Governor Maggie Hassan joined Morning Edition Friday to talk about her reaction to the moves made Thursday by the House Finance Committee.
You’ve made clear your opposition to many of the recommendations made in the House budget. What particular proposals give you the greatest concern?
The House budget that was proposed earlier this week made unnecessary, very harmful cuts that will pull us backwards and will make it much more difficult to make the kind of economic progress we need to.
And then yesterday, when they tried to fix the budget, there is a need to find more revenue for the Department of Transportation budget. But what they really did was cut $28 million from the university system, which makes it 9 percent below funding for this year. They cut stabilization grants for our K-12 education system. And they raided the renewable energy fund.
Do you believe the use of $51 million from the state’s renewable energy fund is legal?
The lawyers will also figure that out, but those funds exist for a particular purpose and that’s to invest in the kind of clean energy future that is going to be so critical to the future of our economy.
Lawmakers came into this budget process with roughly $100 million already spoken for after two major legal settlements, so there were obviously decisions to be made.
You proposed a number of new revenue sources in your budget, but Republicans would argue they’re making the difficult decisions needed for the state to live within its means. What’s your response to that?
We no longer have to budget as if we’re in an economic crisis. We came together over the last two years to build a foundation for an innovation economy. The modest revenue increases that I suggested – a vehicle registration fee of $15 to $20 a year, a 21-cent cigarette tax increase – none of the things that I suggested at conservative revenue growth estimates will threaten our status as a low-tax state. My budget does not have an income or sales tax.
You’ve touted how Republicans and Democrats came together in the last cycle to craft a responsible budget. We’re still early in the process, so do you feel like that can happen again? Or has something changed?
If we continue to work, we’ll be able to find a way forward. Part of what’s happening in the House right now is that they’re recognizing is that my budget is in fact frugal and that we do in fact have some challenges that we may need some more revenue for. None of the cuts they’re making are necessary. Our economy is strengthening and we can move forward with confidence about that.