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New Hampshire’s budget basics
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), New Hampshire’s total expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2021 were $7.6 billion, including general funds, other state funds, bonds, and federal funds. NASBO reported that total expenditures across all states in FY 2021 were $2.7 trillion, ranging from $4.7 billion in Wyoming to $512.8 billion in California.
Each state allocates spending and taxes differently among different levels of governments, and local governments often administer programs with state funds, so combined state and local government data show a more complete picture of individual benefits and contributions when comparing states.
Per the US Census Bureau, New Hampshire’s combined state and local direct general expenditures were $11.7 billion in FY 2019 (the most recent year census data were available), or $8,603 per capita. (Census data exclude “business-like” activities such as utilities and transfers between state and local governments.) National per capita direct general expenditures were $10,161.
New Hampshire’s largest spending areas per capita were elementary and secondary education ($2,356) and public welfare ($1,821). The Census Bureau includes most Medicaid spending in public welfare but also allocates some of it to public hospitals. Per capita spending is useful for state comparisons but is an incomplete metric because it doesn’t provide any information about a state’s demographics, policy decisions, administrative procedures, or residents’ choices.
New Hampshire’s combined state and local general revenues were $12.1 billion in FY 2019, or $8,891 per capita. National per capita general revenues were $10,563. New Hampshire does not levy a general sales tax or individual income tax. (New Hampshire reports some income tax revenue because it levies a tax on interest and dividend income.) New Hampshire’s largest sources of per capita revenue were property taxes ($3,243) and federal transfers ($1,838).
New Hampshire’s politics
Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, was elected in 2020 with 65 percent of the vote. The next gubernatorial election is in 2022 because New Hampshire governors serve two-year terms. (Vermont is the only other state where governors serve two-year instead of four-year terms.)
Republicans control both the House of Representatives (207 Republicans to 185 Democrats and 1 independent) and Senate (14 Republicans to 10 Democrats). Control of the governor’s mansion and each house of the legislature gives Republicans a trifecta in New Hampshire. The entire legislature is up for election in 2022 because both representatives and senators serve two-year terms.
New Hampshire’s budget institutions, rules, and constraints
New Hampshire uses a biennial budget. The legislature must pass a balanced budget, but it can carry a deficit over into the following year. There are no further tax and expenditure limits in New Hampshire, nor are there limits on either authorized debt or debt service incurred by the state.
(Note: Some states have informal budget institutions that constrain overall spending growth or a specific expenditure’s growth.)
New Hampshire’s current budget
Governor Sununu has not released a FY 2023 supplemental budget proposal (the state uses a biennial budget). He gave his state of the state address in February 2022.
New Hampshire enacted its FY 2022-2023 biennial budget in June 2021. The enacted budget included $13.5 billion in total spending over the biennium, including $1.8 billion in general fund spending in FY 2022 and FY 2023 for a combined $3.6 billion over the two years. New Hampshire also passed a series of business tax cuts in 2021.
Under the American Rescue Plan, New Hampshire will receive $995 million in direct state fiscal aid and $350 million in local government aid from the federal government. As of January 2022, New Hampshire had spent part of its ARP funds on capital construction, broadband expansion, economic development, public health programs, and parks and recreation.
According to NASBO, New Hampshire’s recent expenditure totals (general fund spending/total spending, including federal transfers) were:
FY 2021: $1.6 billion/$7.6 billion
FY 2020: $1.7 billion/$6.9 billion
FY 2019: $1.5 billion/$6.2 billion
For more on New Hampshire’s budget, see
New Hampshire’s economic trends
New Hampshire’s per capita income (per the Bureau of Economic Analysis) was $72,003 in 2021, ranking sixth among the states. It was above the national average of $63,444, but below the New England regional average of $76,651. The state’s median household income (five-year estimate) was $77,923 in 2020, ranking seventh among the states and above the national average of $64,994. New Hampshire’s poverty rate was 7.4 percent in 2020 (five-year estimate), below the national rate of 12.8 percent.
Although New Hampshire’s averages tell a story about the entire state, New Hampshire is composed of diverse localities. For example, the city of Berlin’s median household income was $39,091, and its poverty rate was 16.5 percent; the city of Portsmouth’s median household income was $78,712, and its poverty rate was 6.6 percent.
New Hampshire’s unemployment rate has historically been below the national average, particularly following the Great Recession, and in recent years it has been among the lowest in the country. (See how COVID-19 is affecting state employment and earnings data.)
Unemployment rates (like other economic indicators) often vary significantly by race and ethnicity. However, New Hampshire does not currently have enough information available for the Bureau of Labor Statistics to break down its unemployment rate by race. (This is preliminary data. See the 2020 data for a more detailed breakdown of state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity.)