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Summer studies: Back to budget basics


August 07. 2018 10:46PM




August is a quiet time at the New Hampshire State House, Sen. Jeff Woodburn’s legal troubles aside.

With a month until the Sept. 11 primary and Sept. 13 veto session, lawmakers have some free time to study long-term solutions to New Hampshire’s long-term budget challenges.

A study commission tasked with examining the Fish and Game Department’s efficiency should consider how to fund public safety, law enforcement, and wildlife protection programs as fewer people buy licenses to hunt and fish.

An education funding study committee meeting next week should consider merging the Education Trust Fund (ETF) back into the General Fund. There is no real difference between the two pots of money, as state dollars flow between them as needed. The ETF is a fiscal fiction falsely separating education funding from the General Fund. Merging the two in the next budget would clarify state finances.

We have opposed efforts to tack on a new registration fee for fuel efficient cars to fill the Highway Fund. Such a shift should be considered as part of a comprehensive reform of how New Hampshire funds its transportation infrastructure. Now would be a good time to lay the groundwork for such an overhaul.

We already ask a lot of our citizen legislators for $100 per year. If they do some homework over the summer, they would be in a better position to build a budget when the Legislature comes back into session in January.


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