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In N.H., budget cuts, layoffs unavoidable, governor says

By Norma Love
Associated Press / February 12, 2010

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CONCORD, N.H. - Governor John Lynch plans to cut $140 million from New Hampshire’s state budget over the next 17 months and sees layoffs as unavoidable.

“It’s very difficult to imagine a scenario totaling $140 million in savings that won’t include some layoffs,’’ Lynch told reporters yesterday in announcing the planned cuts.

The state has laid off about 200 workers since the start of the two-year budget cycle last June 30. Some layoffs resulted because the union representing most of the state’s 11,500 workers rejected a furlough plan that Lynch had proposed as an alternative. Other layoffs were due to program cuts and a prison closure.

“It would be good if they looked first at other ways, rather than putting the fear out there that there would be layoffs,’’ said Jay Ward, political director for the State Employees’ Association.

Lynch attributed the shortfall to lagging revenues during the recession, a state Supreme Court ruling denying the state’s right to $110 million from a surplus insurance fund, and increasing demand for social services.

Lynch told agencies to plan on reducing spending 2 percent for the rest of this year and by 8 percent next year. He said he asked them to come up with possible cuts over the next few weeks. Lynch said he will review proposals and then begin implementing them. “We’ll do whatever we can to protect essential services,’’ he said.