The following chart highlights the proposed House changes ( the Senate is currently in the process of preparing its own version of the budget) from 2014 actual expenditure through the 2017 proposals. The report urges caution in interpreting this chart as some of the numbers refer to changes in accounting rather than real spending changes.
Between 1982 and 2012, total fund spending increased at an annual rate of 6.5% with a biennial total of 13%. The current house proposal is about 1/2 of the biennial historic trend at just over 6% while the Governor's proposal is about 9%.
Clearly, Health and Human Services has the largest slice of the budget pie and the largest dollar increase in the budget at $387,113,158. Within this increase though are some cuts in services:
- The House reduced by half ( from the Governor's proposal) funding for State supported services such as Meals on Wheels and the counties will have increased financial burdens for long term care.
- Medicaid expansion would end in 2016 and the Medicaid substance abuse disorder benefit in 2017.
On the revenue side, the Governor's budget differs substantially from the House in two significant ways resulting in a gap of $225 million. Gov. Hassan's revenue projections included modest increases in existing revenue sources and proposed additional revenues sources such as increased gas and tobacco taxes and the addition of Keno gambling. The House budget has significantly lower revenue estimates and did not approve some of the new revenue sources.
It is a difficult time for budget crafters as we have a very limited revenue stream, but we need to provide necessary services, educate our children and maintain our infrastructure. Our $90 million 2008 rainy day fund balance has now been essentially depleted ( even if the $9 million is not touched), and if revenues fall short in the next two years more drastic cuts will be needed.
No light at the end of the tunnel, just more uncertainty and as of yet, no plans to invest in our future.