Tuesday February 26, 2013

CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan said Monday she is hopeful automatic federal budget cuts will be avoided, but fears nothing will happen this week to stop them from taking effect before Friday’s deadline.

"It certainly seems that sequestration may very well happen," she said of the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts.

Hassan spoke by phone with reporters after attending National Governors Association meetings in Washington. She said New Hampshire won’t feel the impact of all the cuts immediately but 6,000 people could lose their jobs in the coming months, hampering the state’s fragile economic rebound.

If nothing is done to stop the automatic cuts, Hassan said the New Hampshire National Guard may need to furlough soldiers, some of the state’s neediest children will not have access to daycare and special education teachers will be laid off.

"What sequestration poses is arbitrary, severe federal budget cuts that no one ever thought was going to happen, but looks like in fact they might," she said.

Hassan said she has been telling fellow governors the country needs to close tax loopholes and at the same time make cuts recommended by President Barack Obama.

"If we do that we can achieve deficit reduction in a really balanced way to get our fiscal house in order without the kind of devastating and arbitrary injury and pain that will otherwise flow from sequester," she said.


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Hassan also responded to claims by state Republican leaders that she broke the law by not releasing a companion bill to the state budget when she presented her two-year spending plan to the Legislature on Feb. 14. That companion bill traditionally contains law changes a governor proposes that the constitution says cannot be included in the main budget document.

State law calls for the governor to present a budget by Feb. 15. Hassan said the budget she presented satisfies the law and historically the companion bill follows later.

Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn filed a complaint Monday with Attorney General Michael Delaney alleging Hassan deliberately attempted to undermine state law by not submitting the bill to lawmakers with the budget.

Hassan spokesman Marc Goldberg emailed a list of submission dates for the companion bill showing it had been released as late as March 25 in 1993 and 1999.

Hassan said the bill is still being drafted.