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Feb 28, 2017 9:22 AM

NH ranked second best state in the country; Sununu tells NH1 News ranking 'helps immensely'


CONCORD —Gov. Chris Sununu tells NH1 News that New Hampshire's number two ranking as the best state in the country "helps immensely" as he tries to court new businesses from out-of-state.

U.S. News & World Report Tuesday recognized New Hampshire as the No. 2 overall “Best State” in the country, according to their newly released “Best States” rankings.

Sununu told NH1 News that the ranking "gives a good picture to those businesses or individuals who might not be currently in New Hampshire or know enough about New Hampshire, about all we have to offer. This is a very well positioned state. I still think there’s a lot of untapped business and economic growth potential."

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In calculating the rankings, states were prioritized based on healthcare, education, infrastructure, crime and corrections, opportunity, economy and government.

U.S. News evaluated states across 68 metrics to create the Best States rankings. The rankings are based on tens of thousands of data points provided by McKinsey & Company’s Leading States Index. In calculating the rankings, categories were weighted based on a national “citizen experience” survey, conducted by McKinsey, that asked people to prioritize each subject in their state and provide their levels of satisfaction with government services, according to the U.S. News.

One category that stuck out in the report was government, where New Hampshire ranked 30th.

Asked about that ranking, the governor said "we have a very small government, we have a very nimble government. In terms of the robustness of some of our government programs we’re probably not there like some other states are. Frankly I don’t think we have the waste that other states have either."

But Sununu added that "we’re making some pretty big changes here, we’re looking at restructuring how we do things. We’re looking at being very nimble and fiscally conservative but at the same time really focusing on priorities of the state."

And he predicted that "I think when we do that there’s no doubt in my mind that ranking could get a lot better."

New Hampshire ranked third overall for education, and number one when it comes to kindergarten through 12th grade. But it ranked 39th for higher education, mainly because of high cost of tuition and fees.

"I think because we do have a higher cost of tuition for our public education system, we do have very high debt for our students who are graduating," Sununu admitted.

But he highlighted a plan he revealed in his budget address earlier this month, saying "I’ve put forth a plan for a $5 million scholarship program in the state, not to help 10 or 20 or 100 students, but over 8,000 students can really grab on to these funds and not just use them for our university system, but they can use it for community colleges, career schools, private schools. Whatever pathway they think will best provide them the tools to enter the workforce."

"We’re making those changes today and again I think we’ll see a lot of growth in those rankings as we move forward," the governor added.

Longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said the ranking reflects the accomplishments of former Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, Sununu's predecessor in the Corner Office who's now the state's freshman U.S. senator.

“Thanks to Senator Maggie Hassan’s steady leadership in the Governor’s office over the last four years, New Hampshire has been recognized as the number one state in the nation for economic opportunity and the number two-ranked state overall,” Buckley said in a statement.

"As Governor, Senator Hassan worked across party lines to balance two fiscally responsible budgets that protected critical economic priorities for our people and to pass and reauthorize our Medicaid expansion program that has strengthened the health and financial security of more than 50,000 hard-working Granite Staters. She also froze in-state tuition at our universities and reduced tuition at community colleges, and cut taxes for our small businesses that are the backbone of our economy," Buckley added.

Hassan took to Twitter to write "I’m proud that NH ranked #1 for economic opportunity in the nation & #2 best state overall in @usnews report."

For more information on the report, visit Best States and use #BestStates on Facebook and Twitter.

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