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Thursday, April 2, 2009

House Finance passes budget that nobody wants

Lauren Dorgan reports in the Concord Monitor that no one of the House Finance Committee likes the budget that it approved yesterday, yet somehow it passed:
The budget passed the committee on a 14-9 party-line vote, with Democrats voting yes and Republicans no. The entire House will vote on the budget next week; after that, Senate budget writers will craft their own version before legislators from both bodies settle on a final version in June.

The budget drew little praise from anyone. Committee Chairwoman Marjorie Smith said she would not take a vote on whether "anyone in this room thought this was a good budget" and said she would be happy to see senators rework it.

"I think this is a horrible budget. Absolutely a horrible budget," said Rep. Dan Eaton, a Stoddard Democrat and the House's majority floor leader, who nonetheless voted for the plan. "It was improved vastly over what we received (from the governor)."

The Republicans who helped craft parts of the plan but ultimately voted against it panned the taxes in particular.

"In these economic times, the idea of increasing taxes, I think, goes against all the wisdom economists have given us," said Rep. Neal Kurk of Weare, the ranking House Republican. "It's the equivalent of kicking a man when he's down."

Gov. John Lynch didn't like the plan much, either. Spokesman Colin Manning listed "many concerns" about problems with the House budget, saying it "underfunds essential operations," including the attorney general's office, deprives the liquor commission of "flexibility" to become more like a business and relies on across-the-board cuts without "tough policy decisions" about where to trim. On the revenue side, Manning said Lynch had "concerns" but declined to state whether the governor would support either a capital gains or an estate tax.

The House Democratic budget includes a 5% tax on capital gains, reinstates the death tax at 8%, and increases spending from Governor Lynch's budget proposal.

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