In the Republican primary for governor, Walt Havenstein is an obvious and standout choice.
Running a state is a difficult business, and Havenstein has the experience, judgment and temperament to do that job very well. As CEO of BAE Systems, New Hampshire’s largest manufacturer, he cut expenses and shored up a flagging pension system. Do those sound like skills today’s governor could use?
New Hampshire’s pension system is underfunded by nearly $5 billion. Add other benefit liabilities and the figure exceeds $7 billion. No one talks about this, but it is a huge problem.
Last fall, Bloomberg ranked New Hampshire’s as the No. 5 most under-funded state pension system in the country.
The state’s general obligation debt exceeds $1 billion. It was just over $600 million in 2007.
Our economy, once the envy of New England, is struggling. High business taxes keep out-of-state companies from moving here, while misguided regulations keep health insurance and electricity costs astronomically high.
The state’s rainy day fund is dangerously low, despite the state treasurer having warned for years that its neglect was a major red flag for bond rating agencies and a big risk for state services if revenues crashed.
Earlier this year, two credit rating agencies downgraded New Hampshire’s bond rating outlook.
Financially, New Hampshire is in bad shape. Gov. Hassan has continued the status quo, actually advocating spending a recent small surplus rather than saving it as the treasurer recommended.
Havenstein has the business skills and the leadership ability needed to turn this ship around. He is already offering tax, legislative and regulatory reforms that would go a long way to improving the state’s economic picture.
A Naval Academy graduate with a U.S. Marine Corps career before going into private business, Havenstein is not one to let problems fester while pretending to offer solutions.
It has been a long time since New Hampshire has had a take-charge governor who worked to put the state on rock-solid financial footing. We think Havenstein would be that kind of governor.