Sununu touts state’s freedoms, economic prowess

By Christian Wade

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu stressed the state’s personal freedoms and robust economy in his annual speech to lawmakers on Thursday, which was cut short by a medical emergency in the crowd.

In his state of the state address, which was delivered before the Legislature at the DoubleTree in Manchester, Sununu acknowledged the challenges the Granite State has faced from the pandemic over the past two years, but said the state has emerged in a stronger position.

Public domain

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu

“We came together, cut red tape, flexed our health care system, and put the tools in place to manage through it,” he said. “Here in New Hampshire, we simply let local solutions from the ground up – not top down – drive our strategy.”

Sununu touted reports from libertarian groups showing the state tops the nation in personal and economic freedoms and highlighted the state’s record population growth.

“Families looking for low taxes, good schools, a sense of community, and beautiful lakes, mountains, and forests are moving here in droves – and at a faster clip than anywhere else in the Northeast,” he said.

The governor highlighted his successful efforts to cut taxes, reduce government spending, expand school choice and other key priorities and for keeping the state largely open for business through the pandemic.

“New Hampshire has consistently ranked among the safest states in the country for COVID – now having one of the lowest hospitalization rates in America – and we did it without sacrificing the freedoms we hold dear,” he boasted.

Sununu teased upcoming investments in housing, mental health care and veterans’ support that he said would build on his administration’s record of success.

He also proposed a $100 million fund to provide matching grants for multifamily housing projects to help ease a shortage of affordable housing in the state.

“One of our biggest challenges is the availability of housing for our working families,” Sununu said. “Our state’s shortage of available housing was further squeezed by the pandemic as people poured in.”

But more than an hour into the speech there was a medical emergency in the crowd that prompted Sununu to cut his remarks short. The individual who collapsed was later identified as state Rep. Ralph Boehm, R-Litchfield, who was transferred by ambulance to a local hospital. His condition was not known.

Sununu’s office later said that the governor had agreed with House leadership not to continue his speech, given the circumstances.

Sununu, whose popularity overall remains high among voters, is serving his third term as governor. He recently announced plans to seek a fourth term in the November elections.

Democrats criticized Sununu’s “rosy” picture of the state’s freedoms and economic recovery in their response to his address. In a statement, Democrats said the Sununu administration’s policies have eroded women’s reproduction freedoms, restricted what schools can teach about race and made it more expensive for the state’s most vulnerable residents.

“New Hampshire workers are not more free, as they continue to work for an unlivable minimum wage, which is among the lowest in the country,” Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, wrote in the Democratic response. “They’re also grappling with an affordable housing crisis in a lack of access to childcare.”

Democratic Leader Renny Cushing said in a statement that Sununu’s “extremist attacks on free speech, personal freedoms and public education are devastating our state.”

Images courtesy of Gov. Chris Sununu Facebook and Public domain