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Measuring the Size of New Hampshire’s State Budget

September 11, 2017 State Budget
ruler and pages photo

Legislative deliberations during the creation of New Hampshire’s biennial State Budget often evaluate the size of budget proposals relative to the prior biennial operating budget. Debates frequently focus on the overall growth of the budget, but measurements of different subsets of the budget or comparisons relative to different baselines can create confusion and misunderstandings. Budget growth discussions during the 2017 Legislative Session included estimates ranging from 1.4 percent in the first year and 1.1 percent in the second year to a total increase of 10.5 percent. Numbers used in public debates and widely reported in the press characterizing the size of the final budget ranged from $11.7 billion to more than $12 billion.

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The State Budget for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019

July 13, 2017 State Budget
New Hampshire State House

New Hampshire’s State Budget provides the basis through which most State activities are funded for the next two years. While the overall growth in this budget is slightly less than the growth of its predecessor, revenues projected to be available enabled the Governor and the Legislature to fund certain state-level priorities. This State Budget emphasizes care for children and youths, including through child protection, mental health care, substance use disorder treatment, and juvenile justice changes, relative to certain other priorities. Substantial tax cuts for businesses were enacted, with the potential for future revenue declines that are not likely to be fully offset by other revenue increases.

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The State Senate’s Proposed Budget

June 13, 2017 State Budget
Senate Chamber

The State Senate, using the Governor’s operating budget proposal from February as a baseline, crafted a State operating budget that reduces spending though changes to program funding levels and to anticipated federal funds. The Senate reduced appropriated spending from the Governor’s budget by $324.7 million, accomplished in part by planning to authorize up to $237.8 million through other mechanisms outside of the State Budget. About 63 percent of the program areas were funded at levels proposed by Governor Sununu’s budget, and while the Senate budget grows from the current State fiscal year (SFY) 2017 budget by approximately 1.7 percent for SFY 2018, about 41.3 percent of program areas would receive the same funding or less in SFY 2018.

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Elections Highlight Continuing Questions About Keno Revenue

8 Nov 2017

tree with coins

While results are still preliminary, Keno gaming appears to have been legalized in seven cities around New Hampshire as a result of Tuesday’s votes. The margin of victory in Rochester for Keno legalization was reportedly only one vote and may still be subject to change or recount, but voters appear to have legalized Keno gaming in Berlin, Claremont, Laconia, Manchester, Nashua, Rochester, and Somersworth. Voters in Concord, Dover, and Keene voted against Keno gaming legalization. Franklin had legalized Keno gaming previously, and the Portsmouth City Council decided to not put Keno on the ballot. Other municipalities, including the City of Lebanon, may make decisions regarding Keno legalization next year. These results have implications for State policy and finances.