House Majority Leader Appalled by Spike in State Agency Budget Requests

CONCORD – House Majority Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) today issued the following statement following reports that state agency heads have submitted budget requests for fiscal years 2018-19 totaling over $12.6 billion, roughly $1.4 billion or 12.5% more than authorized in the current operating budget.

House Majority Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack):

“One way to show leadership in an executive role is to ensure your department heads know how to live within their means. In the context of state government, this means showing taxpayers that your team of appointees respects, cherishes, and will be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

“What we have here shows our state government’s inability to be mindful of the sensitive state our economy continues to be in. Our economy is growing, but that doesn’t mean our citizens are all getting a 12.5% raise – neither should state government. Over the last year we heard Governor Hassan voice her concerns over state tax revenue, saying that tax cuts would blow a large whole in future budgets. Yet, in the blink of an eye, agencies she oversees are coming back with explosive growth in their spending proposals. It seems disingenuous.”

“I ask the Governor to order her agencies to produce level-funded budget requests or at least something in the realm of reasonableness. This is no time for agencies to submit their biggest wish list to Santa. We have a solemn duty to manage taxpayer dollars in a respectful manner. To ask for anything more than level funding or modest increases at this time shows disregard for the taxpayers of New Hampshire. The Governor would have us believe she has special leadership qualities, now is the time to demonstrate those qualities and get a handle on this debacle.”

House Majority Leader Comments on Delayed Drug Crisis Resource Deployment

CONCORD – House Majority Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued the following statement after reviewing information suggesting that money appropriated to the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol, Drug Abuse has yet to be spent. Rep. Hinch served as Vice Chairman of the Joint Legislative Task Force on the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic, which reviewed legislation in late 2015 pertaining to the drug crisis, including increased funding for the Commission.

“Less than one year ago, I served on the Joint Legislative Task Force on the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic. We heard heart wrenching stories about addiction and the dire need for increased access to recovery services. Despite the urgency with which the legislature acted, we now learn that over half of a $3 million appropriation to the Commission is still sitting on the sidelines. The Commission is made up of great people, and I know that we’re all working towards the same goal. But the public demands accountability from their government, and they’ll want to know why money the legislature expedited to this cause has not been put to use given the continued severity of the crisis our state is facing. This is yet another delay for resources and services our communities desperately needs. Governor Hassan needs to get a handle on where drug crisis dollars are going or not going.”

Bradley, Hinch praise legislature for New Hampshire topping nationwide revenue growth

Concord, NH – The Hill recently published an article on state tax revenues which put New Hampshire at the top of the list nation-wide for revenue growth at nearly 14 percent in the second quarter of this year.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and House Majority Leader Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued the following statements.

“I am proud to see our state leading the way in revenue growth nationwide, bringing in more than $100 million in surplus funds this year, due in part to the first round of reductions to the business profits and business enterprise tax. While many other states are seeing a dramatic decline in revenue, New Hampshire’s growth  is proof that initiatives like cutting taxes for our state’s small businesses is critical to increased economic growth,” said Senator Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro). “We have been focused on strengthening New Hampshire’s economy and supporting our small businesses in the years in the years following the irresponsible $800 million spending deficit left by the Democratic-led House and Senate in 2009.”

“The current budget includes key cuts to the Business Profits Tax and Business Enterprise tax for the first time in more than 20 years, which has helped restore confidence in our small business owners and spurred growth in our state’s economy. We’ve also grown the State’s rainy day fund by nearly $100 million since last year, which again serves to strengthen our state’s economic foundation,” Bradley added.

“Not only has revenue improved dramatically but since the business tax cuts went into effect on January 1, 2016, more hard working New Hampshire men and women have found jobs in the first half of this year than all of 2014 and 2015. Our plan worked,” Bradley concluded.

“It has become clear over the past year that Governor Hassan’s veto of our responsible state budget did more harm than good to New Hampshire,” said House Majority Leader Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack). “In June, 2015  she  claimed that the Republican budget, ‘includes unpaid-for corporate tax cuts that create a more than $90 million budget hole in future budgets at the expense of critical economic priorities.’  Before vetoing the budget she also said, ‘we cannot undermine our economic future and jeopardize priorities such as affordable higher education, access to health care, safe roads and bridges, and combating the substance misuse crisis facing our state by not paying for those cuts’.”

