HomeState of NHGovernor Sununu delivers 2024 State of the State in Concord

Governor Sununu delivers 2024 State of the State in Concord

Please find below Governor Chris Sununu’s 2024 State of the State Address as prepared:

Good Afternoon — Thank you!

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Senate President, honorable members of the House and Senate, the Executive Council, Commissioners, and of course, members of the Supreme Court— and to our fellow citizens joining us today in the crowd or at home — WELCOME!

I was reminded earlier this week that this is my final State of the State Address. Although the filing period to run again isn’t until June, so you never know. Just kidding.

As they say ‘Eight is Enough’ — And in that spirit, I’ll be brief!

Now as always, I enjoy taking the opportunity of this address to be proud of the many accomplishments that our state, its citizens and communities have delivered. Today you will hear the many proud data points and rankings we’ve achieved.

But through all those accolades, let us not forget that while immense progress has been made in areas like mental health, education or the opioid pandemic, we mustn’t be blind to the many families and citizens of our great state still waiting for services, or struggling to make ends meet.

Let us not forget that one of our fellow state employees went to work in November, but never got to go home to his family because he gave his life protecting those around him at New Hampshire Hospital. Chief Bradley Haas was a true hero.

We will never forget him and we will never stop being grateful for his bravery.

Our pats on the back today won’t bring Bradley back.

They also won’t bring opportunities to families any faster, but my hope is that it will give them confidence that New Hampshire has the right approach and attention to individuals. We are always willing to go the extra mile to be innovative in providing opportunities for EVERYONE.

So let’s start with everyone’s favorite topic, politics…he said to a room of politicians…

Less than 1 month ago, the nation once again turned its eyes towards New Hampshire. Just as we have for the last 100 years, we hosted our First in the Nation Presidential Primary.

Our place at the front of the nominating calendar is never given — it is always fought for, earned, and won. We take on the responsibility of getting the process right — and this year was no exception.

Candidates can come here with little money and no name ID — and campaign the New Hampshire way by going door to door, town hall to town hall, living room to living room, taking every question, and being accountable to the VOTERS — not party bosses down in Washington.

I would also like to extend a debt of gratitude to the work of Secretary of State Dave Scanlan, his team, and countless town and city election officials across this state (many of whom volunteer their time), the primary went off without a hitch – And we all thank you!

2023 was a banner year for New Hampshire. We advanced freedom, increased opportunity, grew our economy, and put families first.

You may have heard some of these data points before, but in just the last year, New Hampshire was ranked as:

THE NUMBER ONE STATE FOR OVERALL FREEDOM!

THE NUMBER ONE STATE FOR ECONOMIC FREEDOM!

THE NUMBER ONE STATE FOR CHILD WELLBEING

AND WE WILL CONTINUE WORKING TO ENSURE WE MAINTAIN THE LOWEST POVERTY RATE IN THE NATION!

And now here are a few rankings that maybe went under the radar:

Did you know that our Corrections System was Ranked #1 for the first time ever. Great job Commissioner Hanks.

OR That NH was The 1st State in the Nation With a Nationally Approved Cybersecurity Plan. Way to be Denis Goulet.

OR That NH is ranked as the Best Return On Investment for Taxpayers (I call that the Most Efficient Government Award)

OR Here’s One, In two separate reports our Workforce is Ranked as both the Smartest And one of the Most Productive in the Nation.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t commend Bill Cass and his amazing team at Dept. of Transportation.

Not just for their plowing this winter, although they’ve admittedly gotten off kinda easy in that area so far, but for the first time ever a 2023 report has listed NH with the Best Roads in America. Great job Bill!

It doesn’t mean we don’t have any potholes, but I suppose ours are more pleasant than most.

I could go on and on with these accolades, but we’d be here all day and I can already see the legislature getting anxious…

But we cannot take these successes for granted.

Continued success is not inevitable; we must constantly challenge ourselves to put individuals before the system, strive to be even better stewards of your taxpayer dollars, and more accountable to the people of this state.

Being the best is earned, not given. That is what has guided us these last seven years, and that is what will take us into the future.

I still believe with all these great rankings, one of the greatest achievements we had in Concord was the passage of a bipartisan, balanced budget, in an evenly divided legislature on a voice vote. You all did an incredible job with that one and showed Washington that regardless of political divide, a fiscally conservative budget, without gimmicks or empty promises can always be achieved with hard work.

There is much to be proud of in that budget.

An eighth straight year in New Hampshire with No New Taxes

The full elimination of the Interest and Dividends Tax

Historic increases in Medicaid rates to help retain health care workforce.

An across the board 12% pay increase for our state employees.

We cut red tape and simplified our professional licensing process.

An additional $50M to housing development

And after decades of inaction, we reconstructed the education funding formula, ensuring efficiency, fairness and adding hundreds of million in funds for our students.

New Hampshire leads from the front — we never follow.

Every policy victory, economic win, and record-breaking statistic has been the direct result of hard work, fiscal discipline, and sound government stewardship. We should all be proud.

This is the New Hampshire success story.

Today, New Hampshire is more prosperous than ever before.

