House Republican Leader Reacts to S&P Downgrade of State Bond Rating

CONCORD – House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) today offered the following reaction to Standard & Poor’s recent report (attached) revising the outlook from stable to negative on New Hampshire’s general obligation and state-guaranteed bonds citing, “Relatively low reserves, with a rainy day fund balance of less than 1% of expenditures,” and, “Low pension funding level, currently 56.7%, well below that of most other states, which we believe could result in additional pressure on future budgets, “ in addition to concern over the recent Medicaid Enhancement Tax court rulings.

House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett)

“We were warned by our State Treasurer in January that without a significant change in policy in regards to our Rainy Day fund, we could see our credit rating drop. While this is not the sole factor in the ratings change, it does compound the problem and affects our ability to address potentially major issues like what we face with the recent Medicaid Enhancement Tax court rulings.”

“When situations like this occur, even though we realize it will not cover the whole shortfall, it is important to have a reserve account that can significantly offset the impact. NH’s rainy day account holds only 0.7% of unrestricted general fund revenue. This is why it is important that we pass SB415 as soon as possible to ensure last year’s surplus is saved and not spent, and will be there for us in the event of a revenue emergency. Even if the MET issue is resolved, this is a prime example of why having sufficient funds in reserve is the responsible thing to do.”

“Republicans have and will continue to put forward reasonable proposals to help address the massive unfunded liability in our pension system. Unfortunately, our efforts in the House this year to study alternatives to our current broken system have been dismissed by the Democratic leadership.”

House Republican Leader Comments on House Committee Approval of Gas Tax Increase

CONCORD – House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) today offered the following comments relative to the vote of the House Ways & Means and Public Works House committees on SB367, a bill that would, in part, raise the gas tax by 23%. The bill was recommended ought to pass by a vote of 26-11.

House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett)

“Whether or not you support the concept of a gas tax increase, there are many misconceptions about SB367. With all due respect to the bill and its supporters, before jumping into one of the largest tax increases in recent history, we need to take a hard look at the intricacies of this bill and the system by which the revenue would be used. Republicans offered reasonable amendments to fix some of our concerns, but none were adopted.”

“This bill, as written, removes tolls in Merrimack, which results in a loss of revenue to the Turnpike Fund. It also allocates 42% of revenue to the I-93 widening project. The I-93 widening was already allocated $50 million as part of the 10 Year Highway Plan.”

“Folks that were hoping for immediate relief for their local roads will be disappointed. Municipal block grants will not commence until FY2016 and will be just 12% of the prior years’ revenue. In FY2016, additional aid to towns and cities resulting from the tax increase will be just $4 million per year statewide. Once divided up, most NH towns will get <1% of that amount. Larger cities and towns may get 1%-6%. Once they receive the grants, towns are not required to spend their block grant on infrastructure repair.”

“In the last 2 budgets alone, $38 million has been diverted from the highway fund in excess of the allowable amount in RSA 9:9-b. SB367 may state that the new revenue can only be used for specific purposes, but if the legislature can’t even follow a reasonable standing law regarding highway funds, how can we say that the provision in SB367 won’t be disregarded or suspended for future budget years?”

House Republicans Comment on Passage of SB413

CONCORD – House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) and Ranking Republican on the House Finance Committee, Neal Kurk (R-Weare) offered the following statements in reaction to the House vote on SB413, relative to access to health insurance coverage. The bill passed the House by a 202-132 vote

House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett)

“The majority of House Republicans weren’t convinced this bill is the right solution for New Hampshire. There are a number of Republican members who won’t vote for any program tied to the failed Obamacare law and the vote today reflected that. There are concerns about how the state will be able to pay for this type of entitlement expansion in perpetuity and if that could lead to significant budget problems down the road. This type and scale of program represents the largest increase in spending New Hampshire has seen for some time, and it is dependent on funding from the federal government which can’t seem to keep many promises.”

“In order to implement SB413 as written, the State requires approval from the federal government. Until then, we will be expending resources on something that may never fully materialize. Getting that approval prior to starting the program is common sense. Any household would want their permit approved prior to starting a large addition. If the waivers aren’t approved, we’ll have expended resources on startup and implementation costs and we’ll have extended coverage to citizens only to reverse course.”

