Op-Ed: The state budget is “the cruelest”



This week, the NH House and Senate will vote on the final version of the state’s biennial budget. This will be my sixth vote on the budget. I saw good and bad.

But I’ve never seen the likes of it.

Good budgets use disposable income to maintain and improve state infrastructure, fund services for our most vulnerable citizens at levels that support their needs, contribute significantly to the education of our children in the city. kindergarten to middle school and share resources with cities and towns to ease our property tax burden.

The bad guys are doing a lot of cuts – corporate taxes, which cuts income, then funding for other things, because we “don’t have enough income, and we just can’t afford it.” “.

My first budget, in 2011, was the O’Brien budget. The Republicans were in control. The cuts in revenues and services have been so severe that it has taken years for the state to recover. The day of the budget vote saw the biggest protest ever against the State House. I remember the cheerful response of several of my fellow Republicans as they stared out the window. “We can hear you, but we are not listening! ”

Governor Lynch refused to sign it. The state’s hospitals and mental health system both sued and won. Our municipalities are still reeling from the cuts in state contributions to the pension system. Some state departments have still not managed to catch up.

Things were a little different in 2013. Democrats were in the majority in the House, Republicans in the Senate. This budget vote was unprecedented. It was passed unanimously in the Senate, almost in the House. It was a decent bipartisan budget, with good compromises.

The next time around, the Republicans were in control again, and the budget again cut corporate tax rates. The cuts became controversial when it was determined that they would create a significant revenue hole and tie the hands of future budget writers. The governor vetoed it, but a compromise was eventually found when a trigger to prevent cuts under certain circumstances was agreed.

In 2015, the Republican-controlled House was unable to pass a budget, when the so-called Freedom Caucus flexed its muscles. The tax and spending cuts weren’t big enough for this Free State crew, and it was up to the Senate to do the job.

I’m really trying, but I find it hard to understand why Republicans seem to think lowering business taxes is always the wisest course of action. Our rates are already low. In fact, the Conservative Tax Foundation ranks us 6e best in the country. Add to this the fact that, according to the NH Tax Administration Department, a huge 81% of NH companies do not pay state corporation tax and you must be wondering who is profiting here.

I can kind of understand the push when times are tough, but I’m totally stumped in the good times. It’s not like we can’t use the revenues to help solve some of the major crises facing the state – funding schools, for example, or bridges on the red list. Mental health services, drug addiction treatment, help in towns and villages, services for the elderly and disabled… the list goes on.

It’s like I got a nice raise, but then decided to cut back on my hours even though the house needs a new roof and the kids need new shoes. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

I was proud to vote for the budget for the last term. He used the resources we had to shoulder our responsibilities, took care of our most vulnerable, solved the mental health crisis, gave money back to towns and villages to help them cut spending and included the largest increase in education funding in over 25 years, among many other things. The governor vetoed it due, of course, to problems with lower corporate tax rates, but in the end a compromise was found. The governor thought it was so good that he personally handed over giant checks to towns and villages.

And then there’s this year’s budget.

This budget is by far the most extreme and cruel of any I have seen so far.

And that has nothing to do with corporate tax cuts — of course there are — or the amount of money spent, although there are issues there as well. Instead, it has everything to do with budget writers breaking with a long-standing practice that the budget is all about finances.

In 2017, the far right of the Republican caucus flexed its claws and the House failed to pass its budget. This “Freedom Caucus” is now much bigger and more powerful. In order to get this budget passed, House leaders included social policy issues that could not be passed by the House as stand-alone bills.

This is the same Freedom Caucus that refused to wear masks in House sessions because the government cannot force them to do so. Those who have introduced bills to ban mandatory vaccinations because it is government abuse.

Yet to appease them, this budget will force a woman to carry a dead fetus to term if she learns of this devastating diagnosis in her 25e week of pregnancy.

To appease them, a 13-year-old victim of incest or rape will be forced to undergo invasive medical intervention and pay for it herself before she can terminate her pregnancy, even in the early stages of her pregnancy.

I cannot imagine the agony this will cause these women and their families.

The same Freedom Caucus pulls out its copy of the Constitution at every opportunity, to talk about their Second Amendment rights.

But to appease them, this budget considerably limits the first the rights of teachers and other public servants to amend by including language prohibiting them from discussing matters that this caucus finds offensive or “divisive.”

And by including the education vouchers bill in the budget, taxpayers will be forced to pay for the religious education of children, which is expressly prohibited in Part 2, Article 83 of the state constitution. .

The Freedom Caucus. Whose freedom, exactly? The inconsistency and hypocrisy are glaring. Will these radical inclusions remain in the Granite State? After all, we claim to be the Live Free or Die state.

If this budget is passed, the long-term repercussions will be significant. I’m afraid we can never get over it.

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