(The Center Square) – New Hampshire’s Executive Council declined a request from the state on Wednesday to move $950 million from the treasury in a 4 to 1 vote.
The funds include $450 million allotted to the state from the federal CARES Act and $500 in state funding.
Gov. Chris Sununu and the department heads should have provided “far better explanations,” Executive Council member Andru Volinsky said in a statement.
Volinsky is a candidate for the Democratic nomination to take on Sununu in the fall election.
“Twenty percent of the $950 million warrant article are completely undefined contingency funds,” Volinsky said. “More than ever, in this pandemic, working people should be able to expect a forthcoming explanation from their Governor about where their taxpayer dollars are put to use.”
Sununu said the council wanted to take a look at the traditional warrant article for another couple of weeks and the money is not needed until June.
“Traditionally those warrant articles are just one or two sentences, so we provided in this a lot more detail than we typically provide,” Sununu said at his Wednesday afternoon news conference. “But we can provide more. That’s fine.”
Democrats have criticized Sununu for creating the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery to distribute the $1.25 billion the state received from the CARES Act. A lawsuit challenging the office saying the money should go through the legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee. Sununu said his office has been very transparent during the process.
“Ultimately every dollar is going to be available and transparent, not just to elected officials but to everybody in the state,” Sununu said.
The state is continuing to focus on testing as the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths in a 24-hour period was reported Wednesday.
Nine additional deaths were reported, bringing the total number of deaths since the outbreak began to 111. An additional 108 new diagnosed cases related to the virus were reported, bringing the total to 2,740 with 1,110 recovered.
All of the new deaths were residents of the state’s long-term care facilities, and health officials will focus on them, according to Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette. Supplies are being sent to the state’s long-term care facilities to test all residents and workers, she said.
A new website will allow some New Hampshire residents to schedule a COVID-19 test. Anyone older than 60, with underlying conditions, health care workers and who has symptoms can sign up for a test. A referral from a doctor is not required.