BUDGET CONFEREES HOLD FIRST MEETING
Described as an organizational meeting, the House and Senate budget conferees held their first meeting on Friday. The goal of committee of conference on HB 1 (operating budget) and HB 2 the so-called trailer bill is to work out an acceptable two-year spending plan. Chairing the 9-member committee is Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, Chair of the House Finance Committee. Senate Chuck Morse of Salem heads up the four-member Senate panel. In what is expected to be full day sessions, the committee will meet on June 17, 18 and 19. Under Senate rules the Senate members are required to sign off on both bills by noontime on June 20. The House members must sign off on a budget agreement by 4 pm that same day.
House: (C)Mary Jane Wallner, Cindy Rosenwald, Daniel Eaton, Susan Almy, Neal Kurk, (a)Bernard Benn, (a)Thomas Buco, (a)Patricia Lovejoy, (a)Kenneth Weyler
Senate: Chuck Morse, Jeanie Forrester, Bob Odell, Lou D’Allesandro
Rep. Wallner opened the meeting by explaining how the committee of conference would go about its business and the time deadlines. She also thanked the committee members for their willingness to serve on the committee. Senator Chuck Morse went a step further in his comments stating that state government like NH families had to live within its means. Morse stated that the Senate conferees would not support raising taxes, Medicaid expansion and would not go along with the House’s $49 million increase in revenue estimates.
It didn’t take long for the House conferees to stake out their position on the Senate’s spending cuts by requesting that 125 line items in the budget be put “on hold’. It also became clear that House members wanted to revisit some of their own spending priorities along with any Senate changes made in spending. Rep. Wallner announced that the first order of business on Monday would be revenue estimates along with Medicaid expansion.