Editor’s note: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, educational entrepreneurship has boomed nationwide. New Hampshire has experienced significant growth in the number of entrepreneurs and innovators willing to take on the daunting challenge of building a new educational ecosystem. This year, we’ll be highlighting some of the people and organizations that have begun expanding the education marketplace in the Granite State, as well as the obstacles they face in creating nontraditional learning environments. 

Our fourth installment highlights Micah Studios, a low-cost learning center for kids 6–18 years old in Newport, New Hampshire, focusing on low-income families.

Newport, New Hampshire, is a relatively poor, working-class town of 6,299 in Sullivan County. Between 2017 and 2021, the median household income in Newport was $65,435 (in 2021 dollars), while the statewide average was $83,449. Meanwhile, the poverty rate in the town is 19.4%, compared to the state’s poverty rate of 7.2%.

What’s more, the town’s district public schools have been underperforming by all measures. Only 24% and 22% of students in the Newport school district are proficient in English language arts and science, respectively. Worse, just 12% of students in SAU 43 are proficient in mathematics. Compared to the performance of schools/districts throughout the state, these figures put Newport in the bottom 25%.

Given this reality, there’s a dire need for alternative education in this community. Two education entrepreneurs in Newport—Stacey Hammerlind and Jessica Rothbart—are taking steps to fill this educational void and meet the needs of local low-income families.

“There was definitely a gap and a niche that needed to be filled,” Hammerlind said.

As residents of Newport with experience in the public school setting, both Hammerlind and Rothbart are aware of the unique challenges facing many in their community.

“It’s a unique population here,” Hammerlind said. “And again, the stressors—these families have no other options. So, I think that’s what really motivated us.”

A mother of six and a substitute teacher in Newport, Rothbart experimented with typical homeschooling and traditional school settings for her kids, but the remote learning that came with the COVID-19 pandemic was the last straw for her.

“Something’s got to change,” she said. “There’s got to be options. The homeschooling community is big in the area, but it doesn’t fit for what my kids want out of things. So, they want the structure of school kind of, but they want the freedom to do it their way.”

At the same time, while working in the local public schools, Hammerlind noticed that the system wasn’t responding to the many unhappy, dejected, and underperforming students she saw daily.

“Yesterday, I was working with a boy—17,” she recalled. “We were practicing the two-times tables. He did not know his two-times tables. I asked him what words he could spell. He spelled ‘the’ and ‘they,’ but he spelled ‘they’ ‘t-h-a-y.’ At [17] years old. His sister—she’s 10. She didn’t know her shapes.”

Rothbart couldn’t account for how a 17-year-old student could be so far behind.

“How did he get to that point?”

Homeschooling would normally be the next-best option for these students struggling in traditional schools, but Hammerlind and Rothbart said many of the working-class parents they know can’t devote the necessary time to it and need a place for their kids to go during the day.

“We just wanted an alternative for those kids because we see a lot of those kids and there’s nothing,” Hammerlind said.

So, they created Micah Studios as a refuge for these students.

Creating and operating this alternative requires start-up capital and tuition payments. While Hammerlind and Rothbart have been dipping into their own savings to get Micah Studios up and running, they knew tuition would present a problem for the local low-income families they intended to serve. But after learning about Education Freedom Accounts (EFAs)—New Hampshire’s largest school choice program—they knew they could do it.

“It would not have happened without the EFAs because the families we want to reach…can barely pay the rent,” Hammerlind said. “They don’t have money for an alternative school program without the EFAs.”

Micah Studios is funded entirely by EFA payments, meaning the three families enrolled do not pay anything out of pocket. All expenses are covered by the EFA grants.

“This could not happen if they had to pay a dime,” Hammerlind said.

The EFA payments alone are enough for Micah Studios to operate on a full-time basis: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., nine months of the year. That allows the 12 learners currently enrolled to access a truly low-cost alternative educational setting.

