- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Gov. Maggie Hassan’s office is predicting the state will end the current budget cycle with a surplus, not the shortfall that lawmakers and budget writers have been warning of for months.

Hassan’s office released a plan Wednesday projecting a $1 million surplus, partly dependent on several budget cuts and legislative actions that haven’t yet happened. Earlier this month, Legislative Budget Assistant Jeff Pattison recently lawmakers the state faces a $30 million shortfall.

Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services told lawmakers Wednesday that the department is running $58 million over budget, but they will present $45 million in savings or cuts to lawmakers Friday. Hassan already has ordered $18 million in spending cuts across the other state agencies.

The current two-year state budget totals $10.7 billion. Legislative budget writers and Senate leaders were not given copies of Hassan’s plan projecting the $1 million surplus.

Even with cuts, health and human services still will run about $12 million behind its projected lapse, or money it is supposed to give back at the end of the year. Hassan also is predicting that state revenues will come in $20 million under plan. To make up for shortfalls, her plan relies on the Legislature passing a tax amnesty program that her office predicts would generate $13 million. She’s also asking for $3.3 million in legislative and judicial cuts and plans to use $12 million in extra charter school and adequacy money to plug the hole.

Revenues for the year are ahead of schedule, but money from business and interest and dividends taxes have been coming in below target.

Health and human services’ proposed changes include $10 million in savings from not filling vacant positions, halting $7 million in payments to nursing home and home care programs and removing $3 million worth of inflation increases for provider payments, among other things.

Members of the Hillsborough County delegation have expressed concerns about reducing $7 million in nursing home payments. These changes do not require legislative approval, but department officials are asking for approval to shift around $44 million to fill various other holes.

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