A good budget: Look what compromise did
The House and Senate vote this week on a compromise state budget that holds the line on spending and taxes despite the best efforts of Gov. Maggie Hassan to push both to levels the state cannot afford. Legislators should pass it without hesitation.
Legislators will vote on a $10.7 billion budget rather than the $11 billion budget proposed by the House or the $11.1 billion budget proposed by Gov. Hassan. That is a testament to the steadfast insistence of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Morse and Senate President Peter Bragdon that revenue estimates not be inflated and tax increases not be accepted.
The House also did the public a huge service when it refused to base budget increases on unpredictable casino gambling revenue.
This budget could be better, as all budgets could. It throws another $100 million at the University System of New Hampshire, and it spends surplus revenue from this fiscal year that could have been saved or spent on other priorities than a 6 percent raise for state employees.
But those are relatively small quibbles in a $10.7 billion spending plan that does not raise the gas tax or tobacco tax beyond what existing law already called for, does not obligate the state to expand Medicaid, and yet fully funds core state services to the point that even liberal House lawmakers say it is a good budget. All sides wound up compromising, and the result was quite positive.
There will never be enough money to fund every worthy project. The trick is to fund the necessary ones at the smallest possible burden to the people. This budget does a pretty good job of financing the needs while not increasing the tax burden. There is no good reason not to pass it.