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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Budget Coverage

It was a late night for the Senate Finance Committee, which sent an $11 billion budget to the full chamber.

In the Union Leader, Tom Fahey leads with the many tax increases included in the plan:
An extra $10 for a license, $15 for each car registration and $15 on each vanity plate are just part of the Senate package that includes higher fees for everything from canoe registrations to court fees. The higher auto fees are a way to replace revenue a House-passed gas tax increase would have produced. Gov. John Lynch wants no part of the 15-cent tax hike and threatened to veto it.
In the Concord Monitor, Lauren Dorgan looks at how changes to state funding formulas could disqualify New Hampshire for federal stimulus money:
Senators also clashed on whether or not to pare $20 million from a "catastrophic aid" program by which the state reimburses schools for extraordinary expenses paid to serve special-needs students. Some senators argued that since schools will receive an influx of money through the federal stimulus program, some of it for special education, that will more than make up for the change.

Officials projected that if the cut becomes law, schools would likely be paid about 50 cents on the dollar for their catastrophic aid claims.

But Deputy Education Commissioner Mary Heath, called in from home yesterday evening, told senators that the situation wasn't that simple, because stimulus moneys come with the requirement that they "supplement not supplant" existing programs.
And in the Nashua Telegraph, Kevin Landrigan reports that the panel has put the Milford District Court back on the chopping block:
Senate Republican Leader Peter Bragdon of Milford was surprised to learn this week that Milford’s court was again on the chopping block, with all cases to be transferred to Merrimack District Court.

“We thought we were out of the woods but once again are part of the process,’’ Bragdon said. “I am hopeful that we can make the case that Milford is unique, that it is efficient, it holds night court and many of the towns affected are a long distance away from Merrimack.’’

The Senate budget would close Milford and Colebrook courts the House had wanted to keep open but would keep open courts in Keene and Plaistow the House had wanted to close.

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