The New Hampshire House of Representatives has approved a $15.9 billion budget for the next two years, which includes funding for education, healthcare, and infrastructure projects.
The budget, which was passed by a vote of 209-167, includes a $138 million increase in funding for K-12 education, as well as a $40 million increase in funding for the state’s community college system.
In addition, the budget includes $24 million in funding for mental health services, $10 million for substance abuse treatment, and $5 million for affordable housing initiatives.
The budget also includes funding for several infrastructure projects, including $10 million for the expansion of broadband internet access in rural areas, $10 million for the repair and maintenance of state highways and bridges, and $5 million for the construction of a new women’s prison.
The budget was praised by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for its focus on education and healthcare, as well as its investment in infrastructure.
“This budget is a reflection of our commitment to investing in the future of our state,” said House Speaker Sherman Packard. “It provides critical funding for education, healthcare, and infrastructure projects that will help to create jobs and improve the quality of life for all New Hampshire residents.”
However, some lawmakers expressed concern about the budget’s reliance on one-time funds, including $50 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds and $30 million in surplus revenue from the current fiscal year.
“We need to be careful about relying too heavily on one-time funds,” said Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, a Democrat from Concord. “We need to make sure that we are investing in sustainable, long-term solutions that will benefit our state for years to come.”
Despite these concerns, the budget is expected to be approved by the state Senate and signed into law by Governor Chris Sununu in the coming weeks.