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Hassan sworn in as New Hampshire’s governor, pledges openness and bipartisanship

  • Governor Maggie Hassan looks to her husband, Tom Hassan, before entering Representatives Hall where she was sworn as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Governor Maggie Hassan looks to her husband, Tom Hassan, before entering Representatives Hall where she was sworn as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Parker Bolton, 4, of Pittsfield, is battling a congenital heart defect, which has led to the passage of Parker's Law requiring New Hampshire hospitals to screen newborns for Critical Congenital Heart Disease. Recently, doctors have said Parker needs a heart transplant, giving him a life expectancy of about 10 more years.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Parker Bolton, 4, of Pittsfield, is battling a congenital heart defect, which has led to the passage of Parker's Law requiring New Hampshire hospitals to screen newborns for Critical Congenital Heart Disease. Recently, doctors have said Parker needs a heart transplant, giving him a life expectancy of about 10 more years.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Raymond Faulkner takes his hat off to address Governor Maggie Hassan after she was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire at the State House on Thursday, January 3, 2012. Faulkner, along with Bill Payson, Steve Woodman, and Howard Leonard, is a colonial color guard who participated in the inaugural ceremony at Representatives Hall.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Raymond Faulkner takes his hat off to address Governor Maggie Hassan after she was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire at the State House on Thursday, January 3, 2012. Faulkner, along with Bill Payson, Steve Woodman, and Howard Leonard, is a colonial color guard who participated in the inaugural ceremony at Representatives Hall.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • With her family standing next to her, Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    With her family standing next to her, Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • With her family standing next to her, Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    With her family standing next to her, Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Governor Maggie Hassan looks to Speaker of the House Terie Norelli after being sworn in as the 81st Governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Governor Maggie Hassan looks to Speaker of the House Terie Norelli after being sworn in as the 81st Governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Governor Maggie Hassan looks to her husband, Tom Hassan, before entering Representatives Hall where she was sworn as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • Parker Bolton, 4, of Pittsfield, is battling a congenital heart defect, which has led to the passage of Parker's Law requiring New Hampshire hospitals to screen newborns for Critical Congenital Heart Disease. Recently, doctors have said Parker needs a heart transplant, giving him a life expectancy of about 10 more years.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • Raymond Faulkner takes his hat off to address Governor Maggie Hassan after she was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire at the State House on Thursday, January 3, 2012. Faulkner, along with Bill Payson, Steve Woodman, and Howard Leonard, is a colonial color guard who participated in the inaugural ceremony at Representatives Hall.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • With her family standing next to her, Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • With her family standing next to her, Governor Maggie Hassan was sworn in as the 81st governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • Governor Maggie Hassan looks to Speaker of the House Terie Norelli after being sworn in as the 81st Governor of New Hampshire on Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the State House.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

Maggie Hassan took office yesterday as New Hampshire’s 81st governor, promising a bipartisan style of leadership in the mold of her predecessor, John Lynch.

“Today, as I was sworn in as your governor, I pledged to follow the constitutions of New Hampshire and the United States,” she said in her inaugural address at the State House. “Now, I will make one more promise: I will work as hard as I can to honor your trust. I will strive to do so in the tradition that has guided us throughout our history: the tradition of openness, bipartisanship and collective problem solving.”

Linda Dalianis, chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, swore in Hassan, an Exeter Democrat, at a noon ceremony.

Representatives Hall was packed with lawmakers, well-wishers and current and former state officials – including Lynch, a Hopkinton Democrat who served a record four two-year terms. The crowd gave the outgoing governor two standing ovations, once when he entered the chamber and a second when his successor thanked him for his service.

The spotlight is now on Hassan, 54, a three-term state senator who lost her seat in the Republican wave of 2010 only to win the governor’s office two years later.

“I sought this office so that we could shape our own way forward, harnessing the promise of our great citizen democracy to preserve and strengthen our state’s special qualities,” Hassan said. “I know that together, we can build a stronger, more innovative New Hampshire, a New Hampshire where all of our citizens are included in our shared success and prosperity.”

Bipartisan olive branch

Hassan’s roughly 34-minute inaugural address hewed to the themes and tone of her campaign for governor. For example, as a candidate she promised an “Innovate NH” plan for the state economy; yesterday, she used some version of the word “innovate” 18 times.

