Here is the full text of Gov. Maggie Hassan’s inaugural address.
Governor Maggie Hassan
As Prepared for Delivery
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Madam Chief Justice, Justice Souter, honorable members of the House, Senate, Executive Council and Judiciary, and my fellow citizens:
Thank you for once again entrusting me with the solemn responsibilities of this office.
It is an honor to serve as your Governor, and I will continue striving every single day to live up to your trust and to make progress for all of the people of New Hampshire.
To Speaker Jasper and President Morse, I am ready to roll up my sleeves and I know you are too. I look forward to working with both of you, and with all members of the House and Senate, to keep our state moving forward.
I also want to take a moment to thank my family. My husband, Tom, and our children, Ben and Meg. My mom, Peggy. My brother, Frank and my sister, Franny. And our family of the heart – Liz and Joyce. Without your love and support I wouldn’t be standing here today. Thank you for everything. Today, and every day.
And let me express our profound gratitude to the brave men and women serving with the New Hampshire National Guard, and all members of our armed services and veterans. It is because of your dedicated service that we are all free to be here today.
As I stood before you two years ago on this occasion, our people, businesses, and economy were still reeling from the worst recession our nation had known in generations.
Facing into the great challenge before us, we recommitted ourselves that day to the traditions that make the Granite State strong: cooperation, bipartisanship, and common-sense problem-solving in order to move our economy forward.
The people of our state work through problems together every day, and they expect their elected leaders to do the same thing.
And over the past two years, we have not allowed the partisan divide to be an obstacle to getting things done.
Democrats, Republicans and independents worked together, and we found that when we did, the sum of our progress was far greater than our individual ideas or perspectives.
After vigorous debates, we emerged stronger. From health care to higher education to transportation, by working together, we found a new way forward on our most pressing challenges.
To continue building an innovation economy for our future, with more opportunity for all of our people, we must always be looking to find that place where differing ideas meet.
We know better than to think that any one political party has all the answers.
At every step of the way, we must ask ourselves how can we reach the middle ground that fuses our individual ideas into something greater, something that will strengthen the economic future of all of our people? How can we find new solutions and approaches, the ones that nobody has thought of yet?
Though the challenges before us are significant, we are capable of finding that new way forward, because that’s what Granite Staters do.
That’s what a young man from Concord did nearly 230 years ago when he needed a way to wake himself up before dawn to get to work. Because in the year 1787 there was no such thing as a mechanical alarm clock in America.
Yet Levi Hutchins was undeterred, and he refused to accept that he would have to wait for the roosters to crow before he could start his day. So Levi figured out that by adding an extra gear into a brass clock, he could make it strike a bell at four o’clock every morning.
Like a true Granite Stater, he recognized that while tradition is important, we must not simply rely on the old way of doing things. When faced with a challenge, he found a new way forward.
That stubborn refusal to accept that there is a limit to what we can accomplish lives on in our state today. Just ask Deepika Kurup, a sixteen-year old sophomore at Nashua South High School.
According to Deepika, “Science has the enormous power to help people find solutions to problems we never thought could be solved.” And she would know.
On a family trip to India, Deepika was troubled when she saw children drinking dirty water. So she spent her summer vacation developing a system to purify water using solar energy.
She discovered that by combining two chemicals and adding sunlight, her sustainable, cost-effective system could destroy bacteria and decontaminate water.
As global challenges go, it doesn’t get much bigger than the scarcity of safe drinking water. But rather than be daunted by the magnitude of this challenge, Deepika found a new way forward.
For her work, Deepika has earned the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist,” and she and her family are here with us today.
In the months and years ahead, we must not forget Levi and Deepika’s examples here in Concord. Examples of people who challenged themselves to find new approaches that nobody had thought of yet.
And if we can do the same, we will continue laying the foundation of a brighter economic future. A future where our middle class families can breathe just a little bit easier. A future where our entrepreneurs and small businesses have the support they need to thrive and create good jobs. A future where young people have attractive opportunities for both careers and quality of life.
Together, while ensuring fiscal responsibility, we have already made real progress in building a stronger, more innovative economy. But as we gather today, we remain at the beginning of our work to ensure that all of our citizens are included in our shared success and prosperity.
The good news is that thanks to our bipartisan progress, we’re in a better position than most other states. Our unemployment rate is at its lowest level since 2008, last month New Hampshire’s credit outlook was restored to “stable,” and our private sector has recovered all of the jobs lost in the recession.
We also continue to be known across the country for our high quality of life. A recent report ranked New Hampshire as the best state to live and the best state to earn a living, and in 2013, our median household income was the highest in the nation.
