Defends attempted JUA raid and criminal release bill passed under her leadership
Manchester, NH – Sen. Maggie Hassan recently used a Police Association Forum to defend two controversial policies enacted under her leadership: the attempted theft of $110 million in private funds from the Joint Underwriting Association (JUA), as well as the passage of SB500, legislation that released dangerous criminals from prison early in order to cut costs in the Department of Corrections. Sen. Hassan does so despite significant public backlash against both bills that resulted in her losing her State Senate seat in 2010.
First, Sen. Hassan cavalierly defended the raiding of various funds to “balance” the 2009 state budget, saying, “yeah, we did in a couple of places, take some money from dedicated funds.” She then went on to defend her attempted taking of $110 million from the JUA, by saying: “That was money that we could have used to fund health care at the height of the Great Recession.”
In 2010, the New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with a lower court that Sen. Hassan’s budget, which called for raiding the private medical malpractice fund, was an unconstitutional taking of private funds. Following the ruling, the Union Leader wrote that the Court “issued a substantial defense of private property against the aggression of the state. The people of New Hampshire ought to be deeply thankful.”
Nevertheless, two years later, Sen. Hassan continues to support the taking of these monies because she believes the state, despite never contributing to the fund, knows better how those private dollars should be spent.
Sen. Hassan also renewed her support for a parole reform bill (SB500) that released dangerous criminals from our state’s prisons before the completion of their sentences or rehabilitation programs. During the forum she said, “what we did was support a supervised release of criminals, inmates, who had been doing their time.” She continued saying that the bill “got politicized, and I think that’s too bad.”
The legislation became “politicized” as Sen. Hassan put it, after the first round of criminals were released and Republicans in the legislature attempted to bring a bill to address concerns raised by the public and the Parole Board. Sen. Hassan voted to block debate of the fix bill, and necessary reforms were put on hold until 2011, after Sen. Hassan lost her reelection bid and Republicans took control of the legislature.
During the original debate on SB500, John F Eckert, a top staffer at the Adult Parole Board, wrote in the Concord Monitor, “this bill replaces parole board discretion with mandated decisions that clearly are not in the best interest of public safety. It is being rushed through the Legislature as a panacea for prison crowding and recidivism. In fact, it is neither.” Despite these warnings Sen. Hassan voted to pass the legislation anyway and when the warnings proved true she prevented a fix from even being discussed in the legislature. And still today, she supports the legislation as passed.
“Sen. Hassan’s continued support for the illegal JUA raid and SB500 tell us a lot about how she would govern,” said Ovide Lamontagne spokesman Tom Cronin. “Despite warnings the JUA raid was illegal, she pushed it forward anyway, resulting in a $110 million budget hole. Despite warnings the legislature was acting too quickly on SB500, she supported it anyway, resulting in the need for important ‘fix-it’ legislation a year later. And now, despite a Supreme Court ruling and the enactment of a widely supported bill fixing SB500, Sen. Hassan continues to contend that she was right all along. Sen. Hassan’s ‘my way or the highway’ attitude is wrong for New Hampshire. We need a leader who will listen to all sides of an issue and bring us together to move us forward.”