“Today we are seeing the benefits of the first business tax cuts in 20 years. According to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau, New Hampshire is now leading the way nationwide with nearly a 14 percent increase in tax revenues.  This was accomplished by a Republican controlled legislature that lived within its means and passed a budget that cut business taxes and provided for an environment that will continue to attract business to New Hampshire,” said Hinch. “At the end of the day, Governor Hassan was wrong to delay critical allocations to help deal with the opioid crisis and she was wrong in her claim that tax cuts would hurt our economy. She was wrong then to veto the budget, she is wrong now with her political commercial claims of crafting a bipartisan budget solution and she will be wrong if she also takes credit for the successes leading the way nationwide with a 14% increase in tax revenues. Bottom line; ‘It is what it is!’”

Read the full article from The Hill here: State tax revenues hit the skids

Bradley, Hinch concerned by Governor’s lack of urgency in deploying Granite Hammer grants

Concord, NH – Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and House Majority Leader Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued the following statement ahead of the Governor’s announcement of the Granite Hammer grant recipients.

“In June, Governor Hassan urged House democrats to reject a bill which included $1.5 million of drug interdiction resources. Thwarting drug dealers is more important than the Governor’s political aspirations, so the legislature reconvened to pass this critical funding for increased law enforcement focused on combating the heroin and opioid crisis,” said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro). “We are concerned that it has now taken almost three months since the bill became law to award these grants to reach communities around the state.”

“No one solution will solve the heroin and opioid epidemic, but delaying funding to target the heroin crisis following Governor Hassan’s budget veto, and other resources that the legislature has made available over the course of the last year, prevented our communities from taking the swift action necessary to combat the crisis. I look forward to the progress that is sure to be made in the next few months once communities have the resources they need,” added Bradley.

“The legislature came together in June to act on this important issue, and we’re glad these funds are finally being disbursed. However, the Governor was ready to call us into a Special Session the same day Granite Hammer failed in the House,” said House Majority Leader Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack). “Where is that same urgency with deploying the funds? It is unfortunate that the Governor has taken over three months to announce and award these grants, which conveniently happens to be closer to Election Day.”

House Majority Leader Comments on Fiscal Committee Vote on Gateway to Work Items

CONCORD – House Majority Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) offered the following comments relative to the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee vote on Friday that failed to remove items from the table related to funding for the Gateway to Work program, thereby precluding action on the items by the committee.

“On the same day a document was presented that stated the Department of Health and Human Services is dealing with a $47 million deficit, the Fiscal Committee was asked to reexamine spending millions of dollars on Gateway to Work,” said Hinch. “You can’t simultaneously have a large operating deficit, and suggest a new spending program is in order before you examine ways to fix the existing deficit. Plus, there are additional yet-to-be determined costs to the TANF fund as a result of a state Supreme Court decision. We can’t realistically look at drawing down the TANF fund until the implications of this court opinion are determined.”

Hinch added, “At a time where we have unemployment at less than three percent, is it the right use of funds to spend over $35,000 per person to administer this program for about 230 people? Most people agree with the concept of job training, but in this case, the cost per person equals that of roughly 2 years of education at our community colleges. It’s just not clear to us how this program comes at the right time for the right cost.”

“If the governor was a full time employee, appropriately supervising her department heads and managing the budget, I would hope she would have thought this through. Instead, we have a proposal that circumvents the normal legislative process, and shuffles money around in a department that is already in deficit.”

Background: The Fiscal Committee item sought to use $8.3 million of TANF funds to administer the Gateway to Work program for a 6 month period (source document, page 69). The DHHS dashboard, an informational item received by the committee, stated that the department had identified a potential budget deficit of $46.9 million (source document, page 224). On Tuesday, the NH Supreme Court issued an opinion that may affect how the state determines TANF benefits (source document).

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