Foster's Daily Democrat
July 2, 2015
Debate over Gov. Maggie Hassan’s motivation has ramped up since she vetoed the state budget.
Some are speculating that the veto has more to do with an anticipated run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Kelly Ayotte than it does the actual budget.
An editorial in the Nashua Telegraph argues that Hassan’s “harsh rhetoric” in criticizing the budget passed by a Republican-led Legislature may come at a price. “If she pushes too hard, she becomes just another politician sacrificing her commitment to bipartisanship simply to advance her political career."
Others, like former state Democratic Party Chair Kathy Sullivan, argue Hassan’s sincerity in opposing “the GOP budget that uses one-time revenues and gimmicks to ‘balance’ the budget.”
As for a run for Senate, Sullivan adds that by extending the budget debate another six months with a continuing resolution Hassan will be forced to get a late start should she challenge Ayotte.
Speculation aside as to Hassan’s motivation, we consider her veto a serious mistake in terms of serving the best interests of the Granite State.
By extending the 2015 budget past July 1, the governor is denying services to some of the state’s most needy who would have been provided services had she signed the budget.
While not perfect, the vetoed budget added money for substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery, mental health care, domestic violence prevention, and higher education.
New Hampshire would have been better served had the governor let the budget become law without her signature, leaving issues in dispute to be revisited with a supplemental budget.
Instead, her veto has denied needed services and ignited an effort by conservatives to negate some of the gains made when the Senate added funding to the earlier House-passed budget.
“Governor Hassan’s veto of the budget provides an opportunity for (an) even better budget for the state for the next two years,” wrote Greg Moore, state director of the conservative group American’s for Prosperty, in a press release.
“Moreover, every day that the state operates on a continuing resolution, the taxpayers of the state save money, as spending is far below what the budget she vetoed would have spent.”
In terms of Gov. Hassan’s stated priorities, that “better budget” of which Moore writes, means less in state spending on state services than that contained in the vetoed budget.
Beyond the risky budget path the governor has chosen to take with her veto, we think the governor’s logic fails in other areas.
The governor has repeatedly called the vetoed budget “dishonest,” pointing to deficit spending and accounting gimmicks which allow Republicans to spend the same revenue dollars twice.
However, the non-partisan Office of Legislative Budget Assistant (LBA), the state equivalent the federal non-partisan Office of Management and Budget, disagrees.
In addition, the accusation of gimmickry is suspect. Not to excuse or endorse it, but the last budget signed by Gov. Hassan included legislative sleight-of-hand, yet it earned her signature and drew her praise for being bipartisan.