Primary 2014: A Conversation With Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Hemingway

Aug 28, 2014

Andrew Hemingway
Credit NHPR / Brady Carlson

We start our conversations with Republicans running in the gubernatorial race with tech entrepreneur Andrew Hemingway.

The first millennial candidate for governor in the country, in a state which is graying.

It is, yes, but I’m excited. It’s not something that I went out and sought after, but it’s something which the opportunity has presented itself. It’s an exciting opportunity.

But there are concerns about that graying of the Granite State, that the New Hampshire advantage that we’ve talked about for the last quarter century or longer is something we can’t necessarily count on. There are economists saying the labor force that we’re likely to see is not going to be as large or as highly educated as the one that we’ve had in the past.

What can the state do to grow jobs and bring businesses in when you have these demographic trends businesses may look at and say well, taxes aside, Massachusetts may be a better fit?

This is one of the reasons I’m running for governor. I believe that the state of New Hampshire needs to have a new awareness brought to the issue of retaining our young workers and our young families in the state of New Hampshire. I believe our students, when they graduate from our universities, are competing in a global marketplace. And what we’re finding today is that we need to look at our educational system from the kindergarten, all the way through and really evaluate whether or not our children are prepared to enter that global marketplace upon graduation. Today, I believe we are lacking in that area. I think it’s something we need to address.

Then we need to look at our economy and whether we’re attracting and growing the types of businesses in New Hampshire which are going to employ younger workers. We see obviously that technology, we see biotech, we see high tech manufacturing. These industries favor the younger, more technical workers. Those are industries we see suffering here in New Hampshire. We see them prospering in Massachusetts, we see them prospering in some other states. We need to look at the reasons why that’s happening. I think that a young  governor could be the spokesperson for that.

You’ve also talked about making it easier to do business in New Hampshire. What’s an example of something state government could do differently that would make it easier for business to do what it does?

We have very high, oppressive corporate tax structure in this state. That’s part of the reason why I have put forward a proposal of comprehensive tax reform presenting a brand new business flat tax, a way to lower the tax rate and the tax burden. Expand the base, close loopholes, and create a level, fair playing field in our economy. It’s simple, it’s predictable, and I think would be a great relief to the business owners in our state and would make us attractive once again as a state to move businesses here and to relocated businesses to New Hampshire, makes us competitive. And I think the small business owners in our state would all agree that there is a tremendous amount of regulation and overbearing bureaucracy that they face every single day in our state. We need to change that.

But the number one thing we can do in our state to make New Hampshire once again business friendly is to elect a governor who has owned and operated a business in this state. Someone who has the entrepreneurial spirit and the background of understanding the small business owner, which makes up over 90 percent of New Hampshire’s economy. We not have that in our governor today. She as the governor who implemented and supported and pushed the LLC tax, a direct income tax on small business owners. She signed into law the gas tax, a 23 percent increase. There’s a tremendous amount of things, you could go down the line where we’ve seen Governor Hassan be against business.

Since you mentioned the gas tax, I wanted to follow up on that. The argument in the Legislature, and we heard it from some Republicans in the state Senate and some Democrats including the governor, was that businesses will benefit when the infrastructure is improved, when roads and bridges are able to carry business in and out of New Hampshire. Without that gas tax, how do you see that infrastructure being repaired and maintained going forward?

There is without a doubt enough money in this budget presently to widen I-93, to fix the roads that we have in our state, and to address the issue with our bridges. The money is there. We consistently play budget tricks. We move money from one line item to the next line item, always robbing Peter to pay Paul consistently. When you look at those line items and you look at the budget, specifically the money set aside for highways and bridges, there’s enough money there to deal with this problem.

You’ve been a vocal opponent of the Common Core and the idea of putting local school districts more in control of setting standards and setting up curricula. Proponents of Common Core say that as the workforce becomes increasingly globalized it becomes more and more necessary that you are able to demonstrate that every student has a certain level of skill in reading and math and other disciplines. How do you as a proponent of having local school districts set those standards and make those kinds of decisions ensure that each town is living up that idea and preparing students for that global workforce?

My problem with Common Core among other things chiefly is that there is no choice in curricula, there is no other alternative. If we have a student excelling, they are stuck on one course. If we have a student falling behind, they’re stuck on that course. There is no opportunity. We all know that all of our children are different. They learn in different ways. They learn from different experiences. In one classroom, where we put 25 children, and they sit there for eight hours a day and are taught the same way every single day is not conducive to learning for a number of those students. Why would we hinder them? Why would we hold them back simply because of our political allegiance to this program called Common Core?

The last question I always ask when I talk with candidates is essentially if you get elected, two years go by, what do the people of New Hampshire see that’s different from what they had at the beginning of this election cycle that might show them the state is moving in the right direction, as you put it?

Number one, you’re going to see a much greater transparency from our state government. You are going to know how dollars are spent. You are going to see a much more efficient, much more business-friendly state government.

You’re also going to see an economy which is starting to move in the right direction. We are going to be effective in moving companies to New Hampshire.

You’re going to see a state that is focused and serious and prioritized on educating our children to the highest level possible.