While not mentioned in the address, the press reports that overall spending is slated to increase, over the next two years, from $11.3 billion to $12.1 billion. That’s an increase of seven percent in Fiscal Years 2018-2019 over the two prior Fiscal Years, July, 2015 through June, 2017.
The press also reports that the increase in “general fund” and education spending is 3.5 percent. I take that to mean that “revenues” that are classified as “General fund” and “education trust funds” (which are called “unrestricted revenues” in contrast with federal funds that can be used only as designated by Congress or Highway, Fish & Game fees, etc. that by law are restricted to certain purposes) are projected to increase by 3.5 percent and Sununu proposes to spend all of the projected increase.
Here’s a graphic showing the sources of government spending from a State website called “Transparent NH“, which contains the terms “general fund” and education trust fund”:
So the “revenues” from the”general fund” and the “education trust fund” made up about 42 percent of total revenues for the current fiscal year.
There is no corresponding graphic that separates general fund and education trust fund spending from other spending, which is why I assume that the reported 3.5 percent increase in general fund and education spending means that these revenues are projected to increase by 3.5 percent. It would have been nice if the press explained this.
It also would have been nice if the press had explained why overall spending is slated to increase by seven percent over the biennium, given that “general fund” and “education trust fund” spending apparently account for less than half of the increase.
I suppose the press has been too busy pretending that the busloads of voters from Massachusetts should be taken literally instead of figuratively, and demolishing that straw man, to make the budget comprehensible.
Governor Sununu’s budget director, Charlie Arlinghaus, is a newspaper columnist for the Union Leader, which I have been referring to as #DyingPaper since this tweet:
Arlinghaus just wrote a column praising the budget he wrote. I wonder how many newspaper columnists outside of New Hampshire moonlight as budget directors.
The budget is a status quo budget. It doesn’t propose to eliminate any agencies or make any major changes in the way New Hampshire collects taxes or funds education. That the budget is a status quo budget is evident from the Democrat Party’s muted response:
Concord, N.H. – As a new governor, Chris Sununu was lucky enough to inherit a $160 million budget surplus … . Since 2005, Democrats have worked hard to balance the budget without sacrificing our investments in education, … . Today’s budget is largely a reflection of that hard work. While it appears he did a solid job of cutting and pasting from most of that plan in his budget proposal, he still gets an incomplete for some of the unanswered questions left from his speech today:
“… we are disheartened to see that Governor Sununu did not fully fund the state’s alcohol fund, … instead of helping freeze or lower tuition costs at the University System of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu is creating a scholarship program named after himself.”
“We also do not know from his presentation which communities will get full-day kindergarten and which ones won’t, whether he is planning to continue the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, … . We can only hope that Chris Sununu will stand up to members of his own party in supporting the programs that he’s promised to continue,” concluded Buckley.
None of the usual tripe that the budget will result in seniors being thrown out of nursing homes, massive layoffs of teachers, police, firefighters, etc., etc., etc.. Instead, the Democrats responded, mainly, by figuratively running a victory lap: “While it appears he did a solid job of cutting and pasting from most of that plan [budgets under Democrat Governors] in his budget proposal, …”
It probably was prudent for Sununu to propose a status quo budget. For one thing, in New Hampshire a Governor’s term is only two years and Democrats have eroded the New Hampshire advantage incrementally since 1997. Trying to undo twenty years in two years would probably be a bridge too far and result in the voters returning a Democrat to the corner office in 2018. Still, it’s disappointing.
For another thing, Sununu’s dance-partners in the House, Speaker Shawn Jasper, and Senate, President Chuck Morse, are not change-agents. They wouldn’t support a transformational budget.
To sum up, the main objective of the Sununu budget is to get reelected in 2018. Which makes sense if you consider that two years is not enough time to turn around the ship of State, especially when your co-captains, Jasper and Morse, don’t want it turned around.