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State finishes 2014 fiscal year with a $20 million surplus, but $7 million less than planned

Posted: October 1, 2014

By ALLIE MORRIS, Monitor staff
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
(Published in print: Wednesday, October 1, 2014)
The state government finished the most recent fiscal year with a surplus of $19.5 million, but fell about $7 million short of its surplus goal, according to an unaudited spending report released by the governor’s office yesterday.
The budget for the 2014 fiscal year – which ended June 30 – called for roughly $26.8 million in surplus. That money is used to help balance the state’s books during the current fiscal year, which began July 1.
The state was able to achieve the surplus “by carefully managing state agency expenditures and taking preemptive action to protect our budget,” Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement yesterday.
Hassan issued an executive order earlier this year putting freezes on government hiring, equipment purchases and out-of-state travel following declines in state revenue.
She also credited the surplus to agencies exceeding the $50 million in lapses – budgeted money that they’re expected to return – laid out in the 2014 budget.
“I will continue to work with members of both parties to adjust the budget to address declining revenue estimates for the coming year and do what is necessary to finish Fiscal Year 2015 with a responsibly balanced budget,” she said in the statement.
The unaudited figures released yesterday did not include a breakdown of each department’s spending.
Democrats from the House and Senate said yesterday the surplus is welcome news.
The “result came about because last year the Senate passed the budget unanimously, working under the leadership of our Governor and across party lines to find compromise and common ground,” said state Sen. Sylvia Larsen, a Concord Democrat.
But Republicans raised concerns about the $7 million shortfall.
“I’m very troubled that an early review of the Governor’s unaudited statement shows she did not meet the $26 million surplus as required in the budget and by state law,” said state Sen. Jeanie Forrester, a Meredith Republican and chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee, in a statement. “This raises serious concerns about her commitment and ability to control spending in Fiscal Year 2015.”
Walt Havenstein, a Republican who is running against Hassan in the race for governor, said the budget figures show Hassan can’t control spending.
“It is obvious that Maggie Hassan is not showing the kind of fiscal discipline and leadership required to manage state government,” he said in a statement. “It’s time for new Leadership.”
During the upcoming legislative session, lawmakers will put together the two-year budget, covering the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, which will take effect next July.
(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at amorris@cmonitor.com.)
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