Governor Chris Sununu's Inaugural Address
Concord, NH – Please find below Governor Chris Sununu's 2023 Inaugural Address:
Good Afternoon – Mr. Speaker. Mr. Senate President, honorable members of the House, the Senate;
Chief Justice MacDonald and honorable members of the Judiciary.
Members of the Executive Council, Commissioners, and of course, my fellow Granite Staters that are joining us today or watching at home, Happy New Year and Welcome!
Also joining us, I have invited a few individuals that represent a big part of what I want to talk about today, and what we do so well here in New Hampshire. Civics. Our process is the foundation of our success and the envy of the nation.
With us today are Martha Madsen, the Executive Director at New Hampshire Civics along with Charlotte Cotti, a 6th grader from Plaistow and this year's Kid Governor.
Also with us is Mrs. Mallory Langkau and her Civics and Government class down from Groveton High School. Thank you all for joining us today.
I want to acknowledge a few people, without whom, none of this would be possible.
My family: my kids, my parents and the one person who has sacrificed more than anyone can possibly imagine, my wife, Valerie.
For the first time in over 4 years, I stand before you in Representatives Hall to deliver my Inaugural Address. Last time I was in a TV studio. (Not sure if anyone watched it on television, but it was a great speech if I do say so myself, but it wasn't like this.)
But we are finally here, in person, and what an opportunity that presents!
Today, I have the honor of delivering my 4th inaugural address…and here's an interesting fact, I was told that it's the first time in American history that a 4–term governor has been sworn in by 4 different chief justices.
So there's a fun piece of civics trivia to kick it off for everyone. Congratulations Chief Justice McDonald – You're famous. And so given that I have had a few of these under my belt, I promise to keep this one relatively brief.
It continues to be the honor of a lifetime to serve as Governor of this great state.
I think of first standing here 6 short years ago. Seems like a lifetime given what we have been through and what we've accomplished. But our work isn't done.
Families and small businesses are counting on us to keep delivering results.
Over the last six years, New Hampshire has become an island of freedom surrounded by highly taxed, highly regulated states.
We are a harbor for citizens fleeing the states they once called home in pursuit of our Live Free or Die way of life.
We continue to open up doors of opportunity, giving families the freedom to choose the path that best suits their needs.
We have provided leadership that puts 'The Individual' ahead of 'The System'. Ensuring that everyone – regardless of income, gender, race, or religion – has the same opportunities to succeed.
When other states were slow rolling vaccine distribution, we went fast – and gave everyone the freedom to choose.
When other states shut down schools, we opened them up.
When other states closed–down businesses, we kept their lights on – and invested in their success.
When other states used the pandemic as an excuse to raise taxes or permanently alter government's influence, it was NH that cut taxes, it was NH that said NO to mandates, and it was NH became the fastest growing state in the region.
We threw politics out the window, followed the data, and we chartered a new course. As a result, NOT only is our economy the strongest in the region –– But we were ranked as one of the Safest States in the country during COVID:
Simply put – New Hampshire IS the envy of the nation, the gold standard of states, and #1 place in America to live, work, and raise a family.
Today in New Hampshire, we are recognized as having America's best Return on Taxpayer Investment
We are ranked The Number One State for Personal Freedoms
The Number One State for Economic Opportunity
The Number One State for Public Safety
With the Lowest Poverty Rate in America
These rankings are nice and all – but they don't tell the full story: That of The New Hampshire Advantage
Now I admit – It is not a fair fight to compare us to the 49 other states. They get jealous when we do it.
We are the Live Free or Die State. We don't need rankings to validate the New Hampshire success story.
For over 200 years, every other state has been playing catch–up. SO Instead of rankings, here are the facts:
Together we have crafted three balanced budgets –with no new taxes – and we are going to do it again.
We delivered full day kindergarten and a historic school choice bill that puts students over systems – all while spending more money per student for PUBLIC EDUCATION than ever before!
We built a whole new treatment and recovery system that's getting results, and when 48 other states saw their overdose deaths SKYROCKETED during the pandemic, we bucked the national trend, showing our doorway system worked.
After years of talk, we finally delivered paid family medical leave that is voluntary, affordable, and income tax free!
We made historic investments into new housing.
We capitalized in new ideas like our One–Stop Veteran's Campus in Franklin to support our nations heroes – the first of its kind in the nation.
And over the last six years, we downshifted CASH – NOT costs, to our cities and towns, returning hundreds of millions of dollars in tax relief for our citizens. In fact, since I became Governor, 82% of New Hampshire municipalities have seen their property tax rates go down.
None of this is an accident – it's the result of smart management, responsible decision making, and putting people first.
But as unbelievably good as these past six years have been…., and despite our record of success – We have tough challenges ahead, and the most pressing one that affects every family and business across the state is the looming energy crisis.
Summers without AC in New Hampshire can be tough, but winters without heat in New Hampshire can be deadly.
When it comes to solutions to the energy crisis – we must have the courage to take politics out of the equation.
