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Editorial: An agenda for Hassan, Democrats

Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan has an enormous challenge ahead of her, but the candidate who modeled herself after Democratic Gov. John Lynch will enjoy a few advantages he didn’t have in his last term. Chief among those is an improving economy, one that should increase state revenue and reduce, to a degree, the need for social services.

Hassan also won’t have her nominations blocked and initiatives thwarted by an Executive Council that saw itself as a super-legislature with the final say in policy. She will not have a House heavy with ideologues and run by an irascible tyrant. She will have, instead, a Democratic majority in the House.

The Senate’s final makeup remains to be determined by recounts in two races, but it will likely be split 13-11 or 12-12 and more moderate than its predecessor. The changed makeup means at least a temporary end to the wasted time, distraction and animosity caused by Republican attempts to repeal the state’s gay marriage law and impose right-to-work legislation designed to lower wages for New Hampshire workers.

Much of what Hassan accomplishes will depend on her ability to work, within the confines of her pledge to veto any broad-based sales or income tax, to raise the revenue needed to undo some of the damage wrought by the last Legislature. We’re thinking of the de-funding of the UNIQUE scholarship program that allowed low-income residents to attend college, the $50 million cut to the university system’s budget and a somewhat smaller cut to the state’s community colleges. The future of New Hampshire’s economy could depend on whether her policies allow the state to develop and retain the highly-educated workforce that’s the key to a thriving economy.

Hassan and the Legislature should also allow to expire the law that sanctioned the raid on the $25 real estate surcharge. Had lawmakers not appropriated the money, it would have allowed the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program to spend $9 million over two years to buy threatened land while it was cheap and restore historic structures while construction costs were low.

When Hassan discussed the state budget on the stump, her numbers didn’t add up. The revenue sources she cited – rescinding the profoundly stupid cut to the cigarette tax, reversing the counterproductive reduction in state tax auditors and other measures – might raise enough to restore cuts to the university system but not much else. In the meantime, an armory of swords hangs over the state’s fiscal neck in the form of lawsuits over the treatment of the mentally ill, the condition of the women’s prison, the confiscation of hospital revenue and who knows what else.

Money matters aside, there’s plenty for Hassan and the new Legislature to do, and undo, next year.

The new House should start by exorcising the chamber with the abolition of the goofy but dangerous Regress of Grievances Committee. Then, with the support of the governor, the Legislature should, in short order, repeal the so-called voucher law that, contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the state Constitution, redirects money meant for the general fund to non-public education, including religious schools.

Hassan and the new Legislature should also give the recently-enacted voter ID law the ax. It risks disenfranchising some voters and, in the absence of any evidence of voter fraud, is an unnecessary and meaningless encumbrance on the process.

They should work to repeal the misguided parental notification law on abortion. And they should revisit the new “stand your ground” law and the policy that permits civilians to bring guns into the State House.

Hassan should move forward as swiftly as possible with judicial nominations to address the slowdown in the courts, seek the return of a state contract with Planned Parenthood to provide women’s health care services, and work with lawmakers to see if it’s still possible to receive federal funding to create a state health care exchange to help connect uninsured New Hampshire residents with the carriers whose policies best meet their needs.

There is much to be done next year. Fortunately, some of can be accomplished without money that the new governor will need time to find.

Legacy Comments5

"the abolition of the goofy but dangerous Redress of Grievances Committee" because how DARE us peasants seek justice when we're wronged! you must think we all need more Carl Dregas, right? with no way to get justice beyond shooting the bastards? you're either insane, or power-mad.

For me a party that promotes repealing the parent notification law is very extreme. You cannot say on one hand we need parents to be more envolved with their kids, then say those kids can get an abortion without letting those parents know. Yet say a parent needs to give their permission for their child to get an aspirin at school. Is it me or is this based on agenda as opposed to common sense? It looks like the left is on a path for govt to control everything, pay for everything and shut the folks down who do not agree with them. I kind of thought they were extreme, but not to the extent they are now. The next 4 years will be nasty. We will become more divided sadly. There will be no common sense or compromise.

This editorial makes it pretty clear that there will be no compromise. No talk of how to come together, get depts reformed or anything. Business as usual. The tax spending Dems have no idea how to run this state, except to try and turn it into MA or CA.

Hassan won 54% to 43%, although it could be called a "mandate" it is not a smart thing for her to spend two years undoing all of the things the other legislature changed. I agree on the redress of grievances law, I agree on the scholarship law, I even agree on the school voucher law. I agree on increasing the cigarette tax. The voter ID law will not create jobs, improve the economy, etc. The parental notification law should no be re-enacted. Planned Parenthood should not be funded. Why progressives are so concerned about abortion I will never understand. I support a woman's right to choose. I do not support the state, schools, etc. making decisions that parents should be making. I also don't want my tax dollars paying for abortions either directly or indirectly. In reality, the womans right to choose starts with the choice to have intercourse or not, but that aside, why should anyone pay for that moment of thrill and passion if the woman deems it a mistake.

What happened to jobs and the economy????? Abolish the RG...0 jobs. Repeal School Voucher Law...0 jobs. Ax Voter ID Law..0 jobs. Repeal Parental Notification law...0 jobs. Repeal Stand Your Ground Law..0 jobs. Fund PP...0 jobs. Cigarette Tax...0 jobs. This should be fun to watch.

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