Republicans criticize Democrats’ budget for N.H.

House Finance Committee members Peter Leishman (left) and Bernard Benn discussed budget plans Monday.
Jim Cole /Associated Press
House Finance Committee members Peter Leishman (left) and Bernard Benn discussed budget plans Monday.

CONCORD, N.H. — House Republicans criticized Democrats Monday for proposing a budget they say does not allot enough for some things but spends too much overall.

Representative Neal Kurk, a member of the House budget committee, said the proposed $11 billion two-year budget will cost county property taxpayers more money to care for the poor and elderly in nursing homes. He said state aid to counties would be his top priority for additional funding.

Kurk said his second priority is to fund school construction. House budget writers eliminated money for all but the state’s share of existing projects.


Republicans also criticized Democrats for building a budget on revenue estimates that Republicans said are $31 million too high.

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‘‘We’re growing government at a rate we can’t afford right now,’’ said House Republican leader Gene Chandler.

Speaker Terie Norelli, a Democrat, said Republicans want to add $35 million in spending on programs such as building aid, charter schools, and county aid while complaining that Democrats’ estimates of money available are too high.

‘‘The governor did a great job of putting together a budget that includes all the priorities we care about,’’ Norelli said.

But Norelli said the House Finance Committee could not fund everything with the ­expected tax revenue.


Chandler said Republicans will offer amendments when the Democratic-controlled House votes Wednesday. He said Republican leaders will not challenge the public works budget, which contains $38 million for a new women’s prison.

The House Finance Committee spent 90 minutes explaining the budget plan to lawmakers. Chairwoman Mary Jane ­Wallner, a Democrat, said it ­allots $2.8 billion over the two years in state taxes and is about $51 million less than the budget Governor Maggie Hassan recommended in February.

The House budget does not count on $80 million from ­licensing a yet-to-be approved casino that was in Hassan’s budget. Without the gambling money, the House budget scales back on education funding in Hassan’s budget, including money for school construction Kurk and Republicans wanted.

The panel also recommends giving the university system 20 percent less than it sought in exchange for a promise to freeze in-state tuition. The system would get an additional $47 million.