Gov. Maggie Hassan is shamelessly spinning the state budget — again.
When Hassan was Majority Leader in the state Senate, she led the crafting of two state budgets. Those budgets raised state spending by about 24 percent in just four years. Even with the dozens of tax and fee increases, those budgets were in the red, so Hassan and Co. borrowed — increasing state debt by $285 billion, or an astronomical and unprecedented 43 percent in four years — and shifted accounts off budget to give the appearane of balance.
When the inevitable happened — a $300 million shortfall in the budget Hassan had laughably called “balanced” — Hassan blamed the economy. But Republicans had warned all along that the spending would far outpace economic growth and would have to be cut. Gov. John Lynch was forced to make the cuts Republicans had predicted, bringing spending closer to levels Republicans had initially proposed and Hassan had opposed. Running for governor, Hassan claimed credit for those cuts.
The state just finished fiscal year 2013, and the current budget is $76 million in surplus. That is because Republicans in the previous Legislature undid the Hassan-Lynch spending spree and Republicans in the current Senate forced Hassan and the House to keep spending significantly lower than the governor had proposed.
Hassan strenuously opposed the previous state budget and the Senate’s proposal this year (which became this year’s budget almost entirely), both of which she called reckless, irresponsible and cold-hearted. Yet now she takes partial credit for the surplus created by the budgets she opposed, saying in a statement that “A strengthening economy and sound fiscal management from state agencies resulted in a strong surplus.”
No, the surplus is the result of spending decisions she opposed, ridiculed and derided. During next year’s gubernatorial race, look for her to continue taking credit for a budget that was balanced in spite of, not because of, her own actions.