Senate approves $125 million capital budget spending plan
CONCORD — With no opposition, the Senate Thursday approved a $125 million capital budget that includes a new women's prison in Concord that corrections officials have wanted for years.
"The Senate believes this spending plan responsibly meets the state's capital budget needs for the next biennium," said Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, Capital Budget Committee chairman. "Our priorities for capital projects were clear, including $38 million to build a new — and long overdue — women's prison with 224 beds, $5 million in state match bonding for a $25 million federal TIGER Grant application to complete critically necessary repairs to the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Portsmouth and $10.4 million to fund a new Marine Patrol Headquarters to replace the current one that is slowly sinking into Lake Winnipesauke."
Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, praised the inclusion of the women's prison 20 years after a federal lawsuit was filed over the disparity between women and men inmate programs and services.
"There has been minimal progress in the minimal space at the facility in Goffstown," Larsen said, noting women are much more likely than men to seek educational services than men while they are behind bars.
The new prison "sets a new path to end the cycle of double jeopardy," Larsen said.
The capital budget also includes $10 million for a new computer software system for credit card processing for the Liquor Commission.
The budget also includes about $20 million for the commission for new retail stores in Warner, Salem and Epping and for renovations at the two Interstate 95 liquor stores in Hampton.
The capital budget also includes $24 million for renovating and updating the regional technical centers in Whitefield and Salem.
Also included is $472,445 to repair the State House's gold dome.
A new voting machine and software for the House is also included, costing $1 million.
In general fund spending, the Senate capital budget spends about $800,000 more than the House plan.
Total spending in the Senate capital budget when federal, liquor, highway and other such funds are included totals $245 million compared to the House version at $277.2 million.
The House will have to decide if it will go along with the Senate changes to the capital budget.