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Politics

After Standoff, Council Votes to Release $1.4 Billion in COVID Relief Funds from N.H. Treasury

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Dan Tuohy / NHPR
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New Hampshire’s Executive Council voted unanimously Wednesday to release $1.4 billion from the state’s treasury, amid a standoff over transparency around how coronavirus relief aid is being spent. As NHPR’s Josh Rogers reports, the move averts the possibility of a government shutdown.

The council blocked the release of more than $940 million two weeks ago to try to get Governor Chris Sununu to share more detail on his plans to spend federal relief aid.

Sununu obliged with more than 200 pages of documents that reached the council Monday night. District 4 Democrat Debora Pignatelli told Sununu she expects him to do better by the council.

“You need to provide us with the information. I don’t expect to have to go searching for the information.”

Democrats on the council pressed state officials to justify several COVID-related no-bid state contracts awarded to companies tied to Sununu political donors.

Urgent care company Convenient MD received $1.6 million from an emergency health care relief fund Sununu created in March.

The state has so far paid it another $1.5 million to provide COVID testing and contact tracing. Sununu said the relief money flowed to Convenient MD to avert layoffs. Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette told councilors she had no information on Convenient MD’s finances but described its work for the state as “stellar.”

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