CarriageTowneNews.com, Kingston, NH

April 18, 2013

My Opinion: April 18, 2013

By NH State Representative L. Mike Kappler
Carriage Towne News

---- — RAYMOND – This week’s column offers more on the House version of the 2014-15 budget, and how it may effect the County taxpayers.

As sent to the Senate, the House version passes on to the County taxes, an increase by raising the cap the County must spend on Long-term Care before the state General Fund money kicks in to help. House budget cap increases $3M to $110M in 2014, and increases an additional $115M in 2015. Rep. Kurk’s amendment would have capped each FY at $109M, saving a lot of money, but the Democrats killed amendment RC 171-195, with only one Republican voting no, Rep. Gargasz of Hollis. Of the total of about $8M cut state wide, Rockingham County could expect an increase of an additional $600K+/- in FY 2014, and an additional, on top of that, of $800K+/- in FY 2015.

A second jab to the taxpayer is that the budget also counts as General Fund revenue, a portion of the money raised in a “per-bed” nursing home tax and the federal matching dollars. In the past, this money has come back to the nursing homes, to help compensate for any shortfalls in the Medicaid reimbursements. This loss of MQIP (provider tax) 25% revenue diversion is approximately a $12M/yr county nursing home loss statewide. A further loss is total diversion - $9M diverted tax funds raised from the homes matched by federal funds = $18M of loss to county and private homes, 2/3 of which would go to county homes. Together, these pieces of the budget could possibly cost the Rockingham County taxpayers around $385.00 each on the county portion of their tax bill. Rockingham County has already passed their 2013 budget which runs January 1st to December 31st. With the state budget starting on July 1st, that makes 7/1/13, the beginning of state FY 2014 budget, the County Delegation may have to go back and reconsider how these increases would effect the second half of the year portion of our 2013 budget.

The Speaker of the House established a joint committee to work on SB-152-FN-A-Local, an act relative to video lottery and table gaming. It is the Speaker’s prerogative to form such an ad hoc committee. This joint committee will comprise of all members of both the House Finance and Ways & Means committees, totaling 45 members, with Fin. Chairman Wallner as chair, and Ways & Means Chairman Almy as vice chair. One good thing about making this joint it will only have to come to the House floor once. If she didn’t do this, the bill would have had to go to one committee, come to the House floor, then go to the other as a 2nd committee, and then back to the House floor a second time.

(Editor’s Note: NH State Representative Mike Kappler can be reached at l.mikekappler@comcast.net)