By Christian Wade | The Center Square
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is emerging as a vocal critic of the coronavirus relief bill working its way through Congress, calling the $1.9 trillion package “a bail-out for blue states” that haven’t been fiscally responsible.
On Monday, Sununu joined a bipartisan group of 21 other governors who oppose the relief bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday, saying they would be shortchanged in funding under changes to the formula used to determine state aid.
Sununu, a Republican, blasted the relief bill as “inherently unfair” and said it “disproportionately hurts states who have managed well through this crisis with low unemployment and strong economies.”
“The passage of this bill would send the unmistakable message that Washington politicians expect New Hampshire taxpayers to subsidize poorly run, cash-strapped states,” he said in a statement. “While California, New York, and New Jersey make out like bandits with billions of dollars in increased funding, New Hampshire’s taxpayers are left to foot the bill.”
The Democrat-controlled House approved President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The measure, which is currently before the Senate, would provide $1,400 direct payments, money for vaccine distribution, unemployment aid and other relief to states and local governments.
But Sununu said the state stands to lose more than $230 million under changes to the formula for federal aid that factors a state’s unemployed population instead of its actual population. New Hampshire has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.
Overall, at least 33 states stand to see a decrease in funding under the new formula.
“A state’s ability to keep businesses open and people employed should not be a penalizing factor when distributing funds,” the governors said in a statement on the House version of the bill. “If Congress is going to provide aid to states, it should be on an equitable population basis.”
In his statement, Sununu called on Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., and other members of the state’s all-Democrat congressional delegation to “to immediately oppose this bail-out and do their jobs to ensure relief funds are expended using the same methodology used in passing the CARES Act.”
Pappas defended his vote on Saturday in favor of the massive relief package, saying the measure is necessary to deal with “the scope and scale of the challenges before us.”
“After nearly a year of dealing with the devastating economic and health impacts of this pandemic, it is clear from my conversations each and every day with Granite Staters that a robust and comprehensive relief package is needed to help us beat this virus and put the pandemic in our rearview mirror,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the state’s Democratic Party tore into Sununu over his criticism of the relief bill, which he initially made Thursday at a briefing on the state’s COVID-19 response.
“Chris Sununu made it very clear that he stands with Washington Republicans and the Kochs in opposing much-needed additional relief for New Hampshire families, small businesses, schools, health care providers, and cities and towns,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, said in a statement.