Gov. Maggie Hassan’s plan to issue an Executive Order is a familiar situation to the state employees that provide critical services to the people of New Hampshire.
The ability of governors to quickly and distinctly curb expenditures mid-budget cycle has become a preferred method to navigate NH’s famed frugal budgets. That practice continues to leave critical services at risk. Moreover, it leaves employees and the people relying on services in a constant state of uncertainty.
April revenue projections were approved by the Legislature, as is the entire budget. We are disappointed the actual revues fell below projections but aren’t surprised, given the corporate tax breaks the O’Brien legislature implemented two years ago. This again is another example of changes that lead governors, employees and citizens in to uncertainty.
Since 2006, the budgets passed by the Legislature have eliminated 2,000 good full-time jobs from the state employee workforce. Currently, including vacancies – some of which are intentionally held vacant to meet budget mandated cuts – we are operating with a workforce 27 percent smaller than it was pre-recession. The freeze being imposed will only exacerbate the delivery of services and leave more citizens struggling for what they need and deserve.
With the state’s recently received bond outlook warning from Standard & Poor’s, the dispute over the Medicaid Enhancement Tax, and class action lawsuits still pending, this freeze is just one more thing that reflects longstanding legislative behavior that undermines NH’s future, rather than strengthening it.
It is not this governor, nor the state employees, that are holding back making NH the best it can be. We need strong budgets with well-developed and funded priorities to put a stop to all the uncertainty NH taxpayers and businesses are experiencing.
We will stand ready to help employees through this difficult period.