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Dave Solomon's Granite Status: Hassan readies Turkish trade mission despite travel ban

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Gov. Maggie Hassan, with legislative approval, has issued an executive order freezing out-of-state travel paid for from the state’s general fund, but is going ahead with a $15,000 trade mission to Turkey.

The plan for Hassan to lead a group of New Hampshire business representatives on the excursion from June 20-27 was first announced in March, before state’s revenue shortfalls were reported in April, leading to the travel freeze.

According to Hassan spokesperson William Hinkle, there’s no point in turning back now. 

“The Department of Resources and Economic Development worked hard with the business community to determine an appropriate trip and found a partner to help significantly reduce costs,” he said. “At this point, the trade mission is paid for by both the state and by the businesses, and cancelling it would be a significant cost to our businesses without saving the state any funds.”

The conservative policy group, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, has submitted a Right to Know request with the Department of Resources and Economic Development to get more details on the trip, such as who on the state payroll besides Hassan will be attending.

“Like most Granite Staters, we understand the importance of expanding international trade and attracting businesses to invest in New Hampshire. We also certainly support curtailing wasteful spending,” said Matthew Murphy, executive director at Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, in a recent statement to the media.

“However, considering her upcoming costly trip to Turkey, it is more than fair to inquire whether Gov. Hassan’s executive order banning all out of state travel is nothing more than political posturing,” Murphy said.

The $15,000 for state’s share of expenses was included in the budget passed by lawmakers last year, but so was other money for travel that is now put on hold. Each of the participating New Hampshire businesses paid $2,500.The trade mission, scheduled for June 20-27, has been organized in partnership with the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey and the Turkish Cultural Center in Manchester.

Participating businesses, like Rokon International of Rochester, a manufacturer of all-wheel drive motorcycles, are hoping for access to decision-makers in business, government and higher education in a country listed as New Hampshire’s 12th largest trading partner.

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