- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The first year of New Hampshire’s two-year budget ended with a $19.5 million surplus, balancing the books for year one but leaving the state $7 million short of the expected rollover into the second year.

Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, announced the unaudited numbers yesterday and praised state agencies for hitting the appropriate lapses, or the amount of budgeted money they’re asked to return each year. State agencies returned about $8.5 million more than expected.

Lawmakers passed the two-year, $10.7 billion budget with near unanimous support last year. The first fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, was supposed to end with a $26 million surplus. The $19.5 million surplus is closer to the target than some Republicans had predicted.

In May, Hassan put a spending freeze on state agencies that prohibited them from filling vacant positions, paying for out of state travel and purchasing new equipment. That executive order is still in effect. Democratic leaders from the House and Senate praised Hassan for enacting the freeze and say these numbers show she carefully managed the state budget.

“Exceeding cash lapse targets by $8 million and ending the year with a $20 million surplus is no easy accomplishment,” said Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, chairman of the House Finance Committee. “I look forward to working with Governor Hassan and the Senate to ensure that we continue to grow our economy, invest in our shared priorities, and finish off the biennium with a balanced budget.”

But Republican Sen. Jeanie Forrester, chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee, said she’s “troubled” the state didn’t meet the $26 million budgeted surplus. Forrester began calling on Hassan during the summer to release preliminary spending numbers.

“I hope the governor will be more forthcoming about sharing spending levels on a monthly basis, which I have repeatedly requested, to ensure the state only spends what it can afford to avoid further deficit spending,” she said in a statement.

Revenues for the year were about $3 million above target. Both the rooms and meals tax and the real estate transfer tax came in above budget, but the business enterprise tax was below target.


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