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Budget raiders: Why do we keep trusting politicians?

March 27. 2013 5:46PM

Can you trust Concord politicians with your money? How about Washington politicians?

OK, stop laughing and consider this story in the context of the above questions.

In the state budget, a "dedicated fund" is a reserve account financed directly by a special tax or fee. The best-known example is the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), which since 2008 has been financed be a $25 "fee" on real estate transactions. When this fee was approved in 2007, legislators swore that it would be used exclusively to fund LCHIP.

Naturally, the LCHIP fund has been raided regularly ever since. The state began collecting the fee on Jan. 1, 2008. That November, Gov. John Lynch ordered LCHIP to give $3 million to the general fund. Over the years, legislators of both parties have confiscated LCHIP funds repeatedly.

Gov. Maggie Hassan's proposed budget builds on that precedent. She claims the authority to confiscate all not-yet spent dedicated funds. This week the Democratic majority on the House Finance Committee assented to this grab of both money and legislative power.

The politicians undertaking this grand switcheroo are the very same ones who assured the people of New Hampshire just last week that politicians should be trusted to keep their promises. The House voted last week to expand Medicaid eligibility, which will cost New Hampshire taxpayers millions and will cost tens of millions more if Washington does not keep its promise to fund almost all of the costs.

The House went with the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee's assurance that the promised federal money will come because "Medicaid expansion and its federal financing/matching rate are enshrined in federal law."

Yes, "enshrined" in law. Exactly like the dedicated funds these same politicians are currently in the process of raiding.

Politics Editorial

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