Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement today on contract negotiations with the State Employees Association (SEA):
"I have the utmost respect and admiration for New Hampshire's hardworking, dedicated and highly skilled state employees. I understand and appreciate the hardships they have experienced throughout the recession by forgoing pay raises, paying more for their health care and witnessing the elimination of 1,100 positions over the past five years.
"With this in mind, the state set out from the beginning of the contract negotiation process to operate in good faith with the goals of providing additional support to our state employees while strengthening the state's long-term financial outlook by taking an innovative approach to reducing health care costs.
"I believe the tentative agreement reached in June between negotiators represented a fair deal for employees by providing the first cost-of-living increases in five years, and for New Hampshire taxpayers by achieving important healthcare savings to the state. And after listening to the SEA's concerns about the tentative agreement, the state has worked constructively to strengthen our proposal and address those concerns.
"After eight months of negotiations, I regret that the parties have not been able to finalize an agreement and will now be entering into the fact-finding stage. However, I continue to believe that a fair agreement can be reached within the bounds of the current budget.
"Our goals remain the same, and we can provide a critical cost-of-living increase to state employees while reducing healthcare costs and strengthening our state's financial outlook. As we move forward, I will work to ensure that the fact-finding process is respectful, transparent and constructive for both our hard-working state employees and New Hampshire taxpayers, so that we may reach an agreement that is fair to all parties."