Last week, House and Senate negotiators met to finalize the state budget for the next two years. I was appointed to the negotiating committee–the only Democrat– for both budget bills.
There is much important funding in the $13B budget, particularly in the health and human services area. However, I was removed from the committees because I wouldn’t go along with the Republicans on their “Robinhood in Reverse” budget that helps those most who are least in need:
– This bill reduces or repeals several taxes to the benefit primarily of the largest multi-national corporations and the wealthiest people in New Hampshire and the eventual detriment of everybody else.
– Over the next 6 years, I believe these tax reductions will cause either increased local property taxes or harmful reductions in municipal services that will risk public safety.
– The budget underfunds public education, especially in the property-poorest districts, exacerbating the achievement gap and further burdening property taxpayers while giving a tax break to wealthy towns.
– The budget contains the most expansive school voucher program in the country, sending our tax dollars to private and religious schools, homeschool families, and unregulated for-profit companies.
– The Republicans cut funding to homeless shelter contracts, making worse a state-wide crisis that was already an emergency before the pandemic.
– The final budget agreement removed the adult dental benefit for Medicaid that 34 other states offer. This benefit was the result of significant work and compromise with my Senate Republican colleagues and is a major goal of health care providers and the families of thousands of potential beneficiaries.
– The budget contains an anti-American gag on free speech that will harm our communities and lead only to expensive litigation. This gag rule is opposed by faith leaders, business leaders, education leaders, the head of our largest law enforcement agency, and even the agency asked to enforce it.
– The budget contains a completely unrelated ban on certain abortions that threatens to jail doctors and puts up unnecessary, expensive barriers to patients accessing care. The budget also underfunds cancer screenings and contraceptives for 15,000 residents