New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu dedicated most of his 28-minute-long inaugural address Thursday night to the coronavirus pandemic — especially to the Granite Staters that have been lost and the sacrifices that have been necessary. “This COVID crisis is a very messy situation, and it shook our communities to the core — but sometimes, a mess is an opportunity in disguise, a chance to re-imagine what can be,” he said.
In his address from Concord, the governor was somewhat light on policy specifics, but he did mention two high-priority areas for the next two years by name. “Paid family leave,” Sununu said. “It can, and must, be done — without an income tax.”
Gov. Sununu and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced plans two years ago for the Twin State Voluntary Leave Plan. Anyone wanting the ability to take six weeks of leave after childbirth, while being paid 60% of their normal wage, would have been able to opt in. However, the twin state partnership never materialized, and both governors have vetoed paid family leave bills since then that a mandatory payroll tax would have paid for.
The other specific item Sununu mentioned as being on his agenda is also on Scott’s drawing board. “More balance in our education funding — it has to be addressed,” Gov. Sununu said. “But all the greatest policies in the world will simply stall out and be left as nothing more than words on a forgotten page if we cannot resolve how to move forward with, and frankly be inspired to accept, that we each have a role to play that is bigger than ourselves.”
While Scott directly addressed President Trump and Wednesday’s chaos on Capitol Hill Thursday night, Sununu did not — though he did bring up the concept of chaos. “Some hide behind that Live Free Or Die motto to justify actions and promote an agenda of discord,” Sununu said. “Frankly, they use it to defend their unwillingness to make sacrifices for the good of our communities. That is not what general john stark envisioned when he spoke those perpetual words.”
The governor also mentioned, in a more general way, some other policy areas he wants to tackle — including expanded workforce housing, student debt assistance, and lowering health insurance and prescription drug costs.