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Budget veto hurts our state

In order to move New Hampshire forward, we cannot afford to leave anyone behind.

On Aug. 1, Granite Staters testified for three hours about the devastating impact of Gov. Chris Sununu’s budget veto and how people are getting left behind. House and Senate members heard startling admissions about the failures of the Sununu administration.

Critical resources to deal with our mental health crisis across the continuum of care were vetoed by Sununu, while close to 30 people are waiting in hospital emergency rooms across New Hampshire for needed and necessary mental health care, while suicide rates in New Hampshire are climbing, and while children’s mental health is declining.

We heard the substance use providers are beginning to cut back on treatment capacity because of Sununu’s veto of emergency support for treatment providers, and now because of his subsequent veto our entire state budget.

We heard that women’s health care is at risk because of Sununu and that close to 16,000 Granite Staters who rely on health care services from Title X funding are directly impacted.

The Sununu administration, at the hearing, refused to classify any of these problems as emergencies or crises. Even more startling, the hearing also included a shocking admission by the Sununu administration that they have not hired even one child protection worker. Not one. This is, in the middle of a child protection crisis, after the Sununu administration got failing grades on child protection, and after the Legislature specifically appropriated money for the child protection crisis two months ago.

During all of this, the Sununu administration continues to make a third round of additional business tax cuts its single and sole priority, to the detriment of everyone and everything else.

While Granite Staters testified for three hours at a public hearing, Sununu was in a non-public meeting with business executives asking for their support, and in that meeting he called the Legislature’s public hearing “political theatrics.”

For the people in recovery who came to testify as a result of Sununu’s harmful veto, it is not “theatrics.”

For the people in need of mental health services as a result of Sununu’s vetoes, it is not “theatrics.”

For women who need basic health care services, it is not “theatrics.”

And for vulnerable children across New Hampshire in the midst of a child protection crisis, they should be a priority, not viewed as “theatrics.”

On the same day that hundreds had the courage to come forward to a public hearing, with dozens testifying, credit rating agencies signaled they may downgrade New Hampshire’s credit rating as a result of Sununu’s budget veto.

For the good of the state, the Legislature put aside its top priorities to get a compromise budget done. Then, it was vetoed. Now, it’s time for Sununu to finally put aside his top priority. That’s the New Hampshire way: compromise.

Dan Feltes is a former legal aid attorney who lives in the South End of Concord, represents Concord, Hopkinton, Henniker, Warner and Penacook in the state Senate, and serves as Senate Majority Leader.