Friday, April 3, 2009

Finance Committee hearings wrap up

From Cissy Taylor, Information Officer, N.H. House of Representatives

CONCORD – Members of the House Finance Committee will wrap up the last of their public budget hearings this evening, with the three divisions of the committee hearing from the state agencies for which they are responsible.
Tuesday’s hearings followed a week’s worth of public hearings held in three communities in different parts of the state.
The last public hearing outside of Concord was Monday night in Whitefield and drew some 375 residents from around the North Country and the Great North Woods areas. Eighty-four people stepped up to the microphones in the auditorium at White Mountains Regional High School and pleaded with members of the Finance and Ways and Means committees for their own causes.
Tops on the list of those asking to have funds restored were supporters of the arts in Northern New Hampshire. Those defending the alcohol fund, its rehabilitation and prevention programs, came next, while medical and home care issues were a top priority for many.
While only eight people spoke in defense of the Colebrook District Court remaining in Colebrook, Colebrook Police Chief Stephen Cass presented the committees with a 500-signature petition asking them not to move the operations south to Lancaster.
Three people said they opposed slot machines and casinos in the North Country, while three others asked that certain boards not be eliminated or consolidated.
The audience in Whitefield brought to nearly 1,000 people who listened to testimony before the committees. Other hearings were held in Salem and Claremont last week. More than 250 people testified at all three of the hearings.
The Finance Committee will continue to work on the budget, both House Bill 1 and House Bill 2. All bills are due out of committee no later than April 2. On April 6, the Finance Committee will brief the full House on the budget. Then, on April 8, the full House will vote on the budget before passing it on to the Senate.

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