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‘Needs Do Not Go Away Simply Because We Don’t Fund Them’

Governor Maggie Hassan hugs Tess Smith after walking in to the Executive Council chambers to meet with visitors and stand for photos. Open House at the State House on January 3, 2012. 

(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Governor Maggie Hassan hugs Tess Smith after walking in to the Executive Council chambers to meet with visitors and stand for photos. Open House at the State House on January 3, 2012. (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Following are excerpts of New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan’s inaugural address, delivered Jan. 3.

... Today, as I was sworn in as your governor, I pledged to follow the constitutions of New Hampshire and of the United States.

Now, I will make one more promise: I will work as hard as I can to honor your trust. And 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. ...

To our very core, we value freedom, independence, hard work, fiscal responsibility, family and community. We live these values in our personal lives and in our workplaces. And every citizen, regardless of circumstance, should have the opportunity to live them, too — to hold a good job, work hard, raise a family, and share in the high quality of life we enjoy in New Hampshire. When they do, they become empowered and our state grows stronger.

Our ability to accomplish this goal lies in our willingness to innovate — not only to develop innovative new products and services, but to innovate in other areas as well: in the operation of our traditional industries, in the way we educate our citizens, in the way we deliver government’s essential services, and in providing the tools that support growing businesses and create good middle-class jobs. ...

We are uniquely suited to seize the promise and opportunity that innovation presents. But adapting to the demands of an innovation economy presents immediate challenges, too.

Our population is aging, yet we pursue policies that are driving our young people out of the state. We have the fourth highest in-state tuition for public universities in the country and too many of our talented students pursue a college education elsewhere. When these New Hampshire natives complete school, they often choose not to return, depriving our economy of talented people with the energy and skills needed to drive innovation. We need to renew our tradition of attracting new citizens to our state, and we need to help our young people stay here, raise their own families here, and remain part of the future of New Hampshire.

Cutting state support for public education in half while lowering the tobacco tax two years ago was shortsighted. It hurt our young people and, if not quickly addressed, will impair our future economic prosperity. We must begin to reverse course. In exchange, the University System, working with us, needs to increase the number of New Hampshire students admitted to our state colleges and universities and freeze in-state tuition.

We must also recognize that not every student chooses the same path, and that our community college system has developed innovative, nimble and cutting edge programs to educate our citizens. We must continue to support their efforts to build the strong work force that our businesses need. ...

We must work with teachers, local schools, higher education and the business community to ensure a robust and rigorous education for all of our students, including in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

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.

Businesses are ready and willing to hire people with these skills. Our task is to make sure New Hampshire’s work force is ready to fill these jobs. ...

To encourage innovation, we should also encourage the creation of new technologies here in New Hampshire by doubling the research and development tax credit.

We want entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to come to New Hampshire, and we want those who start businesses here to stay here and grow here.

That means continuing to build strategic partnerships between our colleges and universities and our inventors and entrepreneurs. ...

To support these businesses, we must recognize that there are some tasks that can only be accomplished in partnership with government. Chief among those are ensuring access to education for all, protecting public safety, and building and maintaining the infrastructure that businesses and citizens need. We must recognize that businesses, from our established industries, such as manufacturing and tourism, to the industries of the future, cannot innovate and grow without the modern roads, bridges, broadband and reliable and clean power they require. ...

Let us promise ourselves today that we will meet our challenges by focusing on commonsense solutions born of collaboration. That we will together end the era of hasty, reactive government. ...

Among the most challenging tasks ahead is the need to foster innovative economic growth while continuing to balance the state budget.

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 I am mindful that innovation is not confined to the private sector. We need to continue to find ways to innovate in state government, so that we can honor our tradition of fiscal responsibility while serving the people of New Hampshire effectively and efficiently.

Granite Staters are frugal and the history of our state government reflects that.

To those of you who believe deeply in an income tax, I ask you to put that aside. I will veto an income or sales tax. 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.

To those on the other side, I ask you to recognize that there are some things that government must do — not only to help our most vulnerable citizens but also to provide the platform for economic growth. Needs do not go away simply because we don’t fund them. And opportunities for innovation and growth can evaporate if we fail to make smart investments in a timely way.

But if we work together we can fund our priorities and balance the budget. ...

... what I love most about New Hampshire is the all-hands-on-deck ethos of our people. Whenever there is a challenge, our people are ready to help and pitch in. We are a state that combines independence and community as nowhere else. But that ethos requires that we fully include all people of talent and energy in the life of our state.

Inclusiveness is part of our history. New Hampshire was at the forefront of the fight to save the union and end slavery. Over the decades we have welcomed waves of new citizens. ... We are a model for including both men and women in our political process, exemplified today when a woman Supreme Court chief justice swore in a woman governor.

We led the effort to end discrimination against people who experience disabilities and we helped bring them out of institutions and into the community. Our recommitment now to that endeavor will strengthen our families, communities, and economy.

And nearly four years ago, we led the way, without the force of a court order, toward marriage equality. ...

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.

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.