting that the chair’s duties are largely administrative and fund-raising, not policy-making. Some note, too, that voting delegates, particularly Tea Party activists, may have resented Sununu’s efforts to steer the vote.

“They are card-carrying members of the don’t-tell-me-what-to-do coalition,’’ said Fergus Cullen, a former state GOP chair.

Other Republicans said Kimball’s election could signal disunity in the party.

“It was a little disturbing to me with Sununu as the chair standing up and saying (the other candidate) should be the chair, and the real right-wing saying, ‘No we’re not going to pay attention to that and we’re going to do what we want.’ That’s probably not a good thing for the party,’’ said Representative David Kidder, a moderate Republican.

“Is Kimball the kind of guy who can go and represent us well in a national forum?’’ he said.

Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of Kimball’s transition committee, said, “Jack has made it very clear during his campaign and since then that his primary goal is to lead a united Republican Party forward.’’

She said he has been in touch with Republicans from all wings of the party and is listening to all members.

Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, said Kimball’s election, like the Republican sweep of offices by conservatives in November, relied to a large extent on muscle flexed by grass-roots organizations like the Tea Party Coalition, he said. The real test of their power will come in 2012, when a broader spectrum of voters turns out for the presidential race.

“This state is not as conservative as this Legislature would indicate and I think we’ll see in 2012, there will be a correction — something of a correction,’’ he said.

Sarah Schweitzer can be reached at schweitzer@globe.com.

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"Gov. Lynch: 1 in 10 state jobs should be axed"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, February 15, 2011

CONCORD – Gov. John Lynch's budget proposal for the next two years cuts the ranks of state workers by 10 percent and lowers spending of state tax dollars next year to pre-2008 levels.

In unveiling his 2012-2013 plan to the Legislature today, Lynch announced he would cut 255 jobs and eliminate another 845 vacant positions.

In general, the $10.7 billion plan cuts state spending, cuts state workers, pushes all public workers into longer careers, slows private hospital expansions and continues lower aid levels to cities and towns.

It also eliminates the state's program of paying a share of the retirement costs of local public workers, a savings of $87 million a year to the state, but a cut that will have to be made up through local property taxes or layoffs.

The end of federal stimulus funding forced hard choices in the budget process. Lynch said the budget cuts state spending by 5.5 percent, or $160 million less than was spent in 2008-09. He said early in his speech that the loss of $380 million federal stimulus funds for education and Medicaid added to the pressure to cut.

The total spending package, including state and federal dollars, comes to $10.7 billion over the next two years. The last two years saw a budget that totaled $11.5 billion, when stimulus funds were included. Calling the stimulus funding, "an important bridge" over the recession, Lynch said now it is time for "major changes and reductions across state government."

"Some programs that people and businesses currently rely on will no longer be there, or will operate differently. There are programs that provide real value to our citizens that we simply can no longer afford," Lynch said the budget contains no new taxes, and no tax increases. If doubles the tax credit businesses take for research and development costs, and repeals the tax on gambling winnings.

He estimates that state revenues will come in at $4.7 billion over the two years, about $300 million more than the House of Representatives official estimate.

Charles Arlinghaus, executive director of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, said he thinks Lynch's revenue estimates are too optimistic, but he credited his efforts.

"It's a very difficult budget. It required significant cuts and tough decisions, and he did that. I thought it was really bold," he said.

Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said, "I have to give him credit. He worked really hard on the budget, and make the cuts he could find. But it's the beginning of the process."

House budget writers have until the end of March to come up with their version of a two-year spending plan, then the Senate takes over.

Lynch's proposed spending cuts average 95 percent across the board, and affect every agency except Corrections, the courts and the Veterans Home.

Lynch is looking for proposals that would save money on prison expenses with private contracting or multi-state agreements. He also plans to modify the Justice Reinvestment Act to give the state parole board more discretion.

Lynch said that public safety will continue as a priority. Although changes will be made in the Department of Safety, there will be no layoffs among stat troopers.

Lynch also called on the Legislature to take a 95 percent cut in its own operating budget, and to return to state treasury a $5 million surplus it carries on its books.

The growth in demand at the Department of Health and Human Services has eased as the economy has recovered, but caseloads are expected to stay level. Still, it gets cut below 2011 levels, Lynch said.

The state will maintain its current level of adequacy aid to local school districts, but will continue a moratorium on new state building aid, and will cut back on how much it sends to school districts that already receive the aid.

Lynch said he wants to expand the use of managed care for Medicaid patients, a move that he says can save an addition $32 million, or 5 percent of what would otherwise be spent.

Among other changes in the mix are a fuller use of the Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester, which is more than half vacant. The plan moves troubled youths who are ordered to live outside their homes or are facing juvenile system trial into Manchester and out of three private shelters, saving roughly $11.3 million over to years.

The Tirrell House, a substance abuse housing unit in Manchester, will be privatized for a saving of $8.5 million over two years.

Lynch also plans to close four district HHS offices for savings of nearly $2 million, but will continue offering services through better technology.

Lynch also challenged the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center to live within its budget, and move toward self-reliance. He said the center has overspent its budget consistently over several years.

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"Advocates battle push to cut budget"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, March 11, 2011

CONCORD – The mentally ill, the disabled, the unemployed, workers for the homeless, health care workers came to Concord Thursday to argue against budget cuts that will directly affect their lives.

More than 500 people turned out for a House Finance Committee public hearing on Gov. John Lynch's budget, and on a proposal that could lead to an additional $346 million in cuts in the Health and Human Services budget. About 200 signed up to speak directly to the committee.

