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My Turn: From Hassan, revisionist budget history

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan has been quick to take credit for the passage of the bipartisan state budget. However, a review of the process shows that her dubious claims of fiscal leadership do not reflect reality.

The No. 1 priority for the governor is to develop a balanced, fiscally sound budget proposal to kick off the budget season. Unfortunately, she presented an unaffordable plan in February that increased state spending by $1 billion – a 10 percent increase over the previous budget. Her proposal included numerous taxes and spending increases and a delay in important business tax reforms passed last session by Republicans. Her budget was “balanced” with $80 million in non-existent casino fees – a plan that was rejected by the Democratic-controlled House.

House Democrats then proposed a budget that included a dramatic increase in state spending funded by an increase in the state gas tax. Instead of opposing the House Democrats’ proposal, Hassan remained silent and didn’t rule out supporting it in the final budget negotiations.

Fortunately, Senate Republicans, under the leadership of Senate President Peter Bragdon, Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Morse, did their homework and made tough choices. They presented a balanced proposal built on reasonable revenue estimates that funded critical state services without raising taxes.

The Senate Republican proposal increased funding for Health and Human Services programs, restored funding to the UNIQUE scholarship program that serves high-need New Hampshire residents seeking a college education and preserved a scholarship program for needy students. At the same time, the Senate implemented the promised business tax reforms passed last year, increased no taxes or fees, and increased spending by a very responsible 3 percent.

How did Hassan respond to this fiscally responsible proposal? By launching partisan political attacks against the Senate, calling its plan “fiscally irresponsible” and “shortsighted” and threatening that it would “cost hundreds of jobs.”

Despite Hassan’s unproductive comments, House Democrats and Senate Republicans were able to come together and reach a compromise. During this process, Hassan did not provide any new ideas to balance the budget and even saddled budget writers with an 11th-hour, $38 million state employee contract expense that was omitted from her original proposal. She also decided to leave New Hampshire and travel out of state for several days while a bipartisan group of legislators in Concord worked on a plan. Senate Republicans stuck to their fiscally responsible principles and produced a budget that closely mirrored their original proposal and bore little resemblance to the governor’s plan.

Like the Republican Senate proposal, the state budget does not raise taxes or fees. The tax and fee increases in Hassan’s proposal were eliminated, and the gas tax increase she was willing to allow was also excluded. Like the Republican Senate proposal, the budget spends only what the state can afford at about 3 percent, significantly less than the increase included in the governor’s proposal. Like the Republican Senate proposal, it implements the important business tax reforms Hassan wanted to stop. And like the Republican Senate proposal, the budget preserves critical state services.

Hassan is now attempting to rewrite history by crediting herself with bipartisan leadership, despite the fact that she didn’t provide any real leadership during the budget process. She is praising a state budget that is based almost entirely on a Republican proposal that she attacked and disparaged only a few weeks ago. Fortunately, the people of New Hampshire realize that they would be saddled by Hassan’s proposed tax hikes and reckless spending increases if not for the efforts of the fiscally responsible Republican Senate.

Real leaders give credit where credit is due. That makes two critical tests of her leadership that the governor has now failed.

(Jennifer Horn is chairwoman of the state Republican Party.)

Legacy Comments8

NH highways what was Sail said, not roads. NH has a lot of Best records. Unlike many other states that are drowning in financial debt, have higher unemployment rates and are nothing more than nanny states that are going broke.

According to the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) NH has 54% of poor or mediocre roads, and costs each and every driver almost $300 in repairs each year (ever hit a pothole, Itsa?) Our bridges are 33% deficient or obsolete or downright dangerous. But as long as your taxes don't go up one iota and you stay of the wrong roads or bridges everything is fine. Right?

Tillie, Now law is needed to help out. You can volunteer more of your money anytime you want. if you believe what you say, you should pony up more funds or is just other people's money you want to see additionaly taxed?

Yeah right and our bridges are the 37th worse. I hate to see the other states if we have the best roads. Maybe if you would get out and drive some of the back roads you might see the "best" roads in the country. Towns can not keep up with funding the roads because so much of the gutting of the state budget. Maybe when all Republicans can get around in is their Hummers and even their McMansions' taxes are more than they can stand they will finally realize what they have done to this state by starving it fiscally.

"......... highways in the southern tier of the state are the best in the nation, ranked number one in a 50-state analysis by the Reason Foundation, a nonpartisan, public-policy foundation that publishes Reason magazine."

And we can thank them for our wonderful roads and high property taxes, since it all gets pushed back on the local communities.

NH highways were just recently ranked as #1 in the country - The Responsible Republicans thank you for acknowledging the great success NH continues to show in National statistics....unfortunately liberals want to change all that

NH taxpaying citizens can thank the Responsible Republicans for providing a frugal balanced common sense budget for the last 2 years that created a small surplus and the citizens can again thank the Responsible Republicans for preventing the tax and spend democrats from enacting their usual bloated budgets.

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