G O P Presidential candidate Donald Trump topped off a tumultuous coupe of weeks with a series of endorsements that raised an eyebrow or two. In addition to endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s reelection bid, Trump also backed the reelection bidsof Arizona Senator John McCain and our very own Senator Kelly Ayotte. All three are in primary battles and all three have been, well, less than charitable to the Donald who has responded in kind.
The endorsement of Ayotte turned some heads given the longstanding support Trump has received from Ayotte’s primary rival Jim Rubens. Following the endorsement, Rubens issued a statement saying quote:
Donald Trump needs U.S. Senators who will back his priority objectives: secure borders, trade and immigration policies that boost American wages and bring jobs home, and national security policies that do not spread terrorism and keep Americans safe. Ayotte has not only voted against every one of Donald Trump’s priority national objectives, she made illegal alien amnesty a cornerstone of her political career. These endorsements will not help Donald Trump reach his stated goals and I think his supporters will agree.
Trump was in the state Saturday after making the endorsements. He spoke to an overflow crowd at Windham High School, where people waited upwards of eight hours to see him. Though Ayotte has refused to endorse Trump and did not attend the event, she issued a statement saying it was time to go defeat Hillary Clinton and Maggie Hassan
The New Hampshire Supreme Court struck down changes made to how the state calculated TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) payments to needy families last week. Changes to the formula were made in two thousand ten, when the legislature closed a nearly one billion dollar budget gap. Seems the supremes don’t think the state can include certain federal welfare payments as income for the purposes of determining state aid.
As a result, the General Court’s Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee left Governor Margaret Wood Hassan’s Gateway to Work program on the table. Hassan had proposed using TANF funds to pay for the job training program. But, with the court’s ruling, the availability of those funds is in doubt.
In wake of the Joint Fiscal Committee’s actions, legislative leaders were quick to issue statements. Said House Majority Leader Dick Hinch, Republican from Merrimack quote:
On the same day a document was presented that stated the Department of Health and Human Services is dealing with a $47 million deficit, the Fiscal Committee was asked to reexamine spending millions of dollars on Gateway to Work. You can’t simultaneously have a large operating deficit, and suggest a new spending program is in order before you examine ways to fix the existing deficit. Plus, there are additional yet-to-be determined costs to the TANF fund as a result of a state Supreme Court decision. We can’t realistically look at drawing down the TANF fund until the implications of this court opinion are determined.
Hinch went on to question the program, noting that it didn’t seem to make much sense to spend over thrity five thousand dollars per person on a job training program in a state with less than three percent unemployment. Quote:
It’s just not clear to us how this program comes at the right time for the right cost.
Background: The Fiscal Committee item sought to use $8.3 million of TANF funds to administer the Gateway to Work program for a 6 month period (source document, page 69). The DHHS dashboard, an informational item received by the committee, stated that the department had identified a potential budget deficit of $46.9 million (source document, page 224). On Tuesday, the NH Supreme Court issued an opinion that may affect how the state determines TANF benefits (source document).
Senate President Chuck Morse, Republican from Salem also weighed in saying quote:
Based on our understanding of the TANF program, this ruling could significantly increase benefit payments at an unknown cost. It is possible that complying with this ruling and instituting Gateway to Work would result in the TANF Trust Fund running at a deficit. We have yet to fully understand the potential implications for additional spending in the TANF fund and I would caution spending any TANF reserve dollars at this time because it would be fiscally irresponsible, even for a good cause.
Senator Andy Sanborn, Republican from Bedford echoed the concerns expressed by Hinch and Morse, but took things a step further saying quote:
I think we should consider this an opportunity to re-evaluate the effectiveness numerous programs that already exist in the State of New Hampshire which serve to assist low wage earners with the education and training they need to find good jobs in our state. This Governor is far too quick to push for more spending before taking a measured approach and evaluating the tools and resources already deployed for the same goal.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
There was a bit of excitement at the Manchester Airport last week as twenty two year old Mohamed Elchabbi tried to get over the security fences adjacent to one of the on runways on Thursday afternoon. Londonderry police officers located him in the area after being reported by Airport personnel. Officers attempted to speak with Elchabbi, but he took off on foot. He gave up shortly thereafter and was arrested and charged with Attempt to Commit Criminal Trespass, Resisting Arrest/ Detention, Disorderly Conduct and Simple Assault. Elchabbi was arraigned Friday morning at the Derry District Court, held on $5,000 cash bail and will be back in court on September 6th. Police believe Elchabbi acted alone and was prompted by mental illness. They say neither the airport nor passergers were in any danger at any time.
In case you missed it, the Summer Olympic Games have gotten underway in Rio Di Janeiro. The place of perilously polluted beaches, where competitors will gain medals for not getting sick during their events, got things started with an Al Gore like video on saving the planet’s environment and a pledge to plant eleven thousand trees. Despite soccer officials stopping a match until Team U S A fans stopped chanting “U S A.,” the U S leads in the medal count with a total of twelve medals won so far; three gold, five silver and four bronze.
That’s news from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!