MANCHESTER, N.H. – New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu joined Will Ruger and Jason Sorens of the American Institute for Economic Research and the Cato Institute at Stark Brewery on Thursday to celebrate New Hampshire’s #1 rating in the latest “Freedom in the 50 States” study.
Published by the Cato Institute, the report takes 230 variables to measure freedom in fiscal policy, regulatory policy, a combination of fiscal and regulatory policy described as “economic freedom,” and personal freedom as well as a combined overall score.
New Hampshire finished first in economic freedom and fiscal policy, 17th in regulatory policy and fourth in personal freedom in addition to their top overall rating.
Sorens said that the state of freedom measured by the index has risen overall since 2010, with Ruger adding his observation that many residents are “voting with their feet” by moving into states higher on the index.
Sununu said the “special sauce” for New Hampshire was the state’s high level of civic participation and transparency, which creates a smart electorate that is not dominated by voting blocs, but citizens with a story.
“I’d like to think we’re a little bit different, but a hell of a lot better,” he said.
Sununu added that another part of New Hampshire’s success was its wide range of ideas on both sides of the aisle, with Ruger adding that civil discussion was more effective than ad hominem attacks in advancing the viewpoints of freedom to the public.
Sununu had kind words and perhaps some slight ribbing for fellow Republican Governor Ron DeSantis for Florida finishing second overall in the study, stating that DeSantis had done a great job in Florida.
While he was grateful for those moving into New Hampshire, calling them smart, Sununu hopes that migrants can adapt to New Hampshire’s way of life and help preserve what he sees as the Granite State’s focus on limited government.
“We’ve got to remind them why they came,” said Sununu. “You all came from New York? Leave your politics in New York.”
He went on to add that he believes in term limits, opposing gerrymandering and opposed government intervention into the economy.
“Government is not here to solve problems, we’re here to create doors of opportunity for you and your family and your business,” he said.
Sununu also attacked Washington Democrats and Republicans for limiting personal freedom, saying that such issues should not be addressed at the state or federal level.
“I hate wokeism, I hate cancel culture, (but) if I don’t agree with you, does that mean I should tell you what to do?” he said. “The discipline of good leadership that will come for the long term and maintain economic freedom is knowing the limits of your power.”
On energy policy, Sununu felt that small scale nuclear and hydrogen are long-term energy solutions for the state, and said that fossil fuels will never fully go away, but that New Hampshire would have to brace itself against the policy of nearby states to account for fluctuations in natural gas rates. Sununu also advocated for additional hydro-electric power from Canada, and stated that money intended for the Burgess biofuel plant in Berlin could be put to more efficient use.
The three panelists also said that educational freedom accounts, also known as EFAs, were a key component to advancing freedom in the state, allowing parents and students to achieve academic success when traditional opportunities may not have fit their needs.
Ruger noted that like many government programs that gain a constituency due to their success, EFAs eventually would also become an entrenched part of New Hampshire’s political culture due to their popularity with parents.
Sununu echoed that statement.
“Hopefully (EFAs) become a train that can’t be stopped and the train goes faster and faster down the hill,” he said.
Sununu also noted that this was a reason why it was important to ensure that Democrats do not regain the governorship and both chambers of the legislature in Concord. However, he also noted that this was his opinion and not the opinion of the Cato Institute, which is a 501(c)3 organization and unable to make such statements.
The study in its entirety can be seen here.