Landrigan: Day one of temporary state budget and some challenges remain
CONCORD - July First. The first day state government lives under a six-month continuing resolution. Even though it’s set to continue spending at current levels until there’s a final deal, that’s not without serious consequences.
Governor Maggie Hassan’s veto led Republican legislative leaders to quickly scramble and pass this stop gap spending bill.
Here’s the dilemma. Current spending means dozens of new programs, state jobs and more in public benefits will not occur until there’s a permanent budget.
"For mental health; I don’t believe the way this resolution was written that we can start any new program,'' said Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem.
The state's mental health IOU for the next two years is $24 million to settle a 2013 lawsuit brought by advocates for the mentally ill. If it's not spent, providers can go back into court to try and get a judge to order the state to act.
The governor wanted spending at the vetoed budget amount, $56 million more over the next six months.
"I am concerned the funding level the Legislature chose was less than it needed to be,'' Hassan said.
The state prison system has faced millions in excess overtime spending.
"Corrections has said consistently that they are not going to be able to make their numbers work,'' Morse continued.
Lawmakers may need the summer off to heal some deep wounds between the GOP-in-charge and the Democratic governor.
"Letter from the governor. Everybody should have, does everyone have a copy of this letter. My first letter ever from the governor. Thank you,'' said Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.