"All money bills shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose, or concur with amendments, as on other bills." – Part II, Article 18, New Hampshire Constitution
Much will be written pro and con in the press about our budget, the most significantly changed New Hampshire state budget in many years, if not our lifetimes. It would be good to have a guidebook of what is happening and, more importantly, what is yet to happen before June 30, 2011.
The budget is described as covering "the two years ending June 30, 2012 and June 30, 2013", thus the first day of the budget is July 1, 2011, a little over 10 weeks from today.
House Bill 1, the budget for the state of New Hampshire, has now passed from the House to the Senate. There is no Senate budget bill. As shown above, the NH Constitution requires that the budget be originated in the House. Article 18, however, goes on to say that the Senate also has a voice in the process. The Senate can amend the budget while it is in that body.
What is House Bill 2? Part II, Article 18-A of our Constitution says that, "All sections of all budget bills before the General Court (the legislature) shall contain only the operating and capital expenses for (the three) branches of government. No section or footnote of any such budget bill shall contain any provision which establishes, amends, or repeals statutory law…."
Thus the "budget" can only list the spending. HB 2 is called "the trailer bill". Its purpose is to list the revenue and all changes in the laws required to implement the spending listed in the budget bill. Thus the budget process contains both HB 1, the budget bill, and HB 2, the trailer bill, running in tandem.
The budget has completed the second stage of its four-stage progress to implementation. Stage I was the introduction of the Governor’s budget in mid-February. On March 31, six weeks after the Governor’s budget presentation, the Governor’s budget was replaced by HB 1 and passed by the House. The budget was then sent on to the Senate.
By June 2, 2011, the budget amended by the Senate (Stage III) will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote. Being amended by the Senate, it will move to Stage IV, wherein the Senate and House versions of the bill will be reconciled by a Committee of Conference. It will then come to the floor of both bodies for rejection or approval. That final vote will be an "up or down" vote. No amendments can be offered at that time
Can the Governor then veto the bill? Yes. But the budget usually goes to the final days of June. The last day to act on Committee of Conference Reports is June 23. The budget then needs to be enrolled and sent to the Governor. If he does not sign it by July 1, state government shuts down – with little time for a continuing resolution.
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