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Business Perspective: Presidential candidates can learn from NH’s success

Business Perspective: Presidential candidates can learn from NH’s success

Presidential candidates are already beating a path through New Hampshire in the lead up to the “First in the Nation” primary. They’re discussing many national and international issues, but we hope they keep in mind perhaps the most prominent issue for Granite State businesses: The economy.

The New Hampshire economy is booming. The Granite State is tied with South Dakota with the lowest unemployment rate (1.8%) as of June. It has the third highest median annual household income at $88,841, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. WalletHub, a personal finance website, released a report this spring analyzing total tax burden by state. New Hampshire had the third lowest.

Despite the low overall tax burden, the state closed its 2023 fiscal year June 30 with a record $539 million surplus fueled by business profits tax revenue exceeding projections by $327.6 million. Record revenues the economy delivered to state government allowed the Legislature to pass a record-setting $15.2 billion, two-year state budget with overwhelming bipartisan support. The 2024-2025 spending plan funds several key business priorities, including expanded Medicaid reauthorization, affordable housing, affordable childcare and greater support for the state’s university and community college systems.

Investing in New Hampshire’s current and future workforce is critical. Economist Brian Gottlob, director of the N.H. Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau, gave the state’s economy an A compared to other states at 2023’s midpoint. However, he lowered the Granite State’s economic grade to a B+ when looking only at conditions within the state, particularly workforce issues and housing availability and affordability. New Hampshire’s leaders, including the Business & Industry Association, continue to work to address those issues, evidenced by the investments in the new budget. The federal government could help all states by increasing targeted investments in affordable housing, childcare, education and other key workforce development measures.

The state budget, which lawmakers called a “miracle” and “historic,” was made possible by New Hampshire having a strong economy and fiscally responsible state spending. The budget was certainly easier to pass due to its many critical investments, but also because lawmakers on both sides of the aisle worked in the best interests of Granite Staters.

Candidates hoping to lead our nation should take note and keep in mind the cost of partisan gridlock. The rating agency Fitch earlier this month downgraded the U.S. government’s credit rating from the top AAA to AA+, citing “the expected fiscal deterioration over the next three years” and “repeated debt limit standoffs and last-minute resolutions.”

New Hampshire, unlike the federal government, is required by law to have a balanced budget. That compels lawmakers to compromise and prioritize investments for residents as a whole.

Our state’s economic success is driven by business-friendly policies and Gov. Chris Sununu recently pointed out total business taxes collected by the state have increased by 126.5% since 2015 and overall revenues have increased by 41.9%.

Whoever may be president come Jan. 20, 2025, will have the chance to address other major challenges, especially the cost of energy. The Granite State’s electricity prices are fourth highest among the states and its average of 21.09 cents per kilowatt hour far exceeds the 12.49-cent national average. Large energy users such as manufacturers and corporate campuses pay millions of dollars for energy, sapping money away from reinvestment in operations and staff.

BIA successfully supported legislation passed this past session that enables electric distribution utilities to provide diverse, long-term options for providing default energy service in purchased power agreements. The new law enables the procurement process to take a technology neutral, “all-of-the-above” approach with safeguards that ensure lowering ratepayer costs is the primary benefit.

A president who expands energy generation with an “all-of-the-above” approach, empowers modernization of transmission infrastructure and respects consumer costs will create economic expansion and a cleaner environment. No state can truly accomplish this alone.

New Hampshire’s success is not by chance. It continues to be built upon the principles of the “New Hampshire Advantage” — limited, effective and efficient government, low and stable taxes and a commitment to business-friendly policies that foster economic expansion, broaden the tax base and increase state revenue.

We look forward to seeing the presidential race unfold in New Hampshire this fall and we encourage the candidates to learn more about what makes the Granite State great.

Michael Skelton is president and CEO of the Business & Industry Association, New Hampshire’s statewide chamber of commerce. Visit

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