Yearly Archives: 2015

06Jul/15

Magical thinking in Republican budget will turn NH into Kansas

By N.H. SEN. ANDREW HOSMER and REP. CINDY ROSENWALD | Jul 01, 2015

We stand with Gov. Hassan in her decision to veto the fiscally irresponsible and unbalanced Republican budget, which we can only describe as a trail of false promises.

You may have heard Republicans claim that their budget increases funding for critical priorities like substance abuse treatment, mental health services and our seniors. But there’s one very big problem. Republicans’ fiscally irresponsible budget isn’t actually balanced, placing every single one of those priorities – and more – at risk.

This budget overpromises and under-delivers. Our Republican colleagues know that their budget doesn’t actually do what they say it does, but that doesn’t seem to bother them.

Instead of making tough choices and being honest with the people of New Hampshire about what their budget actually funds, Republicans would rather pass a budget riddled with magical thinking and false promises.

Republicans know that because their budget is unbalanced as written, they are simply passing the buck onto state agencies who will inevitably have to decide what critical services to cut down the road to keep the state in the black.

Even worse, their budget hurts our state’s long-term economic outlook by including unpaid-for tax giveaways for big corporations that will blow a $90 million hole in future budgets.

By blowing a massive hole in future budgets, it will be impossible for our state to invest in critical priorities like holding the down the cost of tuition, maintaining safe roads and bridges, and ensuring access to affordable health care.

We don’t have to guess what would happen as a result of these large, unpaid-for tax giveaways. We only need to look at the example of other states across the country, particularly Kansas.

The governor of Kansas proudly declared that his state was a real-world experiment in trickle-down, Koch Brothers’ economics when he pushed through massive, unpaid-for tax giveaways in his state.

What resulted? The state teetered on a fiscal cliff, deficits exploded, bond ratings sank, and none of the economic benefits that were promised actually materialized.

From Kansas to New Jersey to Louisiana and Wisconsin, we’ve seen what happens as a result of unpaid-for tax giveaways: first, deficits balloon, and then critical economic priorities must be cut.

New Hampshire’s economic outlook is promising. In 2014, New Hampshire’s economy grew the fastest in New England and faster than the national average. Not to mention that our unemployment rate is fifth lowest in the country, and our businesses have recovered all of the jobs lost in the recession – and then some.

This is the time to build on our progress by investing in our people and businesses, not let Republicans turn us into Kansas.

House and Senate Democrats will continue to stand with Gov. Hassan as we fight together for a responsible budget that is balanced and that will live up to the promises we make to our families and our businesses.

Rather than repeating the mistakes of states like Kansas, we encourage our Republican colleagues to come to the table and negotiate in good faith so that we can pass a responsible budget that will build on our economic progress and move our state forward.

13Apr/15

Budget is a twisted tale of Broken Promises

The Telegraph
Sunday, April 5, 2015

Budget is a twisted tale

The House Republican budget is a twisted tale of broken promises. It breaks its word to voters, to taxpayers, to employers and employees, to the elderly, to people with mental illness or disabilities, and to our state’s future. It is a budget with shocking and Dickensian assaults on our economy and our citizens.

The Republican majority made a public promise at the beginning of the session that their budget would not raid dedicated funds, downshift costs to local taxpayers, or use other budget gimmicks. Their budget breaks all three promises.

In a dazzling money grab, this budget raids $51 million dollars from the Renewable Energy Fund. This money, collected from ratepayers, is dedicated to helping municipalities, businesses and individuals lower their energy costs.

As the majority’s budget passes down costs in the millions to counties for long-term care, it breaks its promise not to downshift to local taxpayers. Adding to the $12 million in downshifts to county property taxpayers are the yet-undetermined costs to municipal taxpayers that will result from deep cuts in safety net programs. Property taxpayers will be left holding the bag for these broken promises.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the O’Brien-Jasper budget’s broken promises is their decision to empty the state’s Rainy Day Fund. According to the state treasurer, such a move could jeopardize New Hampshire’s credit rating, which has recently improved. In a growing economy, wiping out our emergency savings account is completely irresponsible.

We have a long-standing social commitment to our elders who helped ensure the previous generation could live their lives with security and dignity, with the trust that we would do the same. Yet this budget reduces the level of important services for frail seniors, putting their safety at risk.

We have a social commitment, also, to individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness. This budget reduces funding below current levels and cuts back on mental health treatment and services. As a result, vulnerable populations will find themselves pitted against each other as they struggle to gain access to critical services without adequate funding.