Our economy was ranked as the fastest growing in the country at 8.1%, the envy of the nation, and the Best place in America to live, work, and raise a family.

Businesses are moving here in droves, and after years of more people moving out of NH through 2015, we’ve had a surge of domestic migration INTO NH resulting in more people working than ever before, nearly 40,000 more people are working in New Hampshire today than when I took office, and our unemployment rate continues to be one of the lowest in the nation.

So if you are out there, and for whatever reason you are having trouble finding a job that’s right for you and your family, please contact our Dept. of Employment Security.

You know we have a great Commissioner over there. George Copadis. Now if you don’t know, George is a huge Cowboys fan – which means he lives in perpetual misery – BUT there’s nothing that get him more excited and lifts his spirits more than helping citizens find their next career choosing from the over ten thousand available jobs we have right now.

So it’s a win-win. Give Commissioner Copadis and his team a call and make that exciting next step.

So with these successes also comes challenges.

Businesses can’t be successful without the workforce, and there won’t be a workforce unless we have the housing.

Families and workers are the backbone of a strong, thriving state, and without housing our economic opportunity suffers.

Which is why with your support I launched our InvestNH Housing Fund — a first-of-its-kind fund to incentivize the construction of new housing units.

The goal – to get permits out and houses up. The initial results are in, and it has been an immediate success.

Since launching the program two short years ago, the total number of permits issued for residential construction has DOUBLED what we expected this past year. More permits issued in more than a decade. And we are now on track to bring thousands of new units online by 2024.

Already, housing developments have been completed in Concord, Conway, Manchester, Lebanon, and Littleton – most all of which are workforce housing. This is the win NH needed! Thank you.

I’d like to take a step back and discuss the landmark strides in these last few years surrounding the opportunities of our kids and education.

Remember the days when the balance of our Education Trust Fund was in the negative by about 52 million dollars.

And if the traditional four walls of the classroom didn’t work for a student, they were out of luck.

Not any more. Next year, the education surplus is expected to reach $232 MILLION DOLLARS and families are singing the praises of Concord for finally passing Education Freedom Accounts which are now ranked as the most effective and popular school choice program in America – and why passing HB1665 to expand this program is a great opportunity for NH families. Let’s get it done!

And today, today our public schools are ranked #2 in the country, we have incredible schools with amazing teachers and we now spend more dollars per child on public education than ever before, all factors that allow kids to maximize their potential.

We now also have:

Full Day Kindergarten – Learn Everywhere Program – NH Career Academies

A first-of-its-kind robotics fund, sparking innovation in the next generation of STEM leaders

I want to take a moment and tell a story from just last week.

This year NH became the first state to offer a robot in every classroom

The new First Robotics XRP robots are now shipping out.

And I have no doubt other states will follow.

But what’s amazing about this program is that we didn’t just allocate some money to buy robots and ship them.

In partnership with high schools and the Community College system, the students are actually manufacturing the parts of the robot, 3D printing each robot, learning the manufacturing and supply side process, packaging and shipping them to other NH students to learn how to program and use them.

Then we have programs where teachers can come in to participate in classes to learn how to instruct with this amazing technology.

It’s is vertical integration of learning at its finest all designed so even the most novice of users (they say even I could do it which is saying something) can learn and teach these critical tech skills across NH.

And this all aligns with our new incentive to give bonuses to teachers who chose to also become computer science teachers in our schools.

Big Thanks you to everyone involved in that innovative program. Yet again, a one of a kind in The United States.

One more aspect of Education I’d like to touch upon. Earlier this year I created a special task force to look at a New 21st century model of post-secondary education.

Asking the Community Colleges and the University System to really consider where the model for those opportunities is headed

It is changing drastically, and we need to stay ahead of it before it becomes a crisis.

The University of New Hampshire is losing a great president in James Dean and I want to thank him for his years of service to NH.

He was terrific.

And overall our system’s yield top notch students, but if we are not careful the world will pass us by and declining enrollments will become the norm.

We can’t let this happen. Stay vigilant and I think we are all looking forward to what recommendations that Task Force can bring us to keep New Hampshire competitive.

And while I’m on the subject, we don’t often recognize the great work of one of New Hampshire’s great institutions, Dartmouth College.

Let’s take a step back. We have all seen across the country the growing hateful and anti-Semitic rhetoric on some of America’s college campuses.

And frankly I personally think the actions of many of the Ivy League Schools in America as it pertains to this crisis has been terrible. I’ve even called for some of those presidents to resign.

But I want to applaud the efforts of President Sian Beilock at Dartmouth.

In just her first year she has really set Dartmouth apart and led as an example of ensuring free speech and respect on her campus. And guess what – she used this situation to bring students together in an educational forum to learn about this issue.

And those students have responded in kind. The rest of the Ivy League schools are looking at Dartmouth as the example to follow and I want to thank her and her team for representing NH so well.

When I got elected I said Mental Health was the unspoken crisis of our time. It was ignored and the system was fractured.

But with new funding, revamped programs, and an emphasis on prioritizing people over bureaucracy, we have turned the tide. We are finally giving families a sense that in their toughest times, there is a system that is focused on better solutions.

