Editorial: Hassan will move our state forward
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Democrat Maggie Hassan and Republican Ovide Lamontagne, the candidates vying to replace Gov. John Lynch, are both affable, experienced in government and smart. But for New Hampshire voters who want to see the state return to prosperity, Hassan is by far the better choice.
New Hampshire is at a crossroads. As the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies put it in a recent report, “The forces that helped create New Hampshire’s advantage have largely run their course.” Two decades of population growth have ended. New Hampshire’s young people are leaving, the state’s population is aging faster than the national average and our economy is no longer among the nation’s fastest growing.
Hassan understands what must be done to attract and retain high-paying employers and entrepreneurs. Chief among them is creating the high-quality, affordable education system it takes to develop a highly-skilled workforce.
Hassan has a strong record of support for public education; Lamontagne just the opposite. Hassan would seek repeal of the bill that sends tax money to religious schools. Lamontagne favors changing the Constitution to make it even easier. Hassan was a leader in the fight to end New Hampshire’s status as the only state in the nation that didn’t provide every child kindergarten. Lamontagne favors returning to the way it was.
Hassan, as a three-term senator, one as majority leader, has a proven ability to reach compromise. Like Lamontagne, she has pledged to veto both a sales and income tax, but her opposition to taxes is pragmatic, not reflexive. She has voted to make painful cuts in the depths of recession but remains open to other options to raise revenue if necessary. One of those is expanding gambling to permit a single casino. But while Lamontagne essentially favors handing the license to the owners of Rockingham Park in Salem, Hassan would insist on that the winner be selected by competitive bid.
Hassan would make the state more attractive to employers and the young migrants who fuel a creative economy. She supports, for example, the Affordable Care Act and the acceptance of federal money to extend Medicaid services to tens of thousands of low-income residents. That’s the right thing to do morally and economically, but it’s also a pro-business decision. Reject the Medicaid expansion, as Lamontagne does, and employers will continue to see their insurance premiums rise to cover the cost of the uninsured. Lamontagne’s position would also leave more than $1 billion federal money on the table, money Hassan would accept to help fuel the state’s economy while making its poorest residents healthier.
On issue after issue, Hassan takes the right position and Lamontagne the wrong. She would seek to repeal the misbegotten Voter ID law passed largely to discourage college students, the elderly and the poor from voting. Lamontagne supports it.
She, like Lynch, would veto a right-to-work bill because it would interfere with free negotiations between employer and employee and lower wage for everyone, unionized or not. Lamontagne supports the change.
Hassan was a leader in the fight to end the discrimination inherent in a ban on gay marriage, a change that marked New Hampshire as a tolerant, forward-thinking state. She is also a staunch proponent of equal right for women. Those rights include control of their reproductive destiny. Lamontagne would sign a bill reinstating the discrimination against gays and he would sign bills further restricting access to abortion. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, he would sign a bill making abortion illegal in New Hampshire under almost all circumstances.
New Hampshire can’t move forward under a leader who believes in moving backward. The last two years proved how important it is to have a consensus builder with moderate views at the helm when tough times sweep people with extreme views into office. Maggie Hassan is such a leader. She deserves your vote.