New Hampshire Inaugural Address 2005

 

CONCORD, New Hampshire - Jan. 6 - Following is the text of Gov. John Lynch's 2005 inaugural address: 

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Mr. Chief Justice and members of the judiciary, honorable members of the House, Senate and Executive Council, and my fellow citizens:

In a ceremony as old as our constitution, here in this historic building, with my hand on the Holy Bible, I have taken a solemn oath as Governor to serve the people of this great state.

This oath represents a sacred trust -- a trust placed under my care by the people of New Hampshire, to whom I make this pledge in return: Every day, in everything I undertake on your behalf, I will do my best to prove myself worthy of that trust.

The citizens of New Hampshire expect and deserve a government as clean as our mountain streams and as open as our blue skies. Today let us pledge together to make this government - the people's government - clean, open and honest.

Let me introduce four very special people: My wife, Dr. Susan Lynch, the love of my life and my best friend for nearly 30 years. My daughter, Jackie, now a freshman in college, my daughter Julia, a sophomore at Hopkinton High School, and my son, Hayden, a future UNH hockey player and now a student at the Maple Street School. Without their love and support, I would not be here today.

Let us, too, take a moment to remember the many New Hampshire men and women serving overseas in our armed forces. We are thankful for their service, their extraordinary courage and sacrifice. Let us pray together for their safe return to the families who love them, and to the state that admires them, so much.

And we all mourn the tremendous loss of life from the Indian Ocean tsunami. With this tragedy, we are reminded again that citizens of the world are more closely connected than ever before.

Those of us here behind the podium represent the political landscape of New Hampshire. Senator Eaton, a Republican - elected from the most Democratic county in the state. Speaker Scamman, also a Republican - selected to preside in this House by representatives from both parties.

Chief Justice Broderick, a Democrat - nominated by a Republican governor and confirmed by a Republican Executive Council. And I am a Democrat, who could never have been elected governor without the support of Republicans and Independents.

Some might wonder what in the world the voters were thinking when they put us all here together.

I think I know exactly what they expect. They expect us to shake hands and then go to work - together - for all of New Hampshire. Let's not disappoint them.

We will not agree on every issue. But let us respect those differences and respect one another. Let us recognize that we do not serve an ideology or a political party; we serve the people.

We serve children who deserve a quality education. We serve families who need affordable health care. We serve seniors who have earned a secure and dignified retirement. We serve men and women who simply want a decent job.

I promise you and all the people of New Hampshire this: My door will always be open, and no governor could be more willing than I am to join you in addressing the issues facing our state.

More than 30 years ago, I came to this great state and entered the freshman class at the University of New Hampshire. That moment changed my life.

Thanks to the people of New Hampshire and our university, it was possible for a kid like me, the fifth of six children from a working class family in a small New England town, to get a college education.

I also learned something very important. I learned that New Hampshire was where I wanted to make my home and raise my family.

I love New Hampshire -- for our beautiful mountains and lakes and seashore; for the special, intimate quality of life in our cities and towns; for the way everyone somehow gets to know each other, no one is a stranger for long, and everyone chips in to help whenever someone else needs it the most.

That is the New Hampshire way.

We know the New Hampshire spirit. It is because of our faith in that spirit that we can come together now to address our challenges and make progress on the important issues we face.

I am not here to advocate for more government, but better government, and that starts with open, ethical, honest government.

The people of New Hampshire expect the highest standards of ethics and integrity from us, their elected officials. The only interests we should be considering are the people's interests.

But we can't just say the words; we must prove it with our deeds. Tomorrow - my first full day as Governor - I will issue an Executive Order requiring everyone who works for the Governor's Office, regardless of title or pay, to file a financial disclosure.

In choosing my nominations and appointments, I will have one simple test in mind: who will do the best job for New Hampshire. I will require all my nominees to meet the highest standards, to file financial disclosures and to disclose any potential conflict of interest.

And I will propose legislation creating an Independent Ethics Commission to investigate ethics complaints against Executive Branch appointees and to toughen penalties for violating our state Ethics Code.

An Ethics Commission, by itself, will not guarantee the good behavior of public servants. Our own individual integrity is the only sure guarantor of that. But such a commission will hold us to the highest standards. Our citizens deserve nothing less.

Integrity is also about how you treat people. I am not a man who values people based on their titles or their wealth. I value people based on their character, on their effort and on their perseverance in difficult circumstances.

For example, it is the state employees of New Hampshire who make this government work even in the toughest of times. I will be a governor who respects our state employees.

I intend to lead an administration that honors the trust given to us by the people of New Hampshire.

That means we must be honest with our citizens about the challenges we face.

