Concord, N.H. – After voting to kill SB 233, a fiscally responsible bill to help ensure the state ends FY 2015 with a balanced budget, Jeanie Forrester and Chuck Morse issued false statements underscoring that they’ve lost all credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.
See below for a complete fact check of the false statements from Jeanie Forrester and Chuck Morse.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) issued the following statement on the Committee voting down the Governor’s request for budget cuts from the Legislative and Judicial Branches:
Forrester’s Claim: “For almost a year, I have been asking Governor Hassan to share with the Legislature information on the spending problems within New Hampshire agencies.”
Fact: Taking aside the numerous briefings from Governor Hassan and her administration to the Legislative Fiscal Committee, Forrester could’ve simply checked TransparentNH for monthly spending data by agency.
Forrester’s Claim: “With revenues running ahead of projections, it was essential that we address spending proactively. Instead, the Governor kept the problem to herself, tried to blame it on revenues even as they exceeded our targets, and finally came forward with this package of cuts to branches that are controlling their spending.”
Fact: Forrester can’t possibly write with a straight face that Senate Republicans are “controlling their spending” after they massively overspent the Senate’s operations budget.
And the Governor has repeatedly highlighted budget challenges (dating back to last spring), including troubling trends with business and I&D revenues and increased caseloads at DHHS (mostly representing more children getting on traditional Medicaid due to a change in federal law). Beginning last spring, the Governor took preventive and preemptive action including, among other actions, instructing agencies to halt equipment purchasing. Right after, Senate Republicans went on a shopping spree for new office furniture.
Forrester’s Claim: “The Governor would have raided dedicated funds and taken money from branches that are living within their budgets, yet would barely scratch the surface of the $58 million overspending problem. As such, the Finance Committee voted down this bill.”
Fact: Again, Forrester’s statement that Senate Republicans are “living within their budgets” is beyond laughable.
Additionally, the dedicated funds mentioned in the bill are transferring dollars from one fund at the Department of Safety to another fund at the Department of Safety to address a shortfall in plea by mail revenue. This measure is necessary to fund state police detectives and the state crime lab.
Not to mention that Forrester’s claim of a “$58 million overspending problem” is simply not true. That number is an estimation representing all potential liabilities, including the large back-of-the-budget cuts to DHHS that Forrester and her Senate GOP colleagues insisted upon. As Forrester knows, all agency spending has been approved by the legislature (whether through the budget, Fiscal Committee, or other legislation).
Despite these challenges, the Governor has worked with department heads to make the tough decisions to maintain a balanced budget, including issuing an executive order that cut $18 million from state agencies and working with DHHS to submit a plan to end FY15 with a balanced budget.
Meanwhile, Forrester’s Finance Committee voted to kill a bill that would help ensure a balanced FY15 budget because it would require the legislature to make cuts to its own budget. (You can listen to the full hearing here).
Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) added the following statement:
Morse’s Claim: “The Legislature continues to manage its budget, and it is now time for the Governor to manage her state agencies spending problems.”
Fact: Governor Hassan has worked with department heads to carefully manage state expenditures, and state agencies beat their savings reduction targets last year by $8.5 million. Given additional challenges – including more children getting on regular Medicaid due to a change in federal law and back-of-the-budget cuts insisted on by Senate Republicans – the Governor has worked with department heads to make the tough decisions to maintain a balanced budget, including issuing an executive order that cut $18 million from state agencies and working with DHHS to submit a plan to end FY15 with a balanced budget.
When asked why the Senate overspent its operations budget and wildly missed its own budget targets, Senator Morse replied, “I had a lot on my plate last year.”
Morse’s Claim: She needs to stop raiding dedicated funds and trying to take money away from other branches of government that are meeting their Constitutional obligation to live within their means.”
Fact: Again, see here: “when it came to returning unspent money to the treasury, it was the State Senate that seemed to spend like there was no tomorrow.”
(Written by the NHDP)