VIDEO RELEASE: Raising NH’s Budget Shortfall, Shaheen Calls on Senate Leadership to Prioritize State & Local Funding in COVID-19 Response Legislation
**New Hampshire is expected to experience a budget shortfall of nearly $540 million – a 20% drop in state revenues**
**On Senate floor, Shaheen raised warnings about budget shortfalls from NH officials, including Governor Chris Sununu, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess & Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier**
Shaheen highlights the urgent need to provide relief for states and municipalities in upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation
(Washington, DC) – Today on the floor of the Senate, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) called on Senate leadership to prioritize funding for states and municipalities in future COVID-19 relief legislation to confront dire budgetary shortfalls as a result of the economic fallout from the pandemic. 46 states, including New Hampshire, have suffered severe revenue reductions over the course of the pandemic, with New Hampshire officials predicting losses to exceed $500 million by next July.
In her remarks, Shaheen raised warnings from New Hampshire’s Republican Governor Chris Sununu and mayors from throughout the state. In particular, she highlighted a letter she received from Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig. “Mayor Craig goes on to say that since the pandemic began, Manchester’s revenue is down by over $3.5 million, including a $1.6 million decrease in property taxes that are collected. In total, New Hampshire expects to experience a budget shortfall of nearly $540 million. That’s around a 20 percent drop in state revenue.”
Shaheen continued, “I also spoke to the Mayor of Nashua, New Hampshire’s second largest city. Jim Donchess, the Mayor, told me he expects to lose 10% to 20% of the revenue base in Nashua… In fact, as he told me, if he had to take all of the savings that he would need to achieve from the revenue losses from just one agency, it would result in laying off half of the entire police department in the city, or laying off 150 to 200 teachers… I also heard from the mayor of Berlin, Paul Grenier, the mayor of New Hampshire's northernmost city… As he said, if the federal government doesn't provide some help to state and local communities, that his city of Berlin is expecting to lose not just any potential funding at the federal level, but state funds that it had budgeted for because it was anticipating that it would get state funding as it usually does… I’ve heard from mayors, from town administrators, from local leaders and from our Republican governor, Chris Sununu – all of whom are grappling with whether they will be able to fund the services that they have committed to, whether they will have to lay off first responders or firefighters, police and teachers if federal assistance doesn’t arrive soon.”
In addition, Shaheen underscored the need to include additional support for families experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness, individuals in recovery from substance use disorder or in need of mental health services and for small businesses disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including those owned by members of minority communities and women. Shaheen also called for the removal of bureaucratic restrictions that are preventing state and local governments from using federal relief funds as needed and for dedicated funding for rural communities.
Shaheen concluded, “We can’t just sit idly by and let these governments go bankrupt, as the Majority Leader suggests… I would hope that all of my colleagues in the Senate would recognize the urgency of the situation that we are in, that we will take up and pass legislation that will provide assistance to state and local governments and provide the relief that Americans are calling for. The House passed legislation more than two months ago. Too much time has been lost, and it is time for Congress must act now.”
Shaheen’s remarks can be viewed here.