Gov. Christopher Sununu on June 28 signed the $11.7 billion budget that runs from July 1, 2017 until June 30, 2019. It passed the Legislature, largely along party lines, on June 22.
“Granite Staters deserve results, and I am proud to say that we have delivered a fiscally responsible budget filled with bold, innovative ideas that meets the needs of New Hampshire’s citizens,” he said in a statement.
As originally drafted, HB 144 changes the annual county budget procedures for Rockingham County to match those used in Hillsborough County. Since the House failed to pass the 2018-2019 budget bill HB 1, the Senate amended this bill into a new budget bill. HB 517 was also amended since HB 2, the other budget bill, also failed to pass the House.
History of the 2018-2019 Budget
In February, Sununu originally offered a $12.1 billion budget that included funding for a variety of programs, including full-day kindergarten, mental health programs, addressing shortfalls at the Division of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), scholarship money for in-state high school graduates to attend state colleges and univertieis, and business tax cuts. Among the items missing in the final budget is kindergarten funding, which was handled separately with approval of a plan to fund the program with revenue from Keno.
The House Finance Committee had recommended an $11.9 million budget, but the budget recommendation never went to a full House vote because conservative Republicans didn't think the spending cuts went far enough, while House Democrats felt spending cuts went too far.
The N.H. Senate on May 31 approved its own version of the budget for $11.8 billion in spending.
In June, a committee of conference, made up of House and Senate members, approved a final $11.7 billion spending measure, which was signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu.
Contents of the 2018-2019 Budget
Here is what is in the budget, according to an analysis of the spending plan by the Union Leader:
- Business tax reductions, with the business profits tax reducing from 7.9 percent to 7.7 percent in 2019 and to 7.5 percent in 2021 and the business enterprise tax goes from 0.675 percent to 0.60 percent in 2019 and to 0.50 percent in 2021
- Repealing the electricity consumption tax (which costs 0.00055 cents per kwh) in 2019
- Infrastructure funding, with local highway aid to the tune of $30 million and $6.8 million for municipal bridge aid
- School building aid as part of a new $8.5 million fund, using money from 2017 surplus revenue
- An increase in the rainy day fund, bringing it from $100 million to $100.7 million at the end of the two-year period.
- State retiree health care, with $171 million allocated over the two years and a 10% premium increase for retirees born after Jan. 1, 1949 starting in 2018
- Municipal aid in the form of $137.6 million in meals and rooms tax revenue
- County drug courts, with a grant of $6.9 million
- The liquor commission gets permission to sell Hampton store land and use proceeds to retire existing debt and the go-ahead for a feasibility study on converting the existing liquor stores on I-95 in Hampton to full-service turnpike plazas
- Five new state trooper positions in 2018, with authority to hire five more in 2019
- Staff for the new women's prison, with funding for 55 new positions
- Highway block grants to municipalities at approximately $790 million over the biennium and $87.7 million in gas tax revenue going to the Highway and Bridge Betterment Program
- For health and human services, $19.8 million goes to rate increases to direct care providers; $8.7 million to move non-violent youth out of the Sununu Youth Services Center; and $2 million for the construction of a substance abuse wing at the Sununu Center
- Additional child protective service workers in the Division for Children Youth and Families and the creation of an associate commissioner position with responsibility for overseeing DCYF
- Sexual and domestic violence prevention programs will receive $500,000 per year
- Medicaid will receive $707.2 million in 2018 and $737.7 million in 2019, reflecting an assumed reduction in caseloads
- For elderly and adult services, the budget appropriates $804 million for nursing home services and the Choices for Independence program to serve elderly in home and community settings; and $12.3 million for rate increases to nursing homes and other nursing services
- Blocks funds for abortion services and requires the DHHS commissioner to establish and use a competitive bidding process for family planning services
- Mental health services get an additional $22.6 million, including benefits for children with several emotional disturbances, 20 new in-patient beds; 60 new transitional beds and a new mobile crisis team
- Drug treatment funding increases from 1.7 percent to 3.4 percent of prior years' profits from the Liquor Commission
- Developmentally disabled children and adult services gets a total of $510 million
- New Hampshire Hospital will no longer house juveniles, with DHHS required to develop a plan to remove them
- Extra Veterans Home cash can be used to raise pay for licensed nursing assistants so that the home can open additional beds now vacant due to lack of staff
- In education, charter public schools will get an extra $625 per pupil; $45 million goes to special education aid; $14.8 million to career and technical education tuition and transportation aid; community colleges will receive up to $250 per STEM related course for qualified high school students; $375,000 in grants go to public schools for robotics teams
- The community college system will be funded at $96 million, an increase of $7.3 million over the current biennium
- The University System of New Hampshire is level funded at $162 million
- The Lottery Commission can sell of scratch tickets through a mobile app, which is expected to increase revenue to the education trust fund by $13 million
- On Medicaid expansion, DHHS must seek a waiver from the federal government allowing the state to impose work requirements on certain Medicaid recipients - and if the waiver fails, expansion will be terminated
Not included in the budget:
- Funding of Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery at 5 percent of NHLC profits (funded at 3.4 percent instead).
- Sale of the Laconia State School property.
- Funding for additional DCYF social workers and voluntary services to help families whose child abuse or neglect cases are determined to be “unfounded but with concern” at an estimated cost of $3.2 million.
- Nine new nurses at New Hampshire Hospital, at a cost of $722,005.
- Tuition freeze at University System of New Hampshire, $4.3 million.
- Full funding of retiree health care, $2.1 million.
- Additional stabilization grants to help municipalities experiencing declining enrollment, $6.2 million.
- Granite Workforce, a workforce development proposal that would allow the state Department of Health and Human Services to use up to $9 million in surplus welfare funds to provide training and wage subsidies for the unemployed to obtain jobs in areas where there are workforce shortages.
Following are various iterations of the budget:
Operating budget broken down by department
Operating budget complete (PDF)
Capital budget (PDF)
Executive budget summary (PDF)
Operating budget detail in Excel