By TNH Editorial Staff
Last week, Gov. Hassan took executive action and requested an $18 million cut in state spending to compensate for shortcomings in the current budget. The shortfall, the governor said, is a result mostly of the drop in business taxes that took effect this year as well as an increase in the load of Medicaid cases in the state. It is a challenge to balance the budget in a state with no income or sales tax, thus relying on other areas of the economy to generate revenue.
The two biggest victims of these cuts are the Department of Education, which will be cut by about $4.4 million, and the University System, which will face a $3 million cut.
According to Mica Stark, chief advocate for UNH in government relations, these cuts will not affect student life at UNH but will have an impact on future projects such as online education and marketing.
While students can breathe a sigh of relief that Gov. Hassan did not necessarily delay the construction of new academic buildings and facilities, we should be concerned with how money is being spent by our state government.
Furthermore, why is it that the education system seems to be the most expendable state asset when it comes time to put agency budgets on the chopping block?
On Nov. 20, Stark sent out a Tweet stating that UNH generates $1.4 billion for the New Hampshire economy and “provides direct support to more than 3,000 businesses and organizations each year.” The service UNH pays towards the state will continue, but once again the state has shown its priorities lie elsewhere.
There is no immediate solution. Things would not necessarily be any different if we had elected a different governor back in November. What needs to change is a general attitude towards what is important in the state and what government dollars should be spent on.
Conservatives in the state say Gov. Hassan is on a spending spree. Senate President Chuck Morse, a Republican, said it is “definitely a spending problem.” This is nothing more than politics as usual as the two parties continue to point fingers at one another for mismanagement of the budget. But while Republicans call it a spending problem, Democrats say it is because of tax credits for businesses the legislature approved when it was under Republican control from 2010-12.
UNH students on average are among owners of the highest college-debt from public universities in the country. While politicos from neither party would likely disagree that there is an issue with student debt in the state, it seems as if no one is willing to do anything reasonable about it, aside from a two-year tuition freeze.
It’s time for the state to look closer into how it is spending its money and examine other areas of the budget that could be slimmed down. We ask that the state put politics aside and rethink its investment in all levels of education.