July 1st marks the beginning of the state's new fiscal year, and the start of the two-year budget recently passed by the Legislature. Gov. Maggie Hassan, interestingly, is thrilled at the bipartisan budget deal.
"The large, bipartisan support for the priorities in this budget — caring for our most vulnerable, public safety, education and preserving our natural resources — demonstrates that our shared values as Granite Staters are far more significant than our differences," the governor exclaimed.
Yet the budget is substantially the same as the Senate budget package that Hassan earlier blasted as "fiscally irresponsible."
Hassan's overheated rhetoric masked the fact that the House and Senate budget proposals were pretty close to begin with. In fact, the budget that Hassan praises so much has few of her fingerprints on it. Her all-out push for a casino failed spectacularly in the Democratic-controlled House. Her plans for a new Office of Innovation, higher cigarette taxes, and delays in widely supported tax reforms for New Hampshire small businesses were quickly abandoned.
As a state senator, Hassan was far more willing to pick a fight than make a deal. She has continued that bomb-throwing style as governor. Fortunately, Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature managed to work together despite the governor's best efforts. The result is a bipartisan deal that funds New Hampshire's most critical needs and is based on cautious and reasonably revenue estimates. There will always be room for savings in a $10.7 billion budget, but New Hampshire begins its new fiscal year on solid ground.