Deficit – What Deficit?

The party that is bringing civility ( see here, here, here, herehere, here (sigh) here, here, a big one right here,…) ran on the idea that the New Hampshire Republican House and Senate was leaving New Hampshire with a deficit, a presumption only “slightly” less dishonest than the notion that Democrats are civil, or half as dishonest as the idea that democrat Carol-Shea-Porter even knows the gun laws in her own state. Turns out, as usual, they were wrong.

“At this point, if spending levels come in as predicted, the state could end the budget cycle (the result of the budget passed two years ago) with a $43 million balance…”

Now to be fair, 63% of this projected Republican Surplus is from a lawsuit windfall, the rest is just taxes being caught up etc, but either way the Republicans leave the new budget writers without the need to pay for 800 million in fixed spending for which there was no revenue, with something extra for the rainy day fund.

So yeah, about that…

To Governor Hassan’s credit, she seems to think that the Republican budget surplus should not be considered as there-for-the-taking as has been the policy of budget writers and spenders in both parties in years past.  And while things are closing up nicely on the last budget, there is no evidence that this is a trend or an invitation to exaggerate future tax revenue.

More from Charlie Arlinghaus in the Union Leader

Revenues are not doing unusually well. Excluding the lawsuit, year-to-date revenue is less than one-half of 1 percent ahead of budget. Regular revenues are about 3.5 percent ahead of last year. House budget writers estimated cautious increases of just under 2 percent per year (absent tax increases). Those estimates are quite realistic if you don’t assume that the above-average business tax growth of 2013 will be repeated.

Remember that the state has very difficult times when revenues don’t materialize and sudden, out-of-budget spending cuts have to be found. Cautious revenue estimating leads to modest surpluses which allow for contingencies that come up during the two years a budget is in effect.

State government should follow the governor’s advice: don’t suspend the rainy day fund law. Save the surplus. Then use the House revenue estimates (without the tax increases). After the ups and downs of the last decade, a little caution is in order.

Year to date revenue is less than 1 – 1/2 percent ahead of the last budget.  That’s some excellent estimating of revenue and then spending if you ask me.   But it is not a skill New Hampshire Democrats have been able to demonstrate on their own.

With even the government – lovin’ – spending – friendly left – of – center New Hampshire Public Policy estimating slow growth for the next few years, legislators would be ill-advised to presume we will have money for more spending without more taxes, which itself comes with a hitch.  New Hampshire Democrats are proposing more taxes to justify more spending but that math punishes New Hampshire families to benefit growing government they may not be able to afford.  

(Why not look for money in inefficiencies or modified benefit and pension plans that bring them more in line with the private retirement plans most taxpayers have to fund fully on their own?)

There is plenty of money to tap already in the government.  We don’t need to grab more.  But I think the Democrats are loath to ask their union pals for any concessions and too lazy to clean the dusty corners of an institution whose rapid and messy expansion defines them as a political party.

I guess that makes Governor Hassan’s suggestion an anomaly, which is probably why I think that Hassan is posturing on this.   She knows as well as you or I that the spenders spent that surplus before we even knew we had it.  They will ignore the meek call to put that Republican surplus away for a rainy day and sign whatever budget they send her.  This is, after all, a governor whose own budget included spending revenue that not only did not exist, but that was to come from a source that was not yet even legal in New Hampshire.  She wont pass up the opportunity to spend revenue that showed up out of nowhere nor is she likely to stand in the way of any budget that stretches the limits of expected growth to allow for new spending she desires.

She is a long time leader in New Hampshire’s grow government first party.  She helped spend that 800 million we didn’t have when she was a State Senator.  Any sum below that is just another happy little tax and spend trip down memory lane, and for the sake of Democrat talking points, money not yet spent that could have been….is a tax cut.