Op-Ed: Chaos & Rushed, Heavy-Handed Policy

By: Rep. Dick Hinch

This past December, Rep. Stephen Shurtleff won the election for House speaker, and I wished my friend the best. He accepted his nomination by saying, “it’s important to put partisanship aside to work for the common good of our people…” I couldn’t agree more. Government works best when parties work together to produce the best policies possible for our state. However, Republicans have been extremely disappointed by how the opposite has occurred. This session has been marred by disorganization, partisanship, and rushed, heavy-handed policy.


House Republican Leader Reacts to Passage of Democrats’ Budget Proposal Despite Bipartisan Opposition

CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement following the passage of HB1 and HB2, bills relating to the state budget. As amended, the budget proposes to increase spending by 13% ($637 million in General and Education Fund spending, and over $1.5 billion in total funds) over the current operating budget, FY2018-2019, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Budget Assistant’s Office.

“This budget spends $9500 for every person in New Hampshire, which Republicans just don’t see as responsible or sustainable,” Rep. Hinch said. “Democrats want to call their plan tax relief, but they are still asking our citizens for more than $400 million in new and increased taxes. That’s contradictory and misleading.” “This budget includes a laundry list of items that Republicans oppose, from an income tax-funded family leave plan, to a new tax on capital gains and higher business taxes, to growing the perpetual operation of government with one-time money. This spending spree is irresponsible and sets us up for failure, deficits, and higher taxes down the road. The governor had a spending plan that met and exceeded the needs of our state without asking for anymore of your tax money, and Democrats decided to completely disregard his guidance on that key principle.”

House Republican Leader Reacts to Democrats About-Face on ICAC Funding

CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement following the House’s approval of an amendment to the Democrat state budget proposal that restores funding to the Internet Crimes Against Children fund, a program that Governor Sununu had funded, but was cut by House Democrats during the Finance committee process.

“Republicans had filed an amendment yesterday to be brought forward expecting the Democrats to hold firm on their position outlined by Rep. Lovejoy on Tuesday, where she insisted that no one told them it was a priority,” Hinch said. “As it turns out, the governor includes things he believes are a priority in his budget, and Democrats exhibited a real disconnect from reality on this issue. I’m glad they saw the light, and realized that with their new tax revenue and record spending, that they could find the $500,000 to fund ICAC’s needs.”

House Finance Committee Budget Raises Taxes on New Hampshire Families

Concord, NH – Today, after the Democratically-led House Finance Committee voted and approved their proposed budget – which raises unprecedented taxes and eliminates countless strategic investments – Governor Chris Sununu and legislative leaders issued the following statements:  
“From an income tax masquerading as paid family leave program to a job-killing capital gains tax and raising taxes on New Hampshire’s employers, the Democratic leadership of the House Finance Committee has put New Hampshire’s hardworking taxpayers on the hook for $300M in additional spending,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “Not only have they raised countless taxes, but now critical services and investments are at risk. Everything from funding for a new Secure Psychiatric Unit, to nearly $65M in targeted school building aid for property poor cities and towns, and $32M in student debt relief assistance – the Democrats have removed it all. I urge the Senate Finance Committee to immediately restore this critical funding.”
“It is disappointing that House Democrats have put together a budget that includes non-starters such as an income tax, a capital gains tax and increase to business taxes,” said Senate Republican Leader Chuck Morse (R-Salem). “Our current budget revenues are nearly $150 million above estimates; we do not have a revenue problem. If House budget writers are serious about passing a budget for the Governor to sign they would not include tax increases whether it is an income tax or any of their fee increases.”
“Democratic budget writers should not be playing political games with mental health patients,” said Senator Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro). “The legislature has conducted enough studies to know that children do not belong in New Hampshire Hospital. Further, the Secure Psychiatric Unit at the State Prison is the wrong place for mental health patients to receive care. We cannot continue to criminalize mental health patients by housing them with violent criminals. Senate Democrats need to work with Republicans to fix the mess House Democrats have made in their budget proposal. I look forward to working with Senate Democrats to ensure that New Hampshire dedicates the needed resources to the mental health crisis.”
“Democrats are fueling a massive growth of government with big tax increases that will do damage to our economy,” said Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack). “We can do better. The governor proposed a reasonable budget that didn’t ask anyone to pay any additional taxes, while showing a great deal of compassion in making sure much needed services are bolstered for those who need them, and that will move our state forward. Republicans don’t want any more of your money to run government, but Democrats are showing that they will find ways to siphon money out of our economy to fund their big government dreams.”
Among the appropriations the democratically-led House Finance Committee has eliminated from Governor Chris Sununu’s budget:

