New Hampshire’s House and Senate agreed late Thursday afternoon on a $10.3 billion budget for fiscal 2012 and 2013, after talks had broken off the previous night.
Thursday marked a self-imposed deadline to reach agreement under legislative rules.
“We’re all friends again,” one Senate official said after Senate Finance chairman Chuck Morse, R-Salem, and House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, agreed on a last-minute provision by O’Brien to drop the cigarette tax by 10 cents to $1.68 per pack.
In exchange, the Senate got approval for its education funding plan and a bill to streamline the process for shoreland protections permits.
“This budget stays true to our resolve to live within our means, reduce spending, and reform state government. It does not increase taxes or fees. Most importantly, it’s balanced and spends 11% less than the previous biennium,” Morse said in a statement.
The budget “represents the state living within its means,” O’Brien added.
On Wednesday night, Morse objected to a series of last-minute amendments to a budget trailer bill that included the cigarette tax reduction.
The full House and Senate will meet separately next Wednesday to vote on the budget package.
The state is rated Aa1 by Moody’s Investors Service, AA by Standard & Poor’s, and AA-plus by Fitch Ratings.