UPDATED: House, Senate agree on capital budget, including new $38 million women's prison
CONCORD – House and Senate negotiators have a tentative agreement on a $125 million capital budget with the largest item $38 million for a new women's prison in Concord.
A new women's prison has been the Department of Corrections' top priority for some time, but lawmakers have failed to agree on a new facility until this year. The state faces a lawsuit claiming female prisoners do not receive the same level of services as men.
The House agreed to the Senate's proposed $10 million for a new software system for the Liquor Commission to process credit cards. The software would be paid for by liquor revenues, not state general funds.
The House's chief negotiator, Public works and Highways Committee Chair David Campbell, D-Nashua, said legislators talked to the state treasurer to be sure there was enough bonding capacity in the liquor enterprise fund to pay for the project.
The bonds will also pay for three new liquor stores in Salem, Epping and Warner, and major renovations to the I-95 stores in Hampton.
The House also agreed to the Senate's plan to repair the North Hampton seawall this year rather than over several years.
The projected cost of $4.7 million will cover half the money coming from the Hampton Beach parking meter fund.
Both sides believe this is a good capital budget, Campbell said.
The House and Senate agreed the University System of New Hampshire capital projects would receive $8 million but did not designate two University of New Hampshire projects as the Senate had proposed.
The Community College System of New Hampshire would receive $13 million for capital projects under the agreement.
The capital budget includes $5 million for the state's match for a $25 million federal TIGER Grant application for repairs to the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Portsmouth. Maine is also expected to approve $5 million for its share of the match.
And there is $10.4 million for a new Marine Patrol headquarters on Lake Winnipesauke in the capital budget.
The plan also includes $1 million for a new voting system for the House and communications software for the House and Senate.