One additional addendum to this report:
Late in the afternoon before the House Finance committee adjourned “for St. Patrick’s Day” the panel voted to place the State’s Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET) settlement agreement in a giant paper shredder and pull the switch. This is a blatant attack on Governor Hassan and her work product. The work product was a compromise settlement with NH Hospitals. This is a settlement that was required because of extreme cuts and actions of the 2011 Legislature against our State’s hospitals.
Armageddon- An Update on the State Budget
Almost 255,000 NH citizens voted to re-elect Governor Hassan on November 4, 2014. Now a small group of State Representative most of whom received about 1700 votes last November have thrown the Governor’s proposed budget into the wastebasket. Next, the committee took out a meat cleaver and sludge hammer to destroy everything that the previous legislature has achieved and everything the Governor wants to continue for NH.
In mid February after an 8-month work period Governor Hassan presented a proposed state budget. The Governor’s ‘16/’17 budget (while not perfect) is a reasonable and measured approach to funding NH’s priorities. The budget was built upon a foundation of our current state-spending plan that was approved with only 18 dissenting votes (out of 424 legislators). Among many other things, the Governor’s budget continues investments in current services while solving the issues of reauthorizing Medicaid expansion, funding the commitments of the MET & Mental Health settlements and providing new funding to the developmental services system.
The Finance committee is proposing obscene and cruel cuts to current human services. In the name of “protecting” the taxpayer, they are systematically dismantling: the DD system, the mental health system, the elder care system and as much of the DHHS budget as they possibly can in the next week. This includes bringing back the DD/ABD waitlists and gutting the family support program a linchpin and hallmark of the DD system that goes back to 1989. Some Area Agencies and Community Mental Health Centers would be forced to “consolidate” if the House budget is adopted. The House budget would cut state funding for meals on wheels by 50%! The House budged is including apocryphal and dangerous so called “Step 2 savings” –against the strong advice of the Governor and DHHS. Thousands will loose health insurance and go back to the emergency departments for their primary care. Speech and Physical Therapy and many other services will no longer be covered under Medicaid for adults. The list goes on and on.
This report does not even address the harsh reductions to higher education and transportation (our roads and bridges) being proposed by the House Republicans.
While the private sector continues to make investments as the economy continues to improve month after month, the House GOP is acting like we are the middle of a great depression. As a result, all they want to do is cut and slash NH back to the dark ages. The House Republicans are betting that the 1.3 million people in the state would rather see services drastically and cruelly reduced rather than pay the same prices for tobacco as the people in Maine.
The House Finance committee will wrap up its budget in the next week or so. We need to continue to remember that this is not the final budget. We have the Senate and the Governor to appeal to should these cuts become part of the budget.
When the House is done voting Governor Hassan must issue a veto promise and begin to use the bully pulpit to educate the public of the long term damage these cuts present to our future as a state.
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