But to the hard-working people across our state, statistics don’t always reflect the individual struggles that some face.
Our families are focused on whether they can afford to send their kids to college, and whether they’ll be able to make their mortgage payment at the end of the month. Our small business owners want to know that they’ll be able to pay their electric bill and make payroll. Our young people are focused on whether they have access to an affordable higher education, and whether they’ll be able to build a career and a life here when they’re done.
When young parents read that our state is the best place to live and raise a family, we need to ensure that they can see a path for themselves and their children to share in our high quality of life and thrive economically.
All across our state there are people who work hard, play by the rules, and give back to their communities.
They do all the right things; yet they are finding that the cost of the essential components of a thriving middle class life – college tuition, health care, owning a home – is growing faster than their paychecks.
These Granite Staters aren’t looking for a free pass, just an opportunity to work their way to a brighter future.
To widen the doors of middle class opportunity, we must approach these next two years with a relentless focus on ensuring that every Granite Stater who works hard can find success. On building a more innovative economic future that lifts all of our people, in every corner of our state.
We must not let ourselves believe that if we simply do things the same way we’ve always done them, the future will take care of itself.
The needs of families and businesses are changing, and we too must adapt our approach to meet those needs.
Our low-tax environment, which the Tax Foundation ranked 7th best in the country for businesses, will continue to be important to our economic success. That’s why we will continue to balance our budget without a sales or an income tax.
But we must also think more broadly about what matters to people and businesses who are considering becoming a part of our economy.
Both individuals and businesses need to know that we will remain one of the safest, healthiest, and most livable states in the nation. They need to know that in New Hampshire they’ll have access to a modern and safe infrastructure, and also world-class schools that are preparing the workforce of the future.
Over the past two years, we’ve begun to strengthen the foundation of a more innovative economic future. But we know that there is more we must do to build on all of our advantages in the Granite State.
There is perhaps no area where the needs of our businesses and families intersect more than in education.
Last year, we brought together a Task Force to modernize the way we teach science, technology, engineering, and math in our schools.
It’s time to bring our standards into the 21st century to ensure that our students are prepared to compete for jobs in today’s global economy.
Our new vision for the future must also ensure that when our students reach college age, higher education is not a financial weight for young people and their families to bear for years to come, but rather an opportunity to jumpstart a secure career.
I’m proud that we took an important step in that effort by restoring funding for higher education in our bipartisan budget, allowing us to freeze tuition at our university system, and lower it at our community colleges.
But that must only be the beginning. In our next budget, we must work as hard as we can to continue to hold down the cost of higher education.
We must make sure that tuition at our universities is affordable enough to help attract and retain young people, rather than drive them away. And when our students finish college, we must continue to find ways to keep more of them here.
That means that our young people must have confidence that they will have opportunities for good jobs in New Hampshire when they graduate.
We know that there are innovative companies looking for high-skilled workers, and we need to help our businesses create more good jobs.
We have made progress to support job-creating companies, such as doubling the R&D tax credit to help businesses invest in new technologies, revitalizing our economic development efforts, and modernizing our corporations act. Through our Live Free and Start initiative, we’re bringing together business leaders and entrepreneurs from across New Hampshire to help make our state even more responsive to the needs of new businesses.
As part of that effort, we are proposing to update and modernize our securities regulations act, making it easier for innovative businesses to raise the capital they need to grow and flourish.
We also must respond to what our businesses, young people, and families, are telling us about how they see themselves and the part they play in the 21st-century economy.
We know that young people and families want to be able to hike in the mountains on a Saturday morning and then go to a Red Sox game in the evening.
We know that our businesses want faster, more convenient access to their customers, and they want us to retain a younger workforce ready for the future of our economy.
We are not going to move our state’s economy forward over the next decade by withdrawing into ourselves.
We are part of an economic region, and our new vision for the future must take an integrated approach to economic development.
New Hampshire, with all of our advantages, can compete with Massachusetts for businesses and individuals, while also touting our proximity to Boston as one of the many selling points to locating in the Granite State.
In order to maximize our regional position, and to spark economic growth for decades to come, we should bring commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester.
Rail brings with it improved access to the entire region, and can provide new transportation and housing opportunities, the kind of opportunities that 21st-century workers and families are looking for.
Our business community understands the many benefits of commuter rail, and that is why they are calling on us to act.
We must find a consensus way forward on rail that will build on our many advantages and help set the stage for a new generation of economic growth by keeping more of our young people right here in the Granite State.
