Sununu tells NH1 News no 'disunity' among Statehouse Republicans; GOP 'unified' on budget
SOMERSWORTH – Gov. Chris Sununu says he remains “very confident the state is going to have a great budget.”
And in an interview with NH1 News on Friday, New Hampshire’s first Republican governor in a dozen years also said his party’s “unified,” even after some 30 ultra conservative state lawmakers joined the Democrats this week in sinking the GOP backed budget put together by the state House of Representatives Finance Committee.
It was the first time in memory that that House failed to pass a Finance Committee approved spending plan. Many of those on the right said they were opposed to the budget because the price tag was too high and that the spending plan wasn’t transparent.
Republican Speaker Shawn Jasper blasted those from his own party who opposed the budget, saying “they were bankrupt in terms of ideas. There were really no ideas that they had other than to say ‘somebody else needs to figure this out’.”
Thursday’s defeat of the spending plan means that the House is basically handing power to the state Senate to dictate the terms when the two chambers meet later this spring to hammer out a final budget.
Asked by NH1 News if he was concerned about disunity among Statehouse Republicans, the governor answered “it’s not disunity at all. The Republican Party is solidified in the fact that the House members got really involved in details.”
“The Republicans are unified,” he added.
Sununu proposed $12.1 billion two-year budget in February, an increase over the current $11.3 billion budget. The Finance Committee chopped the budget down to $11.9 billion. Among the items dropped was the governor’s plan to spend $18 million over the biennium to fund full-day kindergarten state-wide.
Sununu: ‘We’ll make sure’ final budget passes House
“They didn’t get anything passed out of the House. That is unfortunate. But it’s just a step in the process,” Sununu added.
The budget process now moves to the state Senate, which will begin hearings on Monday. Senate President Chuck Morse said on Thursday that the Senate believes “the Governor's budget is a strong foundation from which to start.”
Sununu told NH1 News that the Senate “essentially introduced my budget as their basis.”
After the Senate passes it’s budget, it will hold a committee of conference with the House to negotiate. The final budget that emerges later this spring will have to be passed by both chambers. Asked if he’ll get more involved in making sure the final spending plan passes the House, the governor declared “we’ll make sure it gets through the House.”
“You don’t want to go down the path of threatening vetoes and all that stuff. I don’t believe in all that kind of stuff,” Sununu added, in what may have been a veiled criticism of his predecessor in the Corner Office, now-U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan.
Two years ago, the then-Democratic governor vetoed the budget that emerged from the Republican controlled legislature, saying it was unbalanced and full of tax giveaways to big corporations. Hassan and GOP Statehouse leaders finally agreed on a budget compromise later that summer.
Sununu spoke with NH1 News after touring Lydia’s House of Hope in Somersworth, a facility that opened earlier this year to help break the cycle of homelessness by offering an alternative to traditional shelters.