The funding keeps Micah Studios afloat financially, allowing Hammerlind and Rothbart to rent space, purchase supplies, and take their learners on field trips.

With the funding taken care of, the logistics of actually setting up Micah Studios proved much easier for Hammerlind and Rothbart than they imagined.

When asked what regulatory bumps in the road they hit along the way, their answer was somewhat surprising.

“Bizarrely, none,” Hammerlind said. “And I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. We talked to the economic development person in town, and she’s like, ‘Oh no, you’re all set, you don’t need to do anything.’”

And that’s because Micah Studios is strictly a learning center. “We’re not a daycare and we’re not a school, so we don’t meet any of those regulations,” Hammerlind explained.

In other words, they don’t need to jump through any hoops with the town of Newport.

Similarly with the state, Hammerlind and Rothbart haven’t had any issues. “The state hasn’t asked us for anything either, no,” Hammerlind said. “I don’t think the state has any regulations for learning centers.” Rothbart added, “We are an official nonprofit.”

The kids at Micah Studios are all recognized as homeschoolers by the town and state. Under state law, as long as the students are properly observed as home-educated and/or in the EFA program, the learning center where they’re being educated falls outside the regulations required of nonpublic schools. So, it is that simple.

Hammerlind and Rothbart are currently renting space in a local church, as well as accessing the town library when necessary. The two entrepreneurs are not teachers, but guides, and the kids are learners, not students.

Micah Studios’ model is based on several important themes common among educational startups: Mixed-age classes, individualized learning, and student autonomy.

Micah Studios sees obvious benefits to a class of seven-year-olds, 17-year-olds, and every age in between.

“It’s amazing to see the different ages working together,” Hammerlind said. “And that’s the way society runs…that’s the way people are wired. We’re supposed to live in a community, and learn from your elders, and learn through play.”

Although traditional school settings keep kids of the same age group together, that doesn’t mean every student is at the same level academically. At Micah Studios, it’s understood that not every learner is at the same level, and the mixed-age setting allows for each learner to progress at their own pace regardless of age.

Rather than viewing the class as one unit of similarly aged students progressing at the same pace, the small, mixed-age environment allows Micah Studios to “focus on the whole child,” as Rothbart said, in what is an individualized approach to education.

And Hammerlind and Rothbart have tailored individualized educations for their learners.

“Each learner has a binder with their own specific work in it,” Rothbart noted. “So, they all have their own curriculums. Some of them are sharing the same curriculum, but they all are individualized to their learning.”

Rothbart took the time to understand where each of Micah Studios’ 12 learners was academically and tailor each curriculum to each individual learner, focusing on their interests and how they learn best. She’s relied on locally accessible curricula from Barnes & Noble and Borders, as well as online curricula such as Horizon and Beast Academy.

“One of my kids has requested Beast Academy because it’s a graphic-novel version of mathematics,” she said. “She’s like, ‘I can read a graphic novel chapter and then I can do my lesson. Maybe it will work better for me,’ because she’s such a visual learner.”

This individualized education works in tandem with the student autonomy at the heart of Micah Studios. Whether it’s their core learning, the meals they make for lunch, or their year-long projects, the learners direct their education based on their needs or interests.

“I look around and literally half the kids were at the chairs working with clipboards doing their work, and then the others were playing monopoly, and I’m looking and I’m like…‘I don’t have to do anything, this feels weird,’” Rothbart said. “Coming from somebody who subbed in the school district, I’m like on top of them constantly, ‘Do your work, do your work, do your work.’”

At Micah Studios, by contrast, the kids are at the helm of their learning.

Traditional schooling—teacher oversight and direction with a set curriculum—works for some kids, but not all. Hammerlind and Rothbart push back against those who would argue their nontraditional, student-driven approach is dysfunctional and unaccountable.

“People want to learn; kids are driven to learn,” Hammerlind countered. “They want to learn; they’re so excited about it. And these are kids that were not able to be successful in public school, so the structure of the public school pretty much failed them.”

