Tuesday, April 10, 2007

House party: When state reps. go wild

The following editorial appeared in the Union Leader.

House party: When state reps. go wild

THE HOUSE votes today on a $10.4 billion budget that raises spending nearly $180 million above the level Gov. John Lynch proposed in his inflated, record-setting $10.2 billion budget. And the House Finance Committee chairman has the audacity to call it a "conservative" budget.

Gov. Lynch's budget would have been the first state budget in history to break the $10 billion mark. It raised taxes and fees by nearly $111 million. But even at this record level, House Democrats were not satisfied.

We wrote on Feb. 18 that state spending would be higher this year than Gov. Lynch proposed because he has "a Legislature even more eager than he is to tax and spend." Lo and behold, the House's proposed budget is a whole $178 million higher than Lynch's.

Who is fighting all of this spending? Not the governor, at least not in public, anyway. He has expressed some "concerns" about the House proposal, but he has not fought a public fight to keep spending under any sort of control.

Nor have House Republicans made a real effort to trim spending. Their grand scheme is to make a political issue of the tax and fee increases. But they have no plans to burn any energy trying to actually restrain spending.

So the taxpayers are left with no active advocate in Concord, unless the Senate suddenly gets religion and decides to break out a paring knife at the last minute.

Gov. Lynch might have been able to impose some restraint on legislators had he made clear, as Gov. Craig Benson did, that he would not tolerate spending or tax hikes above a certain level. But Lynch is not that kind of leader.

Now just about all taxpayers can do, besides complaining to their legislators and the governor, is hope that legislators don't view easy tax and fee hikes this year as an invitation to go for even more next year.

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