Together last fall, we passed the most comprehensive energy relief package this state has ever seen. Republicans and Democrats came together to make a real impact for families struggling with high electric bills – making available $35 million dollars in electricity and heating credits for more New Hampshire families.
We increased investments into our existing electricity and fuel assistance programs.
And with everything comes balance, which is why in addition to these new investments, we continue to explore longer term options such as off–shore wind, more hydropower out of Canada, and expanding renewable solar projects – especially for our low–income families and municipalities.
But there's more that needs to be done, and our focus must remain on reducing the cost burden on our citizens rather than adding to it.
Electric ratepayers are already getting crushed by this national energy crisis, therefore we must reject legislation that will impose additional unnecessary costs.
I have vetoed legislation that would have imposed millions in new costs on our citizens in time of crisis and I was the first to stand up and STOP that crazy 17–cent the Regional Gas Tax increase Massachusetts was trying to put on us.
And my veto pen has plenty of ink and will always be ready to protect our citizens from that kind of nonsense.
When it comes to energy policy we cannot follow the examples of states like Massachusetts, California, or New York.
We must continue to protect Our interests from the policies of other states and ensure that we have the resources needed to make our voice heard. It is critical we come together and get this done. Everyone from seniors on fixed incomes to young families are counting on us to get this right.
I want to change gears a little bit. The last time I stood up here in Representatives Hall addressing you, I started by thanking then–Secretary of State Bill Gardner, then Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan, and the countless poll workers, moderators, and town officials across this state for a job well done on a successful, seamless, and professional 2020 First in the Nation Presidential Primary.
We all remember it quite well – after the 2020 debacle in Iowa, the nation turned its eyes towards New Hampshire.
The political world descended on New Hampshire, wondering if Iowa's woes would follow us here.
The stakes were high, but it was nothing New Hampshire couldn't handle.
At a time of electoral uncertainty and doubt in our elections, New Hampshire put on a clinic for the rest of the Nation on how to administer elections. And America breathed a huge sigh of relief as we restored confidence to the entire system.
And this is an issue that we, across party lines stand in unison on. The NH State Democrat Party, The NH State Republican Party, The Democrat lead Federal Delegation and the Republican Governor, House and Senate all stand together pushing back on this attempt to erode such an important process. It's a strong of a bipartisan message as you've ever seen in NH.
Recently, the power brokers in the Democrat party in Washington have made it clear that they believe New Hampshire's time is up.
Washington Democrats are so misinformed, they chose South Carolina to take our place. In 2020, South Carolina's Presidential primary had a turnout of just 16%, while we set records.
In 2020, the last time an incumbent President was on the ballot, South Carolina cancelled the Primary, depriving voters of a choice, ensuring the power brokers in the state party chose who to award delegates to. That isn't democracy, that's incumbent protection – and something New Hampshire will never engage in.
But I have a message for them and President Biden – you can try to come and take it – but that is Never. Going. To. Happen. It's just not in our DNA to take orders from Washington.
We will not be blackmailed. We will not be threatened, and we will not give up.
You see – the New Hampshire Primary has stood the test of time, giving everyone a fair shot.
No matter your name ID, the money in your campaign account, or the elected office you held before running for President, for over 100 years, New Hampshire has given voice to lesser–known candidates and provided a pathway to the presidency for anyone dedicated enough to test their mettle with the voters of New Hampshire.
Mark my words. Come next year Secretary of State Scanlan WILL ensure that New Hampshire remains as the First in the Nation Presidential Primary
Maintaining our First in the Nation Primary is something that unites both parties, but there are other hot button issues where there are clear ideological differences between us. Of course, we can have our disagreements, but it is incumbent upon all of us to not let those disagreements get in the way of individual opportunity. We negotiate, we work together, we give a little to get a lot – because that's the accountability New Hampshire the voters demand and deserve of their public servants.
New Hampshire, like America, is not immune to political extremism, but we must do everything in our power to push back against it.
And the voters this past November sent a very clear message – they want leaders who can deliver. You don't just kick the can down the road or blame the next person in line. You face the challenges head on, invite solution driven individuals to the table and work the problem. What a lot of people don't appreciate is that that is the FUN part. That redesign and repurpose of the systems is what keeps NH on top.
The voters of our great state elected a near evenly divided legislature, presenting an awesome opportunity for this type of cooperation.
What a great civics lesson – and challenge – we find ourselves in.
The last time the New Hampshire legislature was this narrowly divided, the year was 1871. (And for what's its worth, The Josiah Bartlett Center recently published a great account of that legislature and the antics that ensued. It make's today's political acrimony look like a softball game in comparison and puts some great historical perspective on our current state of affairs.)
But I have immense confidence that we will not let that ancient history repeat itself and we CAN lead by example to show that well designed systems can produce results regardless of the national rhetoric.
Constituent service is more important than going viral on twitter.
It has been great to already see this legislature's eagerness and willingness to put partisanship aside and work together.
