To The Daily Sun,
In a letter published Sept. 8, state Rep. Peter J. Spanos calls for readers to urge their lawmakers to override Gov. Hassan's budget veto. He writes, "we clearly understand that politics is quite often an agenda and ego-driven pursuit, there comes a time to put personal ambitions aside for the betterment of our great state".
I could not agree more Rep. Spanos. You are right. This is not the time for the New Hampshire GOP to play charades over unfunded business tax cuts as well as hide and seek with the state budget in a not-so-subtle attempt to smoke out Gov Hassan's political intentions. Even GOP leaders Sen. Morse and Rep. Jasper acknowledge we cannot expect a surge in new business from the proposed tax cuts revenue that would offset the Business Enterprise Tax and Business Profits Tax losses. Taxes are well down the list behind infrastructure, school quality, health care, and a trained workforce when businesses look at relocating: the very things put in jeopardy by this budget gamesmanship.
Rep. Spanos writes, "We deserve nothing less than a fighting chance to safeguard generations to come from burdensome debt that is sure to result from the bloated and unbalanced state budget proposed by the governor and the Democratic Party."
Rep. Spanos knows full well that Gov. Hassan's budget is balanced, her compromise budget even includes the tax cuts but they are paid for. Rep. Spanos should know that the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute has projected that the proposed GOP unfunded tax cuts will "not only reduce revenue by more than $20 million in the upcoming biennium, but also, by FY 2020, will drain more than $100 million out of each biennial budget.
Indeed, such tax cuts, when coupled with the conferees' use of temporary sources of revenue like the carry forward of $49 million in FY 2015 surplus, will leave a sizable hole in the FY 2018-19 budget for the next cohort of legislators to fill."
The impact on people's daily lives and health, on state agencies' ability to plan and on cities' and towns' decisions about services is severe and far-reaching as a result of the GOP proposed budget. Rep. Spanos, what about those in our great state who deal with mental health issues, drug abuse issues, elder need issues, domestic abuse issues, who travel on crumbling roads and bridges, and who require assistance for continuing education? Don't they all deserve a fighting chance as well to safeguard their lives and futures?
Consider a 10-bed mental health crisis unit at N.H.State Hospital that will now not open in the fall, due to the stalemate. As of late last month, there were 21 people on the waiting list for the too-few beds there. Consider our drug abuse and heroin crises are spiraling out of control with more than 200 drug overdose deaths so far this year after 300 drug-related deaths in all of 2014.
Consider the DOT has had to delay much needed work on the Everett and Spaulding turnpikes and is fretting over winter planning. Consider the burden on cities and towns who are worried that, once they set tax rates, they will be forced to curtail services if the budget numbers change later in the year and additionally have further expense downshifted to them.
The shell game of Medicaid expansion should stop as well. For Senate Finance Committee Chair Forrester to say, "We're waiting for a track record to see that the program is working" is to ignore raw facts. Over 40,000 New Hampshire residents, with incomes under $15,900 a year, have signed up for these benefits; benefits that currently cost New Hampshire nothing. Medicaid expansion has saved New Hampshire hospitals, as individuals showing up in emergency rooms without health insurance has dropped by 22 percent and hospitals have seen a 28 percent decline in admissions of uninsured patients. Medicaid is the primary payer for mental health services, so combine a lack of beds with a lack of coverage and our state's mental health care crisis just gets worse. Is this what the Republicans really want for New Hampshire?
The budget cast by Senators Morse, Bradley and Forrester and Reps. Jasper, Flanagan and Kurk is putting lives at risk, quality of life on the line and state services in jeopardy in order to offer unfunded tax cuts that the experts say will only reduce much needed revenue. On the contrary Rep. Spanos, I urge my lawmakers to accept Gov. Hassan's compromise budget.