Our business community has been clear that they need a healthy workforce and they are sick of the impact on their insurance premiums that comes from uncompensated care costs. The failure to extend the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan breaks our promise to help reduce uncompensated care. It also leaves almost 40,000 Granite Staters out in the cold when their insurance is cancelled next year.

This budget won’t promote economic development or attract youth to the state – two promises that we cannot break if we are to commit ourselves to a prosperous New Hampshire. The budget passed by the House is a budget so filled with broken promises as to shatter our prospects for a better tomorrow. We must hope that the Senate takes a different approach, and works across party lines to pass the kind of responsible budget that our future is counting on.

14Feb/15

State Finances Can’t Depend on Unstable Currency –Union Leader op-ed

SINCE REGAINING the majority in the New Hampshire House of Representatives last November, the Republican leadership has promised responsible fiscal stewardship. Arguably, however, the most fiscally irresponsible bill this year is sponsored by Republican legislators. House Bill 552 would require the state to accept the digital currency bitcoin as payment for taxes and fees.Many people have never even heard of Bitcoin. It is a virtual currency introduced in 2009. Unlike major currencies, however, such as the dollar or euro, it has no central repository, and it is extremely volatile. From a high of $900 in late 2013, the value of a bitcoin has dropped to its current value of $224. That’s a drop in the value of the currency of 75 percent in less than a year!It would be supremely irresponsible for the State of New Hampshire to gamble with the public’s money by taking payments in such an unstable currency. Right now, New Hampshire’s cash reserves are approximately $160 million. Imagine if, all of a sudden, that reserve was worth 70 percent less. It would become more expensive to pay our financial obligations, for example, on our $1.6 billion of bond debt.Bond rating agencies look for stability and prudent fiscal policy. New Hampshire’s bond rating outlook was just improved to “stable” by Standard & Poor’s, due in large part to the settlement of a large hospital lawsuit. Currently, our average interest rate on outstanding general obligation debt issued in the last 10 years is just over 3 percent. This rate is based in large part on our bond ratings. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to imagine our bond ratings not being downgraded if our cash flow was dependent on such a volatile currency!Our financial obligations are not only to our debt service. We have 15,000 state employees whose families’ security depends on their paychecks not bouncing. We send money to our local communities to help pay for schools. We pay contracts to thousands of outside companies as well, and we also have financial obligations such as for rent and to the utility companies for lights and heat on 3.4 million square feet of building space.Imagine if we had to meet all these obligations and were doing so based on revenue collected that could be worth significantly less the day after it was received.The New Hampshire House has a long history of working hard to build responsible, frugal budgets that deliver essential services without overburdening taxpayers. Accepting tax and fee payments in bitcoin is not in keeping with responsible fiscal stewardship.We cannot afford to take our bonds to market with a scheme to pay the debt in a currency CNN recently termed “worse than the Russian ruble.” We cannot pay our employees with what Bloomberg has called “the worst currency of 2014.” Our state can and must be governed responsibly if we are to retain our New Hampshire Advantage.

09Feb/15

From the Nashua Telegraph, setting the record straight on the budget deficit myth

Friday, February 6, 2015

Republicans promote myth of $800M deficit

Letter to the Editor

Republicans have been telling a story for five years that when they took over the legislature in 2010, they were stuck with an $800 million deficit left by the Democrats.

This story is a myth. The truth is that biennial state budgets are always balanced; it is required by law. As PolitiFact verified back in 2012, there never was a Democratic deficit in 2011. PolitiFact confirms that the budget Rep. Bill Ohm refers to in his recent letter (“Nashua rep fires back at letter-writing critic,” Jan. 30) left a $17 million surplus at the end of the biennium.

So if Democrats leaving the state budget with a $17 million surplus is the truth, where does the deficit myth come from? The $800 million Rep. Ohm refers to was additional federal funding, not part of the state budget. This was extra money all states received to help stabilize critical services during the Great Recession.

Every biennial state budget is balanced. In 2011, there was a $17 million surplus; the next budget had a surplus of $15 million. This budget will be balanced as well.

Governor Maggie Hassan has been working hard throughout the biennium, taking steps such as hiring freezes and directing budget cuts to meet bipartisan, legislatively-directed spending. A change in federal law governing Medicaid eligibility has also led to increased costs on the state level for low-income children and pregnant women.

The budget deficit myth of 2011 may have been a good story, but it just isn’t supported by the facts. The truth is that every two years the House and Senate work hard and produce a balanced budget. It’s what we do. It’s what we must do.

Rep. Cindy Rosenwald

Nashua