“It’s not all about their academics either,” Rothbart added, “They’re a whole person. So, if they’re not okay in that situation with that structure, structure doesn’t work for everybody.”

“These were kids that probably a lot of them were bullied, or they have really bad anxiety, and they can’t thrive in the traditional setting,” Hammerlind explained. “So, public school may be wonderful for some people…but it’s not for everybody, and kids deserve choices and families deserve choices.”

To the best of their knowledge, Hammerlind and Rothbart are the only ones offering this kind of alternative for low-income families in the region. Before, the Newport school district faced no competition for the town’s low-income population in the education market. Enrolling their kids in the local government schools was the only available option financially for these Newport families. SAU 43 effectively had a monopoly on education in Newport.

Now, with Micah Studios entering the marketplace, these families have the choice to take both their kids and their state per-pupil adequate education grants out of their district public schools without having to leave their town. And Hammerlind and Rothbart are confident they’ve created a replicable model for others to follow.

This competition incentivizes improvement. This fall, the Newport school district has to compete for these families and their state per-pupil tax dollars. And the same principle applies to Micah Studios. If families are dissatisfied, they can go back to their assigned district school.

“This needed to happen,” Hammerlind said, “These kids needed this…. I mean, it’s such an honor that somebody else trusts you with their kids. It is the ultimate honor. ‘I want my kids to come be with you for the day because I know that they will be happy and they will be learning.’ So, yes, I guess we are educational entrepreneurs. Because, as far as we can tell, we’re the only ones focusing on this population in this area.”

Only a few weeks into their new venture, both education entrepreneurs have much to look forward to. “I think my excitement for the year is to learn with them,” Rothbart said.

“I’m excited to see the kids happy and wanting to learn,” Hammerlind added. “These are kids that were not happy, just not happy kids, miserable kids, and to see them laughing…that is the biggest thing I think.”

Micah Studios in Newport can be found online at https://www.micahstudios.org/.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many families found that they wanted a bigger variety of educational options for their children. New Hampshire’s education marketplace does not provide the right option for every child in every part of the state. But it can be better if more entrepreneurs step up to create those alternatives.

Join us Saturday, Sept. 30th, for our first Encouraging Education Entrepreneurship Conference to learn how New Hampshire can expand its education marketplace so that every family can find the option that works best for every child.

We’ll hear from education entrepreneurs (including Shiren Rattigan of Colossal Academy in Ft. Lauderdale, Coi Morrison of The Lab School of Memphis, Nate Fellman of The Harkness House in Nashua and Katy Rose of NLighten Learning in Goffstown).

And we’ll hear from education policy experts, including author Kerry McDonald, Kate Baker Demers of the Children’s Scholarship Fund New Hampshire, professors Eric Wearne and Ben Scafidi, Lisa Snell of Stand Together, Don & Ashley Soifer of the National Microschooling Center, and Michael Crawford of the VELA Education Fund.

Lunch and a light breakfast will be provided.

Register here.

Sponsored by LFS Tax Group and Soil Away



Since the turn of the 21st century, the percentage of freshmen New Hampshire legislators with a record of public service in their community has fallen significantly, a new UNH study shows. Instead of having served on a select board or the board of a local non-profit group, today’s legislators are increasingly public service rookies.

The study, “All Politics, No Longer Local? A Study of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, 2001–2021”, which I co-wrote with UNH Political Science Professor Dante Scala, shows that local ties in the New Hampshire House have declined over the last two decades.

“In brief, we conclude that while the latest generations of New Hampshire state legislators still often have significant local governing and civic experience prior to their service in the General Court, they have been less likely over the past decade to bring that type of experience with them to the legislature,” we wrote. 

We observed this decline among both men and women, as well as Democrats and Republicans.

We examined new House members’ biographies from the 2001–2002 to the 2021–2022 N.H. House (1,179 legislators in total), chronicling their experiences and backgrounds prior to joining the chamber. 

