New Hampshire State of the State Address
One of the youngest governors in the nation, Governor Chris Sununu, recently delivered his second State of the State address. He focused on New Hampshire’s unique strengths and commented, “those of us who are born in New Hampshire are lucky, and those of you who moved here are smart,” declaring that, “despite Washington’s dysfunction, here in New Hampshire we’re finally focused on the individual, not just the system.”
Sununu focused on several priorities including school choice and how to address the state’s mental health and opioid crisis. Sununu does not believe in a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education and suggested Education Savings Accounts to make the state’s system more competitive. According to the latest edition of ALEC’s Report Card on American Education, New Hampshire is ranked 40th out of 50 despite recent large per-pupil spending increases.
Turning to the state’s regulatory climate, the governor discussed his three-phase approach to deregulation. Last year alone, by executive order, over 1600 regulations were removed from New Hampshire’s books. Several weeks ago, the Regulatory Reform Steering Committee, created by Sununu last year, released further suggestions for comprehensive reform. This is commendable, as compliance costs burden both citizens and businesses alike. One academic study from the Mercatus Center found that, “economic growth in the United States has, on average, been slowed by 0.8 percent per year since 1980” due to the cumulative costs of government regulations. Considering this, Governor Sununu is undoubtedly on the right track to tackle this important issue.
With the highest property tax burden in the nation, an uncompetitive top marginal corporate income tax rate of 8.2 percent, and forced-union dues, further reforms are needed. For instance, enactment of right-to-work legislation would improve New Hampshire’s Rich States, Poor States economic outlook from 18th to 13th.
Overall, the Live Free or Die State continues to serve as a beacon of hope in the overtaxed and overregulated Northeast. The relatively low-tax environment plays a large role in the state’s economic competitiveness–zero tax is levied on wage income, sales, and inheritances. It’s no surprise that New Hampshire’s economic outlook is the highest in the region by far. Despite several ongoing challenges, Governor Sununu’s tax and fiscal policy takeaway message remains spot on: “Make no mistake–reducing taxes and returning money to citizens promotes economic growth.”