Budget 2018-2019

LFDA Editor

Gov. Christopher Sununu on Feb. 9, in an address to a joint session of the Legislature, offered an $12.1 billion budget for the upcoming biennium. It suggests increases in spending of 2.2 percent in fiscal year 2018 (July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018) and a 1.2 percent increase in fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019).

The proposed budget is $800 million more than the current $11.3 billion budget that ends on June 30. The governor said he and his budget writers used "conservative revenue projections" and that spending in the two fiscal years would be based only on the revenue raised during those two fiscal years. Those revenue projections estimate 2.5 percent growth in fiscal 2018 and 2 percent growth in fiscal 2019.

Here are some of the highlights, as articulated by Sununu during his budget address:

  • The budget seeks to boost the economy with an emphasis on small businesses;
  • There will be a new Department of Natural and Cultural Resources;
  • The budget contains funding for full-day kindergarten statewide and more money for charter schools;
  • The University System of New Hampshire will be flat funded, while the Community College System funding will be increased;
  • A $5 million scholarship fund will be created for New Hampshire students wishing to attend New Hampshire colleges and universities;
  • The staffing and program shortfalls in the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, criticized in a report, will be addressed;
  • A workforce initiative program of $5 million will seek to address a shortfall of health care-related workers;
  • Addressing high energy rates, Sununu proposed more relief for low-income residents;
  • An infrastructure restoration fund will make grants available to cities and towns to fix local roads and bridges;
  • Quarterly reports will be expected to monitor Medicaid costs;
  • To address the opioid crisis, more money will fund law enforcement, treatment, and recovery, which includes doubling the Alcohol Fund, hiring 10 state troopers (five in each fiscal year) dedicated to drug interdiction, and establishing funding for Granite Hammer law enforcement efforts against heroin trafficking.

Here is a transcript of Sununu's speech, annotated by New Hampshire Public Radio.

Following are various iterations of the budget:
Operating budget broken down by department
Operating budget complete (PDF)
Capital budget (PDF)
Executive budget summary (PDF)
Operating budget detail in Excel

The budget package from the Republican governor will be reviewed by a Republican-controlled House and Senate in the weeks ahead. For Democrats, the budget falls short in places.

Senate Democrats were critical of the governor not fully funding the alcohol fund used for opioid addiction treatment and recovery programs in the state. The fund was originally established to receive 5 percent of revenues from the N.H. Liquor Commission. Lawmakers in recent years scaled that back to 1.7 percent. Sununu's budget does double it to 3.4 percent, but Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn, D-Whitefield, said, "We need to find out why Governor Sununu chose not to fully fund the alcohol fund, which supports our effort to combat this crisis.”

House Democrats were also critical of Sununu's decision to use $5 million to create the Governor's Scholarship Fund, rather than increasing funding for the state's university system. They also said his kindergarten proposal does not guarantee the program for all schools. He said in his budget address the proposal "will provide financial support to communities that choose to support and create full-day kindergarten programs."

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

Did not pass House

2018-2019 state budget bill. The House of Representatives failed to pass this bill, so the Senate added the budget to a different bill, HB 144.

Did not pass House

2018-2019 state budget bill (part 2). The House of Representatives failed to pass this bill, so the Senate added the budget to a different bill, HB 517.

Passed House

Makes appropriations for capital improvements (e.g. roof replacements, HVAC upgrades, etc.) for the next two fiscal years.

Passed Committee

Changes the annual county budget procedures for Rockingham County to match those used in Hillsborough County. Since the House failed to pass the 2018-2019 budget bill HB 1, the Senate is amending this bill into a new budget bill.

Passed Committee

Establishes a Bureau of Health and Benefits; a Bureau of Property, Casualty and Workers' Compensation; and a Bureau of Finance; all within the Department of Administrative Services Risk Management Unit. This bill also clarifies the duties of the Risk Management Unit, Division of Personnel, and office of the commissioner. Since the House failed to pass the 2018-2019 budget bill HB 2, the Senate is amending this bill into a new budget bill.

What do you think should take priority in the next budget?

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Issue Status

The full House failed April 6 to approve its version of the state budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Despite a Republican majority, the budget, as recommended by the House Finance Committee, could not muster enough votes because of opposition by Democrats, who wanted more spending in certain areas, and by conservative Republicans, who wanted less spending in all facets of the budget.

The House Finance Committee had recommended Gov. Christopher Sununu's $12.1 billion budget recommendation be trimmed to $11.9 billion. Among the items House budget writers suggested removing from the budget were money to fund Sununu's proposal to fund all-day kindergarten at public schools throughout the state and his scholarship program for New Hampshire high school students to attend the state's public colleges and universities. Democrats in the House wanted that money restored, while the conservatives who make up the so-called Freedom Caucus wanted a 1 percent reduction in spending by every state agency.

The budget goes to the Senate without a House version, meaning the bulk of the work on the biennial spending and revenue package, due to begin on July1, will be left to the upper chamber.

 

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