The Governor’s budget undercuts the alcohol fund which is key in combatting the opioid crisis. Tym Rourke, Chair of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, said yesterday that the additional dollars directed toward the alcohol fund are deceptive, and could be diverted elsewhere, forcing treatment and prevention programs to scramble for resources. Sununu’s uprooting of opioid funds is similar to the Trump budget, which cuts money from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, slashes drug prevention funding by 11%, cuts Medicaid funding in half, and cuts $400 million in substance use disorder and mental health funding.
In addition to underfunding the fight against opioids, Sununu’s Senate budget does nothing to avoid tuition hikes at community colleges and state universities, dedicates no funding toward job training of Community Mental Health Centers, and stops short of providing adequate funding to the Department of Children, Youth & Families and the developmental disability program. Most surprisingly, the Senate Republicans refused to spend even a dollar in the budget on the popular full-day kindergarten program.
The underfunding of key programs for New Hampshire’s working families and most vulnerable citizens are designed to make room for $216 million in business tax cuts in the next 4 years. After 12 years of Democratic leadership in the corner office, New Hampshire has the third-lowest unemployment rate in the country and was rated the number one state in America for economic opportunity by US News.
Senate Democrats fought back against the Senate Republican version of the budget. They proposed amendments to fully fund full-day kindergarten and the alcohol fund, provide additional funding to the developmental disabilities waitlist, the DCYF, mental health funding, and job training, freeze tuition at the University System of New Hampshire, and eliminate corporate tax cuts. Senate Republicans defeated every measure despite all amendments falling within Governor Sununu’s revenue estimates.
NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:
“Governor Sununu has chosen to once again tow the party line, giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest Granite Staters at the expense of working families and our state’s most vulnerable. Rather than back down or give in, Senate Democrats bravely pushed late into the night fighting for our shared progressive values.
Like President Trump’s much-maligned budget, the Sununu budget Senate Republicans passed today would be a blow to the fight against the opioid crisis, according to state opioid experts. It would deny our children a head-start with full-day kindergarten, make college less affordable for young people, and cut job training programs. Under 12 years of Democratic Governors, we’ve seen New Hampshire lead the country economically while taking care of the state’s most vulnerable. In his inaugural budget, the first Republican Governor in over a decade is already tearing down the progress we’ve made.”