Thousands of NH families today are struggling with mental health issues in a variety of forms.

So why is there good cause for hope?

Just a few years ago we challenged ourselves with a bold 10-Year Mental Health plan.

And this legislature has been aggressive in taking on all those recommendations.

We kept that momentum going and last summer the Department of Health and Human Services launched “Mission Zero,” building on years of progress with the goal of eliminating Emergency Department Boarding once and for all.

And we are backing that mission up with historic investments:

NH has financed a public private partnership with Solutions Health for a new state-of-the-art mental health hospital.

We also purchased Hampstead Hospital for children with acute mental illness.

We reconstructed a wing of New Hampshire Hospital with new beds slated to open in just a few months.

We are building a brand new Forensic Hospital slated to open next year.

All huge capital investments with the goal of getting citizens out of Emergency Rooms and into the best care facilities possible.

Our community investments are working as well.

Last year over 5,000 children were served through our Rapid Response Crisis Services

Over 2,000 received assistance from our Mobile Response Teams.

We’ve increase mental health supported housing by 61%

We have New Crisis Stabilization Centers moving patients away from Emergency Rooms.

And when it comes to youth detention, NH now has the LOWEST rate in the country.

There’s a lot of work ahead of us but these transformational changes have opened doors like never before and given families choices when their kids need it most.

And remember, if you are a family or individual in crisis you can always call 2-1-1 to be connected to caring help.

And unfortunately, too often our mental health efforts become tied into the opioid and fentanyl crisis.

It continues to affect every community not only in New Hampshire, but across the entire country.

Now thanks to the very successful Doorway Program we implemented in 2019 New Hampshire citizens have access to wraparound services and options of care across the state.

And New Hampshire created the Recovery Friendly Workplace program (which has gone national), allowing nearly 100,000 citizens to work for a Recovery Friendly Workplace.

New Hampshire is now bucking the unfortunate national trend of skyrocketing overdose deaths. The rest of the country is up almost 60% in drug related deaths since 2018, NH’s numbers are down.

But that’s no solace to the approximately 400 families that will lose a loved one this year in this crisis. More always has to be done.

And we all know where it’s coming from. The fentanyl supply over America’s southern border is increasing daily over the past few years.

Records amount of fentanyl being smuggled into our system. Millions of illegal migrants not just involved with human trafficking and extortion, but with the deadly drug trafficking that is killing NH citizens.

Last year we had almost 200 NH National Guard soldiers successfully assist at the southern border in McAllen, Texas.

And we thank them for their service and duty to the country. Tomorrow I will go to the legislature to request funds for additional National Guard to join other states across the country at Eagle Pass, TX where some of the highest incidents of illegal crossings have occurred.

This is not a Texas problem. It is a National crisis and NH has the chance to provide specialized support, follow the laws of the land, and keep our citizens safe. Let’s do this!

And when we talk about our men and women in service to the country, let’s not forget the great work NH is doing to help our Veterans.

I want NH to be the #1 state for Veteran Services and I thank the legislature of their efforts creating our new, first-of-its-kind NH Military Veterans Campus in Franklin NH.

It is under construction and will begin accepting its first veterans in 2025 for homelessness, recovery and mental health services. Led by Maureen Beauregaurd and her team at Easter Seals, It really is going to be a gold standard of Veteran’s Care.

There is no doubt about it — times in New Hampshire are good.

Good management, fiscal prudence, and a limited government worldview guided our decision making.

Over these last seven years, New Hampshire has stood out as a beacon of success. A safe haven for freedom and opportunity.

We have all put in the hard work, and this was a true team effort.

We fought for lower taxes — it worked.

We fought for a more efficient government — it worked.

We fought for local control and decentralized government — it worked.

We fought for the rights of the individual — putting them before government — and it worked.

When we had one time funds come in, instead of growing government or instituting new programs, we used it for one-time projects.

Instead of governing with a one-size-fits-all approach out of Concord, we engaged stakeholders, local officials, and families, shifting decision making in government to constituents on the front lines.

If I have one message to leave for this legislature, it is this:

You cannot take this success for granted.

Fiscal Prudence Rules the day.

Personal debt is at an all time high. Inflation has skyrocketed costs to everyday Americans by 20% in just a few years. Many New Hampshire families are struggling because of high prices at the grocery store.

These challenges are often beyond our control, so now more than ever it is important that we continue to minimize the state’s burden on taxpayers and ensure the services we provide focus on serving the individual and not the system.

Responsible management of taxpayer dollars will be of the utmost importance.

If a recession hits, our job as leaders is to make sure we are the last state to enter a recession and the first ones out — but it requires restraint.

We are strategic in New Hampshire. We plan. We don’t believe the Government gets it done — we empower the private sector to be partners in our success.

Next year, there will be a new governor, a new legislature, and new challenges to address.

But we are so much better off when we all work together, and it is up to each of you that returns next year to bring the same level of energy, cooperativeness, and bipartisanship that has helped us achieve so much together.

New Hampshire has set the gold standard.

Now I’m not going anywhere anytime soon, so let’s keep getting it done!

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the great state of New Hampshire.

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