BY: Citizens Count
On Thursday, January 3 Gov. Chris Sununu delivered his second inauguration address.
Sununu opened with an emphasis on bipartisan cooperation. Gov. Sununu will have to work across the aisle to see his policy proposals succeed in a Democrat-controlled House and Senate.
"I have often said that we don't let the dysfunction of Washington define our success here — and it's true — politics does not dictate policy. We treat each other with respect and civility, not with the circus-like theatrics and zero-sum games that have taken over Washington."
Keeping programs in place
Sununu was quick to highlight the business tax cuts and Medicaid work requirement passed by Republicans last year. This year legislators are proposing bills to roll back both. He urged Democratic legislators to keep those policies in place.
“I implore this legislature to learn from the mistakes of the past. The last thing we should be doing is raising taxes or pushing a budget that does not live within our means.”
Sununu dedicated a large portion of his address to workforce training initiatives.
He is proposing a one-time $24 million investment in nursing and health care training and education.
He also announced New Hampshire Career Academies, a program that links high schools, community colleges, and employers to provide students the opportunity of an additional fifth year of high school that culminates in an Associates Degree and job interview, at no cost to the student. That program is launching in Rochester.
Sununu touched on several social service programs, such as the Recovery Friendly Workplaces initiative, to reforms in the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). He discussed new teacher and student training programs to help prevent suicide.
He also made a bold statement about mental health reform in the state:
“And this year, we will accomplish something frankly it has taken far too long to achieve - We WILL move the State Psychiatric Unit out of the State Prison and treat our patients with the dignity they deserve.”
Sununu closed his address with a plea for legislators to focus on lowering energy costs for low income ratepayers.
In particular, he discussed making renewable energy projects for low income families a priority for state investment.
The Legislature has already started hearings for roughly 900 bills this year.
The governor’s next big opportunity to influence the bill process comes in February, when he delivers his budget proposal to the Legislature.
What do you think the state should prioritize in the next two years? Let us know in the comments.