by Hon. Jim McConnell
New Hampshire’s 2021 Budget should be defeated. While there is plenty in this budget to like (and no danger the Governor can afford to let any of those good things disappear) the budget that’s eventually signed should end the neutering of both the Governor’s Emergency Powers legislation and the Divisive Concepts legislation.
It will also need to address the Governor’s continuing efforts to adopt the Sununu version of President Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation, which greatly limits local Planning and Zoning Boards’ authority to influence the character of New Hampshire’s cities and towns.
How can I be so confident the Budget will retain its positive provisions?
Governor Sununu, later this year to be US Senate candidate Sununu, can’t have it any other way.
Consider some of the highlights of Governor Sununu’s tenure:
In his first budget in 2017, he demanded that the General Fund, that portion of the budget over which the state has the most control, increase 7% in 2018 and another 3.3% in 2019, a total of 10.3%. In the previous budget — the last under then Governor Hassan — the General Fund increased by .9% in 2016 and another .9% in 2017, a total of 1.8%. Governor Sununu’s budget was initially defeated in the House but eventually passed, increasing General Fund spending by 9.6%. All this in a Zero Interest Rate environment.
In the Spring of 2018, while Governor Sununu had in excess of $1 million dollars in his Re-election Campaign Account, the New Hampshire Grand Old Party (NHGOP), whose Chair he had appointed, was unable to pay its bills. Did it ever occur to Governor Sununu to suggest to a contributor he stop by the NHGOP with a check? Unhappily, the question answers itself.
In 2018, Governor Sununu also signed the Bathroom Bill (HB 1319), eliminating the right to privacy in public accommodations and equity in school athletics and scholarships.
In the 2018 election, Governor Sununu’s efforts on behalf of the NHGOP’s most important candidates were either unimpressive or, usually, non-existent. Some of our most important candidates lost by tiny margins and the Democrats took control of the Executive Council, the State Senate and the State House. Governor Sununu seemed entirely comfortable with the Democratic majorities and, in a political environment which was a product of his own indolence and indifference, he exercised his veto frequently while insisting he was a great Conservative Republican.
In 2020, thanks to the efforts of NHGOP Chair Steve Stepanek who put it all together, NHGOP Vice-Chair Pam Tucker who recruited candidates, Kate Day who organized NHGOP Town Committees across the state and Spec Bowers who compiled the Democratic Legislators’ voting records in easy-to-distribute summaries which were distributed by NHGOP candidates across the state, the NHGOP won back the Executive Council, State Senate, and State House. Noticeably absent was any significant contribution from Governor Sununu, whom many suspected was only too happy to see the Democrats control the legislature.
Given his record, Governor Sununu needs to pass a budget he can use to mitigate the effects of his previous actions (and non-actions) and try to make the case that he isn’t New Hampshire’s version of George W. Bush. He’ll need some luck though, as “Compassionate Conservatism” is a term already taken and thoroughly discredited.