Lynch picks team for shift

CONCORD – Gov.-elect John Lynch tapped a former revenue commissioner to help him determine the size of the projected deficit for the next two-year state budget.

Stanley Arnold of Concord, a registered independent, will join Lynch campaign treasurer Kate Hanna of Manchester, a Democrat, and former President George H. W. Bush administration official Betty Tamposi of Nashua as co-chairs of Lynch’s two-month transition team.

“The tasks ahead of us are not easy, but we must look beyond partisanship and find real solutions to these problems – Democrats, Republicans and independents working together,’’ Lynch said.

Arnold retired as the state’s top tax official in 2002 and does consulting for the Concord lawyer-lobbying firm led by Tom Rath, a Republican strategist.

“I think Governor-elect Lynch is going to be an outstanding person to bring people back together again,’’ he said.

Arnold said there’s been “division occurring’’ among legislators and state officials under Gov. Craig Benson’s leadership.

“It’s been very difficult for people who have been in state government and state legislators to feel that they could participate,’’ he said.

“It was my way or no way. We need to be inclusive.’’

Lynch and Benson haven’t spoken since last Tuesday’s election. He said he hopes to set up a meeting later this week, as well as to locate nearby office space for his transition team.

“I am hoping we get together this week,” he said. “That’s what I would like.’’

A nonpartisan think tank estimates the state faces up to $300 million in red ink by June 30, 2007.

During his re-election bid, Benson insisted the shortfall would be no more than half that amount, while Lynch never ventured a guess.

Lynch said he would require all state agency heads to justify every dollar they receive, a process known as zero-based budgeting.

On Monday, Lynch also urged the Legislative Fiscal Committee to go slow on the controversial Medicaid reorganization plan of Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen.

“What I do believe is there ought to be ample opportunity for public input and public participation,’’ he said.

During the election campaign, Lynch attacked what he called Gov. Craig Benson’s “secret plan’’ to reduce the number of nursing home beds by one-third and decimate the state’s Healthy Kids Corporation.

On Monday, Lynch said he wanted to learn more about the proposal, as he knew only what he had read in media reports.

Stephen briefed Lynch on Monday afternoon on the Granite Care proposal and plans to present it to the fiscal committee Wednesday.

The group’s chairman said it would vote Nov. 23 on whether to endorse this request for Medicaid waivers that Benson and Stephen had been preparing to submit to the Bush administration.

Stephen contends these changes are necessary to deal with the loss of $100 million in federal Medicaid reimbursements over the next two years.

Along with the budget, Lynch said the transition team’s other priorities are to examine the major policy decisions affecting every state agency and to make recommendations on attracting qualified applicants for state jobs.

Lynch said he would reinstate some review of his judicial nominees to the Executive Council.

Former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen had set up a judicial selection commission that Hanna chaired, but Benson dissolved it after taking office in January 2003.

“I would like to have a process. I’m not sure about what that would be, but I would like to have an administrative process set up,’’ Lynch said.

Tamposi was a prominent Republican supporter of Lynch’s campaign.

In the state Legislature, Tamposi served as chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee and later became assistant secretary of state for consular affairs for former President George H. Bush from 1990-92.

Lynch urged Benson and the Executive Council to leave Education Commissioner Nicholas Donohue in office until after he’s sworn in next Jan. 6.

Donohue’s term ends Nov. 15.

“Whether it is Nick or somebody else, I would like to hold off,” he said. “I believe that is consistent with past practices.’’