In recent days, Republicans on the budget Committee of Conference finalized a budget proposal that is unbalanced and dishonest about what it funds. It also includes unpaid-for corporate tax cuts, creating a hole in this budget and in future budgets at the expense of critical economic priorities. For these reasons and more, I will veto their budget if it reaches my desk.
What this means is that the legislature needs to return to work immediately, prepare a continuing resolution that will fund state government in the short-term, and get back to the table and negotiate in good faith to develop a bipartisan budget that is fiscally responsible and that supports the priorities needed to keep New Hampshire's economy moving forward.
To keep our economy moving in the right direction, I proposed a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that was transparent and honest about how we would support critical economic priorities without an income or a sales tax. The plan that I proposed clearly set those economic priorities, including making higher education more affordable, strengthening public safety, ensuring access to affordable health care, and repairing our roads and bridges.
I have been at the table with Republican leadership and have been clear throughout the budget process about how we can achieve a bipartisan budget that addresses our shared priorities. Unfortunately, Republican leadership has refused to compromise on any of the major issues — most critically on a responsible way to pay for their unfunded tax cuts for mostly big corporations.
Instead, their fiscally irresponsible approach undermines our economic future by giving unpaid-for tax cuts to big corporations, mostly headquartered out-of-state, that will create a hole in this budget and a more than $90 million hole in future budgets. It puts big, out-of-state corporate interests ahead of New Hampshire's families, small businesses and economy, and only one percent of businesses – many of which are large multi-state corporations – would receive more than 75 percent of the benefits from the proposed rate reduction.
The Republican budget also fails to reauthorize our bipartisan health care expansion plan, even though leaders from both parties, the business community and the health care industry agree that it has been successful. This leaves more than 40,000 hard-working Granite Staters at risk of losing their coverage and creates uncertainty for all businesses and consumers.
And the Republican budget fails to live up to the fair contract negotiated in good faith with our dedicated public employees.
At the same time, the Republican budget is left unbalanced by relying on misleading budget gimmicks. It uses money from fiscal year 2015 that is already designated to pay this year's bills, and it does not honestly fund the services we all agree are essential to our people, families and businesses.
Without a plan for how we would pay for Republicans' corporate tax cuts now and in the future, we cannot sufficiently support the shared priorities that we all agree on. These are the priorities that are critical to our small businesses and families, and they are the priorities that businesses tell me are critical to their ability to grow, to thrive and to create jobs.
While maintaining our low-tax environment — which the Tax Foundation ranked as the seventh-best in the country in its business tax climate index — is critical, low taxes alone will not move our economy forward. We must also continue supporting priorities such as a strong and healthy workforce, a modern transportation infrastructure, and safe communities. Nothing in my budget proposal would jeopardize New Hampshire's status as having one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, but unlike the Republican budget, it responsibly and transparently supports critical economic priorities.
By failing to pay for their corporate tax cuts, the Republican budget is setting our state on a perilous fiscal path. It will make college tuition more expensive. It will hurt our ability to ensure that workers can access health care without financial ruin. It will lead to unplowed, unsafe roads for commuters and businesses. And it will not adequately address substance misuse even as we are in the midst of a heroin crisis.
Our families deserve better. Our businesses deserve better. And the hard-working people of the Granite State deserve better.
Republicans need to join me in putting New Hampshire's families, businesses and economic interests first, and I invite them to join me and follow the example of the people of New Hampshire, who work together to improve their communities every day. That's what Granite Staters deserve from their elected leaders.
(Democrat Maggie Hassan of Exeter is the governor of New Hampshire.)
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