Rep. Neal Kurk (R-Weare), Ranking Republican, House Finance Committee

“Republicans offered common sense amendments to add reasonable financial safeguards to the bill. We believe that if New Hampshire enters into this expansion of Obamacare, we should to our best to eliminate our exposure to fiscal disaster. Waivers should be in place before any aspect of any program moves forward. Cost and enrollment estimates are just estimates. There should be some mechanism by which the program cost or enrollment cannot balloon out of control.  The cost of insuring the 50,000 able-bodied but low-income adults who, it is estimated, will qualify for the  program is significant – about $340 million a year once the program is up and running. When the federal funding share drops we need protections from runaway costs.”

House Republicans Comment on Passage of Paint Tax Bill

CONCORD – House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) and member of the House Environment & Agriculture Committee, John O’Connor (R-Derry), offered the following comments relative to House action today on HB1570, a bill that would impose a tax on paint sellers that would fund a new government program for paint disposal. The bill passed by a vote of 161-142.

House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett)

“This bill proposes a new tax, is anti-free-market, and anti-small business. This bill would impose a new tax on paint, borne by the retailers. Some proponents may say that sellers could absorb the tax – currently 75 cents per gallon in the three states where the program is in effect. Maybe large box stores, with deep pockets can, but those small town mom-and-pop hardware stores cannot. This new tax will no doubt get passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. If this tax bill becomes law, New Hampshire consumers can look forward to higher home improvement costs.”

Rep. John O’Connor (R-Derry) House Environment & Agriculture Committee member

“Any paint manufacturer not willing to sign on with this program will not be allowed to sell their products in NH. This will essentially eliminate the ability for new, small paint companies to enter the New Hampshire market and reduce competition and stifles innovation.”

“The bill as proposed is far from ready for prime time and has too many weaknesses to name. There are major legal questions that have yet to be vetted by the Attorney General’s office, including antitrust concerns. This tax bill picks favorites and hits small retailers and consumers without effectively addressing the full scope of the problem it’s trying to resolve.”

House Republican Leader Comments on Additional Bill That Spends Surplus

CONCORD – House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) released the following statement relative to the House vote on HB 1635, the second bill of the week that reopens the state budget to increase spending by using estimated budget surplus dollars. The bill passed by a vote of 173-125.

House Republican Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett)

“In just two days, the Democratically controlled House has passed two bills that spend surplus funds and reopen the budget to increase spending. This is not fiscally responsible. We had an opportunity to bolster our state rainy day fund by saving the entire 2013 surplus, something the State Treasurer agrees is the right thing to do.  Yesterday, when the House passed HB 1411, almost half of those funds were spent. Now, by passing HB 1635, we are not only opening up the budget once again, we’re spending money we don’t have yet. We’re now proposing to use funds from the current budget surplus, which is only anticipated, not guaranteed.  This is a disturbing trend that most New Hampshire citizens wouldn’t consider for their own household budgets.”

House Republican Policy Leader to be Featured at GOPAC Town Hall

GOPAC Contact: David Avella, 202-464-5170

Sanborn to Tout Conservative Ideas at New Hampshire Town Hall

Washington, D.C. – Today, GOPAC announced New Hampshire House Republican Policy Leader, Representative Laurie Sanborn (R-Bedford), will be  featured at their Emerging Leaders Town Hall on March 15, 2014 during the Northeast Republican  Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire. The panel will also include state Senator Bryce Reeves (VA),  and state Representative Tony Hwang (CT). As part of GOPAC’s Emerging Leaders program, the Town Hall will promote these promising state  leaders and provide them a platform to advance the ideas and solutions they are championing.

GOPAC Chairman Frank Donatelli

“As the Republican Policy Leader in the New Hampshire House, Representative Sanborn is leading  efforts to advance ideas for more private sector jobs. She is very effective at explaining how  conservative principles can be applied to provide common sense solutions. For example, among her accomplishments is improving fairness of audits on small business by putting the burden of proof on the state Department of Revenue.”

House Republican Policy Leader Laurie Sanborn (R-Bedford)

“I am honored to be selected by GOPAC and look forward to leading a Republican resurgence in New Hampshire with a focus on jobs, the economy, and small government.”