Young people, like all Granite Staters, must also know that they will always have the personal and financial security that comes with access to affordable health insurance, no matter their economic circumstances.
Through life’s bruises, breaks – or worse – they must know that the next accident or illness won’t lead them to bankruptcy.
We have already worked together to provide that peace of mind, with more than 30,000 Granite Staters receiving coverage through our bipartisan health care expansion plan.
This uniquely New Hampshire solution is helping reduce uncompensated care and the resulting cost-shifting to New Hampshire’s families and businesses. And we must recognize that the benefits of our expansion plan are a critical component of our economic future.
We cannot overstate the importance of continuity and predictability for our citizens and our businesses.
As we plan for the future of health care in our state, we must do so with the commitment that our responsibility to our people, to our businesses, and to our economy cannot sunset.
And in order for all of our people and businesses, young and old, new and established, to succeed, we must achieve the affordable energy future that has eluded our state for too long.
We already know that this winter our families and businesses are seeing spikes in their electricity bills due in large part to the shortage of natural gas pipeline capacity.
While we must increase our focus on conservation and energy efficiency to protect our natural resources and to lower costs, we must also acknowledge that we need to increase the supply of natural gas and diversify our energy resources.
Working with local communities, we must find solutions while protecting our beautiful places, our natural resources, and the character of our state.
We will not capitulate to plans that aren’t right for New Hampshire. But we must innovate, negotiate, and get to solutions that lead to a stronger, more affordable energy future.
As we do all these things though, our vision for a new way forward must always include the needs of our workers, so that they can thrive economically in their own lives.
For too long, wages have failed to grow with the cost of our families’ needs. Our path forward must strengthen wages for our workers by restoring and increasing New Hampshire’s minimum wage.
Increasing the minimum wage will have a ripple effect on wages higher up the pay scale, while supporting businesses and encouraging job creation by putting more money in the pockets of consumers so that they can buy goods and services. It is long past time that we take this critical step forward for our economy.
We must also ensure that when Granite Staters find a good job, they’ll also be able to find dependable childcare, housing that’s both convenient and affordable, and access to full-day kindergarten. We need to find new ways to make these essentials a reality for more of our people.
Each of the challenges that we must overcome to reach our full economic potential can be taken on while living within our means and maintaining fiscal responsibility.
Granite Staters are frugal and we pride ourselves on our small, nimble state government.
With our bipartisan budget, and the steps we’ve taken together to protect that budget and our bond rating, we’ve shown that we can remain fiscally responsible while investing in the priorities that will help build a brighter, more innovative economic future.
But as we continue our responsible approach and develop our next balanced budget, we must also recognize that there are certain basic responsibilities of government that must be met for our people, our businesses, and our economy to thrive.
We’ve made critical investments to improve public safety, to address pressing public health challenges like substance misuse and behavioral health, and to ensure that we have a modern, safe transportation infrastructure. Our commitment to these priorities must continue.
And in order to protect taxpayer dollars, we must also continue to challenge ourselves to make state government more innovative and efficient.
Our dedicated state employees are constantly working to do more with less as they face ever-tightening budgets, and we must find new ways to support them as they continue to work tirelessly to move our state forward.
We will, of course, face difficult choices ahead. And when we do, we will work to bring people together to find a new way forward – to solve our biggest challenges in a fiscally responsible way that expands middle class opportunity and keeps our economy moving in the right direction.
Let us be clear; the challenges before us are great. But as we embark on this next chapter, we must not be deterred, and we must not allow politics to stand in the way of our progress.
Together, we can lay the foundation of a brighter economic future with stronger wages and more opportunity to climb the ladder of success. A future where innovative businesses are creating more good jobs, and where more of our young people are staying and thriving.
To those who say we can’t come together to do these things and more, I say to them: you don’t know the Granite State. That’s what we do here.
What it will take, throughout our work together, is moving past the inevitable arguments, identifying our challenges, and then finding the solutions that nobody has thought of yet, the New Hampshire solutions that will help build a more prosperous future for all of our people.
The people of New Hampshire are tough and we are daring, we are rugged individuals and we are members of our close-knit communities, we are innovative and we respect the traditions that make us strong. And we are stubborn in our refusal to accept that there is a limit to what we can accomplish.
That’s how a clockmaker from Concord found a way to start the day on his own terms, and how a teenager from Nashua conceived an idea that could save lives and maybe even change the world.
With that same stubborn determination, we too can do remarkable things. That’s who we are as Granite Staters, and that’s who we must continue to be.
I look forward to that challenge, and to the brighter economic future that we will all build, and share in, together.