Some of the cuts the House is considering call for an end to $167 million in reimbursements to hospital for charity care, $25 million in mental health services, $18 million from nursing homes, $11 million in low-income child care aid, and $7 million in services to troubled youth.

Finance chairman Rep. Kenneth Weyler, R-Kingston, reminded those about to speak that nothing in the budget is final yet. The House will not vote on it until the end of the month, then it will go to the Senate.

"Do not accuse us of cutting your program. Do not badmouth us for something someone else has done," Weyler said. He pointed to the 1,500-page budget document as evidence of how complex a task the committee faces in shaping $4.4 billion in state spending over the next two years.

Weyler said he hopes that combining departments and divisions within state government will produce big savings. That would allow the state to cut many supervisory positions, which he said make up between 20 and 25 percent of all state jobs.

"It seems like that is out of line," Weyler said.

Among the early speakers was New Hampshire's Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, who said a society is judged by how it cares for its neediest people.

"If there is belt-tightening to be done, we should be tightening our own belts and coming up with the resources to do what a civilized society does: to care for, and not cut services for the poor, the disabled, the blind, the unemployed, the impoverished elderly, the uninsured children living in poverty," he said.

Business, too, warned that cutting too deeply has its risks.

BIA president Jim Roche said the costs of charity care and low Medicaid reimbursements already comprise 25 percent of health insurance rates. Further cuts will push rates even higher, he said. "We urge you to think long and hard before reducing Medicaid funding to New Hampshire's health care providers and support for New Hampshire's community health centers. Cost-shifting is an added expense on business," Roche said.

Steven Densberger, vice president of Pennichuck Corp., and a board member of Lamprey Health Care, urged reversal of a proposed $4 million in cuts that Lynch has proposed to maternal and child health programs.

He said it will mean layoffs at community health centers statewide.

"It will mean higher unemployment and it will mean that we have fewer doctors, nurse practitioners and dentists to provide medical care at a time when we are in the middle of a national primary care provider crisis," Densberger warned.

Dr. Fred Kelsey, of the Mid-State Health Center in Plymouth, said about 47 professionals will be cut and 12,000 patients will lose access to primary care. The decline in health care will make it more difficult for rural areas to attract employers, he said.

Advocates for mentally ill said proposed cuts will destroy progress the state made since it shuttered the Laconia State School in the 1980s.

Sherry Flynn, a Milford mother of a 26-year-old developmentally disabled daughter, said she has survived cuts to aid programs before.

"But there is no way to make do with what is being proposed here. This is an insult to the most vulnerable people of New Hampshire," said Flynn. "You were elected to uphold the New Hampshire way of life for all people. -- "What you are proposing is not fair or just. It is a door reopening to the dark days of Laconia."

Healthy Kids Corp. president and CEO Gail Garceau argued against Lynch's plan to shift the child insurance operations and coverage of 8,000 clients into the state Medicaid program.

Lynch said the move will save $6.6 million, but Garceau said it will actually cost between $3 million and $7 million. The use of emergency rooms for Medicaid children is twice that of children on the Healthy Kids plan, she said.

New Hampshire Legal Assistance asked the full committee to reject a subcommittee cut of $1.74 million, roughly half its funding.

If the cut stands, NHLA may have to close offices in Littleton, Nashua, Berlin and Concord.

David Lavalley of Pembroke defended the program, saying "I needed these people because no lawyer was willing to help us unless we gave them every cent we had."

Others urged better funding for the courts, which cannot keep up with paperwork demands, for homeless programs, where cuts could end up hitting local welfare and police budgets, and for the services to developmentally disabled adults, where deep cuts to programs could force aging parents to quit their jobs to provide care at home.

"I never asked to have a child with a disability," said Christina Shaffer of Litchfield, her voice breaking. "It's something that is handed to you and you have to handle it no matter how difficult it gets."

READERS' COMMENTS:

NH should pass a citizen election recall law!
- Wayne, Goffstown

i am a person who counts on the services,that needs what the present mental health system offers. i have made progress because of the 2 places that service persons in my local city. to make cuts in these places would, stop the progess ive been able to make. you want to save $ stay the same. people like me at a point wont need counling, maybe able to work. even part time.which also saves $ you will have more people needing hospitalized which will cost moe $..
- jeannette bourbeau, rochester new hampshire 03867

I have NOT received ONE DIME from a tax payer directly as a result of having an autistic daughter... but I have benefitted from having guidance and support by people whose JOB it is to provide such help to families like mine Those JOBS will be affected by such cuts.

And as far as you complaining about the mentally ill getting benefits from your hard earned money, you should really consider the number of severely mentally ill individuals that will end up homeless and unmedicated in your neighborhood as a result of those cuts. You don't care until they become a nuisance and danger to your family.

I am all for budget cuts, but I do not know how many the DHHS can survive.
- Beth, Derry

This is just the beginning. Greece style riots by people demanding other people's money. If you steal it from me, I can't help my family, friends and neighbors in need.
- Cathleen Converse,, Center Barnstead

First, we need a Governor that knows what he is doing, Lynch is a blundering idiot. This issue is a historic one, it did not just show up this year. Its been here. And he just stuck his head in the pretty office he sits in. The system needs to be rebuilt, and that means from the top down. Way too much for a simple minded person.
- John, Candia

Go ahead and gripe about the State workers all you want, but the reality here is that if you cut their positions then it it those who they serve who pay the most. I find it disturbing that many of you are asking the most vulnerable (children, the mentally ill and the elderly) to suck it up and go without services or care in order to get us out of the hole. You are just kicking those who are already down. Maybe all of us need to contribute to the solution. Maybe state workers should take a cut in pay and benefits, but don't put them on the unemployment line. Maybe state spending caps and hiring freezes need to continue. But reductions in pay and benefits alone won't solve the problem. The rest of us should just face the fact that it is time that we have to pay a little bit more in taxes, whether it be property taxes, a sales tax or an income tax. A certain few shouldn't bear the burden of balancing the budget. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us.

