"The budget that recently passed the House and is being considered by the state Senate reduced state spending by 11.3%. This wasn’t a Washingtonian-style "reduction of proposed increases." No, in this case the state will actually spend 11% less than it spent last budget." – Charlie Arlinghaus, President of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy
My preference for these columns is to discuss issues and my votes thereon rather than get into debates with the other side of the aisle. Our votes will speak for themselves... but I will diverge from that preference this week.
On November 2, 2010, the people of New Hampshire made a sea-change decision. They elected 298 Republican Members to the 400 seat NH House of Representatives. They sent a message that they were tired of excessive spending, higher taxes and fees, and slight-of-hand budgeting.
The first task of the new Speaker, Rep. Bill O’Brien, was to create a transition team to set up the structure of the new administration. I was honored to be named to that team. Goals were set, strategies were discussed, House Rules were formulated, and the leadership structure was created.
Out of that process came what my friend, the Democratic Representative from New London, has derisively called "The Great Experiment". Actually, it was much more than an experiment, it was a huge challenge.
The previous administration "balanced" the budget with one-time stimulus money, more than 100 new or increased taxes and fees, borrowing from the future (bonding), and slight-of-hand transfers of items "off budget". The result was a budget hole for the 2012-13 budget of approximately $850M that needed to be filled.
Our challenge was to (1) fill that hole and (2) create a balanced budget without stimulus money, without new or increased taxes and fees, without "downshifting" to the counties, cities or towns, and without bonding for operational needs. Despite what you may have read on these pages recently, we have done what we promised. See the above quote.
My Democratic friend from New London said last week, "the Great Experiment advocated by the Tea Partiers and Free Staters has failed." What an astounding statement! First, I am not a Free Stater or a Tea Partier. While I’m encouraged by the patriotism and energy that those grass root groups have injected into politics, I have never been to a rally sponsored by either group. The same is probably true for other members of the transition team who were all state house veterans.
Second, the budget has passed the House and been sent to the Senate to study and amend. After that will come the Committees of Conference to reconcile the differing versions. The result, if signed by the governor, will take effect on July 1, 2011, the start of the new fiscal year.
I would suggest that my Democratic friend hold his declaration of "failure" until the process has been completed and the budget unfolds. I am willing to stand on our record of achievement at the 2012 election. I urge him to do the same.
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Contact: ken.s+sunacom.com (replace "+" with "@")