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For a Republican Majority in the New Hampshire Senate

Senate Finance restores Renewable Energy Fund

Posted by on May 13, 2015 in News

Forrester- PurpleConcord, NH — Today the Senate Finance committee voted to restore the Renewable Energy Fund in keeping with the Senate’s prior actions of protecting dedicated funds.

“We are working hard to make sure dedicated funds, like the Renewable Energy Fund, are restored or maintained at a consistent level,” said Senate Finance chair Jeanie Forrester (R- Meredith). “Senate Republicans have led on the issue of maintaining the integrity of dedicated funds and the Senate has voted on several occasions, overwhelmingly, in support of this issue.”

“Today’s vote was an important step in working towards a budget that makes responsible spending decisions but also lives within our state’s means,” continued Forrester.

“We have heard from numerous small business owners in the energy industry that the Renewable Energy Fund serves an important role in their ability to be successful in the state,” said Senate Finance Vice-Chair Jerry Little (R-Weare), who also serves on the Energy and Natural Resources committee.

“Senate Republicans are committed to making New Hampshire’s small businesses a priority and by restoring the Renewable Energy Fund we will continue to meet their needs,” added Little.

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Forrester rejects Hassan Administration request for $1.9 billion budget increase

Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in News

Agencies asking for 18% increase in next budget

FY16-17 Agency RequestsConcord, NH – Senate Finance Committee Chair Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) today rejected the Hassan Administration’s request for a $1.9 billion budget increase, even as the Governor is calling on agencies to cut their current year spending. According to the Department of Administrative Services, state agencies are asking for more than $12.5 billion in the Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget, up 18% from the current budget.

“New Hampshire taxpayers can’t afford an 18% jump in the cost of state government. Governor Hassan has failed to provide leadership to our state departments on the fiscal challenges we face, and as a result, these requests are completely unrealistic and irresponsible,” Forrester stated. “We’re already dealing with the governor’s spending problem in this budget and yet the Hassan Administration is acting like magically there will be more money to spend in the future. We should be looking for ways to make government more efficient and reduce costs rather than growing the bureaucracy and passing the cost onto the taxpayers.”

State departments were required to submit budget requests for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 by October 1st. According to the Department of Administrative Services, departments asked for $12.5 billion in spending, an 18% increase over the current FY14-15 budget authorization. Departments are also asking to fund 357 new positions, even as Governor Hassan has instituted a hiring freeze to address her current budget shortfall. Across all departments, the budget hike would cost $1.9 billion over the next two years.

“It’s time for the Hassan Administration to get serious about controlling state spending. It is irresponsible to expect New Hampshire taxpayers to pick up the cost of her failure to lead,” Forrester concluded.

Source: DAS Budget Office

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Sen. Jeb Bradley discusses NH budget crisis on NH Today

Posted by on Oct 3, 2014 in News

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley joins Jack Heath on NH Today to discuss New Hampshire’s mounting budget crisis.

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Latest report shows NH revenues on target

Posted by on Oct 2, 2014 in News

Morse HeadshotState has a spending problem

Concord, NH – Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) issued this statement following release of September revenue figures for the State of New Hampshire:

“New Hampshire revenues continue to track very closely to the conservative estimates that Senate Republicans insisted be built into the budget. September revenues were within about one-percent of the monthly goal, and we continue to run ahead of the forecast for the year.”

“These figures reinforce that New Hampshire does not have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem, as demonstrated by Governor Hassan’s $22 million budget shortfall. The Legislature and the public deserve up to date information on state agency spending, information that the Governor has refused to share.”

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Senate Leader says State has $22 Million Budget Shortfall not Budget Surplus

Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in News

Bradley HeadshotSenate Leader says State has $22 Million Budget Shortfall not Budget Surplus

Concord, NH – Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) issued the following statement today in regards to Governor Maggie Hassan’s recently released statement on the progress of meeting 2014 budget numbers:

“The budget law the Governor signed requires the state to have a $26.7 million surplus. The Governor reported yesterday that the state had a $19.5 million budget surplus, $7.2 million short of the requirement. However, the shortfall number is actually worse because the Governor is also including $15.3 million from the FY13 Republican surplus.

