The New Hampshire Freedom Caucus is celebrating after passing what it says is “ the most liberty-oriented state budget since 2011.” However, while it may have won the first major battle, it is likely to lose the war.
“It’s great to see excessive taxes being reduced to give small business owners and young families more flexibility to recover and thrive coming out of these difficult times,” said state Rep. Glen Aldrich (R-Gilford).
“Having escaped Connecticut, where I watched an overreaching government loot the productivity of the state, it’s refreshing to be a part of a legislature that prioritized the rights of its people to pursue their dreams without government interference,” state Rep. Judy Aron (R- South Acworth) said.
“As someone who has always been a champion of using taxpayer dollars wisely and prudently, it’s noteworthy that I can proudly announce: this is the first state budget I’ve ever voted in favor of,” said state Rep. Kevin Verville (R-Deerfield).
From tax cuts to reforming the state’s emergency powers laws to language banning race-based “divisive concepts” from government teaching and training, the Freedom Caucus says it achieved most of its goals. But the battle is far from over, as Democrats adamantly oppose it and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has promised to veto it in its current form.
“House Bills 1 and 2, as amended by Republicans on the Finance Committee and passed but the support of the Republican majority, do not meet the needs of our citizens or our state,” said state Rep. Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord).
“I have been in the legislature and worked hard on state budgets for a long time, House Bills 1 and 2 fall short in ways I have never seen before. In addition to the layers and layers of cuts and underfunding, this budget sets dangerous precedents about the role of the Finance Committee and undermines the very foundation of the legislature, our policy committee structure,” Wallner added.
The New Hampshire branch of the American Federation of Teachers criticized House Republicans in a press release, claiming the budget will “raise property taxes,” though it didn’t offer details.
“This budget does nothing to increase educational opportunities and instead punishes those who need our help the most,” said AFT-NH President Doug Ley, who is also a state representative and the ranking Democrat on the Education Committee.
House Republicans note their budget includes $100 million for property tax relief.
The Freedom Caucus is particularly proud that the budget includes emergency powers reform which “restores legislative oversight to keep the government in check.” But that’s also the part of their budget most likely to inspire a veto.
“The budget the House is going to pass is nothing that I would ever sign,” Sununu has said. “There’s a bunch of non-germane issues, things in there taking away emergency powers and all that kind of stuff.”
Sununu added he will be working closely with Senate President Chuck Morse on a budget deal. But when a dozen GOP House members could block any legislation by flipping their votes, Sununu may need the Freedom Caucus just as much as the House GOP needs him.