CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Lawmakers are voting Wednesday on a $10.7 billion budget that establishes a commission to study expanding Medicaid instead of authorizing New Hampshire to implement the provision in the federal health care law.
The commission is to issue its report by Oct. 15 on a possible alternative to adding an estimated 58,000 poor adults to the Medicaid program, such as covering some with private insurance. Gov. Maggie Hassan said a special legislative session might be needed to vote whether to begin implementing the expansion on Jan. 1.
The bipartisan budget increases funding to higher education and for services to the disabled and mentally ill. It funds four new charter schools and removes a moratorium on new charter schools.
The budget is for the two years beginning July 1.
The Senate had insisted on no tax increases and rejected a 20-cent cigarette tax increase and a delay in implementing tax breaks for businesses, both proposed by the House and governor.
In the end, House and Senate negotiators agreed to raise some revenue estimates and to increase the tax rate applied to smokeless and similar tobacco products. The agreement also lets an automatic 10-cent increase in the cigarette tax take effect, but not the additional 20 cents or delay in business credits the House and Hassan proposed.
The House also agreed to drop an increase in the gas and diesel tax to pay for highway improvements. The House earlier had killed a Senate casino bill that earmarked some revenue to road work.
To help pay for the spending, they also agreed to require the Department of Health and Human Services to cut $7 million out of its budget and the governor to cut $25 million in staff and benefits with $10 million coming from state-tax supported workers.