‘The Governor is presenting a false picture to New Hampshire taxpayers on the state’s finances. We have a $22 million dollar shortfall that the Legislature will have to deal with and it could be worse since we haven’t seen the spending numbers for the first quarter of FY15.

“The problem with that lack of transparency is that the problems only grow larger and the budget cuts become more difficult. We hope that the Governor will be more straightforward about the budget so that taxpayers will know exactly the problems facing the state when the next Legislature convenes in January.”

BACKGROUND:
House Bill 1 and House Bill 2 (2013) require the Governor to achieve a $26.7 million surplus in fiscal year 2014 to roll over as the starting point for fiscal year 2015. Her surplus of $19.5 million actually creates a shortfall of $7.2 million in fiscal year 2015.

The Republican led legislature passed a previous budget (FY12-13) that generated a $15.3 million surplus. Despite efforts (SB 415, 2014) to place the surplus into the Rainy Day Fund immediately to shore up the State’s credit rating, the Democratic House killed this important legislation.

$7.2 million + $15.3 million Republican surplus = $22.5 million shortfall for FY2015

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Gov. Maggie Hassan’s toxic partisanship poisons Concord

Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in News

Published in the Union Leader, October 1, 2014

Forrester- PurpleLATELY GOV. Maggie Hassan has been taking credit for the bipartisan budget we passed last year. She wants you to forget the scathing rhetoric she unleashed on the Senate Republicans before she reversed course and signed that budget into law.

After submitting an irresponsible budget proposal that relied on fatally flawed revenue estimates that included a significant reliance on unproven gambling revenues, Hassan spent the rest of the budget debate taking shots at Republicans, without actually participating in the process. She accused Senate Republicans of choosing “the fiscally irresponsible approach of sweeping, across-the-board cuts,” and claimed that the modest increases in social service spending would be “nothing short of devastating.” She warned of “hundreds of layoffs” that never happened.

Sitting on the Senate Finance Committee at the time, I didn’t hear once from the governor about the budget. She didn’t take part in the budget negotiations, except by news release. Republicans passed our balanced budget without a single Democratic vote.

Two weeks later, when the Senate budget bill came out of the Conference Committee with few changes, Hassan reversed her position and starting patting herself on the back for a budget she spent months bashing. It was a shocking reversal, given the venom she had unleashed on us so recently. But we were happy to have the governor’s belated support, and we passed the budget with a unanimous Senate vote.

We shouldn’t forget Hassan’s track record of budget disasters. As Senate Majority Leader, she watched as two consecutive Democratic budgets fell apart. She supported more than 100 increases in state taxes and fees, and that still wasn’t enough to pay for the massive increase in state spending.

New Hampshire was forced to borrow more money to pay its bills, to cut state aid to cities and towns, and to employ gimmicks like booking phantom revenues that never materialized.

The 2009 budget was such a mess that the Legislature was forced to come back into special session to fill a $295 million deficit. This required dramatic cuts to senior citizen programs, juvenile placement programs, and catastrophic aid to hospitals. And even this was only a stop-gap measure.

The 2011 Legislature inherited an $800 million hole in the budget. Republicans reversed some of Hassan’s massive spending increase, and to this day she still blames all of the state’s problems on the budget that cleaned up her mess.

Hassan refuses to take responsibility for the recent downgrade of our state’s bond rating outlook. She again tried to blame the Republican Legislature, even though the S&P decision specifically cited the Medicaid lawsuit spurred by cuts she supported, the growing liability in the New Hampshire Retirement System, and our state’s inadequate Rainy Day Fund. Hassan has consistently opposed Republican efforts to address these looming fiscal challenges.

Time and again, Maggie Hassan has ignored problems under her watch. Unlike her claims of working in a bipartisan way, she doesn’t work with the Legislature to solve these problems. She prefers to step in once the Legislature reaches a bipartisan solution, and then claim credit for it. She is not leading. She is not solving problems.

I respect my Democratic colleagues in the Senate, and our counterparts in the House. We share a common dedication to making New Hampshire a better place to live, even as we disagree on how to do it. But the partisan bitterness coming from the governor’s office is toxic. It poisons the political atmosphere at the State House, making it harder for Republicans and Democrats to reach across the aisle.

New Hampshire citizens expect more and deserve better.

Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

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