(The opinions expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the New Hampshire Journal. The Journal welcomes opinions on all sides of issues and from all candidates for office.)
BY SEN. SHARON CARSON AND REP. LYNNE OBER
It is long past time for Governor Maggie Hassan to take responsibility for the growing problems in her Administration, and get state government under control.
We found out last week that Hassan missed her budget target by $7.3 million, not including raiding $15 million from the surplus left over from the last Republican budget. That means that she missed her budget target by $22 million, even as state revenues continue to come in on target. New Hampshire’s slowly improving economy can’t keep up with Hassan’s rate of spending.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently reported that it’s on track to overspend $40 million this year. As a result of this overspending, and the Governor’s budget shortfall, she is now asking other state departments to find $30 million in spending cuts. On Hassan’s watch, the state’s finances are falling apart.
Our Rainy Day Fund is down to just $9 million, barely enough to cover two days of state government. Hassan opposed efforts to build it back up.
The New Hampshire Retirement System is dangerously underfunded, and will need to come up with $5 billion to cover unfunded liabilities. Hassan opposes any meaningful reform.
Bond rating agencies have noticed these threats, and this year downgraded the outlook on New Hampshire bonds from stable to negative. If our bond rating deteriorates any further, taxpayers will be forced to pay more to finance capital construction projects.
Mistreatment of rank and file employees from agency management is so rampant that state employees urged the Legislature to pass a bill restoring professional standards to state government, which passed the House with large bipartisan support, was amended and passed by the Senate. But Hassan vetoed it, and the House failed to override her veto.
The Sununu Youth Service Center is in turmoil. This leaves both the children incarcerated there and the local community at risk. This year, one of the buildings burned to the ground, yet the Hassan Administration is at a loss to explain what happened to the public. The Legislature crafted a bipartisan agreement to bring oversight to this rogue agency. Hassan vetoed it, and then launched a campaign to convince House Democrats to sustain her veto.
Maggie Hassan has gutted New Hampshire’s campaign finance system, launching a scheme to bring in unlimited special interest PAC donations to fund her re-election effort. She was forced to return $22,000 in illegal donations, but opened the floodgates to literally unlimited PAC spending in future elections.
She continues to blame the Republican Legislature elected in 2010 for all of her problems, and repeatedly criticized the Senate Republican budget that eventually became the basis of our current budget. Yet now, she tries to take credit for that same budget.
Although she continues to claim that her Administration doesn’t have a spending problem, even as she scrambles to cut spending, a quick look at September revenues shows that the state has collected $2.4 million more than planned for the First Quarter of FY15. How can she say there isn’t a spending problem when revenues are on track?
Time and again, Hassan chooses partisanship games over governing. She calls Republicans names, while claiming to be a bipartisan problem solver. Time and again, Hassan has refused to admit the failures of her Administration.
The Hassan Administration has many growing problems, but we’re not going to see any improvement until the Governor herself steps up and finally takes some responsibility.
(Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, chairs the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rep. Lynne Ober, R-Hudson, serves on the House Finance Committee.)