She took a couple of swipes at Republicans, calling the decision two years ago by a GOP-controlled Legislature to cut the tobacco tax while reducing funding for state colleges and universities “short-sighted” and offering a broad defense of the role of government.

“Needs do not go away simply because we don’t fund them,” she said. “And opportunities for innovation and growth can evaporate if we fail to make smart investments in a timely way.”

Hassan also issued a warning to those who support a broad-based tax or desire a quick reversal of the last two years’ legislation, groups that include many Democrats.

“To those of you who believe deeply in an income tax, I ask you to put that aside. I will veto an income or a sales tax,” she said. “And as we build our next budget, though we have much to address, we must acknowledge that we will not be able to do everything all at once.”

But Hassan’s emphasis was on the potential for cooperation – with the Democrats who now control the House and, especially, with the Republicans who have a slim majority in the Senate.

“The people of New Hampshire have made it clear that they want to restore balance, that they want us to work together. Let us promise ourselves today that we will meet our challenges by focusing on common-sense solutions born of collaboration, that we will together end the era of hasty, reactive government,” Hassan said to a standing ovation from the crowd.

Republican leaders welcomed Hassan’s olive branch. Senate President Peter Bragdon, a Milford Republican, said the Senate “takes pride in one of our former members being sworn in as governor,” and praised her tone.

“After listening to Gov. Hassan’s speech, I am convinced the emphasis of this legislative session will be on finding solutions instead of fighting,” Bragdon said in a statement.

And Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said nothing in Hassan’s speech should surprise or worry Democrats.

“The governor’s inaugural address stayed on the basic themes of her candidacy from the date she announced over a year ago,” Buckley said.

Policy priorities

Hassan offered few details and no new policy announcements in her speech. Specifics on state programs and spending will come next month, when she presents a budget to the Legislature.

She did signal some of her priorities yesterday. Much of her address focused on education, including the need for stronger programs in science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called “STEM” fields.

“New Hampshire’s public colleges and universities have set an ambitious goal of doubling the number of STEM students that graduate by 2025. We should embrace that goal and make achieving it a state priority,” Hassan said. “Businesses are ready and willing to hire people with these skills. Our task is to make sure New Hampshire’s workforce is ready to fill these jobs.”

Hassan also discussed the economy, and repeated the proposal she offered as a candidate to double the state’s research-and-development tax credit.

She was cautious on the subject of the state budget, saying that “while we are seeing signs of recovery and growth, we still face fiscal uncertainty. We will need to be prudent as we develop our budget.”

And Hassan devoted a section of her speech to praising the state’s 2009 law that legalized same-sex marriage, a bill she helped pass as a senator.

“As has been true throughout our history, every time we bring more people in from the margins, into the heart and soul of our democracy, we get stronger,” Hassan said. “We believe in freedom and the value of every person. It is our duty and our destiny to extend the same freedoms we enjoy to all our people.”

Pomp and circumstance

Hassan had a full day of inaugural festivities yesterday, starting with a breakfast for state employees at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.

The inaugural ceremony itself lasted more than an hour. After Hassan took the oath of office, she swore in the five members of the Executive Council. They included two Republican incumbents, Ray Burton of Bath and Chris Sununu of Newfields, and three newly elected Democrats: Colin Van Ostern of Concord, Chris Pappas of Manchester and Debora Pignatelli of Nashua.

Two color guards – one in Revolutionary War-era regalia and one from the New Hampshire National Guard – presented flags, and prayers were offered by a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi and an Episcopal pastor. There was poetry and music, including a performance by the Cecilia Ensemble, a high-school girls’ choir from Peterborough.

Featured guests at the ceremony included Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, former Democratic congressman Paul Hodes, Concord Mayor Jim Bouley, state and federal judges and three former GOP governors: John H. Sununu, Steve Merrill and Craig Benson. Hassan’s husband Tom, the principal of Phillips Exeter Academy, joined her, as did her son, Ben, her daughter, Meg and other family members.

After the ceremony, Hassan and the new members of the Executive Council greeted guests in a formal receiving line. In the afternoon, she held an open house for members of the public.

Today, the work begins. Her office said Hassan will meet with National Guard leaders in Concord this morning, and visit Freudenberg-NOK’s manufacturing plant in Manchester this afternoon to promote her proposed doubling of the research-and-development tax credit.

The party isn’t quite over, though. The first of two inaugural balls will be held tonight at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester. A “North Country Ball” is scheduled Jan. 12 in Bretton Woods.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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