By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Republican Gov. Chris Sununu met behind closed doors with Democratic leaders on Friday and began negotiations on a budget deal to run the state for the next two years.
Sununu met with Democratic Sen. Lou D’Allesandro and Senate President Donna Soucy, also a Manchester Democrat, House Speaker Steve Shurtleff, and House Finance Committee Chairman Mary Jane Wallner, D-Concord.
After the meeting Soucy and Shurtleff released the following statement:
“We appreciate today’s productive and thoughtful conversation with Governor Sununu about the state budget and look forward to continuing negotiations as we work to build a budget that addresses the needs of Granite State communities, families, and businesses. ”
There was no mention of a time or place for future meetings.
The Democrats crafted a $13.3 billion, two year budget which passed both houses June 27 along partisan lines.
Sununu vetoed the compromise budget claiming it would reverse the economic growth of the past four years. The Democrats do not have enough votes to override the veto.
Riding in the elevator to the governor’s office Friday, D’Allesandro shook his head on whether or not an agreement between the two sides is possible, noting that the political climate right now is very heated.
“I just don’t know,” D’Allesandro said.
Sununu said on Wednesday that he was feeling positive that an agreement can be reached and noted the political fighting was not so bad that the two sides could not sit down and work out a deal.
Senate Republicans said the budget passed is a 13.6 percent increase from the current one and includes a structural deficit, where the state spends more than it takes in, by about $93 million over two years.
On the day of the budget vote, Senators summed up the battle lines.
Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro said, “We need a budget that grows the economy so that we have the resources to do…what all of us want to do.”
Sen. Tom Sherman, D-Rye said the budget addresses the four major issues: the state’s mental health crisis, its opioid abuse epidemic, education funding inequalities and the Division of Children Youth and Families.
On Friday, Sununu signed 43 bills into law and vetoed six. One of them signed into law by the governor, HB 480 relative to sports betting, drew this response from D’Allesandro:
“In order to remain competitive in the state-controlled gaming arena, there is a need for this legislation. It creates a framework for the operation that legalizes sports betting, establishes consumer protections for our citizens and calls for a competitive vendor bidding process to allow for maximized revenue return to the state. The Supreme Court decision made all of this possible, and as a state, we need to take advantage of this new opportunity,” D’Allesandro said.
Please see below for a list of 43 bills that Governor Chris Sununu signed into law Friday:
- HB 122, allowing for gifts, grants, and donations to legislative employees or officers for expenses associated with state and national legislative association events.
- HB 239, relative to requirements for supervision for licensure of certain mental health and drug counselors.
- HB 261, requiring the commissioner of the department of environmental services to revise rules relative to arsenic contamination in drinking water.
- HB 271, relative to apprentice electricians and third party electrical inspections.
- HB 359, relative to warning labels on prescription drugs containing opiates.
- HB 399, relative to annulment of arrests or convictions for possession of a certain quantity of marijuana.
- HB 429, establishing a committee to study ways to improve civic engagement in New Hampshire.
- HB 443, relative to municipal watering restrictions.
- HB 468, relative to the inclusion of attendance stipends and certain additional pay for instructional activities as earnable compensation in the retirement system.
- HB 480, relative to sports betting.
- HB 591, amending the laws governing OHRVs and snowmobiles.
- HB 631, establishing a deaf child’s bill of rights and an advisory council on the education of deaf children.
- HB 660, relative to studying the economic and other impacts of OHRV use in New Hampshire.
- HB 710, relative to adoption of state building code and fire code amendments.
- SB 4, relative to the group and individual health insurance market.
- SB 22, relative to the construction property tax exemption.
- SB 26, relative to the New Hampshire health care quality assurance commission.
- SB 37, relative to the registration of motor vehicles.
- SB 51, establishing a commission to study expanding mental health courts statewide.
- SB 56, establishing a committee to study motor vehicle registrations and drivers’ licenses of active duty military personnel.
- SB 58, relative to payment for low-dose mammography coverage.
- SB 62, relative to temporary layoffs of certain seasonal workers and establishing a commission to study school bus driver background checks.
- SB 80, relative to membership on the board of mental health practice, applications for licensure by mental health practitioners, and insurance credentialing of out-of-state mental health practitioners and psychologists.
- SB 85, reestablishing the commission to study environmentally-triggered chronic illness.
- SB 98, clarifying the New Hampshire trust code and establishing a committee to study the effects of past trust code legislation.
- SB 103, authorizing municipalities to engage in multi-town bonding projects.
- SB 110, relative to the investigations by the state fire marshal.
- SB 111, relative to the collection of health care data.
- SB 115, establishing a commission to study the business environment for mental health providers in New Hampshire.
- SB 127, relative to the Hampton judicial district and establishing the Hampton district court as a site for judicial branch family division cases.
- SB 128, relative to the court accreditation commission.
- SB 154, establishing a committee to study tax incentives for promoting development of dense workforce housing in community centers, and authorizing the sale of certain property by the town of Milton.
- SB 164, establishing a committee to study unprotected drinking water sources.
- SB 177, relative to the use of physical restraints on persons who are involuntarily committed.
- SB 185, relative to development of the New Hampshire state rail trails plan by the department of transportation and making an appropriation therefor.
- SB 187, relative to OHRV dealer and rental agency registration fees and snowmobile registration fees.
- SB 192, relative to self-service storage facility liens.
- SB 200, relative to wildlife corridors.
- SB 206, excluding the cost of lobbying and political activity from the rates of public utilities.
- SB 210, relative to emergency medical and trauma services.
- SB 245, relative to fees for simulcast racing.
- SB 270, establishing a tax credit against the business profits tax for donations to career and technical education centers.
- SB 292, relative to implementation of the new mental health 10-year plan.
Please see below for a list of 6 bills that Governor Chris Sununu vetoed today:
- HB 198, clarifying the prohibition against the use of mobile electronic devices while driving.
- HB 349, relative to a second opinion on health care matters for state and county prisoners.
- SB 74, relative to register of deeds fees used to support the land and community heritage investment program (LCHIP), and establishing a committee to study the economic impact of land conservation and to review the LCHIP surcharge.
- SB 88, relative to registry identification cards under the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes law.
- SB 148, relative to notification to public employees regarding their right to join or not join a union.
- SB 196, relative to non-academic surveys administered by a public school to its students.
NOTE: SB 207, relative to rules adopted by the Department of Environmental Services pursuant to the 2014 report of the coastal risks and hazards commission, became law without Governor Sununu’s signature.