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Entries in Transparency (102)

Friday
Aug292014

NHGOP MARKS SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF SHAHEEN'S LAST TOWN HALL MEETING 

NHGOP MARKS SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF SHAHEEN'S LAST TOWN HALL MEETING

 

Concord - As criticism from local media continues to mount over her refusal to do town hall meetings, the New Hampshire Republican State Committee today marked the two-year anniversary of Jeanne Shaheen's last town hall meeting. A cake with a picture of Shaheen's encounter with a large chicken holding a sign that reads "Jeanne Shaheen: Too Chicken For Town Halls" was delivered to her federal office in Manchester.

 

Additionally, Jeanne Shaheen had an epic town hall fail during her Google hangout last night. After asking, "are we open now to questions from the audience," there is a long pause and awkward silence before a quiet "no."

 

Watch the video clip HERE.

 

"There is no substitute for a traditional New England town hall, and Jeanne Shaheen's attempts to make it seem as if she is interacting with voters are laughable," said NHGOP Chairman Jennifer Horn. "It would be very simple for Jeanne Shaheen to put this controversy behind her: just hold a town hall and let voters ask her questions. Her refusal to perform this basic requirement of her job suggests she has lost touch with the people she purports to represent."

 

Meanwhile, the Union Leader accused Shaheen of hiding from her constituents in a scathing editorial today, writing: "Politically, Shaheen is a throwback to the old-fashioned, party-run politician. She expresses no thoughts of her own, only party-approved talking points. She agrees with President Obama more than he does. Put a talking-point robot in front of a roomful of constituents who want answers and leadership, and it will be a YouTube bonanza. So she avoids it and blames the same sort of out-of-state groups that Kelly Ayotte had the courage to face. What courage."

 

Senator Kelly Ayotte is in Littleton today holding a town hall meeting with her constituents.

Tuesday
Aug262014

NH Senate Republicans - ICYMI: Forrester pens column on spending transparency 

The New Hampshire Senate

Republican Majority Office

 

Seacoast Online Logo.jpg

The public has a right to know how much money state government spends

 

August 24, 2014

 

By Sen. Jeanie Forrester

 

One of the quirks of New Hampshire’s budget process is that we start writing next year’s budget before we elect the Governor and Legislators who will approve it. State departments are already crafting their spending requests for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately, they are doing so in the dark, without a clear picture of how the current budget is shaping up.

 

Fiscal Year 2014 ended on June 30th. We knew within a few days that state revenues came in right on target. In fact, the updated revenue figures released earlier this month show that General and Education Trust Fund revenues came in just $3.1 million over the conservative revenue estimates that Senate Republicans insisted on during the 2013 budget debate. That’s 0.1% over the $2.17 billion dollar forecast. Some taxes brought in more than we planned, and some dipped below our estimates, but the overall revenue plan hit the center of the bullseye last year.

 

That doesn’t guarantee that revenues will be as accurate this year, which runs through June 30, 2015. Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate will all keep an eye on revenues throughout the year, aided by the Monthly Revenue Forecast, published the first week of every month by the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services.

 

Unfortunately, we lack this important transparency on the spending side of the New Hampshire budget. The data is there, but Governor Hassan has so far refused to share it with the public. Governor Hassan has been warning since May that state departments might exceed the FY14 spending levels authorized in the current budget, and has reinstated a spending freeze on out-of-state travel, equipment purchases, and filling vacant state positions that expired last July.

 

But she has not shared the basis for this concern, or shared with the Legislature whether any state departments overspent their budgets last year. Since the close of FY14, Senate Republicans have been asking to examine the state’s spending records. We’ve formally requested Governor Hassan to provide a department by department update on FY14 spending to the Legislative Fiscal Committee, and she has refused. If we’re going to have the bipartisan cooperation that the Governor claims to value so highly, we all need to have up to date information.

 

New Hampshire law requires spending reports similar to the revenue reports we read each month.

 

RSA 9:11 Monthly Reports “Once each month the director, division of accounting services shall make a report to each state agency showing in detail the total amount expended during the previous month and the accumulated amount expended to date from July 1. The report shall also show the total encumbrances outstanding and the balance available for the remainder of the fiscal year.”

 

State law requires the Governor to know exactly how much each department spends every month. And it authorizes the Governor to reduce expenditures in any department in danger of going over budget.

We simply want to see the same information the Governor has. She keeps hinting that we’re going to have big budget problems, and insists there’s a problem with revenues. Well, we can see the revenues every month, and we know that’s not the problem.

 

But what about spending? Did any state agencies exceed their budget expenditures last year? Are any in danger of going over budget this year? The Governor insists that everything is fine. She could prove that very easily, and back up her claims of bipartisan problem solving, simply by sharing the monthly spending reports sent out to every state agency.