This year, let's commit to find compromise where we can, disagree amicably when we must, and always remember that the people of this state are counting on us to deliver.
The voters of New Hampshire do not reward those who yell the loudest, but rewards those who work hard, roll up their sleeves, and get the job done.
With such a narrowly divided legislature, we have an incredible opportunity to set an example for the rest of the nation.
So why exactly are we so good at what we do? Well, the main reason is that it all starts with a robust civics dialogue.
It's New Hampshire – every Granite Stater knows someone who has served in elected office. Whether it be a family member, a friend, or a neighbor.
We take pride in our accessibility and connectedness to our constituents.
When you run into your selectmen at Dunkins or Market Basket, you let them know what's on your mind – lord knows I feel like I've met half this state in the cereal aisle at the Epping Market Basket. Probably because I tend to stare at the endless cereal selections so long, but either way as public servants we need to find the best opportunities to listen.
And it is because of our robust civics that we continue to lead the way in citizen engagement, personal responsibility, and individual liberty.
I mentioned Mrs. Langkau's Civics and Government class who are joining us today.
Our job is to deliver results, but as important, we must set an example for those students up in the gallery. We must inspire them, keep them involved, and instill the principles that Make New Hampshire, New Hampshire: Putting individuals ahead of big systems.
The average citizen is interested in seeing progress on their genuine issue. So this connection between elected officials and citizens is the key to our success. Our entire system is based on the idea of interconnectedness and interdependency.
As an engineer it's the ideal way to design a self–regulating system. It's unique in government and it works. We should be very proud of that.
But make no mistake – while we stand on the shoulders of 200 years of disciplined process, we are always one generation away from becoming just like everyone else.
Nationally you have heard a lot of talk over the last two years about two words: "Parents. Matter."
But while those two simple words might be a new concept in somewhere like Virginia, they've been a central concept to our communities and government in New Hampshire since the beginning.
It is not big Government's job to impose its will upon cities and towns, dictating this or mandating that, saying "You Must!" or "You Cannot!"
Big government authoritarianism might be how they do it in 49 other states, but that's not how we do it New Hampshire.
It's a very simple formula: In New Hampshire, we distill decision making down to the lowest possible levers of power, empowering individuals to make their voices heard at the local level, where their voice is greatest.
Here in New Hampshire, that's called local control. We've been doing it for hundreds of years, and we're not about to stop now.
In New Hampshire, it's not up to the politicians in Concord to dictate how a 1 room school house 100 miles away does things, the power lies with the parents who send their kids to that school.
Our job is to set a path, provide guidelines and more often than not, get out of the way. You do you. Live Free or Die – it's more than just four words on a license plate, it's our way of life here, and we must remain committed to upholding these values.
Too often across this country, politicians at every level of power think they know better than the individual.
They get their priorities messed up and lose sight of why they were elected. The easily forget about basic tenants of individual responsibility, limited government or fiscal responsibility.
And Make no mistake – when it comes to government there is no greater responsibility than managing other people's money.
It's not our money – it's their money. Families across this state sweat out their paychecks. They work hard to earn a living, and it's our job to make sure we're being as efficient as possible with their trust.
But unfortunately, too many politicians could care less about fiscal issues or balancing budgets.
From their positions of power at state houses across this country to the halls of Congress in Washington, too many politicians think they know better than the citizens who voted them into office.
As a result, big government politicians are losing sight of why they were elected and who they are accountable to.
It's not right to tell a private business what they can or cannot do. It's not the New Hampshire way to force locally elected – and accountable – school districts or town councils to bend to your will.
That's not leadership, that's not conservative, and it is certainly not freedom.
That's taking the easy way out. Leadership is about knowing the limitations of your own power, getting government out of the way, and empowering individuals and families to make the best decisions for their families or businesses.
This is America. We are a free country, and we believe in the Constitution. And the Constitution gives every American the right to make stupid decisions. That's the beauty of a free country.
Just because I may not like something – or agree with what you said – doesn't mean you need to be fixed.
I sure as heck don't like what every business or mayor may do – but that's on them. They are accountable to their own voters too.
And last I checked, people don't need politicians or corporate board rooms telling them what's right or wrong.
New Hampshire will not be lectured, or beholden to out of touch politicians who are disconnected from the realities on the ground facing small businesses and families. We will not be lectured by out of state businesses forcing their politics on consumers, and 101
We will not be lectured by the power brokers in Washington.
This is New Hampshire, and when we do it our way, we do it better than anyone.
The New Hampshire model works – it's proven, and there's a reason other states are taking notes.
This job is so much bigger than ourselves or any one individual. It's time we take the ego and hypocrisy out of politics.
It's time to get out of the echo chambers, and out into the real world, to hear how our decisions are affecting people every day.
I know I'm up for this challenge, I know the legislature is up for this challenge, and I know the people of New Hampshire are going to hold us to it.
Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless the Great State of New Hampshire!