House budget delivers on our promise
The House has produced a balanced budget that keeps our faith with voters who demanded an end to big government when they elected Republicans last fall. This budget lives up to our commitment of making government operate within its means, not raising taxes and fees and setting us on a path of sustainable spending that encourages growth. Not only does this budget balance honestly, but it also closes the $47 million budget hole that we inherited in the current budget. It eliminates the downshifting in the governor’s budget and rebuilds our Rainy Day Fund.In addition, the House has included some tax relief to get our economy moving forward so that we can start to create good, new jobs. We eliminated the gambling winnings tax that was added in the last budget that actually has cost the state revenue. Also, we cut the cigarette tax to become more competitive, restore the “New Hampshire advantage” and enhance cross-border sales. Finally, we reduced business profits taxes for small businesses by providing protection for reasonable compensation.While these tax cuts aren’t huge in nature, they have two critical effects. First, they are directly targeted at areas that will encourage growth. Second, they send a clear message to people and employers, both here and out of state, that New Hampshire is moving away from the past four years of over 100 tax and fee increases that threatened to make our state just like any other state and that were destroying our low tax status.Another area we pledge to fix is the use of accounting gimmicks and borrowing to cover our operating costs. Using your credit card to pay your mortgage is unsustainable and would have ruined our state finances if we let it continue. The House budget stops this process in its tracks.At the same time, this budget nearly triples our Rainy Day Fund to help us deal with potential future problems.While we were able to rein in state government to craft a fiscally responsible budget, this is not to say that it was an easy process. Whenever budget reductions happen, it impacts real people, and our finance committee was committed to minimizing the effects on those who receive state services. There were many tough decisions to make, and this House budget makes them not with joy, but with knowledge that these choices will help to secure our future prosperity.This budget ensures that our citizens will still have strong access to core services. In fact, in many cases, services will improve. For example, our court system came in with a plan for efficiency and received an additional $3 million to begin the court innovation process. As a result, the public will see an end to the court shutdowns and delays for justice currently in place.The House budget protects key services while finally putting the taxpayer at the table. After the last four years, that’s a refreshing change.William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, is speaker of the New Hampshire House. D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, is House majority leader. Ken Weyler, R-Kingston, is chairman of the House Finance Committee.