The Bulletin Board

Sununu’s budget, by the numbers

By: - February 16, 2023 12:34 pm

Gov. Chris Sununu delivers his budget address on Feb. 14, 2023, at the State House. (Courtesy)

Gov. Chris Sununu’s proposed budget includes a number of new spending items, from one-off payments toward affordable housing and planning for a new men’s prison to longer-term expenses such as an increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates. Here’s a look at some of the numbers. 

Overall spending: Sununu’s budget would spend about $14.9 billion in total over two years, or about $7.5 billion per year. That’s a large increase from the last two-year budget that passed in 2021, which spent about $13.2 billion overall. The proposed budget is about 13 percent larger. Of the $14.9 billion that would be spent in the newly proposed budget, 33.3 percent would come from federal funds. 

Higher revenues: Sununu’s budget is based in part on the fact that revenues over the last two years have come in above lawmakers’ expectations. In the first year of the last two-year budget – between July 2021 and June 2022 – the state brought in 15.2 percent more in tax revenue than had been planned, according to the governor’s office. Seven months into the second budget year, the state has so far brought in 21.2 percent more in revenue than expected. 

Rainy day fund: The governor’s office and the Department of Administrative Services project that the state will end the current two-year budget period in June with about $330.4 million in surplus. Under the governor’s budget, $94 million of that surplus would go immediately into the state’s “rainy day fund” at the start of the next two-year budget in July 2023. And his budget would devote an additional $87.4 million into the rainy day fund at the end of the next budget biennium, in June 2025. In total, the governor’s budget would add $181.4 million to the rainy day fund. 

Long-term spending: Sununu has a number of proposals to increase long-term spending in the budget, which will be politically difficult to reverse in the future. Among those are:

  • A 10 percent, across-the-board increase in wages for all state employees starting in July 2023, and followed by a 2 percent salary increase in July 2024. 
  • A 3.1 percent across-the-board increase in state Medicaid reimbursements to providers.
  • An overhaul to the state’s school funding formula that would see base adequacy payments to all students increase by 24 percent, and adequacy payments for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch increase by 30 percent. Those increases would be balanced in part by the elimination of stabilization grants, which currently provide about $157 million per year to needier school districts, and replacement with extraordinary needs grants, a less costly targeted aid mechanism. 

One-time spending: As with past budgets, Sununu’s proposed budget this year features a bevy of one-time spending requests. On the list this time are:

  • The creation of a $75 million fund within the Education Trust Fund to go toward school building aid.
  • $8 million to facility and programming improvements for the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team.
  • $25 million toward the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority’s Affordable Housing Fund, which helps support housing geared toward lower rents. 
  • $30 million of state funds toward the InvestNH program. That program distributed $100 million in federal COVID-19 funds in 2022 to developers and towns that built or approved workforce housing. 
  • $5 million toward an incentive program and resources to train New Hampshire educators to teach computer science. The program would pay for teachers to be certified in computer science and give a $10,000 bonus to all computer science teachers in the state.
  • $50 million toward initial planning and construction for a new men’s state prison. Sununu told lawmakers Wednesday that that money is just the start; the full price tag in the coming years will likely be at least $350 million. 
  • $27.9 million for wastewater grants to municipalities.
  • $21 million toward construction of a new building for the Department of Justice.
  • $30 million set aside for “education freedom accounts” – double the current expenditure. The extra funding would open up the program to students from higher income families that are disadvantaged according to a set of criteria.
  • $15 million to go toward construction of a new legislative parking garage in Concord.

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Ethan DeWitt
Ethan DeWitt

Ethan DeWitt is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s education reporter. Previously, he worked as the New Hampshire State House reporter for the Concord Monitor, covering the state, the Legislature, and the New Hampshire presidential primary. A Westmoreland native, Ethan started his career as the politics and health care reporter at the Keene Sentinel.