- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan asked state agencies on Thursday to reduce their budgets for this year by $30 million collectively after the surplus for the first year of the budget came in $7 million below target.

Her request excludes the largest state agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, which will work with her office to develop its own plan.

Hassan said she was asking for the cuts because of low revenue from business taxes in September, which is typically a strong revenue month. Collective revenues came in above target, but revenues from business taxes were below target. Hassan blamed the low business revenues on tax changes adopted by last session’s Republican-controlled Legislature. In May she implemented a spending freeze on state agencies that remains in effect.

Republicans and Democrats have been trading barbs over the budget for months.

“Unfortunately, as we have discussed, it appears from September revenues that we will face financial challenges in Fiscal Year 2015, and we need to take action now to keep our budget balanced, just as we did in Fiscal Year 2014,” Hassan said in a statement.

But Republicans argue the state has a budgeting problem, not a revenue problem. The two-year, $10.7 billion budget counted on a $26 million surplus rolling over from the first year into the second. The surplus came in at $19.5 million, and Republican senators said it would have been lower if Hassan hadn’t spent $15 million in surplus from the last budget. Republicans wanted to put that money in the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

“The governor is presenting a false picture to New Hampshire taxpayers on the state’s finances,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said.

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