We must face the hard truth about the state budget. We are inheriting a $300 million deficit.

As a state, we must decide what we want to do and how we can do it better. I am in the process of zero-basing every department budget - requiring every department to justify every penny they spend, starting from zero. And in February, I will present this legislature an honest and balanced budget that reflects our values and priorities as a state.

And let me be clear: I will veto an income or sales tax.

As a businessman, I made the difficult decisions necessary to save a failing company. But I also learned that you can keep an eye on the bottom line and still look out for people. And that's what I will do as your Governor.

Education - from kindergarten through college - is the most important investment we can make in our children and in our state's economic future. We must improve our schools, make sure more of our children graduate from high school and that more go on to college.

But we cannot improve quality if we continue as a state divided; if we spend every year re-fighting school funding; if we are constantly changing the rules on communities.

It's time for a fresh approach to education funding - an approach that allows us to once again focus on improving quality, directs more state aid to the communities that need it the most, and eliminates the statewide property tax and donor towns.

I will present such a school-funding plan and I will work with all of you for a fair and lasting solution. I do not care who gets the credit, and neither do the people of New Hampshire. They just want this solved. And it is up to all of us to live up to that responsibility -- this year.

Improving public education is the best long-term strategy for strengthening our economy. But there are immediate steps we must take: promoting trade so that our businesses can sell their products across the world; investing in tourism promotion to help attract visitors to New Hampshire.

And we must address the number one issue facing our businesses: the soaring cost of health insurance.

Too many of our families are one sickness away from financial catastrophe. Too many of our children are without health care at all. Health insurance premiums for too many of our small businesses have skyrocketed so high that investment is stifled, hiring curtailed, and economic growth stymied.

Although passed with good intentions, SB 110 is not working. Delaying action won't make this law better, or its impacts on our businesses and workers any less severe. We must repeal SB 110 now.

But repealing SB 110 is just the beginning of the discussion, not the end. The health care cost increases that we are experiencing are not sustainable.

I will appoint a task force on health care to bring together consumers, providers, business leaders, and elected officials to recommend innovative solutions. Working together, I believe that we can and will make our system more affordable and better for all our citizens.

Children with access to health care do better in school and better later in life. Preventive health care is simply less expensive than remedial care. Providing children with health insurance is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do. And as Governor, I will work to make sure we enroll every eligible child in our Healthy Kids Children's Health Insurance Program.

We cannot discuss investing in our state's future without talking about protecting our beautiful, natural environment. It is part of why we all love and live in New Hampshire. And it is one of our state's most important economic assets.

As New Hampshire grows, we must fight to protect our environment and quality of life: our open spaces; our lakes and seashore; our groundwater; and our clean air. Let us together ensure the environment we pass on to our children is better than the one passed on to us.

I recognize that a Governor's most fundamental responsibility is to protect the health and safety of our citizens. That responsibility is even greater after September 11th. Every day our state troopers, our local police officers, our firefighters, our EMTs, and other first responders, are out working to protect us.

First, let us say to them, thank you for everything you do. Second, let me say that as Governor, I will work to make sure that you have what you need to do your jobs, and to do them safely.

I will work with you, with our neighbors across New England and in Canada, with the federal government, and with business, to make sure New Hampshire is protected and prepared.

Finally, New Hampshire's tradition of citizen involvement is one of our state's most cherished attributes - from helping organizations like the United Way or Red Cross to serving on town boards and commissions, from volunteering time to coach children's athletic teams to assisting seniors living in nursing homes.

As governor, I intend to give these efforts greater recognition, and especially to encourage our young people to devote more time to community service.

The citizens who elected us expect us not just to represent them on issues of importance, but to represent their highest ideals for the state they love - to cherish and protect New Hampshire's long and hard-earned reputation for open government, responsive government, and honest government. We must not let them down.

No one understood this better than Daniel Webster, New Hampshire's great statesman and orator, who dedicated his life to public service and to preserving democratic government.

His portrait hangs on the wall of this chamber and watches over all of us today. Daniel Webster said, "A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent, like the Deity." No matter where we go, Webster said, "duty performed or duty violated is still with us."

Throughout our common history runs a common theme. Our duty is to the people, not to ourselves, not to a political party.

Whether we are elected or appointed, members of the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of government, here in New Hampshire, we hold ourselves to a higher standard. We believe that public service is an honor and a privilege.

We realize that this historic structure is more than a building where people meet each year to debate issues and cast votes on legislation.

This State House is also the symbol of New Hampshire and we are its temporary custodians, with the solemn responsibility to ensure that it - and everything it represents - is never tarnished by anything we do.

That is the New Hampshire way. Let us take it together.

 
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