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Bob Odell
State Senator
District 8

November 12, 2008

Senator Odell is Chairman of  the Ways and Means Committee, a member of the Energy, Environment and Economic Development Committee, and the Finance Committee.

Senate District 8 towns: Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Claremont, Gilsum, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury, Newport, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity, Walpole, Washington and Westmoreland.

 

The TV campaign ads have ended and most of the signs along the road have been taken down and put away. And it is a time of reflection on the results and what they may mean for our state.

There seemed to be two levels of elections last Tuesday. There was the top of the ticket elections for federal office. And clearly there was momentum for change at the Presidential and United States Senate level.

But at the state level, there was almost no change. Governor John Lynch won another overwhelming victory. The New Hampshire House of Representatives will be led by the Democrat majority for another term even as Republicans gained 17 seats.

No Senate seats changed party hands. The State Senate will remain 14-10 in favor of the Democrats and the Senate President Syliva Larsen (Concord) will continue in her role. The new majority leader will be Maggie Hassen (Exeter) filling the key position left vacant by the retirement of Joe Foster (Nashua).

There will be one new majority. The lineup of the new State Senate will have 13 women among the 24 members. The Senate will be the only legislative body in the country with women in the majority.

There are six new members of the Senate. For District 5 which includes the Sullivan County towns of Cornish, Croydon, Grantham, Plainfield and Springfield, the new Senator will be Matt Houde of Plainfield. His is Assistant Dean at the Vermont Law School and is completing his first term in the House of Representatives.


* * *

While the focus of our new President is on the national and international economy, newly elected legislators will face our own financial challenge right here in New Hampshire. Revenue has consistently failed to meet projections over the past few months and October was no exception. Income fell short by $14.7 million against projections of $207 million. That means that revenue is off by $71.5 million for the first four months of the current fiscal year. There seems to be a monthly trend of being below projections right around 6 or 7 percent. That creates a big gap between budgeted spending and revenue.

Business taxes in October were off by more than 25% coming in with $27 million instead of the budgeted $37.7 million. Real estate transfer tax (RET) collections continued to lag significantly. 

Revenue for the month totaled $8.1 million, $4.8 million below projections and $1.5 lower than October, 2007. Year to date, RET has brought in $18.5 million (32%) below projections and $10.3 million (21%) below last year.

And with bleak projections for economic activity for the next few months, there is little optimism on the income side for the rest of the fiscal year that ends on June 30. It also means that those working on the new two year budget that starts next July have their work cut out for them. Costs of state government go up with inflation and when revenue not only does not meet budget projections but is actually producing less money than the prior year, it will take real hard work to produce a budget that is balanced. But that is what will have to be done as a balance budget is a constitutional requirement.

Governor Lynch asked his department heads to come up with some options for cutting costs in the current fiscal year. With those options in hand, the Governor will present his proposals to reduce spending in the current year to the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee on November 20. The cuts will have to be severe as he will have to make up in the last six months of the fiscal year budget shortfalls that have will have taken place over the entire twelve months of the year.

For the next two year budget, Governor Lynch now has the budget requests from all the departments and agencies of state government. He and his top budget aides will take the next three months to decide on how much they think the government will spend over the 24 months beginning next July. Just as difficult, they will have to look into their economic crystal ball and settle on how much the state can anticipate in revenue. The constitution requires the Governor present his budget proposal to the legislature by February 15. Then, the legislative action begins and the first stop is the House of Representatives. Later in the spring, a House budget plan will be sent over to the Senate for action there.

* * *

Area veterans were recognized for their service by the students and faculty of the Newport Middle High School on Friday morning. Elected officials are invited to participate in important and meaningful events and none is more significant than this annual Veterans Day event. A breakfast for the veterans was followed by a program recognizing those serving or who have served in the wars going back a couple of generations. Three graduates of Newport Middle High School currently serving in the Army were introduced.

Veterans were recognized by the wars they served in. And later, they were asked to stand as their branch of service song was presented by the school's chorus. I am always touched by the students attending this event as they come to see, in those of older generations, the meaning of military service and sacrifice. That is an important connection for each new generation.

Bob Odell
State Senator
New Hampshire State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301-4951

Telephone:  603-271-6733
Email:  rpojr@aol.com


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