That the session NH had a divided government is usual not unusual. The level of partisanship exhibited by the majority reflects in what they passed and how they did it.
But there’s an election year atmosphere at the State House right now. That will not make it easier for lawmakers and the governor to reach an agreement. There is absolutely no reason the governor should compromise on the budget. Like Gibraltar, he has withstood the storm. The state does not shut down without a budget. It continues spending based on the appropriation under prior biennium’s expenditure levels. Continued appropriations are required but it is up to the governor to manage with what is given.
In its budget, the legislature refused to moderate its near 20% spending increase. The legislature did not agree internally, the House vs. Senate, about the content of the budget. The governor had asked for a very modest increase in spending. Operating without a budget for the remainder of the biennium now seems a distinct possibility. Passing a state budget seems a very remote possibility unless it accords with the governor’s request.
Early appeal for public service
When Governor Sununu was inaugurated earlier this year he told lawmakers that in picking divided government… voters were telling leaders to cooperate he said, “We can’t lose sight of why we are here. In public service, it’s just as important how you get there as the goals that you achieve. In New Hampshire, we know we are best when we work together and that’s obviously what we must do.”
That spirit of working together across party lines has been notably absent all session long. Rep. Tim Lang, a Republican, had it about right when he took to the House floor to consider Sununu’s veto of a Democrat-backed election law bill. His parliamentary inquiry: “I know that nothing I say at this microphone will change a darn vote in this chamber. Would I shut up, sit down, and push the red button.”
Arrogance and intolerance are rewarded
And all week, Sununu aides have kept his social media feeds, his official gubernatorial one, and that of his reelection effort, full of veto related content, some with a taunting tone. When the House on Wednesday failed to override all but one of the governor’s vetoes, his office issued a press release that treated it as a box score. Its headline read: “23-1.”
Meanwhile, the state GOP put out a music video to a song with the faces of Sununu and GOP leaders Chuck Morse and Dick Hinch superimposed on the bodies of the dancing performers. “All I do is win,” went the tune.
Electoral politics even leached into the veto override votes. Concord Democrat Dan Feltes, who has already launched a bid to challenge Sununu, wedged a campaign slogan into his floor remarks. “Working families can’t wait, addressing our opioid epidemic can’t wait … dealing with the issues between small business and big business can’t wait,” he said. Governor Gibraltar smiles as the storm breaks around him.