By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – With no fanfare and no courtesy photo of him signing House Bills 1 and 2, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu issued a news release Friday saying he signed both into law.
Sununu issued a one sentence statement Friday upon making the controversial $13.5 billion budget law after the House and Senate both voted to pass them Thursday.
The bills drew fire because of the non-financial measures they included in the budget such as an abortion ban after 24 weeks of pregnancy, school vouchers, and a provision to prevent the teaching of racism and sexism.
“Historic tax cuts, property tax relief, and Paid Family Medical Leave delivered all in one sweeping action is a win for every citizen and family in this state,” Sununu’s press release said.
As brief as Sununu’s news release was, there were a number of news releases from critics and supporters that followed.
More than 250 people protested the budget Thursday in front of the State House as lawmakers were still voting.
House Democratic Leader Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, said: “I am disappointed that Governor Sununu signed these budget bills into law. As our members explained on the House floor yesterday, this budget harms our state by cutting education funding, raising property taxes, and forcing right wing ideology on the people of New Hampshire.”
House Speaker Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry, praised what he called the “historic budget.”
“Today, Governor Sununu signed this transformational budget package into law. Republicans delivered on tax cuts, reduced spending, education freedom, much needed mental health services and more without raising taxes or increasing spending.
“This is one of the most comprehensive budgets we have seen in years, and it will be the strong foundation needed to help get New Hampshire families and Main Street businesses back on their feet and thriving,” Packard said.
Planned Parenthood New England headlined their news release: “Gov. Sununu Signs First Abortion Ban in Modern New Hampshire History, Forfeits Claim to be ‘Pro-Choice.’
“Today, amid outrage from people across the Granite State, Gov. Chris Sununu signed the most regressive anti-reproductive health care budget in New Hampshire history, ignoring public opinion and opposition from more than 200 of the state’s leading medical experts.
“By signing this budget, which includes an extreme abortion ban, medically unnecessary ultrasound requirements, criminal penalties for doctors, and inadequate funding for the NH Family Planning Program, Gov. Sununu has removed any doubt of where he stands on abortion rights: he is anti-abortion. Granite Staters, who are strongly in favor of safe, legal abortion, deserve better than a governor who is ‘pro-choice’ in name only,” the release states.
Kayla Montgomery, vice president of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England said:
“Pro-choice governors don’t sign abortion bans. By making himself the first governor in modern New Hampshire history to sign an abortion ban into law, Gov. Sununu stripped away personal freedoms from pregnant people and criminalized doctors for doing their jobs.”
Democrats argued unsuccessfully against the budget bills claiming people would see higher property taxes and women’s privacy would be invaded by the late-term abortion ban and requirement that all women who want an abortion undergo an ultrasound first.
Republicans focused on the increased funding to the rainy day fund, reduction in business taxes and said the school voucher plan gives more choice to parents.
House Majority Leader Jason Osborne, R-Auburn, said in a news release: “This transformational budget delivered a $170 million total cut from every tax on the books while still funding our state’s needs. We empowered families to find the best fit for their child’s educational needs, passed some needed reform to the governor’s emergency powers, and put an end to teaching the unfounded idea that an individual is inherently racist simply due to the color of their skin. We delivered a $100 million statewide property tax cut, giving our residents direct relief.”