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Monday, May 18, 2009

Fahey reports on budget, pensions

Tom Fahey updates us on the budget debate and pension funding shortfall in his weekly "Under the State House Dome" column in the Union Leader:
AND THE WORK GOES ON: Meanwhile, work goes on to fund a budget for 2010-11.

D'Allesandro, Senate Finance chair, has only a few weeks to finish work on the Senate version of a two-year, $11 billion spending plan. Senate sentiment runs against the capital gains and estate tax ideas the House put in its budget plan.

D'Allesandro said he agrees with the House that the state should not bond its school building aid plan, meaning roughly $83 million has to come from general funds.

Pressure is building from pro-gambling groups who see their last chance at hand. Labor groups and track owners released new surveys showing support last week.

D'Allesandro said he plans to be at the State House today -- yes, Sunday -- to handle budget work. He took off yesterday to accept an honorary doctorate from Franklin Pierce University in Rindge. That's his second, after one that Daniel Webster College gave him about 10 years ago.

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PESSIMISTIC ON PENSION REFORM: Rep. Ken Hawkins, who filed a number of retirement reform bills, was discouraged last week. He said he'll urge the House to kill the last surviving piece of his proposals, which requires an extra five years of work for firefighters and police officers.

Hawkins' complaint is that the Senate boosted minimum pensions at the same time it killed a minimum retirement age of 50. A full pension after 25 years would be 62.5 percent of pay, compared to 50 percent of pay after 20 years now.

"I'm not even going to ask for a committee of conference, because this isn't going to go through. Why waste the time?" he asked.

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