As expected, Sununu vetoes budget, saying it would kill jobs

Associated Press
Published: 6/28/2019 6:49:50 PM

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a $13 billion two-year state budget on Friday, saying it sets up unsustainable spending expectations and “job killing tax increases” that would put New Hampshire’s booming economy at risk.

The veto was widely expected and came a day after lawmakers approved a continuing resolution to maintain current spending levels for three months starting Monday, the first day of the new fiscal year.

Democrats, who control the Legislature, said the budget provides property tax relief and a boost to education funding while addressing the state’s most pressing problems. But Republicans argued it relies on one-time surplus funds for ongoing expenses and will drive the state toward a broad-based tax.

“Taking out a big mortgage with a one-time bonus from work would be a terrible decision, but that is precisely what this budget does,” Sununu said in his veto message.

Neither the House nor the Senate has enough votes to override Sununu’s veto. Lawmakers will likely spend the summer working on a new deal.

The last governor to veto a budget was Democrat Maggie Hassan in 2015. That year, Republicans controlled the Legislature and included in their budget a series of business tax cuts to take effect over several years. Now, Democrats are in control of both the House and Senate, and they sought to halt the last phases of the cuts. Sununu said that would have a chilling effect on entrepreneurs thinking of starting new companies or adding employees.

“This budget takes us down the wrong path, and the people of New Hampshire will never support it,” he said.

The budget approved along strict party lines included a $138 million increase in education funding and $40 million in unrestricted money for cities and towns in the form of revenue sharing. It also called for a new secure psychiatric unit, programs promoting a comprehensive system of care for children’s behavioral health, and higher Medicaid reimbursement rates for addiction treatment and mental health care providers.

Democrats accused Sununu of failing to cooperate and compromise.

“It’s deeply discouraging that the governor chose today to put big businesses before the people of New Hampshire when he vetoed the state budget,” said Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester. “While the Senate remains committed to ongoing budget negotiations, the governor’s veto today delays implementation of statewide children’s mobile crisis services, jeopardizes critical funding to address the mental health and substance use disorder crises, and kicks the can down the road on education funding and property tax relief.”

House Republican leader Rep. Dick Hinch, of Merrimack, called the Democrats’ plan a fiscally irresponsible “spend-a-thon budget.”

“I look forward to taking a very active role and working in good faith with our Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate over the summer to come up with a bipartisan product that will benefit our state and not lead to an income tax or capital gains tax,” he said in a statement.

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