On the Trail: Sununu takes whirlwind trip around state, touts NH’s best-in-the-nation jobless rate

  • Gov. Chris Sununu took the ultimate New Hampshire road trip this week, which included a trip down Tuckerman's Ravine, fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee and paddle boarding on the Seacoast. Courtesy

  • Gov. Chris Sununu took the ultimate New Hampshire road trip this week, which included a trip down Tuckerman's Ravine, fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee and paddle boarding on the Seacoast.

  • Gov. Chris Sununu took the ultimate New Hampshire road trip this week, which included a trip down Tuckerman's Ravine, fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee and paddle boarding on the Seacoast. —Courtesy

For the Monitor
Published: 5/21/2021 5:17:00 PM

Gov. Chris Sununu got a gift from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.

New national unemployment numbers showed the Granite State’s April jobless rate of 2.8% ties New Hampshire with Nebraska, South Dakota, and Utah for the lowest level in the country.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, New Hampshire balanced public safety with keeping our economy open while providing over $500 million in relief funds to small businesses and self-employed individuals across the Granite State,” Sununu said in a statement released Friday morning.

Looking at neighboring states, Vermont was a tenth of a point behind at 2.9%, with Maine’s unemployment rate standing at 4.8% and Massachusetts at 6.5%.

Sununu was quick to tout the new figures.

“Thanks to our smart investments and public health decisions made based on the data, we kept New Hampshire families safe without sacrificing the health of our economy, and today’s jobs report shows that we’ve done it better than anyone,” Sununu said. “It’s going to be a booming summer in New Hampshire that only further builds upon our economic success.”

New Hampshire’s all-Democratic congressional delegation also had a hand in the state’s first place ranking.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party pointed to this week’s announcement that the U.S. Treasury sent $105.3 billion of aid to state and local governments from President Joe Biden’s $350 billion relief package.

“We are so grateful to our congressional delegation for the work they did to secure billions of dollars in direct funding for New Hampshire,” the party said in a Tweet.

“This funding has been critical to helping Granite Staters get through the pandemic and getting NH’s economy back on track,” the party said.

Sununu’s ultimate NH road trip

In a move to publicize that “things are back to normal” as the state continues to reopen following the coronavirus pandemic, the governor spent Thursday on what he called his “Super 603 Day.”

Sununu, in an effort to showcase how much the Granite State has to offer, camped Wednesday night at Jericho Mountain State Park in Berlin, and he kicked off Thursday with a sunrise ATV ride and a campfire breakfast. That was followed at nearby Mount Washington with a hike up Tuckerman’s Ravine and skiing down the famed bowl, which is a spring ritual for many New England adventurers.

The governor’s sunrise to sunset odyssey also included bike ride on the Cotton Valley Rail Trail in Wolfeboro, fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee, and paddle boarding and swimming along New Hampshire’s Seacoast. And he stopped at a New Hampshire Liquor and Wine outlet, to spotlight the state’s 69 tax-free outlets.

The governor highlighted that “this is the summer to decide what is your Super 603 day.”

At the end of his whirlwind day, in Hampton Beach, Sununu touted on social media that “it has been a wild ride.”

The governor certainly packed in activities while criss-crossing the state.

“I’m a little exhausted,” he said. “I’m not going to lie to you.”

Bradley’s ‘sweet spot’ compromise

State Senate majority leader Jeb Bradley has been trying to smooth over a dispute within the New Hampshire Republican Party over the executive powers the governor used during the pandemic, including dozens of executive orders that closed schools and businesses and required everyone in the state to wear a facemask.

“We’re trying to find the sweet spot of compromise,” Bradley told the Monitor.

It looks like the Wolfeboro Republican and Sununu ally may have succeeded.

Aiming to resolve a bitter dispute between the governor and GOP leadership in the state House of Representatives over gubernatorial powers in future emergencies, Bradley hammered out a deal that would give the state legislature an enhanced role in future crises, while safeguarding some executive powers.

While widely praised by Republicans – and even some Democrats – for his actions amid the coronavirus crisis, a small but very vocal contingent of House conservative lawmakers protested many of Sununu actions, spurring a slew of bills that aimed to check many of the governor’s emergency powers.

Bradley’s compromise softens HB 417, a House passed bill that would automatically end future state of emergency declarations without approval by the legislature to extend such orders.

Under current law, the governor can declare a three week state of emergency and unilaterally extend his declaration. A majority vote in both the state House and Senate is needed to suspend the order.

The new language would extend the state of emergency declaration to 30 days, with the ability of the governor to extend the order. But it gives the legislature the power to rule on any executive order issues by a governor during a state of emergency. It would also force a governor to seek permission from the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee for emergency expenditures of more than $100,000.

But in a concession to Sununu, the deal would allow the governor to unilaterally spend money if New Hampshire’s “health and safety” are endangered.

The legislative crisis isn’t averted yet – the compromise still needs to be approved by both chambers.

Bradley praised the governor’s pandemic response, but emphasized that “this is more about a future emergency.”

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