GOP Warned Against Insurance Fund Raid says Sharon Carson
Democratic Sens. Deborah Reynolds and Lou D’Allesandro recently attempted to explain why they believed it was appropriate for the state to seize $110 million from the Joint Underwriting Association Fund (“State had a good argument – and need – to take the money,” Monitor Forum, Oct. 5). They argued that since the state created the fund in the public interest, any excess money belongs to the state – and that it was being done “for the public good.”
To better understand how this came about, we need to go back to June, when the Democratic Legislature, along with Gov. John Lynch, passed a budget that could potentially devastate the economic well-being of New Hampshire.
As part of their response to the difficult economy, the Democrats seized $110 million from the JUA fund to balance excess spending for 2009, 2010 and 2011. The doctors insured by the JUA then filed suit, claiming that the state was unlawfully taking money from a fund that it had no legal rights to. In July, the Belknap County Superior Court blocked the state from seizing the money, indicating that the confiscation of private funds in this manner was unconstitutional. The state appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and oral arguments will be heard today.
Senate Republicans warned that the passage of a budget dependent upon $110 million that belongs to the members of the JUA would be devastating to the economic well-being of this state. Lynch endorsed the budget, signing it into law knowing that this precarious proposal would be subject to lawsuits endangering the budget as a whole.
True leaders would have held the line and spent only what was necessary. True leaders understand that they are stewards of the people’s money and that the people expect them to lead by example. If Democratic leaders had held the line on spending, there would have been no need for the JUA money and hence no costly lawsuit.
Republicans recently called on Lynch to work with them toward a “Plan B” budget, designed to handle an impending fiscal crisis if the Supreme Court denies the state’s taking of JUA funds. While developing his proposed budget last fall, Lynch directed all department heads to submit cost-saving recommendations for their agencies. We agree that the commissioners are in the best position to make these types of recommendations when developing an alternative plan. The commissioners’ suggestions are a good place to begin when planning a fiscally responsible budget.
Republicans have not heard from Lynch, nor has he revealed his “Plan B.” Adopting a wait-and-see attitude is not the way to handle this impending crisis. Republicans understand the need to work together to guide the state through these tough times. We understand that only by doing so will we come up with a plan based on lower spending so that we can weather these difficult financial times. We also understand it requires all of us working toward the same goal.
Reynolds and D’Allesandro wrote that, “This is exactly why state lawmakers are elected, to benefit their constituents as a whole.” We agree. We are elected to make good decisions on behalf of our constituents, and to be fiscally responsible with the state’s money. We need to remember that when we are sworn into office, we swear to uphold the constitution. Let’s all come to the table together and work to create a budget that meets the needs of all New Hampshire residents, is constitutionally sound and reflects New Hampshire’s longstanding tradition of fiscal responsibility.
Sharon Carson is a Republican State Senator from Londonderry.