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January 23. 2013 10:58PM

Gov. Hassan names panel to review estimates of NH state revenues

CONCORD - A new set of eyes will be estimating what state revenues will be besides the House and Senate ways and means committee.

Gov. Maggie Hassan Wednesday established the Consensus Revenue Estimating Panel through executive order to develop and update revenue estimates during the budget process and after.

The governor's budget director, Gerard Murphy, will head the panel.

Other members include: Linda Hodgdon, Department of Administrative Services Commissioner; Kevin Clougherty, Department of Revenue Administration Commissioner; Richard Samuels, a Business and Industry Association director and attorney at McLane, Graf, Raulerson and Middleton; Dennis Delay, New Hampshire Center for Public Policy economist; Jeff McLynch of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute; and Ross Gittell, an economist and Community College System of New Hampshire Chancellor.

"A balanced budget is the cornerstone of a strong economy, and a fiscally responsible balanced budget requires revenue estimates that are as reliable and accurate as possible," said Hassan.

House and Senate Republicans budget writers welcomed the additional input into determining how much money the state has to spend the next two years.

But two key House members, House Minority Leader Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, and Rep. Norman Majors, R-Plaistow, said determining revenue estimates is the prevue of lawmakers.

"We will not cede our legislative responsibility to develop reasonable and sound revenue estimates," Chandler said in a statement. "We are elected by and accountable to the taxpayers of New Hampshire, but appointed members of the governor's panel could be viewed as having other interests."

Two key Senate budget writers, Finance Chairman Chuck Morse, R-Salem, and Ways and Means Chairman Bob Odell, R-Lempster, noted how accurate the estimates have been for the current biennium budget.

"When developing our revenue estimates, the Senate Ways and Means Committee takes testimony from numerous department heads, economists, and business leaders," Odell said. "This open and information-driven process has led the committee to adopt numbers for the current budget that are off by less than two percent."

The governor's panel's first meeting is today at 3:30 p.m. in the Executive Council Chambers.

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