Examining each decade separately, we found that the average proportion of new legislators with local government experience in a given year across the first decade of study (2001–2011) was 50%. 

This proportion dropped significantly in the second decade. From 2013–2021, the average proportion of new legislators with this type of experience was 43%—a 14% decline.  

There was an even greater drop in civic experience. On average, 49% of new legislators in a given year had previous experience in civic groups during the first decade. This fell to 35% in the next decade—a 29% decrease.

Overall, the percentage of legislators with some form of local engagement, either in government or civic groups, shrunk between the two decades. 

“In the 2000s, the participation rate was typically above 70 percent; in the last decade, however, the rate fell into the 60s and in some cases even lower,” we wrote.

After the 2020 elections, Americans for Prosperity State Director Greg Moore observed a sharp drop in legislators with local community service experience. 

“You’ll find a lot fewer people who were school board members or city councilors or aldermen, and a lot more folks for whom this is their first entree into politics,” Moore said. 

He attributes the shift to a change in the way candidates for state office are recruited.

“The real change is that there are now groups on the right and the left that recruit candidates who align with their views for these rep. seats and then help them win primaries,” Moore said. “Earlier, local party committees did the recruiting and recruited on the basis of experience and having won local elections.”

The result is that rather than a body composed of local volunteers, you get a legislature increasingly made up of activists who adhere to their party’s platform.

“What it means is that you end up with more representatives who are inclined to vote based on principles instead of being people pleasers,” Moore explained. “With that said, primary voters seem to respond to principled candidates versus those who reflect various factions in their community. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just different from when I first started working with the New Hampshire Legislature 20 years ago.”

Elections at all levels have become increasingly nationalized. Although New Hampshire is still known for its local brand of politics, this research suggests that even the Granite State’s quintessential volunteer legislature has succumbed to national polarization.

While the study acknowledges that the typical state representative still often carries with them an element of local ties, the marked drops in previous local government and civic experience among newly elected members of the House suggest that the makeup of the lower chamber is undergoing significant changes. 

And these structural changes have likely affected the House’s work. “If we take it that legislators’ backgrounds, at least in part, inform their political opinions and policy preferences,” we suggest in the study, “then the general decline in local governing and civic experience among new members of the New Hampshire House may have had an effect on the type of legislation coming out of the New Hampshire General Court.”

You can find the full study here


Editor’s note: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, educational entrepreneurship has boomed nationwide. New Hampshire has experienced significant growth in the number of entrepreneurs and innovators willing to take on the daunting challenge of building a new educational ecosystem. This year, we’ll be highlighting some of the people and organizations that have begun expanding the education marketplace in the Granite State, as well as the obstacles they face in creating nontraditional learning environments.

Our second installment highlights Acton Academy Bedford, a new microschool for homeschooling families looking for an alternative educational environment that focuses on learner agency and the Hero’s Journey.

Can you imagine quitting your job, leaving your career as a finance manager at BAE Systems behind, to start a small, nontraditional learning center on your property?

Well, that’s exactly what Will Forrester did. He and his wife, Caroline, are the founders of Acton Academy Bedford, the newest Acton Academy microschool in New Hampshire.

“Our daughter Claire started kindergarten this year. Before she started school, I was apprehensive, we both were, about her starting at public school,” Will said. “Both of us went through the motions of school, a K-12 experience, didn’t get much out of it, and we really didn’t want the same for her.”

Caroline knew they needed to make a change after the first parent-teacher conference. “One of the things that her teacher said was, ‘One thing that we’re working on is coloring things the right color, like how a horse can’t be purple.’ I was like, ‘What? That’s something that you’re calling out as part of the curriculum for kindergarteners?’” 

She wondered, “What other purpose is there other than just beating the creativity out of them?”

Searching for alternatives, the Forresters discovered Acton Academy. Advertised as “one-room schoolhouses for the 21st century,” this network consists of start-up microschools across the country focused on “turning learning upside down” through “adaptive game based programs for core skills,” “Socratic discussions to strengthen critical thinking,” “hands on real world projects,” and “life changing apprenticeships.”

