$70 million municipal infrastructure aid survives conference committee

Measure OKd after House gives up on bid to slash jobless benefits

NH House conferees dropped their attempt to drastically cut unemployment benefits Thursday, paving the way for the state to spend $70 million in municipal roads and bridges, including $4 million to aid in the revival of the Balsams resort.

“We are not going to hold up these funds because of policy disagreements, said Rep. Jason Osborne, R-Auburn – a view echoed by every House member on the conference committee negotiating the bill, save for Rep. Leonard Turcotte, R-Barrington, who asked to be replaced, since he could not sign the compromise.

The Senate had passed the spending package in March. But the House tacked on language from a bill the Senate killed on April 14, HB 1337, which would chop 10 weeks off the current 26 weeks of unemployment benefits provided to recipients when the state’s jobless rate goes below 3 percent, as it is now. The bill would have added a week of benefits with each half-percent uptick until the amount returns to the full 26 weeks when it reaches 8 percent.

The House members, led by Turcotte, made one last plea just hours before Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline, saying that there is “nowhere in this state you can’t find a job that will pay less than $20 an hour plus benefits.”

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