By HOLLY RAMER, Associated Press
CONCORD, NH (AP) – House budget negotiators quickly entered the Senate on the spending portion of the state’s biennial budget on Friday, although debate is expected to intensify next week when it comes to the proposals accompanying policies.
Compared to the bill passed by the House, the Senate’s $ 13.5 billion proposal included 20 additional liquor inspection officers, an additional $ 5 million for mobile crisis units for mental health treatment and a March 2023 closing date for the Sununu Youth Services Center instead of eight months earlier as the House has proposed.
House members of the conference committee said the changes were in line with what they would have recommended had income estimates been higher when they started their jobs. By the time the budget arrived in the Senate, the estimates had increased.
“I wear a green dress because I am jealous of the Senate. You always have more money than we do, said Rep. Lynne Ober, R-Hudson. “We’re still facing lower incomes, and most of these changes you made were things we pushed just because we ran out of money.”
Senator Gary Daniels, R-Milford, said the House provided a solid foundation for the Senate.
“We obviously had more precise income figures. We were able to take the ideas that you weren’t able to integrate and respond to what I think are the needs of the state and our local communities, ”he said.
With Republicans controlling both houses of the legislature, Senator Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, was the only Democrat on the conference committee. She raised many objections, including against a $ 3 million cut to a loan repayment program for health care workers.
“We have a really critical health care workforce shortage,” she said, adding that it didn’t make sense to cut funding for the program at a time when the problem was getting worse. .
Senator Erin Hennessey, R-Littleton, said she hoped money given to the state as part of the latest coronavirus relief funding could be used to help address this issue.
Next week, another team of negotiators will tackle the accompanying bill, which includes not only the policy changes needed to support funding for the new budget, but several unrelated provisions to the budget. These include a ban on abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy and a controversial race and education provision.
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