Governor Maggie Hassan will today present her spending plan for the next two years on Thursday. Budget writers face several key challenges this year.
Will the Governor again include a casino in her budget? Will she propose spending on commuter rail, a goal she called crucial when she was sworn in? We’ll have to wait for the speech to see. Hassan didn’t tip her hand in brief comments to reporters.
“It’s a fiscally responsible balanced budget without a sales or an income tax, addressing critical investments that we need so we can expand middle class opportunity so we can keep our economy moving the right direction. But we are also going to be realistic about what we can’t afford to do, too."
Two years ago Hassan and a divided legislature managed to come together on a $10.8 billion dollars spending plan.
This year, with Republicans leading both chambers, consensus may be harder to find.
Settlements of lawsuits against the state over mental health services and the Medicaid enhancement tax means this budget season opens with millions of dollars already called for.
Partisan differences over business taxes – Republicans want to cut them, Democrats say the state will lose needed revenue – will add to Hassan’s challenges.