I expect to get grief from a number of you, especially the unemployed. But as bad as you have it, just know that there are some that are less fortunate than you. And under the current plan, we are essentially asking them to take the hit for us. How shameful is that?
- NH Native, Warren

it's very simple - every person collecting a Government paycheck should be providing direct services to the public. Get rid of the layer upon layer of state and local bureaucrats whose sole function is to impede commerce.
- Paul, Bedford

Time to fuel our BioMass plants with the useless poor.It's about time we let Natural Selection work again,as it should.Bye-Bye Welfare people.
- Tea Totler, Derry

We (society) have created this culture of dependancy on the Govt to pay the bills of those who choose not to work. Now the threat is that we cut benifits to those who really need it. I see in my community those who can work but for some reason they are on the public dime and won't. They (the welfraud takers) sit in their subsidized rental units w/their subsidized heating benifits eating their subsidized meals. We (the taxpayors) are out of money. We will be the next generation living out in the street if our politicians don't act. We are looking at this the wrong way. Hire more HHS employees and make them find the cheats and get them off the public dime. Drug/alcohal test all recipents of public funds. Limit the amount of time anyone can be on the public dime.
- Michael King, Epping

Agree wholeheartedly with you out of Bradford..The State needs to cut the supervisors out, but what they do is cut them and then reassign them to other similar jobs. DHHS 's upper echelon people need to be cut they have outrageous salaries, and do nothing. I also agree a 2.5% income tax should be employed here in NH. Not so sure a sales tax is part of that answer though. Bothers me terribly that the elderly in nursing homes will be affected with the cuts, these people have paid into their care through their taxes all their lives. The Medicaid coverage for kids though needs to be seriously looked at as I personally know of at least one "Single Mom" with three kids who are all on Medicaid, they get housing subsidized too. She lives with the kid's father and because they aren't married she gets them completely covered. In other words she lies and milks the system - you multiply that by a gazillion and you will see there lies the problem.
- ARE, Manchester

In the past thirty years we've seen the greatest transfer of wealth in history from the bottom 98% of wage earners to the top 2%.

The politicians who engineered this transfer of wealth - from middle class working people to corporate moguls (who do their paperwork in Bermuda and their manufacturing in Asia) are greedy fools.

The advocates who oppose them are patriots.
- tim, dover

Last year the wealth of Americans increased by $2.3 trillion dollars. Did you get any of that? No, you, the people who work for a living not the stock brokers and bankers that post here. Your house declined in value. Your pension has been taken away. Way to go sheeple.
- Robert, Deerfield

Seems like administrators gobble up most of the money in salary and benefits. The person receiving money and handouts exist on meager incomes, and have to jump through hoops to get this money. I think we need to look at the way the distribution of this is handled.
- Mike, Auburn

Can you spell Euthanize? That should make a lot of Republicans happy
- Eyec2020, Bedford

NH received a ton of money from the big Obama bailout. I'll bet most of it went to the state budget, which means it went primarily to paying payroll expenses of our 11,000 union employees...just like every other state.

The vast majority of the money being spent is for the people who vote Democrat...the "poor" "mentally disabled" and union workers...just like in Wisconsin.

Except we don't have the income and sales tax...like Wisconsin, NY, NJ, IL and all of the other union thug states that are now in revolt.

We can no longer afford those who continue to demand our money for their care. They, like us who work, need to go out and contribute to society. It'll be tough, but half of us have been doing it all our lives. You'll make it.
- Melvin, Keene

Cut, cut, cut, cut. We can't afford any more taxes. Keep cutting legislature!
- Chuck Pettingill, Auburn

All these cuts are going to do is kill people and shift costs, either to others or to future generations. There was a time in this country when people understood civic responsibility and how helping the most vulnerable among us benefits society as a whole, both on a social and an economic level. But the hatred, ignorance, and fear which are beginning the permeate our society are now destroying our collective moral fiber.
- Bubba, Manchester

Gimme, gimme, gimme ........ all the entitlement minded leeches crying to save their handouts. Cut the entitlements. We didn't have these giveaways years ago and people survived just fine helping each other out.
- Brian, Farmington

I love how "advocates" just love spending someone else's money. If you believe in something so much. pullout your checkbook and start writing. Bet you won't.
- Bob H, Londonderry

No Money Left

They are more important than you and me
The unions get it all you see

The contract says it so
No money left, no dough

We the unclean and unwashed have to pay
Taxpayers only, we have no say

No money left for us, you and me
The unions get it all you see

The poor, the hungry and the old
They might as well all be cold

Their maker, they will meet some day
What do they think she will say?
- Bob, Salem

Yes, I'm FED UP with all the whining about funding losses. You didn't have the money a few years ago, so you don't need it now. What don't you understand about NO MORE SPENDING???? The people of this state are taxed out and have no more money to give to a bloated government. Cut the free rides, cut spending, cut salaries, get rid of unproductive workers and don't give in to the union. Just do it and get it over with.
- Fed Up, anywhere, nh

The mentally ill, the disabled, the unemployed, workers for the homeless, health care workers came to Concord Thursday to argue against budget cuts that will directly affect their lives.

