Feb 4, 2016 7:04 PM
CONCORD - In her final, yearly address, Gov. Maggie Hassan laid out an ambitious agenda facing an election year and the audition for a new job
"This week as our country’s focus turns toward New Hampshire and our First in the Nation primary, Americans will see that the state of our economy is strong and getting stronger," she said Thursday.
She said it’s time for Republican legislative leaders to open the state vault and spend more to tackle the heroin epidemic.
"And it also requires additional resources and dollars. While some may say that we can’t afford to take steps that require additional funding, I believe that we cannot afford not to," Hassan said.
The Senate’s top Republican says he heard a political kickoff.
"It being her last state of the state speech, I felt it was her first speech that she’s obviously left the State House and started campaigning in Washington," said Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem.
The Senate’s top Democrat says Hassan is 100 percent focused on the job at hand.
"She is tough; she’s focused; she is going to bring it to the Republicans and make sure they act that they aren’t going to turn her into a lame duck," said Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton.
Hassan pressed for her top 2016 priority, making permanent health coverage for 46,000 that have gotten it since the fall of 2014.
"It’s clear that the New Hampshire Health Protection Program is making a real difference for our people and boosting our economy and we must re-authorize it now," Hassan urged.
Meanwhile the GOP pushes back on Hassan’s kumbaya image.
"To say that things have been bipartisan in nature, the reality is this Senate has worked very hard to solve these problems. I don’t believe it’s been the executive branch. I think Kelly Ayotte will do just fine in that election," Morse boasted.
Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, says the Hassan agenda is limited enough.
"It’s manageable and that’s important as it will reduce the kind of backbiting and nonsense that comes with campaigns," D’Allesandro said.
Yet the most prominent Republican candidate to replace Hassan as governor didn’t like all he heard.
"There was too much talk of more government spending, more spending to help create jobs. Government spending does not create jobs," said Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, R-Newfields.
"As you hear every line in that state of the state speech, you think of two very powerful women, Kelly Ayotte and Maggie Hassan, facing off this November,’’ said Chief Political Correspondent Kevin Landrigan.
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