New Hampshire needs to work together to move forward, said newly inaugurated Gov. Maggie Hassan Wednesday as she pledged to do her part to accomplish that goal through bipartisanship, hard work and transparency.
"I know that, together, we can build a stronger, more innovative New Hampshire, a New Hampshire where all of our citizens are included in our shared success and prosperity," said Hassan in her inaugural address.
She called on lawmakers to work together to solve the state's problems and pledged to work with Republicans and Democrats to produce the best solutions.
"The people of New Hampshire have made it clear that they want to restore balance, that they want us to work together," Hassan said. "Let us promise ourselves today that we will meet our challenges by focusing on common-sense solutions born of collaboration. That we will together to end the era of hasty, reactive government."
Hassan said one the most pressing challenges is producing a balanced state budget without a sales or income tax, and she asked lawmakers to put aside any attempt to institute either one because she will veto those bills.
"While we are seeing signs of recovery and growth, we still face fiscal uncertainty," Hassan said. "We will need to be prudent as we develop our budget. And I am mindful that innovation is not confined to the private sector. We need to continue to find ways to innovate in state government, so that we can honor our tradition of fiscal responsibility while serving the people of New Hampshire effectively and efficiently."
But she warned state government cannot do everything at once.
"To those on the other side, I ask you to recognize that there are some things that government must do -- not only to help our most vulnerable citizens but also to provide the platform for economic growth," she said. "Needs do not go away simply because we don't fund them. And opportunities for innovation and growth can evaporate if we fail to make smart investments in a timely way."
Hassan said New Hampshire needs to make key investments to spur economic growth.
Echoing a campaign theme, she urged state businesses and government to embrace innovation and greater efficiency to expand the economy and put more New Hampshire residents to work.
Hassan stressed the need for the state to make a greater commitment to higher education and pledged to work to restore cuts in state aid made in the last state budget.
"Cutting state support for public education in half while lowering the tobacco tax two years ago was shortsighted. It hurt our young people and, if not quickly addressed, will impair our future economic prosperity," Hassan said. "We must begin to reverse course."
She praised the state's tradition of inclusion, including gay marriage, in which she said the state led the way without a court order.
"As has been true throughout our history, every time we bring more people in from the margins -- into the heart and soul of our democracy -- we get stronger," she said. "We believe in freedom and the value of every person. It is our duty and our destiny to extend the same freedoms we enjoy to all our people."
Joined by her husband and family, Hassan was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda S. Dalianis, the first woman to hold the court system's highest position.
Hassan, 54, served three terms in the state senate, including as senate majority leader. She lost her reelection bid in 2010 in the Republican landslide.The Exeter Democrat decided to seek her party's gubernatorial nomination after Gov. John Lynch announced in October 2011 he would not seek a fifth term.
Like Lynch, Hassan has stressed her bipartisan approach to governing, appointing several prominent Republicans to her transition team and policy committees.
Hassan is the state's 81st governor and the second woman elected to the state's highest office. Her husband Tom is principal of Philips Exeter Academy. They have two children, Ben and Meg.
(c)2013 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.)