Why don't they have the meeting on a weekend so the poor working slob can go and argue for the budget cuts. Of course it goes to reason that everyone one that benefits from the gravy train will be there.

It's a really simple equation, there are no more revenue sources to tap, and the taxpayer is tapped out.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

We will have to eat the Rich.
- CYPHER, Claremont

At this point it's really about the gUMent worker getting gUMenT money for doing GumeNt work vs. the poor and disabled getting gUment money for being poor and disabled.

In that battle it's obvious that the Gument employee loses and it's not Layoffs but straight up firing... your job is gone - it no longer exists... good luck.

If you're lucky enough to be the only one remaining in the office and your workload is quadrupled then you're welcome to quit and you'll be replaced by someone who will be happy to have the job.

If someone has to wait longer for their GumeNt assistance paperwork to be processed then so be it.

If you have to wait longer on GumenT lines to pay the Gument the money that the gumenT requires you to pay then so be it.

If the Playground grass doesn't get mowed as often and the street doesn't get swept as often then so be it.

If we're unable to paint a nice poem in front of every sewer about not dumping your oil in it then so be it.

Keep in mind that most GumenT jobs exist because of the guments over bearing and over burdensome regulations.
- John II, Manchester

Peter B, Milford...
We actually use sales and income taxes to support the State programs... these aren't doing so hot with the high unemployment rate.

Some have suggested to make them more broad... but that hasn't set well even when the Democratic majority existed.

Largely we need to do what is being suggested... merging and dissolving departments to cut supervisory rosters... and spur economic vitality in areas that enhance revenues within the current structure.
Some work is being done on all these things through various bills.
- John Edward Mercier, Belmont
Peter B..

a modest 2.5% sales and income tax becomes a 6-8% sales and income tax very quickly.

Don't even start the slide.

You hav fallen for the trap... we need to decide what we want the gov't to provide before we figure out how to pay for it. You just jump to how to pay for what the gov't says we need without questioning what it should provide.
- Chris, Manch

There's a real simple solution to the budget "crisis" in NH and that is for the state to join the 21st century and adopt a modest 2.5% sales tax and an income tax of 2.5%.
- Peter B, Milford

There's an even simpler solution. Spend less.

Btw, if you feel so strongly about the need for a $4.4 Billion budget in a state with a mere 1.4 million people in it go ahead and make a donation. But stop trying to pick my pockets.
- Mark D, Bedford

There's a real simple solution to the budget "crisis" in NH and that is for the state to join the 21st century and adopt a modest 2.5% sales tax and an income tax of 2.5%.
- Peter B, Milford

Springtime and change is in the wind!
- Harry, Atkinson
Two questions:

Where is the $ going to come from?

Before the programs got money,peopel did without. Why can't we go back to then?
- CJ, Bedford
First comment, cool...Wish I could be there in Concord, in person, to tell the truth: WE NEED THOSE CUTS! The NHDHHS budget is bloated pork-pie...Too many "supervisors", and "admin" types. We, the "mentally ill", "disabled", "homeless", etc., we already don't get "squat", why should we worry? All that $TAX$PAYER$ mostly doesn't get to us, anyways...it gets eaten up by "programs", & "services" that are more smoke & mirrors, than actual *HELP*...The "system" is a bloated greed-bag. Trust me, we "disabled"/"mentally ill"/"homeless" will be just fine with these cuts. Screw Gov'ner Lynch-mob & the Dems. CUT THE BLOATED BUDGET!...Notice how NONE of these bleeding-heart LIB-tards EVER suggest just giving that $$$ directly to the "needy"???...That alone could easily save $MILLIONS$...
- Bradford Hutchingson, Jumanjiville/keene

We can't spend what we don't have. Very simple.
- Kathy, Manchester

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"NH House to vote on $10B budget"
By Norma Love, Associated Press, March 27, 2011

CONCORD, N.H.—Republican House budget writers are keeping a promise to get rid of an unpopular $30 motor vehicle registration fee enacted two years ago to solve a budget problem, but acknowledge making up for the lost $90 million in revenues comes with a cost to local road and bridge aid.

It's not just drivers who would feel the bumps if the House's proposed spending plan takes effect.

Thousands of mentally ill adults and children would no longer get services. The needy looking for assistance from their local welfare office might not get it. Hospitals would try to find ways to pass on tens of millions of dollars in reduced state payments for caring for the poor.

The $10.2 billion, two-year budget for the two years beginning July 1 would spend about half a billion dollars less than Democratic Gov. John Lynch proposed. Lynch had proposed cutting spending about 7 percent below the current budget.

House Republican leaders say his revenue estimates are too rosy. Republican House Speaker William O'Brien met with reporters last week to defend the budget as one that meets the needs of New Hampshire residents.

"This budget lives up to our commitment of making government live within its means, not raising taxes and fees and sets us on a path of sustainable spending that encourages growth," he said.

Lynch has been unusually vocal with his criticism of the House budget as making unnecessarily deep cuts that harm New Hampshire's safety net for its poorest residents, saying he is "deeply disturbed" by the direction the House is taking. The House plan also would eliminate money for Lynch's signature dropout prevention program and instead boost spending on charter schools.

The House-proposed spending levels are expected to pass, but the Senate is expected to restore some -- but not all -- of the cuts made in its budget.

Once the Senate adopts its version in June, the two chambers will attempt to negotiate a compromise, but the House has established a strict spending limit that could make agreement difficult if the Senate's plan is more in line with the governor's.

Lynch has not ruled out vetoing a budget he feels is too harsh.

