Senate Finance Committee Cuts Budgeted Higher Education Programs

Finance


GARRY RAYNO, InDepthNH.org

Consensus — The Senate Finance Committee cut $6.4 million in the University of New Hampshire system’s budget for the next two years at a meeting Tuesday.

The committee has also cut the budget of New Hampshire’s community college system as it works on a biennial operating budget proposal for the next two years.

The House has passed a $16 billion biennial budget plan to the Senate, which has been working on its own plan for weeks.

At Tuesday’s meeting, a majority of the committee voted to cut $200,000 in fiscal 2024 and $6.2 million in fiscal 2025, totaling $190 million over two years. In his two years as of now, the university system has earned him $177 million.

The university system requested a budget of $199.4 million, and the House approved $196.4 million over two years.

Senators Dan Innis (R-Bradford) and Lou Dallesandro (D-Manchester) called for more state support for the system.

Innis said the institutions of the system have a tremendous economic impact on the state by keeping young people in New Hampshire and bringing in hundreds of millions of federal dollars.

He said the offer might be a good amount, but he would like to see more state support.

D’Allesandro said the university system has been strained for years as the state asked the system to reduce subsidy rates while at the same time maintaining tuition levels.

He said the university system was being restructured, seeking additional federal funding and using its own funds to renovate buildings on campus.

“You have to pay attention to what the students who go there are doing to this state,” D’Alesandro said, adding, “I’m a product of college. It’s been the best four years of my life.”

He said colleges represent opportunity for the state’s youth, and that “if we deny them that opportunity because of the cost, we’re in real trouble.”

He said lawmakers are discussing building a new $400 million state prison for 2,000 inmates and a new $40 million to $60 million mental hospital.

“There are many demands, but what equalizes us all is the educational opportunity,” said Dallesandro.
However, the committee approved the reduction of voice votes without a few votes.

New Hampshire Community College System

The Finance Committee has decided to cut funding for dual and concurrent programs that enable high school students to take college courses.

The House has approved $3.25 million a year and the Senate has approved $2.5 million a year, which Senate Speaker Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) said would be enough to cover current enrollment. rice field.

Prime Minister Mark Rubinstein said the system was grateful for the increase, but that more investment in the program would help families by making higher education more affordable.

He said the program targets two streams. One is students with significant financial needs and middle-class families who must use education loans for their children’s education.

He said most students take one or two courses that don’t make a big impact on cost, but if a bill to create a more direct pathway between community colleges and the university system is approved , would be a more affordable route for students.

And he said students are more likely to stay in New Hampshire and make long-term contributions to the workforce.

D’Allesandro said the problem is when states’ leniency reaches a level where they have more impact.

He said there are eight minority schools in Manchester and one high school that is a minority school and these schools are children who use the program and they will be hurt.

“If you cut off opportunities, you lose the ability to move forward, the ability to move forward,” he said.

The reduction was approved by voice vote.

The commission also cut in half the New Hampshire Promise Program, which is intended to help families who otherwise could not afford higher education.

State funding was cut from $6 million to $3 million in two years.

Rubinstein said several neighboring states have similar programs and hopes New Hampshire will be able to compete.

The Commission also authorized the use of $1 million in surplus funds beginning this fiscal year for recruitment and retention programs for law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

fish and games

The commission has deferred a decision on whether to use the state’s General Fund to raise state wages by 12 percent over two years for fish and game workers.

The division’s executive director, Scott Mason, called for a change from fish and game funds to general funds. Agency pay raises make him just over $2 million in two years.

Senator James Gray (R-Rochester, Republican), chairman of the committee, said he would suspend an amendment that would allow the agency to go to the Finance Committee in the future and request funds.

Similar amendments could be made to payment requests for four employees currently working on terrain permit changes required for construction involving endangered species.

The committee said after the federal Americans Relief Plan Act budget currently being paid to the four positions ends in December 2024, until officials determine the state money needed for the four employees. , postpone the action.

The Commission also approved an amendment requiring agencies to set up online registration and renewal payments for off-highway vehicles and snowmobiles by September 1, 2025.

The committee will meet again at 10:00 am on Friday to tentatively take up requests from the Treasury Department, state retirement programs, the Department of Revenue, the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, New Hampshire Hospitals and Glencliffe Home.

The deadline for the Senate to process the two budget bills is June 8.

Garry Rayno can be reached at garry.rayno@yahoo.com.



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