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New Hampshire Gov. Sununu presses Congress to send aid for state, local budgets

New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu speaks to reporters Sept. 24, 2019, about the state budget in Concord, N.H.

(The Center Square) – Gov. Chris Sununu is pushing for there to be more local and state aid in the upcoming federal COVID-19 relief bill.

Sununu says by nixing state and local government money, the Senate is “changing the rules,” the New Hampshire Union Leader reported. He also called the Senate Republicans’ plan frustrating.

While the plan extends some unemployment benefits, the $1 trillion plan offers no state or local relief aid. It adds $105 billion for public schools to reopen and about $25 billion for coronavirus testing of citizens.

Sununu said the state has lost $400 million to $450 million in tax and fee collections so far. Previously he had thought the loss was more – around $530 million – but then said collections had recovered more than he had expected.

“It doesn’t have to cover all of our budget losses, but it was understood that money was going to be there for the state and cities and towns,” Sununu said.

Sununu said he hoped that while the bill was still being worked on, aid for state and local governments would be added back in.

Sununu has said he does not want to raise taxes to close the budget gap and that somehow the state will manage through the losses.

This past spring, Sununu created a bipartisan advisory board of legislators to help make recommendations on spending priorities and he moved to spend most of the grant money that was received without the Legislature’s approval because all the money had to be spent by the end of the year.

The Democrat-led Legislature then brought a lawsuit against Sununu and a judge denied an injunction to block Sununu’s move. There are plans for a trial on the merits in the future.

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