Republican Gov. Craig Benson was the last governor to veto a budget, but not because it spent too little; rather, he felt it spent too much. That forced the state to operate until September 2003 under a continuing resolution. The budget Benson eventually signed spent $314,000 more than the one he vetoed.

Lynch's budget proposal funded most agencies at 95 percent of current spending levels. The House plan not only makes much deeper spending cuts, it also would change a variety of policies -- including those affecting labor, the mentally ill and the destitute -- to implement immediate and long-lasting cuts in services.

The House proposes permanently scaling back services to mentally ill children and adults by ending the mandate they be served regardless of ability to pay and by limiting services to available funding. For the life of the budget, people with less severe mental problems could lose services after four weeks if their condition is stable. Only children with serious emotional disturbances and who have had involvement with several agencies would qualify for state help.

Poor people who turn to their town or city as a last resort for cash assistance may be out of luck if their community's welfare budget has been depleted. The House proposes suspending a two-century old requirement for communities to provide the aid as long as current welfare budget amounts are maintained over the next two years. House budget writers did this so cuts at the state level would not fall on communities, but critics say that leaves people with only family, friends or churches to turn to.

Advocates for groups whose social service programs would be cut are joining forces with labor unions to fight the changes. Several thousand demonstrators are expected to rally against the proposed House budget on Thursday. Some plan to come Wednesday as well since it isn't clear which day the House will vote on the budget package.

Labor unions are galvanized against a proposed policy change that attempts to force public employees to make major concessions at the bargaining table before their contracts expire or become at-will employees, whose wages and benefits can be changed by employers. About 400 union members demonstrated against the proposal inside and outside the budget committee room last week, yelling angrily at committee members who included it in the budget package anyway.

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"NH arts funding would be lost in House budget"
By Kathy McCormack, Associated Press, April 16, 2011

WARNER, N.H.—Money from the state arts council has helped provide for classes at the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum, such as drum-making, pottery and beadwork. It's also kept its admission prices stable for three years.

But the monthly classes could go away and the price -- currently $8.50 for an adult -- would likely go up if the money disappears.

The House has abolished New Hampshire's Department of Cultural Resources in its budget, stripping funding for the arts council and sending divisions such as Film and Television and the Division of Historical Resources to other departments.

The museum has received grants from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts for its operations and exhibits for several years; it received $7,100 during the last fiscal year. The grants are not large amounts, ranging from a few hundred to dollars to up to $15,000. But they fill gaps in arts and cultural organizations' budgets. Plus, the council's fund is matched by dollars from the National Endowment for the Arts, making more money available to applicants. In fiscal year 2010, the state council awarded over $776,000 to 166 organizations.

If the council loses funding, the state would not qualify for any federal arts money; it would go to other states. Nationally, the endowment and other federal arts/cultural agencies have taken hits to their grant-making abilities for the rest of the fiscal year; they face more deep spending cuts in the following budget.

The absence of funds would leave New Hampshire -- one of the first states to support public funding of the arts -- the only state without an arts council, Cultural Resources Director Van McLeod said. In Kansas, legislators recently rejected Gov. Sam Brownback's call to eliminate the state arts commission as a state agency and replace it with a private, nonprofit foundation. But they expect Brownback to veto any state funds for the commission. In Washington state, Gov. Chris Gregoire also has proposed getting rid of the arts commission.

"Without program grant support from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum will not be able to program the Native American arts demonstrations and performances and classes that we currently offer," said Shawn Olson, executive director of the museum in Warner. "The private sector is not doing a lot."

Olson said she recently sent in an application for a grant that would help make the museum's doors accessible to the handicapped. She said it's hard to find a grant program to fund such small-scale projects.

Gov. John Lynch budgeted about $427,000 for the grants for fiscal year 2012, which starts July 1. With the federal match, the amount would double to $854,000. The House budget takes all but $4,700 away, leaving the state with too low a threshold to qualify for the federal money.

"You ask yourself in any budgeting environment, `Is this a core function of government? Is this something that only government can do? Are there other alternatives?' " said Rep. Bill Blevin, R-Amherst, who headed the House Finance division responsible for handling the cultural affairs budget. "If you answer `Yes,' then you're also able to ask a second, and I think very relevant question, `How well do we do this function?'"

Blevin said it's easier to answer those questions for an agency like the Department of Safety, which makes sure state police enforce motor vehicle laws on the highways, for example.

"I think that there are more cautions and concerns when you say `Cultural Resources,' " Blevin said. "Is that a core function of government and how well do we do it?"

The Senate Finance Committee has indicated it doesn't support the breakup of the department, but it has not made a recommendation about the future of the council yet. The Senate has a June 2 deadline to act on the budget.

"The perception is we give money to street musicians," McLeod said. "We don't do that. We really don't even give money to individual artists. There's fellowships we give in recognition of somebody's great work. We also have apprentice programs where kids are learning a tradition, whether it's fly-tying, basketweaving, furniture makers, whatever it may be."

Money goes to schools, hospitals and communities, McLeod said.

In 1931, New Hampshire Gov. John Winant was the first governor to get public funding for the arts, creating an organization that evolved into the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. The arts council was created after the NEA was formed in 1965.

"The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts is a valuable member of a national network of state arts agencies that works in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts," Laura Scanlan, the NEA's director of state and regional partnerships, said in a recent letter to Roger Brooks, head of the council. "We believe that the long-standing partnership between the council and the National Endowment for the Arts has brought substantial benefits to the people of New Hampshire. We hope that the challenges facing the state can be addressed without sacrificing the outstanding programs of its state arts agency."

