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Budget Compromise Becomes Law, Ending Months of Partisan Stalemate

N.H. State House
Allegra Boverman for NHPR

After nearly three months of budgetary limbo and partisan feuding, New Hampshire officially has a two-year budget in place.

Loud cheers were heard on the floors of the House and Senate Wednesday after each chamber passed a compromise deal reached by Gov. Maggie Hassan and Republican leadership earlier this week.

The state’s budget will now reflect the original plan vetoed by the governor in June, but with a few major tweaks.

One: The compromise deal will accelerate a set of Republican-backed business tax cuts one year earlier than originally proposed, but would not fully implement the cuts if state revenue fail to hit certain targets by 2018.

Two: The deal includes a pay raise for state employees, something Hassan had pushed for but Republicans had initially rejected.

Hassan applauded the deal saying it was a win for both parties as well as the state. “Bipartisanship is about having the capacity to air your differences and sometimes have very strong differences but then find ways to come together and move forward anyway,” she told reporters after the votes were in.

All other major spending decisions -- including funding for substance abuse treatment, a ten-bed mental health crisis unit and a rate increase for home health care providers -- remain the same as in the Republican-backed budget.

Leaders of both parties praised the compromise, including Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley.

“We have a larger break up-front, we have a revenue trigger – assuming it’s met. And I am standing here saying I will stake my reputation on the fact that we are going to meet it. Then we will be below the corporate tax rate of Massachusetts," he said at a press conference Wednesday evening. Whether to include the business tax cutswas the main topic of negotiations all summer. 

However, not everyone was pleased with the compromise plan. Several House Republicans strongly opposed the deal, arguing that the process was rushed and without sufficient public debate.

This marks the first time a New Hampshire state budget veto has ever been overridden. The eight other bills the governor vetoed, however, will remain. Those bills includeefforts to repeal a license requirement for carrying a concealed firearm; a 30-day residency requirement to vote; and a prohibition against requiring schools to implement Common Core curriculum. 

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