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NH Budget Scissors Unsheathed Today

November 21, 2008

Concord, NH – Governor Lynch is asking the Legislature's Fiscal Committee to sharpen its budget scissors. The state's deficit is estimated at $250 million and Gov. Lynch wants to cut about $60 million now, then make deeper cuts early next year.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, says that's the right thing to do because there is a possibility the federal government will put together a state-based economic rescue package.

"If we can get some money from the federal government to state and local governments, so that they don't have to make those cutbacks, they won't have to raise taxes. That will help boost the economy."

If the federal government bails out the states, adds Baker, it will have to do so with borrowed money. He calls that a "good" kind of deficit.

"We need deficits right now, and you can see it's not a problem because the interest rates are incredibly low. It's very easy for the government to borrow right now because there’s not much other demand for capital."

Every time New Hampshire cuts its budget, says Baker, that cuts into the state's economy as people lose jobs, and money spent on services and products disappears. About $100 million has already been cut from the state budget.

Budget watchdog groups and many conservatives disagree with the deficit strategy, saying budget cuts are the preferred alternative.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - NH