Joan Chamberlain is the executive director of St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts, which converted a closed church in Berlin to a performance space. Grants from the arts council have helped fund various projects, such as putting seat cushions on the pews.

"People just really don't understand; they think grants are freebies," she said. "They don't realize they are contracts that hold you to very high standards of performance ... you have to work hard and you know you are accountable." Grant applicants also have to come up with business plans to show how they intend to match the amount awarded, she said.

Chamberlain said she knows how to run a lean and mean budget and build partnerships with other funding sources such as businesses and foundations. But St. Kieran recently lost two long-standing business donors because of the economy -- and there just aren't that many donors in the area.

"I didn't foresee this continual closure of businesses up here," she said. "Right now, we're still waiting for the mill to open. We don't know when the federal prison is opening. We don't know if they're closing our state prison. We don't have Shaw's anymore, we don't have (J.C.) Penney's. We're on a downward spiral. ... If businesses aren't coming, all we have is our arts, cultural and natural resources to draw upon; it's all we have."

A study done for the state by Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit group, showed that as of January, New Hampshire is home to about 4,000 arts-related businesses -- about 4 percent of all businesses in the state. They employ about 12,000 people.

"These arts-centric businesses play an important role in building and sustaining economic vibrancy," the study said. "They employ a creative workforce, spend money locally, generate government revenue, and are a cornerstone of tourism and economic development."

The group's research shows that in 2006, about 40 percent of visitors to New Hampshire participated in activities provided by museums, galleries and historic sites, and that 24 percent attended a concert, fair or festival.

Roger Brooks, the council president, said studies done in the Monadnock Region and in Portsmouth show the arts have a strong economic impact in those areas and help build communities.

"We know businesses like to locate and attract good workers in places where the arts flourish," he said.

Looking through her guestbook, Olson noted entries from last summer from visitors as far away as Australia and the Netherlands. They see the museum's sign on Interstate 89 and stop by.

"Personally, I cannot believe that the state legislators don't see that just cutting the arts and tourism budgets, much less eliminating them, is going to severely hurt the entire state of New Hampshire and residents from loss of jobs, drop in tourism with further loss of jobs, and the decrease in our quality of life," she said.

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"State Revenues Fall Nearly $30 Million Below Projections: Governor Says He Will Be Able To Close Shortfall"
WMUR.com - May 2, 2011

CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire's tax receipts for April are disappointing, but Gov. John Lynch said he has a plan to close a potential $47 million shortfall by the end of the fiscal year.

The Democrat said Monday that New Hampshire will have a balanced budget on June 30 thanks to his aggressive management of spending.

Lynch's budget adviser, John Beardmore, said April's revenues were almost $30 million below projections. April's receipts added to the $17 million the state is behind so far this year, bringing the total potential shortfall to $47 million.

Beardmore said Lynch has pushed agencies to spend less and expects to close the gap with less spending, a one-time accounting correction and unspent money in several accounts dedicated to specific purposes, such as making license plates.

Republicans criticized Lynch, saying he should have cut spending more.

"The governor had an opportunity to use responsible and realistic revenue figures like the House budget used, but instead he chose to use numbers that were nearly $300 million higher to hide his greater spending," said Republican State Committee Chairman Jack Kimball.

New Hampshire's total budget for the year is $5.8 billion.

------------

"Budget plan cuts services, 200+ jobs"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, June 17, 2011

CONCORD — Cigarette prices will go down, college tuitions will go up and state services will be cut in the $10.3 billion state budget House and Senate negotiators agreed to Thursday.

The full House and Senate vote next week on whether to approve the two-year spending plan, which was amended at the last minute to include a 10-cent cut in the tobacco tax.

Republicans in the House said the tax cut to $1.68 per pack will spur business at stores along the state’s borders. Critics said it will cost the state $12 million a year in revenue, and that tobacco companies will pump up prices by a dime to negate the break meant for smokers.

Grocers and others pushing the cut say the loss of tax money will be offset by a surge of out-of-state shoppers who come for cheap cigarettes and then buy other items, free of any sales tax.

If tobacco revenues slide, the tax will go up 10 cents in two years.

Overall, spending in the House and Senate bills were similar. Both proposed spending $4.4 billion in state funds through June 30, 2013 — 11 percent less than the current budget — but they allocated the money differently.

The House agreed to many changes the Senate made, including an increase in mental health services, which also reforms the system to allow clinics to help the neediest clients first, disabled services and funding for troubled youth programs.

Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said the budget raises no taxes or fees.

“We’re going to live within our means, and that’s going to be tough,” Morse said. He told a room full of tired lawmakers and lobbyists, “This budget stays true to our resolve to live within our means, reduce spending and reform state government.”

Lynch’s press secretary Colin Manning said the bill will take some time to review before the governor decides how to proceed on it.

“It’s very large and complex, and much of what has been discussed over the last few months is just a fraction of the overall spending,” he said. Lynch has concerns about cuts to higher education, public safety and social services, Manning said. Citing several amendments this week, he said, “we’ll need to analyze what those changes mean to our state government and our people.”

Lynch’s budget, presented in February, proposed total spending $10.7 billion over two years, including $4.7 billion in state revenues. He cut most agencies by about 5 percent. Both the Legislature and Lynch funded adequate education grants at $1.9 billion over two years, including statewide property taxes.

At the end of the two years, Morse said budget projections are that the state will have at least $10 million in reserves. The state is taking all but $700,000 out of its Rainy Day Fund this year to make the current budget balance.

The plan eliminates nearly 1,100 state government positions. Many are vacant, but more than 200 active workers will get laid off. Many others retired early, and still more will be cut as department heads work to find savings they’ve been ordered to make over two years, the State Employees Association said.

