We learned that The Rolling Stones were correct when they sang, “You can’t always get what you want”. The Budget bills HB3 and HB4 had at least one Democrat legislator literally in tears!
They did not get their Capital Gains Tax, or State Income Tax or increased Business Taxes. They did not get General Funds for Medicaid Expansion either. Lest we forget, 50 of their vetoed bills went down in flames the week before. This is all thanks to a unified Republican Caucus, which also made an impact on budget negotiations. The Democrats were so flustered that they even forgot to do a Parliamentary Inquiry when they presented the budget for a vote. Which reminded me of another song: “The Sound of Silence”.
We learned that the Governor made some compromises but held his ground to make sure we had, for the most part, a fiscally responsible budget. He had Democrats remove $70 million in budget structural deficits. The Governor maintained that the remaining $25 million deficit will be “manageable”, especially as that much money is supposed to be reduced from the Dept. of Health and Human Services over the biennium. He was even able to put money in the rainy day fund and return money to municipalities in the form of education funding and municipal infrastructure grants. This should make many people very happy.
We learned that the Democrat Majority will be hoping and praying for an economic downturn so that Business taxes will go up. Business Taxes (BPT and BET) are now set to change based on revenue triggers. Taxes stay the same now (7.7%/0.6%) but in FY 20 (determined on 1/1/21) if the revenues go up 6%, then BPT/BET rates go down (7.5%/0.5%). If the economy tanks and revenues fall 6% (equating to $150 million) BPT/BET tax rates go up (7.9%/0.675%). The latter scenario is unlikely… but you can bet the Democrat Majority will be praying.
We learned that a legislative minority can block bad legislation and can have a strategic impact on budget negotiations when they stick together. It is a miracle, of sorts, that we ended up with a “No Tax Hike Budget”, even with a tax hungry Democrat Majority on the legislative throne. Had we voted “NO” on this budget, heaven knows what worse budget could have been inflicted upon the Granite State. The same would have happened with a Continuing Resolution, which would have further delayed the budget process, but any tax relief from that would have come right before next year’s elections, for which the Democrats would surely take credit. Timing and strategy was crucial with this budget vote.
We learned that compromise means accepting the ugly policy bills lurking in HB4 so that an October 1st budget deadline can be met. Most of us wanted to avoid hurting our constituents with higher property taxes and upsetting the municipal budgeting process. Yes, ugly policy bills, that did not even have a public hearing, were tucked into this budget. Hopefully, those bills, like the creation of a Housing Appeals Board, can be repealed before it is even given life. That is an abortion we can support. Speaking of abortion…
We learned that the Hyde Amendment was not repealed – much to the great disappointment of the Democrat caucus and that no public tax money would be appropriated for abortion services. That being said, money was still appropriated for “Family Planning” whereby 27 agencies could be recipients of those funds. Only 3 perform abortions; 1 of which is Planned Parenthood. So, we all know what kind of creative accounting might ensue, but for the most part, it can be said that taxpayer money is not outright going to fund abortions. Hey, such is compromise.
We learned that cigarettes won’t be sold to 18-year-olds anymore. They would have had to wait until they were 21, but that was negotiated down to the age of 19 in this budget.
We learned that with a bill that is 700 pages long you have to rely on what you are told about the contents. Just as we rely on committee reports to help us decide how to vote on bills that we do not have time to read, today we had to rely on what the Governor and a few others reported to us about this budget. Trust is not something to screw with. Trust me on that.
We learned that both parties and every lobbying group will claim victory with this budget even though no one got entirely what they wanted. Spin is a truly interesting phenomenon and there will no doubt be much money made from fundraising letters in the coming weeks, as well as for the upcoming election cycle. Check your inbox and you’ll see that I am right.
Finally, we learned the importance of winning back majority status in the next election cycle. Have you been paying attention?
Stay tuned: There are still 2 more bills left to deal with. Then it is on to January and the over 700, new and re-filed, LSR’s in the pipeline. I’m sure you can hardly wait to see what is in store for 2020. It already looks pretty scary.