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Business Perspective: NH’s ‘miracle’ budget built on bipartisanship

Business Perspective: NH’s ‘miracle’ budget built on bipartisanship

The “miracle” budget passed by New Hampshire lawmakers delivers results for Granite State employers and workers on several fronts and lawmakers deserve praise for rising above the partisan fray too typical these days.

The nearly even split between parties in the House of Representatives had some thinking it would be a session of chaos, or one in which little would get done. And there was the possibility of a prolonged budget fight that could stretch into the fall with continuing resolutions to keep the state’s government operating.

Thankfully, to the credit of lawmakers, the bipartisan budget was approved ahead of the June 30 end of fiscal year and absent of political grandstanding and theatrics. Most importantly, the budget Gov. Chris Sununu signed into law last month goes to great lengths to address the most important issue facing Granite State employers: the workforce shortage.

The Business & Industry Association worked diligently with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and the governor in support of priorities developed from feedback from our nearly 400 members, large and small, across the state. The worker shortage was their top concern as it’s holding back employers and the state economy from reaching full potential.

BIA’s mission is to promote a healthy business climate and robust economic future for New Hampshire. Partnering with lawmakers is essential to delivering results for businesses and most lawmakers saw the opportunity and benefit of wise investments to address the worker shortage. Legislative leaders worked to make it happen. Gov. Sununu, Senate President Jeb Bradley, Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy, House Speaker Sherman Packard, House Majority Leader Jason Osborne and House Minority Leader Matt Wilhelm all stepped up. Each would certainly extend credit to countless others.

Legislatively, the New Hampshire way is supporting and building upon what’s great about living, working, learning and playing in the Granite State. A budget that prioritizes investments, considers the returns from them, and maintains stable taxes is often the most important part.

At the budget signing ceremony last month, several legislative leaders noted the budget is not perfect; that neither side got everything they wanted. But compromise can be seen as respective sides getting more than they anticipated, giving in some areas to get in others. A solid budget, as this one is, sets the foundation for subsequent years. This budget, which BIA urged the Senate and House to pass, increases investments in business priorities and other areas, without increased taxes and fees for employers.

The budget significantly increases Medicaid reimbursement rates for long-term care providers, which should take pressure (and associated cost burdens) off primary care hospitals. This should reduce cost-shifting of uncompensated care to other insurance payers, mostly noticeably employers and employees. It establishes a seven-year extension of the Granite Advantage Health Care Program, New Hampshire’s expanded Medicaid program, which is a critical public health and workforce availability initiative.

Workforce housing received considerable support with much-needed appropriations to New Hampshire’s Affordable Housing Fund and the governor’s InvestNH program, which seeks to boost affordable housing construction. The budget also funds a new, innovative “housing champions” program designed to reward municipalities that voluntarily make significant efforts to increase high-density housing in their communities.

The budget also significantly increases state support for New Hampshire’s community colleges and universities, easing the cost of tuition and encouraging our next-generation workforce to stay in-state for their post-secondary education. Finally, it recognizes and provides better funding for childcare initiatives, a key to allowing many parents from around the state to return to the workforce.

These investments can help address the lack of workers burdening so many businesses and other employers. Increasing the ability for people to live and work here will further strengthen the New Hampshire Advantage, grow our economy and deliver greater prosperity for all. Besides answering the call for help from employers, this budget shows the value of bipartisanship and compromise. We may not always have “miracle” budgets, but we may have more times when working together for the good of the whole is not a miracle.

Michael Skelton is president and CEO of the Business & Industry Association, New Hampshire’s statewide chamber of commerce and leading nonpartisan business advocate. Visit

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