EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

May 15, 2013

NH Senate panel wary on revenues

(Continued)

Ten of the largest hospital then sued the state over its Medicaid rates. Hassan and the House argued that if the hospital tax produced the higher revenue, aid would be available for the larger hospitals.

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Morse said that unless the state finds a way to support the larger hospitals, they will have no reason to grow in New Hampshire.

“I don’t see any incentive for hospitals to stay in the state,” said Morse, R-Salem.

Ways and Means Chairman Bob Odell pointed out that the state has never had the money Hassan and the House counted on for hospital aid.

“It’s not like we’re losing money,” said Odell, R-Lempster.

But both said the gap will have to be dealt with in the Senate budget.

Some revenues included in the House budget are still awaiting action by the Senate Finance Committee. For example, Hassan and the House delayed implementing business tax breaks worth $13 million and increased tax auditing to bring in an estimated $26 million. They also took $3 million from a land conservation fund and count on about $6 million from expanding Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul law.

The Senate tax committee also isn’t accepting a 20 cent increase in the tobacco tax that Hassan and the House included. That is worth $40 million. The committee did accept a 10 cent scheduled increase in the tax.

“At a time when the business climate in New Hampshire appears to be improving, Senate Ways and Means did not believe relying on millions in new taxes on businesses and consumers was the way to balance the budget,” Odell said later in a statement.

The overall revenue differences are relatively small when looking at the total tax receipts each expects. Hassan’s revenue estimates are almost $5 billion; the House projects $4.4 billion in receipts; and the Senate estimates receiving $4.3 billion.

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