  • $500,000 for the Internet Crimes Against Children Fund
  • $63,700,000 for targeted school building aid
  • $32,500,000 for student debt relief assistance
  • $24,000,000 to the University System of New Hampshire for expanded nursing and other health care workforce programs
  • $26,000,000 to the Department of Health and Human Services for the construction of a new 60 bed forensic psychiatric hospital.
  • $6,800,000 to fund red list dam projects
  • $500,000 grant to City Year to support the organizations existing programs
  • $300,000 for school safety projects
  • $6,000,000 to the University of New Hampshire for the design, construction, and establishment of an on-campus early childhood development center.
  • $5,000,000 to the Housing Finance Authority to the lead remediation fund.
  • $300,000 grant to the City of Berlin to construct the Hutchins Street Mill and Overlay Project.

Republican Leader Hinch to Speaker Shurtleff: Rep. Ley Should Go

“Representative Ley has proven himself to be a rogue partisan extremist, and has demonstrated that he is not fit to serve in a leadership role in this body. His divisive comments yesterday showed that he is more interested in fanning the flames of discontent in the House, than resolving concerns in a professional and respectful manner. In my 4 years as a member of the majority leadership team, we would have never resorted to making a public spectacle of this sort on the House floor. We always extended courtesy to our friends in the minority to work out our differences with dignity and honor rather than impugn our colleagues’ motives before the House. It’s become clear to me that Speaker Shurtleff has lost control of his majority leader, and should terminate Representative Ley’s role as a member of leadership. There’s a very big difference between civil discourse, and rising before your peers to make a condescending speech. It’s time for Speaker Shurtleff to lead by example.”

“Just a few short months ago, as he was accepting the nomination for Speaker, Speaker Shurtleff reflected on what he learned from one of his many listed Republican mentors, ‘…his demeanor as speaker had a lasting impact on me, and the message that it’s so important to put partisanship aside to work for the common good of the people.’ Mr. Speaker, I ask that you follow that advice that had a ‘lasting impact’ on you and put partisanship aside for the good of the House and the good of our citizens that we work hard for every day. It’s time for Representative Ley to go, and time for the Speaker to install someone who embodies the spirit of how the Speaker said he would run this House.”

“There were 47 Democrats that joined with Republicans to table further comment from Rep. Ley. I would like to personally thank them in recognizing that divisive comments have no place at the rostrum during unanimous consent, and voting to end his rantings.”

Background: Unanimous consent is traditionally a time when the House allows remarks from members not specific to legislation. It is often used to memorialize colleagues, celebrate holidays or historical events, and allows members to apologize if they went afoul of House traditions. Appropriately titled, unanimous consent requires no objection from any member of the House. If a member withdraws their consent, remarks can be stalled. Only a few occasions in the last 10 years has unanimous consent been halted due to objection.

House Republican Leader Worried Democrats Will Cut Revitalization Projects From Governor’s Budget

CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement relative to the press conference held today where Governor Sununu and local and state leaders spoke in support of the Capital Infrastructure Revitalization Fund as part of his FY 2020—2021 Budget.

“The governor has it right. One time revenue should be designated to one time appropriations, and sending money back to towns, and specific projects within state agencies helps offset local and state costs. He’s identified real needs in communities, and departments, and he’s doing it the right way. Democrats might see the dollar signs, and might be realizing that with all of the appropriations bills they’ve already passed, plus all the budget promises they’ve made, they might have to cut these projects to fund their big government dreams. They’ve maxed out on raising taxes and fees (I hope), so they have to get more money from somewhere, and unfortunately, this is an easy target.”