Embattled Governor Without A Backup Plan As Court Decision To Block JUA Theft Plunges State Into Another Budget Crisis
CONCORD – One day after a Superior Court ruling blocked his attempt to steal $110 million from the New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association (JUA), Governor John Lynch is frantically scrambling to address the state’s latest budget crisis. Despite repeated warnings that the court would rule against the state’s claim, Governor Lynch has failed to develop a contingency plan since the court initially froze the funds in June.
“Its time for Governor Lynch to finally stand up and take responsibility for his failure to produce a balanced and fiscally responsible budget. The Governor was fully aware that his attempted theft of the JUA funds would likely be blocked by the courts – even before he approved this disastrous budget,” said NHGOP Communications Director Ryan Williams. “His irresponsible actions further prove that during these challenging times, John Lynch is incapable of providing responsible and effective leadership for the State of New Hampshire.”
Republican leaders in the House and Senate repeatedly warned Governor Lynch that his attempt to steal private money to balance the state budget was unconstitutional and would likely be overturned by the courts. After the Superior Court initially froze the JUA money on June 29, 2009, Republican senate minority leader Peter Bragdon immediately called on the Governor to veto the budget and work on a new plan that excluded the disputed funds. Lynch ignored his warning and signed his irresponsible budget on June 30 – knowing full well that it would be out of balance on day one.
Lynch has “deflected repeated questions from reporters about contingency plans,” (AP, 6/30) in the event that the court would halt his irresponsible revenue scheme. Despite obvious indications that the state wouldn’t be able to claim the surplus funds, Lynch has “repeatedly declined to detail alternatives and instead emphasized his belief in the rightfulness of the state’s claim to the money.” (Concord Monitor, 7/30)
Lynch’s silence has drawn criticism from non-partisan budget watchers including New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies executive director Steve Norton, who said that as a result of the court ruling, “Plan B needs to be developed, and to date, we haven’t heard any Plan B,” from the Governor. (Concord Monitor, 7/30) Since the decision was announced, Lynch has continued to dodge questions about how he plans to address the staggering deficit and has merely pledged to appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court.
“John Lynch’s only solution to this budget crisis is to cross his fingers and hope that it will somehow fix itself. That’s not leadership – that’s a dereliction of his duties as New Hampshire’s chief executive,” said Williams. “During these tough economic times its becoming increasingly obvious that now more than ever New Hampshire needs a new governor.”
Governor Lynch’s crumbling state budget faces additional challenges as even more lawsuits threaten to unravel his irresponsible revenue schemes. Local government leaders are moving forward with a separate lawsuit to stop the Governor from reducing the state’s share of the retirement contribution rate for municipal employees and downshifting costs to local taxpayers. A court has also issued an injunction requested by the New Hampshire Health Care Association that halts Lynch’s attempt to rescind an $8.8 million dollar payment to Granite State nursing homes.
As a result of his failed leadership and fiscal mismanagement, Governor Lynch’s favorability ratings have plummeted in recent months and his disapproval ratings have reached all time highs. Governor Lynch’s problems only look to get worse in the future as he begins to make plans for the FY 2012-2013 budget. This budget will start off with an immediate $500 million deficit due to his irresponsible use of one-time money in the current budget, and will present the Governor with an even worse fiscal crisis than the one he currently faces.