Republican Gov. Chris Sununu says nothing else matters if children can't be sent to school safely.
In his State of the State address Thursday, Sununu mentioned the school shooting that left 17 dead the day before in Florida. He says his goal is to make New Hampshire's schools the safest in the nation and highlighted his support for a new Public School Infrastructure Fund.
The fund is investing nearly $20 million toward overdue infrastructure and security upgrades, such as securing the main entrance of the high school and preschool program in Berlin, installing card readers at entrances to the Salem middle school, and adding a surveillance system to a Dover campus.
Sununu says close to 300 schools across the state are benefiting from the program.
He said New Hampshire is becoming a model of civic engagement, community service, and economic opportunity because it embraces policies that put people first.
Sununu, in his second-year office, opened his State of the State address by saying life in New Hampshire is better than it was a year ago, and that's no accident.
He says despite the dysfunction in Washington, New Hampshire's leaders are focused on individuals, not systems, and putting people above politics.
He cited lower taxes, fewer regulations and increased educational opportunities such as full-day kindergarten and a school voucher proposal among the highlights of the last year.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire state workers say the state of the state isn't strong if the government workforce isn't treated fairly.
The State Employees Association held a news conference Thursday morning ahead of Sununu's address. Members pointed out that Thursday marks 230 days that state employees have been without a contract.
Dan Brennan, who works for the Department of Transportation, said when the contract expired, so did reimbursement for workers' boots. He says that has left workers slogging through snow and other dangerous conditions without safe gear.
Among the guests invited to the address were veterans, the parents of murder victim Lizzie Marriott, an advocate for people with mental illness, and inventor Dean Kamen.