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Just how big is NH’s coronavirus relief spending? Bigger than a bread box...


May 19, 2020
BY: Anna Brown

On May 15 Gov. Sununu announced $595 million in new coronavirus relief spending from federal funds. The new programs cover everyone from farmers ($6 million) to childcare providers ($25 million).

When policymakers talk in tens and hundreds of millions, it can be hard to grasp the scope of spending. This article puts the coronavirus relief spending in the context of the whole state budget for 2020.

Comparing coronavirus relief to the state budget

The federal CARES Act earmarked $1.25 billion for New Hampshire to spend on coronavirus-related relief.

New Hampshire’s budget for fiscal year 2020 is about five times that amount, at $6.6 billion.

The biggest chunk of New Hampshire’s budget – $2.8 billion – goes to health and social services. Think Medicaid, developmental services, child protection, and so on.

The second biggest piece of the pie goes to education – $1.5 billion. That includes per-pupil funding from the state, the university and community college systems, and so on. (It also includes the lottery system because lottery tickets fund our schools.)

The rest of the state budget – $2.3 billion – covers highways, prisons, renewable energy, and all other government functions.

The graphic below shows the $1.25 billion pie of federal money compared to the three big chunks of the state budget: health and social services, education, and everything else.

You can click on the circles to see more detail. Use the dropdown filter to the left to compare similarly sized funding.

The graphic above doesn’t include every major spending line in the state budget. The budget “circles” were selected because they were roughly similar to new coronavirus-related spending.

Breaking down coronavirus spending

The following graphic also shows how Gov. Sununu has allocated the $1.25 billion CARES Act funds compared to similarly sized budget items.

Here is a breakdown of all of New Hampshire’s coronavirus-related plans for the $1.25 billion in federal funds:

  • $400 million for a “Main Street Relief Fund,” targeted at small for-profit businesses impacted by the coronavirus closures. Health care providers, childcare businesses, and agriculture businesses are excluded because they will receive funding through other programs.
  • $50 million for hospitals and other health care providers, on top of $50 million the governor already committed to health care providers. $30 million of this will go specifically to long-term care providers.
  • $75 million in other supports for the long-term care system, including stipends for workers.
  • $60 million for nonprofits (excluding health care providers).
  • $50 million to cover other state coronavirus-related expenses not covered by FEMA.
  • $40 million to reimburse municipalities for coronavirus–related costs.
  • $25 million for childcare system supports.
  • $24 million for first responder stipends.
  • $10 million for the University System of New Hampshire.
  • $5 million for the Community College System of New Hampshire.
  • $4.5 million for dairy farmers and $1.5 million for other farmers.
  • $5 million for the New Hampshire Food Bank.
  • $4 million for other grants to ensure stability in the food supply.
  • $3 million for emergency child protection and domestic violence relief.
  • $8 million for oversight and other federally mandated expenses.

What comes next?

When you take out all the spending above, there’s still $405 million left in federal funding.

New Hampshire Senate Democrats want to send $120 million more to health care providers. 

Earlier this year they released a plan for CARES Act funds that also included $40 million to expand broadband access, $50 million to extend unemployment benefits, and $75 million to support housing. Click here to read the full proposal from Senate Democrats. 

Meanwhile the office responsible for managing the federal money, the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR), is taking testimony on how best to spend the funds. Recently they have heard from housing advocates that the state is headed to an eviction and foreclosure crisis unless renters, landlords, and homeowners get support. Click here to see information on the latest GOFERR meetings.

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