N.H. GOP accuses Hassan of breaking law with late budget bill delivery
The chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican Party yesterday accused Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan of breaking state law by not delivering the text of a budget-related bill to the Legislature with the rest of her budget proposal.
“Gov. Hassan’s actions are irresponsible and are prohibiting the Legislature from fully reviewing her reckless proposal,” Jennifer Horn wrote in a letter to Attorney General Michael Delaney.
But Hassan said her office is working on the bill, and the delay isn’t unusual.
“Historically there is a second document that is done that is called House Bill 2,” Hassan said. “It has often been presented after the Feb. 15 deadline, and it is my understanding that I am on the early side of completing (it).”
On Feb. 14, Hassan delivered her proposed two-year state budget to the Legislature and spoke to a joint legislative session. But those documents didn’t include the text of HB 2, legislation that typically accompanies the final budget to make related changes in state law.
Hassan’s office pointed out that in the last 20 years, HB 2 has only been filed at the Feb. 15 deadline once, in 2001. The other nine times it was filed later, and twice it was filed as late as March 25.
Still, state law requires the governor to deliver “a document to be known as a budget” to the Legislature by Feb. 15 in the first year of each biennial legislative session. That law also specifies that the budget includes “a draft or drafts of appropriation bills.”
Horn complained in her letter to Delaney that Hassan is “intentionally ignoring and violating New Hampshire law” by “refusing to submit documents,” and she described it as a “deliberate attempt to undermine New Hampshire law.” She asked the attorney general to “instruct the governor to immediately comply with the law” and send the bill draft to the Legislature.”
House Republicans chimed in.
“Gov. Hassan took an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of the state. She failed to keep that oath of office. She, her staff and legal counsel broke the law,” Deputy Minority Leader David Hess of Hooksett said in a statement. “I would encourage the governor to deliver a draft of HB 2 to the Legislature, and the public, for review without any further delay so that we may get to work on our most important responsibility as a Legislature, passing a balanced budget.”
But Ray Buckley, chairman of the state Democratic Party, described Horn’s complaint as “frivolous” and a waste of time. “Instead of reevaluating their far right stances to actually appeal to voters, the state GOP has decided to focus on a pathetic political ploy that will cost Granite Staters by wasting the time of our Justice Department,” Buckley said in a statement.