NH1 News Debates


Gov. Maggie Hassan publicly remains hopeful a compromise budget will be reached but is assuring Democratic allies she'll be a tough negotiator.

May 21, 2015 11:10 AM

NH1 News Political Report: May 21, 2015 - The must-read, weekly NH political tip sheet


CONCORD - The movement in crafting the Senate budget to restoring House cuts is surely to Gov. Maggie Hassan’s liking.

But don’t for a second think the two-term chief executive is sold since the final product is incomplete, and she’s got a beef with some of the details.

Publicly, Hassan is holding her fire for the most part, but behind closed doors, she’s drawing a much harder line, according to Democratic operatives who have heard the talking points.

Privately, Hassan has gone so far as to say she’s not about to allow a budget she has quarrel with to become law without her signature.

That’s what former Gov. John Lynch did with the last, take-it-or-leave-it budget handed to him by a Legislature in which Republicans had a 3-1 majority.

This time, Hassan has the "V" trump card, V as in veto.

She well knows that she could veto the first compromise budget, and Democrats in the House and the Senate would sustain it.

As long as this was done well in advance of the July 1 deadline, lawmakers would then have time to make adjustments and send her a second draft.

One of the biggest things Hassan wants out of this budget that she’s not gotten yet is making permanent Medicaid expansion.

Senate budget writers on Wednesday rejected a move by Senate Democrats to add that to their plan, which means that without further legislative action, the expansion goes away at the end of 2016.

Whether Hassan is running for re-election or taking on Sen. Kelly Ayotte next year, she wants this issue resolved now and not have to try and get it done in an election-filled environment.

Hassan’s team also suspects that the Senate budget is likely to be balanced through either back-of-the-budget cuts or other sleight of hand.

They weren’t happy to see the Senate, on the one hand, restore the dedicated fund for renewable energy projects one day, only to see budget writers raid it to financially prop up the state Department of Homeland Security.

Hassan made it clear in her February budget address that she’s determined the final plan be transparent.

She’s not expected to waver from that demand.


So is this "found" $118 million that Senate budget writers have to restore cuts in the House budget real?

The extra revenue comes from higher estimates from existing taxes and fees.

The job of forecasting what will come in over the next two years is always easier for the Senate than either the House or Gov. Hassan.

That’s because the calendar gives the Senate at least three, and sometimes four, more months of revenue trends.

Except for a small blip downward in April, the trend is more positive than either Hassan or House budget writers saw.

With only two months left in the current year, the state is running $28 million over what had been planned.

This said, it is unusual for a Republican-dominated Senate to come with revenues for the next two years that are even higher than those from a Democratic governor.

The Senate’s revenue forecast is $7.2 million higher than Hassan's for 2016 and $8.7 million higher for 2017.

What will be even more interesting to watch will be final negotiations between the House and Senate to reach a compromise revenue forecast.

The Senate budget obviously is raising expectations for constituent groups reliant on state spending so it will be very difficult for senators to move off those numbers.


U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Patriots owner Bob Kraft both had an epiphany over the weekend.

For Kraft, it was, of course, the deflategate controversy where the Pats' boss went from vowing to fight the NFL over its $1 million fine and lost draft pics to succumbing to the punishment.

Speculation is that Kraft got assurances that the four-game suspension against quarterback Tom Brady would be reduced and also learned none of the other 31 NFL owners had any sympathy for the Patriots’ plight.

Ayotte’s conversion? She went from expressing concern over Congressman Frank Guinta’s campaign finances to saying he should quit.

What changed for her? As the state’s preeminent Republican, Ayotte clearly came to understand Guinta’s problems could become a drag on the GOP brand in 2016.

Ayotte is on the ballot next year and the last thing she needs in half the state right below her name is an ethically-damaged incumbent.

Whether Guinta quits or not, Ayotte needed to create some degree of separation since, after all, she’s the one who endorsed Guinta to win back his seat in 2014 even though he faced a competitive GOP primary with Dan Innis.


Is there any doubt now why former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush began his exploratory presidential campaign so early back in January?
His ill-fated interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly revealed one thing - he’s still not ready for prime time.

It shouldn’t be any surprise. In politics, to be a hit, you’ve got to be hit, and Bush, for a decade, has not served in elective office.

While other would-be presidential candidates ran states or took tough Capitol Hill votes during the recession, Bush was giving speeches, crusading for centrist issues like education and immigration reform.

The silver lining for Bush is that the more he’s on the campaign trail, the more comfortable he will get with the rough and tumble, give and take with voters and the media.

Bush can and will improve, and unlike many other would-be contenders in the GOP field, early gaffes or uncomfortable moments can’t derail him as a serious contender.


The cavalcade of candidates and testing the waters events continues.

- Ex-New York Gov. George Pakaki is expected to formally enter the race next Thursday in Exeter.

- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the key note speaker for the Rockingham County Republican Committee’s "Freedom Founders" dinner next Wednesday at the Executive Court facility in Manchester.

- Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-VT, returns to the state Wednesday after he formally launches his presidential campaign a day earlier in Burlington, VT. Sanders will no doubt tout his tuition-free public college for everyone proposal at town halls at New England College in Henniker and South Church in Portsmouth.


Congratulations to state Rep.-Elect Yvonne Dean-Bailey, who at 19 becomes one of the youngest elected members of the N.H. House.

She won a Rockingham County seat over former Rep. and Deerfield Democrat Maureen Mann.

This was clearly an expected pickup for the GOP, given they had an overwhelming edge in party registration in the district. Mann did well to get 48 percent of the vote thanks to a strong showing in her hometown.

Dean-Bailey will want to show some accomplishments in the time she serves since there is no doubt Mann would stand a much better chance of turning the tables during a 2016 general election.

The GOP cranked out its turnout machine for this one, with the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity doing several weeks of canvassing door-to-door to identify likely Dean-Bailey voters.


Ayotte wasn’t the first to mention the prospect of resignation and Guinta in New Hampshire media.

That honor goes to Americans for Prosperity State Director Greg Moore who said on last Sunday’s "NH1 Newsmakers" that calls for Guinta to step aside were likely in his future.

Moore insisted he had no inside information in making the comment.

That makes it even more prophetic.

Quote of the Week:

“Unable to wait any longer, applicants instead enter nursing homes for care or sadly they die.

"Neither institutionalization nor death is a surplus.’’ - Heritage Case Management President Carolyn Virtue calls for increasing rates so seniors and the disabled can stay at home and not be forced to move into institutions.


--  Dealing with the Disease of Addiction? Click here for help --

More from NH1.com

NH1 News Debates
NH1 News Replay

NH1 on Twitter

NH1 SkyView Cameras

NH1 on Facebook

Check out NH1 News Rail Polls on LockerDome on LockerDome