Landrigan: Jasper's letter to Hassan on NH budget impasse angers House Democrats
CONCORD - The state budget battle between the Legislature and Democratic governor became deeply partisan.
House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, sparked another round of finger pointing calling on Gov. Maggie Hassan to free House Democrats to reject her budget veto.
"This budget process has been intensely partisan and it shouldn’t be that way," he said. "We should be talking about the issues.’’
That’s what Greg Moore, state director of the fiscally conservative Americans for Prosperity, would prefer, but Speaker Jasper’s letter to Hassan and follow up emails have fanned even more political flames.
Jasper urged Hassan to let House Democrats override her veto this fall so the Republican state budget will prevail.
“The cleanest and clearest path forward for you would be to politically free all 170 colleagues allowing them to vote their conscience,’’ Jasper wrote Hassan on July 2.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff said Jasper insulted all House Democrats, who - he said - made up their own minds.
"There was something there for everybody to hate and vote against it,’’ Shurtleff said of the budget.
State Democrats seized what Jasper said in an e-mail response to complaining House Democrats about the business tax cuts Hassan says are not paid for.
On the tax cuts, Jasper answered, "Nor do I believe that by themselves they will make New Hampshire a more attractive state for businesses to locate to or to expand.’’
"I think clearly pulled the curtain back and revealed this was a political ploy and that they need to pay back some favors as opposed to solve real problems,’’ said State Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester.
Moore said while it’s worth the effort, Jasper is unlikely to succeed in convincing any House Democrats to abandon Hassan.
"While I am sure there are a number of House Democrats who agree with the speaker and would support this budget, they have to defend their governor simply from a political perspective,’’ Moore said.
House Democratic Leader Shurtleff said it’s ironic Jasper would make this plea to conscience since it was House Democrats who made Jasper in a stunning election upset last December.
Jasper only emerged as a candidate for speaker after ex-Speaker Bill O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, became the Republican nominee. Shurtleff and other Democratic leaders threw their support behind Jasper concluding he would run the House in a less autocratic manner than O’Brien did from 2011-12.
"I think this idea of voting the way you should started with that very first day,’’ Shurtleff recalled.
Gov. Hassan has appealed for legislative leaders to work with her to come up with a compromise but both Senate President Chuck Morse and Speaker Jasper say they will not call lawmakers back into session until after Labor Day.