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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: State revenue picture still unclear until later this year
Preliminary figures released last weak show state revenues on target for this fiscal year. However, the state has a two-year budget that has to balance, not yearly budgets.
If that is the case, based only on revenues, which constitute half the budget, the state may be facing a $20 million shortfall at the end of 2015 budget.
The lapse issue is why Gov. Maggie Hassan last month issued an executive order, which lawmakers approved, freezing hiring, out-of-state travel and equipment purchases with state general fund money. She also talked about a special session later this year to approve budget cuts.
While Hassan's office put out her statement, it did not release any revenue numbers that would substantiate her assertions, although reporters asked for them.
"With revenues on plan, it is imperative that state agencies are meeting their spending and lapse figures to ensure the budget remains balanced and spending does not exceed the revenues we've collected," Morse said. "To that end, I am requesting that Fiscal Committee Chairman (Mary Jane) Wallner schedule a spending update from the governor's office for our next meeting to give us the opportunity to better evaluate the state's financial picture heading into the second year of the biennium."
Looking for a story saying your favorite bill that passed this year is now law, but haven't been able to find it? Well there is a reason beyond the diminishing number of State House reporters and journalists in general.
This year more than 150 bills lawmakers passed have yet to go to the governor for her decisions.
Some of the more significant bills passed this session such as the ban on the hand-held use of a cell phone or other electronic device while driving, the 10-tear highway plan, paycheck equity and including family pets and animals in domestic protective orders are either sitting on House Speaker Terie Norelli's or Morse's desk waiting to be signed.
Hassan had no bills and neither did the Secretary of State Thursday so the earliest possible movement will be Monday and that is not likely after a holiday weekend.
And that is where HB 1360 currently sits, although it passed both the House and Senate and Hassan has said she is probably going to sign it.
House Bill 496, which establishes a program to allow a limited licenses for first time drunk driving offenders if they use an interlocking ignition device, House Bill 256 establishing a hike safe card program, and House Bill 1282 which restricts when heating fuel dealers can sell pre-buy contracts are all waiting to go to the governor.
The holdup is more likely the result of a split House and Senate, where Democrats control the House and Republicans the Senate.
Much has been made of the 4.2 cent increase in the gas tax that went into effect Tuesday, although it was difficult to see its effect as gas prices hardly moved and if they did it was near the end of the week with the July 4 Holiday and hundreds of thousands of tourists -- who could afford higher prices -- expected in the Granite State.
Although about half of the money is earmarked to pay bonds issued to finish the Interstate-93 expansion project from Salem to Manchester after the first two years, the remaining funds will not be enough to make up for what the state could lose in federal highway funds.
Such a prospect could significantly slow down road and bridge work in the state at a time when the construction industry is just starting to rebound from some very lean years.
Former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith wants to mix it up with his two major challengers, Scott Brown and Jim Rubens, but has been stymied.
Smith's campaign released a statement saying "It is past time for the voters of New Hampshire to have the opportunity to differentiate between the three main candidates in the GOP Primary for U S Senate. There has been a lot of speculation and innuendo as to what each candidate stands for."
"This is a direct challenge to Scott Brown! Jim Rubens has already agreed to these debates," the statement said. "The people of New Hampshire must be allowed to know as much about the candidates as possible in order to become an informed voter."
"Let's agree to do the right thing for the people of New Hampshire and allow them to see the strengths and weaknesses of all three candidates," the campaign said.
First Responders Endorse
State Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, was endorsed by the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire and the Manchester's Patrolman's Association last week at the Central Fire Station in the Queen City.
"Senator D'Allesandro has always stood for fire fighters and for working families," said David Lang, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire. "His passionate commitment to a safer New Hampshire has never wavered. His strong voice continues to be a champion for fire fighters in Manchester and Goffstown, and all over New Hampshire."
"Senator D'Allesandro is an advocate for law enforcement and public safety at the State House in Concord as well as here in Manchester." said Ken Chamberlain, President of the Manchester Patrolman's Association. "He has always fought for legislation that would increase the safety of first responders and the general public."
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