Gov. Chris Sununu: We’ve accomplished a lot, but there’s more to do

For the Monitor
Published: 11/4/2018 12:20:05 AM

These past two years serving as New Hampshire’s governor have been the privilege of a lifetime. We put politics aside and simply got the job done. We left no stone unturned and fought for what we believed in. While change won’t come overnight, we can look back on these last two years and confidently say that every issue – from keeping health care for low-income Granite Staters to enhancing child protections – has improved.

When something is headed in the wrong direction, you don’t push harder in the same direction. You must have the courage to change direction.

When I took office, the Division for Children, Youth and Families was in crisis, and we took immediate action. We brought in a new leadership team, created new programs, added caseworkers and restored prevention programs. The state’s mental health system had been neglected for years, so I brought everyone to the table to find a path forward.

When I took over, critics said Republicans would never reauthorize Medicaid expansion. But we did, and we did it the New Hampshire way. We kept health care for 50,000 low-income Granite Staters and saved federal taxpayers over $250 million along the way. We created public-private partnerships to secure the largest ever financial investment to fight the opioid crisis – $50 million over five years – without costing taxpayers a cent. The courage to innovate, challenge the old way of doing things, and push for policies that will help individuals is why we were sent to Concord. And that’s what I am committed to doing.

Looking forward to next year, we will pass paid family medical leave – without an income tax. Paid family leave is not a vacation – of course it isn’t – but as state leaders, we could not in good faith support a program that the New Hampshire Insurance and Employment Security departments could not certify as financially solvent. Simply put, the plan my opponent supports runs the risk of bankruptcy.

I never stopped believing we could create a viable paid family medical leave plan the New Hampshire way, that would not administratively trap employees or impose an income tax.

We have worked tirelessly over the past few months to put forward a viable, sustainable paid family medical leave plan that engages the private sector without forcing individuals into the program.

Here are the facts: My opponent’s plan would have cost the state $14 million in startup costs and required 43 new state employees to administer; my plan has $0 in startup costs to the taxpayers.

My plan would include state employees and would be available to private-sector businesses that employ under 50 people; my opponent’s plan does not include state employees and would not be available to a majority of New Hampshire’s small businesses.

My plan would be truly voluntary and would require individuals to opt-in; my opponent’s plan required individuals to receive a notarized letter in order to opt-out, with the risk of remaining in the program forever. We took our time, drilled down the details and focused on the fundamentals.

My plan is innovative, will not go bankrupt and is right for New Hampshire.

By any metric, New Hampshire is better off today than it was two years ago. More people are working than ever before, and a family’s ZIP code no longer limits their child’s chance to succeed.

We delivered full-day kindergarten, returned $65 million to cities and towns for roads, bridges and safer schools, and are taking a whole new approach to fighting addiction.

For the first time in years, the overdose rate is down. Just this week, we cut the ribbon on New Hampshire’s only youth drug treatment center – a proposal that arose from my inaugural budget. By working together, we have put individuals first.

Engaging in negative, hyper-partisan, platitudinal rhetoric is the Washington way. We don’t do that here in New Hampshire – we talk specifics and deliver results. At the end of the day, my responsibility is to the 1.35 million people of this state, and that’s who I will always stand up for. You have my word that I will keep fighting for the people of this state — from the elderly on fixed incomes to the small businesses that power our economy to our state’s most vulnerable children – because it is simply the right thing to do.

I hope to earn your vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6, because there is so much more to accomplish.

(Chris Sununu is serving his first term as governor of New Hampshire.)

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