The budget requests submitted by New Hampshire’s state agency heads have lawmakers seeing red. According to a statement released by House Majority Leader Dick Hinch, Republican from Merrimack, on Friday, the requests for fiscal years 2018 and 19 total over twelve point six billion dollars, a jump of about one point four billion which is more than twelve point five percent higher than the current operating budget. Hinch faulted Governor Margaret Wood Hassan for the rising requests saying she’s failed to have departments live within their means. Said Hinch, quote:
What we have here shows our state government’s inability to be mindful of the sensitive state our economy continues to be in. Our economy is growing, but that doesn’t mean our citizens are all getting a 12.5% raise –neither should state government. Over the last year we heard Governor Hassan voice her concerns over state tax revenue, saying that tax cuts would blow a large whole in future budgets. Yet, in the blink of an eye, agencies she oversees are coming back with explosive growth in their spending proposals. It seems disingenuous.
Hinch called on Hassan to order state agencies to produce budgets that level funded their operations or provide something quote “in the realm of reasonableness,” saying quote
This is no time for agencies to submit their biggest wish list to Santa.
Meanwhile, State Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, Republican from Wolfeboro, issued a statement after learning that New Hampshire Hospital under spent its FY 16 budget by sixteen percent. Bradley noted the state’s struggle to address the needs of the mentally ill and how critically important it is those needs be met. Quote:
Given that the Legislature has made funding mental health a priority, it is unacceptable that Governor Hassan’s administration has under spent the New Hampshire hospital’s budget FY16 by $4.1 million or nearly 16 percent. Furthermore, despite quick action by the Legislature to fund and expedite the opening of New Hampshire Hospital’s 10 bed crisis unit, it was delayed for over a year, finally opening this summer. The claim that staffing shortages were to blame for this delay may well be the result of the Governor’s under spending. So for more than a year mental health patients have waited unnecessarily for care in emergency rooms across the state.”
Bradley also criticized continued under-spending in other areas, saying a report in July showed there were one hundred sixty six families with disabled children on a waiting list despite their needs being fully funded by the legislature. Bradley accused Hassan of withholding the funding and reminded everyone of the recent revelation that the Governor’s Drug and Alcohol Commission failed to spend two thirds of its appropriation, despite receiving increased funding to battle the opioid epidemic.
Bradley said all of this information is now coming to light as the books were closed on Fiscal Sixteen and that the governor failed to comply with the law she signed requiring quarterly spending reports. Quote:
Had the Governor complied with the legislation she signed into law, the public would have seen how she has withheld necessary funding from priorities voters across our state support. We now know why Governor Hassan has failed to comply with the law, she hopes to hide her fiscal mismanagement.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Well, just when you think there’s no more slack in your jaw to express disbelief at what an elected body does, the Timberlane Regional School Board tugs it even lower. At last Thursday night’s meeting of the board, Chairman Peter Bealo shut down board member Stefanie Dube of Danville as she tried to read a letter from a constituent to the board. That’s what the correspondence file is for, bellowed Bealo. It mattered not that Dube’s constituent, Mary Jo Thomas-Conlon, asked that the letter be read aloud at the meeting as it raised concerns about the correspondence folder itself. Nor did it matter that Bealo had, at the prior meeting, read a correspondence to the board, as board member Donna Green reminded him. That was an email to me, not the board, retorted Bealo.
In the letter, Conlon complained, quote:
There is something very broken about the way correspondence is received and responded to at the School board, Budget Committee and SAU levels. While these public bodies announce and insist that they seek public input, questions, transparency and to share as much information as possible, in reality, it often seems that the opposite is true.
Letters from constituents, no matter the topic or gravity of the concern, receive little if any public acknowledgement. Though letters may be written to the entire board, they are usually directly received by only the chair, who decides when/if a response will be sent, then relegated to the infamous “correspondence” folder, to perhaps be briefly glimpsed as it makes it way around the table during an ongoing meeting. It’s not even clear that all letters make it to the folder or who sees/reads them.
Though someone has taken the time and energy to bring their concerns to a public body, unless specifying privacy/confidentiality, they know that their letter becomes a public document, but it is not read or shared with the public during open meetings. Public letters , comments and concerns, receive no commentary or discussion. In some cases the letter may be months old, whatever response was sent, is not included or available. ( ie:recent budget committee meeting 9-8-16) and constituents are not informed about the nature of the correspondence, unless apparently you happen to chair another board?
There will be no refuse or recycling collection in the Queen City today, in observance of the Columbus Day Holiday. Residents whose collection day is today should place their items for pick up on the curb tomorrow. All other residents should put their items out on their normal collection day, though they may experience a pickup delay of up to 24 hours.
That’s news from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!
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