This past Thursday, Governor Chris Sununu presented his proposed budget to the state parliament. The contents of the governor’s budget provide a glimpse into the proposals made by the new Republican majority to allocate scarce state resources during this term.
Two years ago, the Democrats won a majority in the House and Senate, and proposed a budget that prioritized public education and property tax easing for families in New Hampshire. While Governor Sununu resisted and initially vetoed the budget, Democrats stood strong, and the final budget provided additional direct aid of nearly $ 180 million in additional direct aid to communities across the state. By making wise decisions with the available government revenues, the Democrats were able to make unprecedented investments in education and property tax breaks without enacting a large-scale tax.
The next month has been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic changed Granite Staters’ everyday life. It was a year when children were educated in hybrid or distance schools, families adjusted to work schedules or even lost their jobs, and companies changed the way they work in every way. We have all sacrificed for the health of ourselves and our neighbors. As New Hampshire continues to build, it is imperative that the state budget reflect the same community commitment that Granite Staters apply in our daily lives.
One of the cornerstones of the democratic budget in the last term was the largest increase in education funding in decades. Combined with municipal aid sent directly to cities, these funds helped stabilize municipal budgets and reduce the real estate tax burden for all citizens and businesses in this state.
Due to changes in enrollment during the pandemic, public schools are at risk of losing significant funds this year. The next budget must continue to help our communities and schools, as any cut in government funding is offset by property tax increases.
After Governor Sununu accepted and signed the democratic budget two years ago, he tried to pay tribute to the popular influx of local aid. Sununu toured New Hampshire giving city guides giant clearing house-style checks. He saw firsthand the importance of state aid to those who pay property taxes.
Unfortunately, Governor Sununu and the new Republican legislature have warned that further easing property taxes will not be a priority this year. Instead of investing in our communities, Republicans want to cut corporate taxes for the fourth time in six years. This will take away millions of government revenues annually while increasing bottom line profits for large, non-governmental corporations.
If the governor and Republican budget clerks push through corporate tax cuts, local property taxpayers will be forced to make up the difference. Granite Staters deserve the state to watch out for them, just as they did for their neighbors last year. Let us continue to build on the advances made in the last term by continuing to provide the help we need directly to our local communities.
The state budget provides a clear, transparent overview of the governor’s priorities and intentions for the upcoming term. Our state has the means to offload granite stators when we are accountable and the needs of our constituents come first. Building our investments in local communities will be the most important element of the 2021-2022 budget. If Governor Sununu allows the giant checks to ricochet off this year, it will hurt our communities and drive up property taxpayers. Granite Staters can’t afford that.
Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) is the House Democratic Leader and Rep. Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord) serves as the senior Democrat on the finance committee.