Speaker of the House William O’Brien, who angered the Senate by insisting on the tobacco tax cut, said the budget keeps a Republican promise to “show the same discipline and responsibility with taxpayer money that working families across New Hampshire are doing around kitchen tables every day.”

Senate minority leader Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, chided Republicans for their, “self-congratulatory praise over a document that dramatically reduces state services and eliminates hundreds of jobs.”

The budget package had several major changes as it neared the finish line.

Reform of the New Hampshire Retirement System was added, changing its board and blocking an NHRS vote to raise rates for employers as soon as July 1. Lynch vetoed NHRS reforms in Senate Bill 3 Wednesday, knowing they would return in the budget.

The bill now includes revision of the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act, meant to streamline projects along shores of lakes, ponds and rivers.

The reform was in danger of failing because the House tied it to repeal of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which Lynch would have vetoed. Without a new shoreland bill, the state would have reverted to a cumbersome system of regulations that were in place up until 2008.

Rep. Lynne Ober, R-Hudson, who chaired some of the budget talks said, “it would have had a significant impact on jobs if we had not been able to work this out.”

The budget cuts $115 million from charity care aid for hospitals and close to half the state’s support for the university system. Steps toward privatizing the corrections system, higher retirement contributions for all public workers, pension cuts for some, and higher health care costs for retirees are also part of the plan.

The court system alone shed more than 70 workers, including about 30 layoffs, as it restructured its district, probate and family court operations.

------------

"Lynch to allow budget to become law without his signature"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, June 24, 2011

CONCORD - Gov. John Lynch said today he will allow a Republican budget plan for the next two years become law without his signature.

Lynch said that he thinks the budget needs improvement. Republican leaders have said the only changes they will make will be to cut deeper if he vetoes the measure.

If a stalemate develops, the state would face a possible shutdown of state government, with disruptions to public safety and the park system to routine but essential business like driver's license renewals and road repairs.

“This is not a budget I can endorse, and I believe the people of New Hampshire deserve and expect better,” Gov. Lynch said. “This budget puts college out of reach for too many families, jeopardizing our state's successful economic strategy; it will drive up the cost of health care, and put health care at risk for too many of our most vulnerable families; and it undercuts some of the basic workings of state government, impacting the services expected by our citizens.”

The budget passed by veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate on Wednesday, as Republicans voted in a block to pass it and a companion bill that makes legal and policy changes needed for the budget to work.

The $10.2 billion budget package is 11 percent lower than the budget that passed two years ago, but cuts made since June 2009 to balance the budget have narrowed the gap. The cut in spending of state revenues total just over 8 percent.

Lynch said his budget cut would have cut spending by 5 percent. “These additional cuts made by the Legislature clearly do not reform state government or make it more efficient. They are simplistic cuts to our university system, our hospitals and to services many of our most vulnerable citizens rely upon,” he said.

Speaker of the House William O'Brien said he was happy Lynch will not exercise his veto power.

“It is great news for New Hampshire that Governor Lynch realizes the importance of having a budget that lives within our means and delivers tax cuts that will grow our economy,”
he said.

Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, said, “While the Governor will certainly not be awarded any profiles in courage by not signing this budget, we are glad that the he decided not to stand in the way.”

The budget will take effect July 1, when more than 200 state workers will be laid off.

------------

"Despite concerns, N.H. governor won’t veto budget"
By Norma Love, Associated Press, June 25, 2011

CONCORD, N.H. — Governor John Lynch, a Democrat, announced yesterday that he will let a $10.2 billion, Republican-crafted budget for the state become law without his signature.

Advocacy groups with clients who face reduced services and the union representing most state workers had urged Lynch to veto the budget. But Lynch said a veto would not lead to a better budget and could cause government to shut down. Lynch said that he and others raised many concerns during the budget process, which Republican lawmakers ignored.

“Given the Legislature’s rejection of proposed remedies to the problems in the budget, it is clear that a veto would not lead to a better budget,’’ Lynch said in a statement. “Second, there could be serious repercussions to the people of our great state if there is no budget in place on July 1: vital services could be unavailable to our citizens, including everything from driver’s license renewal services, permitting required for businesses and critical road repairs.’’

He said state parks could be closed for the Fourth of July, employees and private contractors would not be paid, and the state’s credit rating could be affected.

House Speaker William O’Brien, a Republican, had tentatively scheduled a session Thursday to vote to override a veto on the two-bill budget package. His office said yesterday after Lynch’s announcement that no session will be held. The Senate said it would not meet, either.

“It is great news for New Hampshire that Governor Lynch realizes the importance of having a budget that lives within our means and delivers tax cuts that will grow our economy,’’ O’Brien, of Mont Vernon, said.

Senate President Peter Bragdon, Republican of Milford, said the budget is balanced and does not raise taxes or fees.

But Lynch outlined a number of objections he had to the budget.

“This budget puts college out of reach for too many families, jeopardizing our state’s successful economic strategy,’’ Lynch said. “It will drive up the cost of health care and put health care at risk for too many of our most vulnerable families and undercuts some of the basic workings of state government, impacting the services expected by our citizens.’’

Lynch had proposed a budget in February that cut most state agency budgets by 5 percent and included a series of changes to improve efficiency, many of which are in the final budget. After accounting for last-minute cuts to bring this year’s budget into balance, the GOP budget funded by state taxes is about 8 percent less than the current two-year budget. Overall spending is about 6 percent less.

He criticized cuts to social services and highway projects.

