OFTEN WHEN people vote for their state representative and state senator, they do so while thinking about the changes they want to see to state laws. However, we also have another important role — oversight.

The Legislature works tirelessly to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and for their intended purpose. Much of this work is done by the Joint Fiscal Committee, a bipartisan committee of House and Senate lawmakers established to accept and expend non-state funds, like federal coronavirus funds that were disbursed last week to bolster our state’s Meals on Wheels program and make sure our seniors don’t go hungry.

With the hard work of our congressional delegation — Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Representatives Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas — New Hampshire was able to secure $1.25 billion dollars in federal aid under the CARES Act. Now, the most important job of every elected official in New Hampshire is to ensure swift, effective, and equitable disbursement of those funds to help our front line workers, medical providers, communities, small businesses, and nonprofits. The swiftest and most effective means of doing that is the bipartisan Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee.

Unfortunately, Governor Sununu has cut legislative involvement and oversight out of this process, has unilaterally decided he would be the sole arbiter of those critical funds. Not only does this violate the state constitution and separation of powers, but it could delay the COVID-19 relief funds from getting to the communities that need it. Governor Sununu’s unprecedented violation of the public trust left us with no choice but to ask the judicial system to step in and require the governor to go through the Fiscal Committee for the expenditure of any federal coronavirus relief funding.

No one’s first choice — or even second choice — was to go to court. We reached out to the Governor on multiple occasions to settle this amicably. But Governor Sununu refused, and he’s left us no choice.

The New Hampshire Constitution is clear. It says that the legislative branch has exclusive authority to appropriate money for executive branch operations, and unambiguously requires that the Fiscal Committee maintain this oversight authority during a state of emergency: “Should it be determined by the governor that a civil emergency exists, the governor may, with the advice and consent of the fiscal committee, authorize such expenditures, by any department or agency, as may be necessary to effectively deal with said civil emergency…”

As legislative leaders, it is our duty to advocate for the people of the state who elected us. We are doing what the people of New Hampshire need us to do to get through this crisis and ensure that every Granite Stater has access to the financial relief they need during this difficult time.

It was also important for us to act right away to try to resolve this dispute now, so that the courts could issue a decision before New Hampshire receives the CARES Act funding at the end of April and so we can make sure it gets to communities as quickly as possible.

Relief to Granite Staters is already on its way. An expansion of unemployment benefits is already in place, including the additional $600 per week stipend from the federal government. Individual stimulus checks are already flowing from the federal government. And the Fiscal Committee is poised to vote to quickly accept and expend any additional federal coronavirus funds that we receive.

Granite Staters are facing unprecedented challenges right now. We believe that it is in their best interest for the Joint Fiscal Committee, an experienced, bipartisan, and accountable committee, to carry out its constitutional role and get Granite Staters the relief they need without delay.

Mary Jane Wallner of Concord chairs the Joint Fiscal Committee. Sen. Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester is committee vice chair. Speaker of the House Stephen Shurtleff lives in Penacook. Senate President Donna Soucy lives in Manchester.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

AS CONGRESS continues to negotiate on two high-profile proposals — a more than $1 trillion infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package — there is another proposal pending that is getting less attention, though Granite Staters should pay it close attention.

Friday, October 22, 2021

$27 MILLION is not chump change. $27 million could make a real difference in providing New Hampshire the resources to increase vaccination rates and end the COVID pandemic. Republicans on the Executive Council and the Joint Fiscal Committee have delayed and now blocked New Hampshire’s accept…

Thursday, October 21, 2021

MANCHESTER HAS released new valuations for city properties. We have been told, and for the most part agree, that home values have increased and that those new values are based on comparable residential sales. What I disagree with are the new commercial values, which were not as positive and …

WHEN A CONDOMINIUM collapsed in Florida in June of this year, tragically killing 98 people, evidence of structural defects, reports of overdue repairs, and emails between owners, contractors, and city officials surfaced, all pointing fingers and demanding answers to the question “Could this …

Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Monday, October 18, 2021
Sunday, October 17, 2021

IF YOU’VE driven along the New Hampshire Seacoast, you’re probably very familiar with the Hampton Bridge. This vital connector on Route 1A spans the Hampton River and carries 18,000 vehicles a day during the height of the summer season. It once held the distinction of the longest wooden brid…

Friday, October 15, 2021

FOR THOSE who care about animals and who want to protect them from mistreatment, a silver lining of the pandemic was that it kept the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) tour away from Manchester for more than a year. Alas, the tour is returning for two shows at the SNHU Arena in October.

Thursday, October 14, 2021