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Friday
Nov302012

Governor-Elect Hassan - Nashua Telegraph: So far, Hassan setting the proper tone

FYI, below is an editorial from today's Nashua Telegraph on Governor-Elect Hassan's transition and her efforts to begin developing a fiscally responsible balanced budget.

Key points:

"So far, though, Hassan is off to a promising start in the weeks leading up to her Jan. 3 inauguration.

"We like what she told the overeager department heads. We like that she continues to stress a bipartisan approach to government – something sorely lacking in the current Legislature. And we like that she set up informal transition teams to travel across the state in search of wisdom from leaders in business, education, health care, transportation and other key areas.

"Five weeks before taking office, it’s imperative she set the proper tone for a new administration. So far, she’s done that quite nicely."

 

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/opinion/editorials/985483-465/so-far-hassan-setting-the-proper-tone.html

So far, Hassan setting the proper tone

Making promises on the campaign trail is easy. Keeping them once in office is not.

That’s one of the early challenges that will test Democratic Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan as she makes the transition from successful candidate to the 81st governor of New Hampshire.

And nowhere will it become more visible than in the crafting of her first two-year budget, a process that began this week with three days of budget hearings for agency heads to present their wish lists for the fiscal 2014-15 cycle.

Those were quite the wish lists, too.

All told, department administrators are seeking a record $11.97 billion for the next two-year period, up 19 percent from current spending levels. The portion made up of state taxes and fees alone – $3.3 billion – is up an even heftier 26 percent.

As expected, the biggest spending request came courtesy of the Department of Health and Human Services, which makes up nearly 40 percent of all spending. Commissioner Nick Toumpas is seeking an increase of $1 billion – from roughly $3.8 billion to $4.8 billion – 80 percent of which would go toward hospitals and nursing homes.

None of this should be particularly surprising: Department heads routinely ask for more money than they expect to receive at this point in the budgeting process. Likewise, governors routinely tell them to go back to the drawing board and come back with more realistic figures.

And that’s pretty much what Hassan told them.

“The requests total far more than our economy and taxpayers can afford … It is important for all of us to understand that we will not be able to reverse course all at once,” she said, acknowledging the deep cuts made two years ago by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Still, department budget requests are one thing; campaign pledges are quite another. And the onetime state senator from Exeter made quite a few during her primary and general election campaigns:

n She pledged to restore the $100 million cut from the higher education budget in return for a two-year freeze on tuition.

n She pledged to restore roughly $200 million in reimbursements cut from the state’s acute care hospitals.

n She pledged to support higher spending to eliminate the waiting list for adults with developmental disabilities seeking services.

n She pledged to support reinstating a 10-cent-per-pack tax on tobacco products.

n She pledged to support reinstating a $30 surcharge on vehicle registrations to pay for infrastructure improvements.

n And she pledged to support the establishment of one casino in the southern part of the state.

Whether she will be able to keep these campaign pledges over the next two years remains to be seen, given Republicans maintain a slim 13-11 majority in the Senate, and the economy may not improve fast enough to generate the needed revenue.

So far, though, Hassan is off to a promising start in the weeks leading up to her Jan. 3 inauguration.

We like what she told the overeager department heads. We like that she continues to stress a bipartisan approach to government – something sorely lacking in the current Legislature. And we like that she set up informal transition teams to travel across the state in search of wisdom from leaders in business, education, health care, transportation and other key areas.

Five weeks before taking office, it’s imperative she set the proper tone for a new administration. So far, she’s done that quite nicely.

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