Sununu’s Happy Talk—Don’t Believe It
By Susan Mayer
Foster’s Daily Democrat & Portsmouth Herald, Oct. 23, 2022
Every time I see Gov. Sununu’s “happy talk” campaign ad, I get annoyed at its misleading distortions, omissions, and exaggerations. So here’s a fact check.
Sununu starts with the old GOP standards: bashing the federal government and touting tax cuts. Sununu cut business taxes twice—resulting in a loss of revenue to the state of $17.5 million over the next few years, and $8.5 million a year after 2025. The conservative NH Fiscal Policy Institute criticized the cuts for providing disproportionate aid to wealthy corporations already profiting from the pandemic, and not to small businesses. Democrats warned that the stream of federal pandemic relief funding would eventually dry up leaving the state short of revenue.
Sununu claims credit for New Hampshire as “the fastest growing economy” by cherry-picking a Forbes ranking of #1 over the last two-year period, but Forbes also places NH 7th for the last year, showing we lost ground. The State Economic Monitor of Urban Institute-Brookings, however, using the most recent Bureau of Economic Analysis data, shows a precipitous GDP contraction since Sununu took office (2017-22), with NH the only state in New England with a year-over-year Q2 2022 percent decline in GDP.
Sununu says he “stands by police,” but action—funding—comes from congressional Democrats. The Democrats’ American Rescue Plan (enacted without a single Republican vote) funded increased foot patrols for high-crime areas, overtime for investigations into violent crime, crime prevention infrastructure (like better lighting), and more. To support small police departments across the US, Senator Maggie Hassan cosponsored the Invest to Protect Act, which would provide $250 million over five years. When the House and Senate finish merging their bills, it will become law.
Sununu brags about enacting paid family leave—but neglects to point out that this is a voluntary program, which depends on private employers deciding to opt in. Will they? Who knows?
Sununu boasts about “his” investments in housing and children’s education, but conveniently forgets to acknowledge that the $100 million housing investment is federal money, coming from the $7 billion New Hampshire has received from the federal government. Then there’s the $10 million in federal money designated for school safety improvements, and the $470,000 in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan for New Hampshire Head Start education programs. Yes, these are the feds that always “mess things up.” Sununu bites the hand that feeds him as he bitterly attacks our federal government.
Is New Hampshire top 5 for public education? If true, not for long at the rate Sununu and the Republican majority are going. More important than rankings is the determination of Sununu’s chosen Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut to dismantle public education by defunding it. Edelblut and extremist Republican legislators instituted a school voucher program that shunts funding by the millions from public schools to private and religious schools. It is 5000%+ underfunded, with the budgeted $129,000 ballooning to $14.7 million and counting, to be paid from our property taxes. Sununu was happy to sign this attack on New Hampshire public education into law.
Most fiscally responsible governor? This attribution comes from a two-year-old report from the libertarian Cato Institute, which irresponsibly lobbies for too low taxes. As is clear from the discussion of taxes, public safety, education, and housing, Sununu relies on federal funding—those feds that “always find a way to mess things up”—to make ends meet and to provide the investments that he touts.
As for being #1 in personal freedom, the co-author of the study on freedom apparently referenced by Sununu is none other than Jason Sorens, head of the Free State movement that has been invading New Hampshire for 20 years—those radical anarchists who’d like to secede from the US, who colluded to get rid of Croydon’s public school, and who almost destroyed Gunstock ski area. Sununu is happy to cite Free Stater extremists. Not mentioned are the radical constraints on freedom Sununu imposed on every New Hampshire woman via his abortion ban, which removes women’s bodily autonomy and makes them second-class citizens. Sununu was also happy to sign that ban into law, and even bragged about it, while insulting women’s intelligence by continuing to insist that he is “pro-choice.”
Gov. Sununu’s happy talk can’t be trusted. It’s dishonest and disrespectful. I’m tired of a governor, however affable he appears, who cozies up to extremists, signs extremist legislation into law and lies about it, and feigns moderation. It’s long past time to vote out this extremist leader in moderate disguise on November 8th.