Friday, June 12, 2009

Democrats Putting the Cart Before the Horse When it Comes to the State Budget.

While the people of New Hampshire are going about their daily lives there’s a battle of philosophies going on at the State House—one that would have the state run up a tab and then worry about where the money to pay for it is coming from and the other that would have us look at the existing revenue and live within our means. Unfortunately, the former seems to be winning.

Perhaps Democrats serving in the Legislature should take a lesson from their constituents when it comes to budgeting, especially during these tough economic times. Just as John and Mary Doe are forced to live within their means, so too should state government. But instead, in the Democrat-controlled legislature, it has become about spending and not about cutting. In the last three years it has become about raising revenue through fees and taxes and not about living within our means. In crafting a budget for 2010-2011 Democrats have clearly put the “cart before the horse.”

They tipped their hand on their budgeting philosophy back in April of this year when House Floor Majority Leader Dan Eaton (d-Stoddard) stood before his colleagues on the House floor and told them, “It makes sense to know how much you’re spending before you decide how much money to raise.” I wonder how many of his constituents fill a supermarket shopping basket to the brim and then try and figure out where the money is coming from to pay for everything once they get to the checkout counter? It’s not the way our citizens run their family budget and state government should take a lesson.

The question among the conferees who are currently deciding between the House and the Senate budget seems to be to spend at the high House level or the much higher Senate level. When they should be discussing cuts, Democrats continue to talk about increases in spending and even higher taxes. The philosophy among State House Democrats for the past three years has been to spend first, raise taxes later and not to worry how much has been spent—once again putting the proverbial cart before the horse. In fact, they have increased General Fund spending by nearly 24% since they were given control of the two chambers three years ago. Republicans, on the other hand, believe that we should first see how much revenue we have, without inflating the figures, and then adjust our spending accordingly to live within our means—just as the people of New Hampshire must do in their everyday lives.

The overall budget for the House for the two-year biennium is $5,002B while the Senate budget in General Fund dollars is $5,082B. However, the Senate added another $75M when they removed the liquor commission and placed it into a separate fund, leaving the difference between the two budgets in general fund dollars at about $155M.

In the court of public opinion, the discussion should not be whether we pass more taxes or turn to gambling to solve the budget crisis, but where we should cut in order to live within our means. In the end, Rep. Eaton got it backwards because it really makes more sense to decide how much money we have raised before deciding how much to spend. I believe that the people of New Hampshire have seen enough of the spend-and-tax Democrats and are looking to replace them with prudent Republicans who will spend less and lower state taxes.

Sherm Packard
House Republican Leader

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