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My Turn: Urge Democrats to restore funding for important nonprofits

For the Monitor
Published: 4/9/2019 12:15:11 AM

For 250 years, New Hampshire has done it differently, and we’re better off for it. We throw politics aside and put people first.

Every two years, the governor proposes a budget that sets a roadmap for responsible spending. In February, I proposed a fiscally responsible budget that was crafted by stakeholders with bipartisan input and that addresses the concern of children, families and the state’s top priorities.

Right now our state’s economy is as strong as ever, providing financial opportunity to families across New Hampshire. This year, I made a concerted effort to utilize our state’s prosperity to help fund nonprofit programs that our communities rely on but have been previously left out of the state budget.

While these efforts were applauded by both sides of the aisle early on, it appears Washington-style theatrics have gotten the best of the Democratic Party, which has now removed funding for these programs.

Critical funding for initiatives that improve the health and well-being of our citizens and state have become political pawns. The House Finance Committee, led by Democrats, recently voted to strip out of my budget millions in funding for Volunteer New Hampshire, City Year, and grant funding that would have been available to wonderful organizations like the Special Olympics and Best Buddies.

And, most surprisingly, after watching the national fallout when Washington proposed to strip funding from Special Olympics, New Hampshire Democrats have followed suit and done the same thing, removing the first state funding made available through grants for Special Olympics in the history of our state.

The House Finance Committee has sent a terrible message to nonprofits like AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and others across the state that their efforts aren’t worthy of support. City Year and Volunteer New Hampshire are service-centered nonprofits that work to make the lives of Granite Staters better every day. City Year sends young individuals out to New Hampshire schools to mentor and guide at-risk youth. They provide a critical support network for those who don’t have the proper support at home. In my budget, I proposed an additional $500,000 for City Year to support its existing programs. The House Finance Committee took it out.

Volunteer New Hampshire, another incredible nonprofit, helps provide essential services to at-risk students across the state. The House Finance Committee took out its funding.

All of these organizations do incredible work. They lift up individuals, empower people who have been left in the shadows and continuously strive to make their communities the very best they can be. While the House Finance Committee has taken drastic steps to slash critical funding for these groups, the fight is not yet over. The full House of Representatives will take up the budget on Thursday.

If you are baffled and disappointed in the blatant disregard these organizations have been shown, pick up your phone. Call your state representative. Stress the important work these nonprofits do on a daily basis. It’s not too late. The budget process is fluid, and with enough community support we can get these appropriations back into the budget.

New Hampshire’s most vulnerable people are counting on us to get it right, and we can’t let them down.

(Chris Sununu is serving his second term as governor of New Hampshire.)

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