Legislative Budget Writers Eye Sununu Earmarks in N.H. Spending Plan

Mar 12, 2019

Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Some experienced state budget hands say they see no precedent for Governor Chris Sununu's push to earmark millions of state dollars toward local projects. As NHPR's Josh Rogers reports, a top Democratic budget writer says lawmakers will vet the proposals closely.

When Sununu pitched his budget to lawmakers last month, he cast it as free of gimmicks. But that may be a matter of perspective. The non-partisan Legislative Budget Assistant, Michael Kane, says Sununu's budget is remarkable for the amount it spends -- $160 million -- on standalone projects.

"It is a unique plan, and it is a new approach."

Democrat Lou D'Allesandro leads the Senate Finance Committee and has served in Concord since the 1970s. He echoed Kane's view.

"You know, earmarks like this are really an anomaly in the history of the state of New Hampshire. I think if you've got that kind of money you should give it back to the communities, so the communities can use it at their discretion."

NHPR has reviewed correspondence between towns and the governor's office indicating that some of the spending proposed by Sununu was sought by local officials. Some lawmakers say the governor has asked for their input.

D'Allesandro, who is the Senate's top budget writer, says the Governor's office never approached him.