The vote to override Governor Lynch’s veto of a right to work bill failed last week; a crushing blow for NH Speaker of the House William O’Brien who has made this legislation a priority. From the Boston Globe:
“Union members aren’t thugs. They’re police officers. They’re firefighters,” said Democratic Rep. Jeff Goley, a firefighter from Manchester. “What will right-to-work do here in New Hampshire? Right-to-work will lower wages and lower benefits, not create jobs.”
Speaker O’Brien didn’t take this defeat well, especially since 41 members of his own party voted to sustain the veto. Shortly after the vote, rumors of retribution began to emerge. The Nashua Telegraph wrote that 3 assistant majority whips were going to be asked to resign.
A day after the retribution rumblings began, a story came out in The Lobby that alerted us that House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt had decided not to seek those resignations. The negative media coverage may have had something to do with Bettencourt’s change of “heart.”
O’Brien has made it clear that the right to work bill will be back next year. From the Telegraph:
But O’Brien also made it clear the right-to-work battle is far from over, noting Rep. William Smith, R-New Castle, has introduced similar legislation for next year that no doubt will spill over into the governor’s race to replace the retiring Lunch.
The outlook for success next year may not be all that O’Brien hopes. NH watchdog group Granite State Progress issued a statement to counter O’Brien’s ongoing assertion that businesses won’t move to NH because we don’t have “right to work” laws:
Pushed by local media to name companies who have expressed this interest to the Speaker, O’Brien was unable to name even a single business that would consider moving new jobs to New Hampshire if the legislation was enacted.
O’Brien is likely to have bigger problems in 2011. So far, the budget enacted in June has cost the state over 2,000 jobs, and millions in missing tax revenue. A gaping revenue hole thus far comes from the state’s hospitals. It’s a $50.3 million budget shortfall.
Then there’s the tobacco revenue failure. From a scathing editorial in Seacoastonline:
The tortured logic used to justify New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien’s insistence on cutting the state’s tobacco tax by 10 cents a pack has cost the state $11 million since July, and it will continue to cost the state millions of dollars until common sense prevails and the tax cut is repealed.
You’ll recall that in June, O’Brien hijacked the state budget process, insisting that nothing would get done unless the tobacco tax cut was included. This last-minute chicanery followed O’Brien’s visit to the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., which receives a substantial amount of funding from the tobacco industry.
O’Brien influenced by special interests? Oh, say it ain’t so.
2012 is shaping up to be a tough year for the speaker. His budget has proven to be a disaster. He’s lost 3 out of 4 special elections (including one in his own hometown), and 41 members of his own party didn’t vote for his veto override.
On the other hand, O’Brien’s loss is a gain for New Hampshire workers. To celebrate, Granite State Progress put together a victory video after the RTW veto override vote failed: