For Immediate Release
February 6, 2014
CONCORD - Calling for a continued focus on bipartisanship, innovation and fiscal responsibility to work through New Hampshire’s pressing challenges, Governor Maggie Hassan delivered her State of the State address today, outlining New Hampshire’s economic progress and presenting her vision for how the state can support businesses that are creating good jobs, help middle class families, and keep the economy moving forward.
"Because of the combined efforts of us all - citizens from the North Country to the Seacoast to the Monadnock Region to the Upper Valley - businesses, non-profits, and community leaders - Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike - the state of our state is strong and growing even stronger," Governor Hassan said. "In contrast to the dysfunction in our nation’s capital, in New Hampshire, we have worked together to support middle class families, to help innovative businesses thrive and to grow our economy."
The Governor emphasized that in order to accelerate economic growth, state leaders must work through the pressing challenges facing New Hampshire and reach bipartisan compromise to position the state for long-term prosperity.
"The great Robert Frost once wrote ‘the best way out is always through.’ We are out from under the greatest burdens of the recession," Governor Hassan said. "Now, we must keep our state and our economy moving forward, and for New Hampshire, the best way forward is always through."
"Our state is well positioned to lead the country in innovative economic growth that will lift all of our people, families and businesses. Capturing that bright tomorrow, however, requires hard work from all of us today," Governor Hassan said. "We face long-standing challenges - from education to infrastructure to energy to health care. How we come together to address these challenges and position our state for long-lasting prosperity will determine whether we will continue to lead the nation."
To address those challenges, Governor Hassan announced today plans to modernize the state’s science and math education standards and improve state services for businesses; discussed regional efforts to increase energy capacity; called for investment in the state’s roads and bridges; supported measures to increase public safety; and praised a bipartisan Senate framework to accept federal funds to expand health care access.
Continuing her focus on helping innovative businesses grow and create jobs by building a strong workforce, the Governor announced she is creating a taskforce to help modernize science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) education, called for implementation of robust college- and career-readiness standards at the state’s public schools, and announced a new program, led by the Department of Resources and Economic Development, to strengthen the state’s workforce pipeline by partnering manufacturing companies directly with classes at local schools.
"To build an even stronger workforce, we must keep more of our young people in New Hampshire," Governor Hassan said. "We took an important step in that effort working together through the budget. We restored higher education funding and made it possible for our universities and community colleges to freeze in-state tuition. New Hampshire’s public schools are often ranked among the nation’s best in graduation rates, in reading proficiency and in math proficiency. We may be doing better than most states, but we have heard from our businesses that we still have work to do to ensure that we have a workforce that can compete in the future."
Governor Hassan also emphasized the need to ensure that New Hampshire’s government remains responsive to the needs of the business community and provides support to help companies grow and create good jobs.
"For New Hampshire’s economy to keep moving forward, we need to continue supporting common-sense measures that will help our businesses compete and thrive," Governor Hassan said.
The Governor called for a focus on reforming the workers compensation system and helping small businesses access capital investment, and she announced a new Gold Standard program to highlight and ease regulatory hurdles for businesses with exemplary track records. Governor Hassan also announced she will issue an Executive Order directing state agencies to convert all business-related forms to online formats through the Business One Stop by the end of the biennium.
And, noting that the state will soon be losing an estimated $75 million per year to Massachusetts casinos, Governor Hassan encouraged legislators to pass casino legislation developed by the bipartisan Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority.
"Developing New Hampshire's own plan for one high-end destination casino will create jobs, boost our economy, and generate revenue to invest in critical priorities," Governor Hassan said. "I encourage all legislators to fully consider the Authority’s carefully developed, bipartisan recommendations, recognize that we can do this in a way that works for our state, and vote in favor of authorizing a casino. Instead of funding Massachusetts’ needs, let’s take this opportunity to invest in New Hampshire’s priorities and help grow New Hampshire’s economy."
Governor Hassan also urged legislators to recognize that supporting working families is critical for growing the state’s economy, calling for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act and for restoring and increasing New Hampshire’s minimum wage.
"Truly accelerating our economic growth will only be possible when working families and individuals are confident in their own financial circumstances and able to purchase more goods and services," Governor Hassan said.
In her address, the Governor stressed the need to take on New Hampshire’s long-standing challenges, including infrastructure, energy and health care, in order to build the foundation for long-term economic growth.
She thanked legislators for acknowledging the need to strengthen investment in the state’s roads and bridges, and committed to continuing to work with members of both parties to reach a consensus solution. To help make energy more reliable, diverse and affordable, the Governor outlined efforts to bring additional natural gas into New Hampshire and urged stakeholders from across the state to participate in the state’s ongoing efforts to develop a long-term energy strategy.
And, supporting an agreement announced earlier in the day by Senate leaders, Governor Hassan reiterated that the state must address healthcare costs and access by moving forward with a constructive, bipartisan compromise to accept $2.4 billion in federal funds available to expand health care coverage.
"Moving forward with health care expansion is supported by hospitals, providers, businesses, and the people of New Hampshire," Governor Hassan said. "With today’s positive step forward, it’s clear that we can work through this together and help working people access critical health coverage. I thank members of both parties, from both the House and the Senate, for their steadfast commitment to reaching a compromise. Now, let’s get this done."
The Governor highlighted that expanding Medicaid would also help provide coverage for substance and alcohol abuse treatment to thousands, and would strengthen coverage for mental health services, helping to address the strains in New Hampshire’s mental health system.
Governor Hassan encouraged legislators to build on the community-based mental health services included in the state’s bipartisan budget by passing legislation to fund additional services called for in last year’s landmark mental health lawsuit settlement. And she emphasized the need to strengthen community-based support for those with mental illness in a way that is integrated into the larger health care system.
"People with mental illness are our friends, our family members, our neighbors who are simply in need of appropriate care, and they must be able to access that care before they reach the point of crisis," Governor Hassan said. "This is a challenge facing our health care providers, police officers, and communities across the state, and the solutions must be pursued at the community level."
"But we must also work to fully integrate these community-based services into our larger health care system, and we need our communities, our hospitals and our health care providers to remain full partners in this effort. We should take care not to build a separate but equal system. We need to work toward a system where all providers have the training, capacity and expertise to effectively treat those with mental illness, just as they treat others with chronic conditions."
And Governor Hassan asked legislators to take steps to keep New Hampshire’s communities among the safest in the nation. She encouraged collaboration to strengthen the background check system by including information for those who should not possess firearms due to severe mental illness. And the Governor called for passage of a bill creating a crime of domestic violence, an effort spurred in part last year’s tragic murder of 9-year-old Joshua Savyon, whose mother Becky Ranes attended the address.
"Becky, none of us can grasp the pain you bear every day, but we are all inspired by your courage in sharing your story and advocating for this bill that will help countless families and communities," Governor Hassan said. "I ask the legislature to heed Becky’s call and pass this bill, pass ‘Joshua’s Law,’ in memory of her beautiful son."
Acknowledging that making this progress would require difficult debate and tough choices, Governor Hassan said, "what matters - to our economy, to our businesses, to the people of our state - is what we do after we argue. Unlike Washington, we have shown time and again that we are capable of engaging with each other, putting arguments aside and coming together to solve problems, leading to progress for our businesses and families. We must continue to prove the strength of our democracy by working through our challenges together."