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Friday, May 29, 2009

Budget Coverage

The Senate Finance Committee has sent the $11.5 billion dollar, two-year spending plan to the full Senate, after increasing both taxes and spending late into the night.

In the Nashua Telegraph, Kevin Landrigan leads with the fact that a Hudson golf course was left out of the racino sweepstakes:
Proponents of a casino destination resort in Hudson said Senate budget writers "surprised and disappointed" them, crafting a two-year state budget that only legalized slot machines at three racetracks and two North Country sites.

Thomas Friel, co-owner of the Green Meadow Golf Club site, said he thought the Senate Finance Committee plan would permit gambling at slot machine parlors and a casino-style resort to legally co-exist.

The final amendment, surfacing after midnight Wednesday, allowed up to 13,000 slot machines at five sites to generate $185 million over the next two years.
In the Union Leader, Tom Fahey also leads with gambling, and also reports on an increase in business taxes:
House Finance Chairman Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, said she thinks both House and Senate "agree on the overwhelming majority of what's in the budget."

Besides gambling, she said, sticking points will be changes to the Liquor Commission, funding for highways and the suspension of the Business Enterprise Tax credit against business profits tax liability, she said.

Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said the governor will examine the business tax change, which just made its first appearance this week.

"Obviously, the governor has a lot of serious questions about what this would mean for businesses, how it would impact the economy and future revenues," Manning said.
Currently, New Hampshire pay the Business Enterprise Tax or the Business Profits Tax, whichever is higher. The Senate plan would whack businesses with both.

In the Concord Monitor, Lauren Dorgan highlights the differences between the Senate and House budgets.
Slots aside, the Senate budget closely followed the stark budget plan unveiled by Gov. John Lynch this winter and the one recommended by the House Finance Committee earlier this year; like Lynch, senators would close several district courts, the Tobey School in Concord and the Laconia prison, and lay off scores of state workers. Final numbers weren't available yesterday, but the total likely topped 200.

One major difference: With the recession continuing, senators now expect the state to draw about $200 million less in revenue than Lynch predicted in February. Meanwhile, senators funded some programs Lynch did not, including $1.2 million for a catastrophic illness program and $14 million to help people with developmental disabilities who are on a waiting list for state services. They also voted to fund $87 million worth of aid to local school districts; Lynch had urged lawmakers to borrow that money, and House lawmakers, balking at Lynch's plan to borrow, didn't fund the program.

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