A request for additional funding for the New Hampshire Department of Justice has been cut by more than half by the state’s Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee, drawing a sharp response from the Sununu administration.
“Once again, the Democrats in the Legislature have chosen to put politics above the safety and well-being of New Hampshire’s citizens,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a news release. “For the first time in recent memory, the Department of Justice will not have the necessary funds to prosecute murders and other violent crimes, litigate clean water lawsuits, or comply with the State’s obligations under the community mental health agreement.
"Once again the Democrats must now explain why they are standing in the way of the administration of justice,” he added.
MacDonald’s request to the committee included $777,000 for the Department of Justice's litigation fund. However, the committee approved just $300,000 for it.
"Today's vote is simply for the funds that we need for the hard costs we incur in cases for things like experts and stenographers and witness fees and discovery expenses," Attorney Gen. Gordon MacDonald said in a report posted on WMUR. "Those are the funds that we need to do our job."
The news comes on the heels of the state reporting a record number 32 homicides in 2019.
The seven committee Democrats voted to cut the funding; the committee’s three Republicans opposed the move.
In a story posted on the Union Leader website, Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, D-Concord, and other Democrats on the committee said the decision was made to reflect some lawmakers’ dissatisfaction with the Attorney General’s defense of lawsuits on New Hampshire’s voter residency laws.
Senate Republican Leader Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said the committee’s decision to deny the Attorney General’s request for funding was unusual and likely unprecedented.
“By taking this reckless step, the Democrats have undermined the Department of Justice’s ability to perform their constitutional duties,” Morse said.