EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 9, 2013

N.H. surplus could boost social services, fiscal reserves

Hassan finds support on both sides of aisle

(Continued)

“I’d say we don’t want to spend it frivolously,” St. James said.

He would restore some funding for social services, but said he would put as much as 75 percent of the surplus into the Rainy Day Fund.

Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, supports the governor in rebuilding the Rainy Day Fund.

“She should be doing that,” Baldasaro said. “The Rainy Day Fund puts us in better position for bonding, interest rates and everything else.”

But Baldasaro is reluctant to put more into DHHS.

He maintains the agency still needs to stop welfare and Medicaid fraud.

“When they get a handle on that, they will have more money,” Baldasaro said.

He isn’t opposed to building the surplus.

“Let the budget work,” he said. “I wish there was a way we could give a break on the statewide property tax and give money back to the people. Give the people a break.”

Rep. John O’Connor, R-Derry, said he definitely agrees with Hassan about building up the Rainy Day Fund and wants to look at her numbers for social service programs.

“I want to see where she wants to divide it,” O’Connor said.

There are programs such as Children in Need of Services, which helps children caught up in the courts, that could use a boost, O’Connor said.

He also pointed to problems with the state’s roads and bridges.

“There are needs out there,” O’Connor said.

Rep. Gary Azarian, R-Salem, said he supports building the Rainy Day Fund.

“I’d like to see at least $10 million to $20 million, or more, if we can afford it,” Azarian said.

But social services also matter, he said.

“We still need to fund the underprivileged, those in need,” Azarian said.

He also said he would like to fund more highway and bridge work.

Allen acknowledged there is a need to put more money in social services, but also said there are programs that weren’t fully funded in the budget.

She said the House Finance Committee on which she serves will be talking about some of those this week.

She expects more discussion about the surplus and what happens next.

“I want to wait and see what the real story is,” she said.

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