The 2013 Legislative session finished late last month. It was very busy throughout the year, but particularly over the last two weeks when the budget needed polishing and compromise, other bills headed to Committees of Conference, and final…really final….votes were cast.
The largest effort in the first year of the biennium is always creating the budget. The 2014-2015 budget went to the Governor’s desk for her signature with three days to spare before the current fiscal year ended!
This budget is a significant step forward for the priorities I ran on… creating jobs, strengthening the economy, and improving the health and safety of the people of New Hampshire. This bipartisan, fiscally responsible balanced budget passed both the House and Senate by the largest margins since 2001!
Acknowledging that the deep cuts in the last legislature had caused damage and disruption, Democrats and Republicans came together to craft a budget that puts New Hampshire back on track and helps set the foundation to build a more innovative economic future, care for our most vulnerable, supports public safety, strives to make education more affordable and preserves our natural resources. This coming together demonstrates that our shared values as Granite Staters are far more significant than our differences.
The budget includes many provisions outlined in the Governor’s Innovate NH jobs plan, such as significantly restoring funding for the University and Community College systems, and
requires them to freeze tuition. We’ve invested in measures to support businesses by strengthening economic development investments, increased travel and tourism promotion, and improved trade assistance for businesses.
The budget invests in priorities needed to improve the health and wellbeing of New Hampshire’s people and communities. It will allow the state to move forward with implementing its ten-year mental health plan, provides funding to eliminate the waitlist for people with developmental disabilities, restores the Children in Need of Services (CHINS) program, fully funds the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), increases aid to cities and towns, and strengthens public safety by adding additional state troopers, maintaining drug task force teams, and funding the Cold Case Unit.
Missing in our budget is the opportunity for NH to insure 58,000 of our lowest income workers under expanded Medicaid. The House and Senate compromised and have created a nine member Commission to study the implementation and the effect on NH. The Commission must report findings and recommendations by mid-October. I have been appointed to the Commission by the Senate Minority Leader, and look forward to delving into the detail of the potential impact expanding Medicaid will have – beginning with our first meeting tomorrow.
Other bills of importance that I sponsored and supported passed this year include SB 41, the top priority for the Business and Industry Association in New Hampshire, which rewrites and gives critical updates to NH’s Corporate Laws. On the health front, SB 17 creates a commission to understand barriers and find ways to advance palliative care in NH, which would help improve the quality of life for those living with a serious illness; and SB 87 strengthens protections for healthcare professionals delivering care in the home.
As always, please be in touch with ideas or concerns, or arrange to visit our State House. I am in Room 103-A. Drop me an email at Peggy.Gilmour@leg.state.nh.us, call my office at 603-271-4151, or contact me at home at 603-465-2336.
P.S. Although Legislators are technically “off duty” for the summer, I will be visiting all corners of District 12 (Brookline, Greenville, Hollis, Mason, New Ipswich, Rindge, and Wards 1, 2 and 5 in the City of Nashua). I hope to see many of you at events around our beautiful community, and hear more about what matters to my constituents. After all, you sent me to Concord – and I work for you. See you around!