In a wide-ranging conversation with NHPR’s Laura Knoy Monday evening, GOP gubernatorial hopeful Walt Havenstein covered a gamut of economic and social policy issues.
Havenstein’s overall campaign is focused on the state’s economy. At the taping of NHPR’s “Rudman Center Conversations with the Candidates” Havenstein said his view of New Hampshire’s poor business climate was cemented when his 31-year-old son had to leave the state in order to take the next step in his tech career.
”Our demographic is shifting because we don’t have opportunities for young people,” he said. “And if we don’t get that turned around it’s going to be – I’ll use this term and I hope I don’t offend anybody -- it’s a death spiral for us. We are not going to have the resources we need to solve many of the other problems we have… especially if we keep spending the way we are spending.”
Havenstein says lowering the state’s corporate tax from 8.5 percent to 7.4 percent would give New Hampshire a needed boost when competing for new or expanded businesses in the state. He says that would create a $90 million gap in the state budget – which he says would be covered by finding new efficiencies in state operations.
On education, Havenstein says he’d keep state contributions to the University of New Hampshire at least at current levels.
“But I want to make sure that we start to target our investments in the university that are consistent with what we see as the future employment needs for our state, right?” he said. “So those folks are coming into the university with an idea of the curriculums that they need and the learning they need to get employed.”
Havenstein said his economic vision for the state is an integrated one, combining strategies for education, health care, tax and regulatory structures, and energy policy into a long-term plan.
On energy policy, Havenstein said wind and solar cost too much and deliver too little benefit.
“They do not compete fundamentally economically," he told Knoy. “Because they are not base power... (they are) intermittent, and it doesn’t make sense when your rates are as high as they are, that we should be subsidizing those technologies.”
Havenstein says he does support one type of renewable technology – biomass, because it has spin-off benefits for the state’s forestry economy.
And on some other issues: Allowing concealed guns to be carried without a permit? He’s for it. Gay marriage: he supports it. The recent Medicaid expansion? He’s against it and would work to change how the state finances health care for its poorest.
Havenstein is challenging Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan for the governor’s seat.