(The opinions expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the New Hampshire Journal. The Journal welcomes opinions on all sides of issues and from all candidates for office.)
By SHAWN JASPER
Here in New Hampshire, we have long prided ourselves in having a truly representative government. We have the largest state legislature in the United States. It is truly a citizen legislature made up of young and old, with diverse backgrounds, beliefs and life experiences. With 400 house members, by its very design, we are meant to reflect the state we are all proud to represent.
While there has been much political analysis of my recent election as Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, it is with great humility and seriousness that I begin this new legislative session. It is about how best to serve the people of my hometown of Hudson and the state of New Hampshire. It is about taking the confidence expressed by a majority of my colleagues in the House, both Republican and Democrat, and working together to make our state a better place for our families. It is about making New Hampshire a stronger place to start and grow a business, and assuring that the next generation of Granite Staters has even more opportunities to succeed.
For the past thirty-five years, I have been committed to public service at both the local and state level. As a member of my town’s Budget Committee and Board of Selectmen, I have always understood the need to make sure that hard earned tax dollars are used cautiously and with maximum benefit. As a state representative for 20 years, I have always made it a point to listen, gather information and make informed decisions that would benefit my community and state.
There is never a shortage of well-meaning ideas, new programs to be offered or needs to be met. But without strong stewardship by elected officials, government will always look to grow and consume more revenues. I have made the tough decisions to keep spending in check , balancing wants with needs, throughout my career.
Through these efforts, I have been fortunate to earn the support of conservative minded groups because of my priority of low spending, from business groups for keeping regulations and impediments to their success out of the way and from law enforcement officials for supporting policies that keep our families and streets safe. It is a record grounded in conservative principles and carried out with a passionate understanding of the people I was elected to represent.
In New Hampshire, we face challenges that must be addressed. The new biennial budget has built in deficits that must be overcome through sound management and a review of spending to see where we can generate further efficiencies. We have an energy crisis produced by a lack of new supply that has rates for homeowners and businesses soaring to record heights. Without addressing the need for additional energy sources, we are leaving our families with the potential for overwhelming natural gas and electric costs and our business community at an economic and competitive disadvantage when compared to their peers in New England and across the country.
And while New Hampshire prided itself in leading our region out of times of recession, we are seeing our neighbors with stronger economies than ours, attracting new businesses and offering more opportunities for the next generation to find educational opportunities and jobs without migrating to another state. These are all challenges that we must face together. As elected officials, we are all entrusted with a temporary power to lead the state in problem solving. The problems don’t require a Republican or Democrat solution. They require a New Hampshire solution.
As Speaker, I pledge to make the next two years as productive as possible by working with those who are truly committed to public service. Yes, I have my beliefs and am guided by conservative principles. But, I am excited about the opportunity to join with all 399 of my colleagues to do the people’s business and make sure we leave our beloved state of New Hampshire a better place than we found it.
(Shawn Jasper is the Speaker of the New Hampshire House and an 11-term Republican state representative from Hudson.)