CONCORD, N.H. — Gov. Chris Sununu proposed a $13.1 billion, two-year state budget Thursday that he said will deliver better results for individuals without burdening taxpayers.

“Government is not here to guarantee much,” he told lawmakers in his second biennial budget address. “But opportunity – equal opportunity for everyone, for you, for your family, your business, your kids – that’s our job..”

Education was a focus throughout the speech, and Sununu got a standing ovation when he announced he wants to spend $63.7 million in one-time, surplus funds to provide school building aid for property-poor districts.

His budget also includes increased funding for special education to $26.5 million and increases tuition and transportation aid to $8.6 million, its highest level ever.

Sununu also called for $32.5 million over two years for a new loan forgiveness program to encourage college graduates to work in the state, and a $24 million expansion of college nursing programs.

Mental health was another area of focus. Sununu said the state could achieve two-thirds of the goals outlined in its new 10-year mental health plan in just two years.

He called for spending $40 million to build a new facility on the grounds of New Hampshire Hospital so patients who need secure treatment but have committed no crimes are no longer held at the state prison.

Other highlights of the budget include legalizing sports betting, increased funding to help victims of domestic and sexual violence, and the creation of a Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services.

While Sununu told lawmakers his budget is free of politics, he devoted part of his address to expressing concern about legislation making its way through the Legislature, now controlled by Democrats.

He criticized lawmakers for proposing billions of dollars’ worth of new spending without viable ways to pay.

“You have to decide, are you going to spend money on bloated government or stand with taxpayers?” he said.

Democratic leaders said they didn’t appreciate what they heard.

“For a speech that was billed by him as being above partisanship, it was one of the most highly partisan budget speeches I’ve heard,” said House Majority Leader, Rep. Douglas A. Ley, D-Jaffrey.

Republican legislative leaders said Sununu’s proposed budget builds on their party’s good work.

“This budget builds upon the great work that was done in the last budget process focusing on programs that help our most vulnerable citizens while promoting a business friendly environment,” said Senate Republican Leader Chuck Morse, R-Salem, in a statement.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.