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Capital Beat: Sununu takes full salary, raise as governor

  • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu raises his hand as he is sworn in at the State House in Concord, N.H., Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. Sununu, the first Republican to hold the corner office in a dozen years, follows in the footsteps of his father, former N.H. Governor John H. Sununu. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Gov. Chris Sununu walks with his family in tow to the inauguration carrying his Bible on the way to the House chambers in the State House on Jan. 5. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Monday, January 16, 2017

Twenty-thousand dollars is a big pay raise. That’s how much Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is making over his predecessor, after he broke with the past practice of accepting reduced pay. 

Sununu is set to make $132,592.30 this year, the maximum allowed pay for a governor under state law.

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan took home a $110,400 paycheck each of her four years in office. She refused pay raises negotiated by the state employee union. 

Not Sununu. The day after he was inaugurated, a two percent salary hike kicked in for state workers and it bumped his pay up about $2,600. 

Sununu’s office declined multiple requests for comment. But back in July, Sununu was the only candidate for governor who told the Monitor he would take full pay. Four others said they would take smaller salaries than allowed by state law, and two more candidates didn’t respond.

It’s not clear whether, when Sununu became governor, he got a raise or took a pay cut. He had previously been CEO at Waterville Valley Ski Resort, but resigned shortly before taking office. The company’s salary information isn’t public.

The governor’s salary has fluctuated over the last decade depending on who took the office.  Generally, governors during that time cut their own compensation when the state faced tough budget times. 

Republican Craig Benson, whose wealth was estimated at $600 million in 2001 by Forbes, didn’t accept any salary during his two-year term. Instead he handed out his pay as bonus money for state workers. 

Democrat John Lynch reduced his pay by $4,000, to $113,834, in 2009 as the state maneuvered post-recession years, he has said. 

Hassan opted not to take the $130,000 salary allowed, and kept it flat at $110,420 all four years “in light of the staffing challenges faced by some state agencies,” her spokesman said last year.  

The state’s governor makes considerably more money than New Hampshire’s senators and representatives, who get a $100 check annually. 

Republican Chuck Morse gets $125 a year as Senate President. But he made 10 times that amount in just two days when he served as a the state’s acting governor earlier this month. His paycheck? $1,250. Not too shabby. 

State strikes back

Sen. Jeff Woodburn’s idea to ban the sale of Russian vodka in state-run liquor stores would likely hurt New Hampshire more than the country he seeks to penalize.

Last year the Liquor commission sold $6.4 million in Russian products, making nearly $2 million in profits for the state. 

Woodburn, a Democrat, suggested the ban in response to allegations Russia meddled in the recent presidential election. Since it was released Monday, the bill has drawn headlines and criticism from newspaper editorial boards calling it “ineffectual.”

The legislation would create a study committee to look at the sales ban or the possibility of divesting the state’s requirement system of its Russian-based investment assets.

The New Hampshire Retirement System owns a $600,600 worth of the major Russian mining company Norilsk Nickel, according to spokesman Marty Karlon. The stake is a tiny sliver of the entire $7.46 billion NHRS portfolio.

Looking ahead

The Van McLeod building may soon be a landmark in Concord. A bill to rename the state property at 19 Pillsbury St. after the late Cultural Resources Commissioner has its first hearing Tuesday at 11:15 a.m. McLeod led the department for 24 years until his death last summer. The building is home to the historical resources division and the Council on the Arts – a perfect fit. 

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or amorris@cmonitor.com.)