 

Passing a balanced budget is important but it’s only the beginning of a long process. Monitoring revenues to make sure we meet our estimates is important too. However the most important part of maintaining a balanced budget is managing department spending. Doing that in a transparent manner helps build trust that the government is being efficient with our tax dollars. Doing that in the dark – or worse, not managing spending and keeping the public in the dark – leads to suspicion, confusion, and potentially to budget deficits.

 

Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) is Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

Thursday
Aug212014

NH GOP - SHAHEEN DODGES TOWN HALL MEETINGS FOR WASHINGTON FUNDRAISER 

Instead of Meeting with Constituents, Shaheen Rubs Shoulders with Beltway Elite 


 

Concord - The Hill today reports that instead of holding town hall meetings in New Hampshire, Senator Jeanne Shaheen will attend a swanky fundraiser next month at the Georgetown home of two prominent Washington lobbyists. It has been 721 days since Shaheen last held an open town hall meeting with her constituents.


 

"Senator Jeanne Shaheen doesn't have time for town hall meetings in New Hampshire because she is too busy rubbing shoulders with Washington special interests at the home of a fat cat lobbyist," said NHGOP Chairman Jennifer Horn. "Shaheen continues to thumb her nose at New Hampshire's proud tradition of open and accessible government because she is unwilling to defend her record of voting with President Obama 99% of the time. It's time to replace Jeanne Shaheen with a responsible Republican senator who will listen to New Hampshire and stand up for the issues that matter to our state."


 

The exclusive fundraiser will be held at the residence of lobbyist couple Bill and Cindi Broydrick in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood. Contributions range from $1,000 to $2,500 per person to attend.

Wednesday
Aug202014

NH GOP - SHAHEEN MISLEADS CONSTITUENTS ABOUT LACK OF TOWN HALL MEETINGS 

 

 

Concord - In an interview with New England Cable News yesterday, Senator Jeanne Shaheen continued to mislead her constituents about her lack of town hall meetings:

 

"I've done a number of town halls," Shaheen falsely claimed.

 

"It has been almost two years since Senator Shaheen held an open and unfettered town hall meeting in New Hampshire. The only thing more troubling than her lack of town hall meetings is her willingness to mislead her constituents with blatant mistruths and demonstrably false statements," said NHGOP Chairman Jennifer Horn. "Jeanne Shaheen doesn't want to meet with her constituents because she knows that she is wrong on the issues that matter to New Hampshire and can't defend her record of voting with President Obama 99 percent of the time."

 

Senator Shaheen has attempted to replace traditional town hall meetings with staged round tables and phony "telephone" town hall meetings. In a scathing editorial today, the Nashua Telegraph blasted Shaheen's campaign events:

 

"As for the so-called 'telephone' town-hall meetings, they aren't town hall meetings at all. If anything, they are the coward's way out because they don't require close-quarters interaction or allow voters to read the non-verbal cues, which often provide far more information than the well-rehearsed non-answers that come out of a politician's mouth," writes the Telegraph. "The so-called "roundtables" aren't much better, limited as they usually are to hand-picked participants and narrowly focused issues."

As of this writing, it has been 720 days, 21 hours, 00 minutes and 31 seconds since Senator Shaheen's last town hall meeting according the NHGOP's Shaheen Town Hall Ticker.

Friday
Aug152014

NH Sen Forrester- "We can't afford to wait another month" 

The New Hampshire Senate

Republican Majority Office

Governor Hassan won’t share spending data until September 30th.

 

Concord, NH – Senate Finance Committee Chair Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) today issued the following response to Governor Maggie Hassan’s decision to wait until the end of September to release Fiscal Year 2014 spending data for New Hampshire departments.

 

“We can’t afford to wait another month to know how a big a budget problem we’re facing. The Governor signaled in May that state departments would not be able to meet their budget targets. The Department of Health and Human Services’ latest report show the gap topping $100 million at the end of this fiscal year. If departments managed to stay within their budgets, that would be great, but we need to know. If they overspent their budgets, we need to know so that we can take every necessary step to protect New Hampshire taxpayers and our state’s fiscal integrity. If Governor Hassan were truly interested in working in a bipartisan manner, she would be transparent with the state’s budget data.”

 

The latest Department of Health and Human Services dashboard shows DHHS exceeding its spending authority by as much as $100 million in FY14-15. Hassan first warned that departments would exceed their FY14 budgets back in May, but now indicates that she won’t share updated spending data with the Legislature until September 30th. The Union Leader this morning declared the “NH budget is in a shambles”.

 

Spending Watch ‘14

 

45 Days since the end of Fiscal Year 2014

 

38 Days since Forrester requested a department spending update