------------

"NH governor has tax cap bill"
Boston.com - July 5, 2011

CONCORD, N.H.—Gov. John Lynch is deciding what to do with a bill that would allow New Hampshire communities to adopt spending caps.

The bill would allow communities to limit budget increases by setting a percentage or fixed amount of increase to be raised through taxes above what was raised the previous year.

Supporters argue the measure will give taxpayers control over local budgets.

Critics say caps lock in spending levels regardless of unforeseen circumstances.

The bill would allow communities to override the caps.

Lynch has until midnight Wednesday (July 6, 2011) to act.

------------

"NH workers approve contract to save state $50M"
Boston.com - August 30, 2011

CONCORD, N.H. — Members of the labor union representing most of New Hampshire's 11,000 state workers have ratified a contract that saves the state $50 million and avoids 500 layoffs.

The State Employees' Association said the two-year agreement will preserve critical public services at a great cost to union members' personal finances.

The contract contains no cost of living raises and increases workers' share of health care costs. It also includes seniority provisions in personnel rules that the Republican Legislature suspended in the state budget.

The state budget required Gov. John Lynch to save $50 million in personnel costs, with $20 million coming from state funded accounts, and to implement the savings by Sept. 1. Otherwise, the governor had to cut labor costs by Dec. 1.

The union announced the ratification Monday night.

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"NH revenues up $9M in August"
Boston.com - September 2, 2011

CONCORD, N.H.—New Hampshire's tax receipts for August are about $9 million ahead of estimates, but Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon says it is too early to tell if the trend will continue.

August is a relatively small revenue month for the state. Total receipts were $109 million with business taxes providing one-quarter of the money. The small gain means the state is about $5 million ahead of projections for the fiscal year, but revenues are lower than for the same period last year.

Hodgdon said receipts from tobacco taxes were slightly higher than expected, but sales have declined overall about 20 percent over the past five years. New Hampshire cut its tax a dime, but manufacturers about that time raised their prices 9 cents.

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I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at jonathan_a_melle@yahoo.com

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Mayor Jimmy Ruberto

Mayor Jimmy Ruberto
Tanked Pittsfield's local economy while helping his fellow insider political hacks and business campaign contributors!

Journalist Andrew Manuse

Journalist Andrew Manuse
www.manuse.com

New Hampshire Supreme Court Building

New Hampshire Supreme Court Building
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hampshire_Supreme_Court

Economic State of the Union

Economic State of the Union
A look at some of the economic conditions the Obama administration faces and what resources have already been pledged to help. 2/24/2009

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama
The president addresses the nation's governors during a dinner in the State Dinning Room, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari).

The Oscars - 2/22/2009.

The Oscars - 2/22/2009.
Hugh Jackman and Beyoncé Knowles teamed up for a musical medley during the show.

The 81st Academy Awards - Oscars - 2009

The 81st Academy Awards - Oscars - 2009
Hugh Jackman pulled actress Anne Hathaway on stage to accompany him during his opening musical number.

Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow
A Progressive News Commentator

$500,000 per year

$500,000 per year
That is chump change for the corporate elite!

THE CORPORATE ELITE...

THE CORPORATE ELITE...
Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric

The Presidents' Club

The Presidents' Club
Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton & Carter.

5 Presidents: Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton, & Carter!

5 Presidents: Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton, & Carter!
White House Event: January 7, 2009.

Bank Bailout!

Bank Bailout!
v taxpayer

Actress Elizabeth Banks

Actress Elizabeth Banks
She will present an award to her hometown (Pittsfield) at the Massachusetts State House next month (1/2009). She recently starred in "W" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," and just signed a $1 million annual contract to be a spokesmodel for Paris.

Joanna Lipper

Joanna Lipper
Her award-winning 1999 documentary, "Growing Up Fast," about teenaged mothers in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Happy Holidays...

Happy Holidays...
...from "Star Wars"

Massachusetts "poor" economy

Massachusetts "poor" economy
Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest states, but it is also very inequitable. For example, it boasts the nation's most lucrative lottery, which is just a system of regressive taxation so that the corporate elite get to pay less in taxes!

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon
Hollywood Actress

Peter G. Arlos.

Peter G. Arlos.
Arlos is shown in his Pittsfield office in early 2000.

Turnpike OK's hefty toll hikes

Turnpike OK's hefty toll hikes
Big Dig - East-west commuters take hit; Fees at tunnels would double. 11/15/2008.

The Pink Panther 2

The Pink Panther 2
Starring Steve Martin

Police ABUSE

Police ABUSE
I was a victim of Manchester Police Officer John Cunningham's ILLEGAL USES of FORCE! John Cunningham was reprimanded by the Chief of Police for disrespecting me. John Cunningham yelled at a witness: "I don't care if he (Jonathan Melle) is disabled!"

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
The 44th US President!

Vote

Vote
Elections

The Bailout & the economic stimulus check

The Bailout & the economic stimulus check
A political cartoon by Dan Wasserman

A rainbow over Boston

A rainbow over Boston
"Rainbows galore" 10/2/2008

Our nation's leaders!

Our nation's leaders!
President Bush with both John McCain & Barack Obama - 9/25/2008.

Massachusetts & Big Dig: Big hike in tolls for Pike looming (9/26/2008).

Massachusetts & Big Dig: Big hike in tolls for Pike looming (9/26/2008).
$5 rise at tunnels is one possibility $1 jump posed for elsewhere.

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
My FAVORITE Journalist EVER!

9/11/2008 - A Show of Unity!

9/11/2008 - A Show of Unity!
John McCain and Barack Obama appeared together at ground zero in New York City - September 11, 2008.