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House Finance Committee’s Budget Robs Peter to Pay Paul

Posted: March 31, 2015

House Finance Committee’s Budget Robs Peter to Pay Paul

On the eve of the state budget vote in the NH House, many State Representatives are on the defensive. This is because they have been receiving concerned and even angry communications from their constituents about what is contained or rather what is not contained in the state budget.

There are talking points being communicated to the public about how the House Finance committee’s recommended state budget spends more money overall (vs. the current year). In addition, the message from these Representatives is that Health and Human Services will actually receive more money next year than this year. What more could you want?

In the 16th century Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Westminster was appropriated to pay for repairs to Saint Paul’s in London. In taking a page from history, the House Finance committee’s budget robs Peter to pay Paul. In fact, the budget pits human services providers and advocates against each other.

The response to a 55-year-old parent whose 21-year-old son or daughter will need community supports in July is “We support you! That’s why we provided DHHS with more funding next year than this year and not only that- we gave the Commissioner new authority to move funds around!” Sounds great, right?

The problem with the response above is that this new funding is almost exclusively the result of two lawsuits and a change in federal law. These are three things the NH House had limited control over. In addition, two of these three items were the result of chronic underfunding and neglect by the Legislative branch. The House Finance committee is trying to make the case that somehow funding these lawsuits will take care of the Developmental Services and Elderly and Adult budget cuts that they are currently proposing. It’s a bizarre logic that doesn’t add up.

The fact is, under the Finance committee’s budget, less money will be spent in the next budget than the current budget for community supports for both Developmental and Senior Services.

How the Legislature’s decision to fund a settlement with NH’s Community Hospitals over the Medicaid Enhancement Tax will help the family looking to enter the adult DD system with no funding or no budget is unfortunately not addressed in these “more spending” talking points.

The talking points do not address how funding the new federally mandated Modified Adjusted Gross Income requirements under Medicaid would help someone who needs services from the ABD program over the next two years.

How the Legislature’s decision to fund another settlement with the mental health system will help the Family Supports that are being slashed by House Finance committee is also never addressed in the talking points.

 

If anyone thinks the Commissioner of DHHS is going to violate federal law and/or violate the two lawsuits settled by his boss, the governor, then use that money to fund the DD waitlist, I’ve got a Cathedral to sell you.

 

We need to stay the course and oppose the Finance committee’s budget recommendation. We need to support floor amendments and any other changes that will bring critical funding to cost effective community based programs that have become the life support of so many lives. These supports and this funding will be critical over the next two years.

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