The problem for the Forresters was that the closest Acton Academy to their Bedford home was an hour away. So, Will, with a military background, felt another calling to serve a cause greater than himself.

“For me, I was in the military—in the Marine Corps, served overseas—[and] something that I saw firsthand: This is something where I’m serving something greater than myself, and my life has real meaning, I’m contributing, and I started to get that feeling again when I started learning about Acton Academy.” 

Their decision was made: Will and Caroline would start their own Acton Academy right on their property in Bedford. 

In December 2022, the Forresters applied through Acton Academy—a process they noted was “very selective”—and were soon approved. They went through the orientation with Acton co-founder Jeff Sandefer and spent the next six to nine months renovating the empty space above their garage to serve as their studio. 

It made the most sense for Will and Caroline to start their Acton Academy on their residential property to help contain costs. Their property also brought the added benefit of having already been zoned for institutional use and not just residential, avoiding a headache that many other aspiring entrepreneurs must face. 

However, they didn’t avoid all governmental roadblocks.

Acton Academy Bedford is registered with New Hampshire as a homeschool co-op/learning center, and the students enrolled are all recognized as homeschoolers. 

This presented an obstacle for the Massachusetts families in the Forresters’ cohort. To homeschool your child in the Bay State, families must receive advance approval from the child’s school district—a requirement that does not exist in New Hampshire. 

“To pull their kids out of public schools to homeschool, they need to be approved,” Will said. “So, Westford and Burlington, they want all this information on what we’re going to be covering and the hours; it’s very detailed what they’re asking for. We did give them everything. We haven’t heard back yet on if they approved it or not, so maybe there are more hurdles that we have to jump through to get these Massachusetts families on board.”

What’s more, when the Forresters registered as an LLC in New Hampshire, the state kept rejecting their application but wouldn’t tell them why. Only by using their newfound network of Actons did they eventually figure out that the state required very specific language about their operation: Theirs would be a non-degree issuing learning center.

“That would’ve taken me probably a lot of time to figure out, like I was calling the office, no one’s telling me anything,” Will recalled. “And we had to pay every time we applied,” Caroline added.

Being part of the Acton network has benefits, the Forresters found. They have access to guidance and resources from the organization and can learn from, collaborate, and share ideas with education entrepreneurs around the country. Plus, the network gives each individual microschool the freedom to develop in their own way. 

“The cool thing is every location has the freedom to take it in whatever direction they want,” Caroline said. “Ours is going to be very outdoor focused because of our location.”

Besides their 700–800 square-foot indoor space, the Forresters will take advantage of their nearly three-acre property to encourage free play and outdoor learning. 

“We think being outside, free play, is something very important,” Will said. “Moving around, not being chained to a desk all day…. Being just under three acres and having goats and chickens and stuff, it’s a great environment for the young learners.”

And these young learners come from all over the state and region. In addition to Massachusetts, the six students/families at Acton Academy Bedford are as close by as neighboring Merrimack and Nashua and as far away as Rochester.

So, what brings this diverse group of families to a start-up in Bedford? “It’s the mission, and the Hero’s Journey, and trusting the child, the agency for these young learners—that’s what’s important to them,” Will observed. “They’re not getting it anywhere else.”

Moreover, “They all believe that the school system isn’t serving their kids the way it should be, and they want an alternative.”

And with the Acton name comes a reliable, trustworthy brand. To ensure trust among families, Will and Caroline had to pass background checks to be approved by Acton Academy and promise they would enroll their own child in their start-up microschool.

“When you do apply to open an Acton, one of the requirements is you have to be sending your own kids. You can’t open it if your own kids aren’t enrolled,” Caroline noted. “It’s the fact these parents all went through the exact same thing that we went through, and they’re doing it for their own kid, so I think that helps increase trust a lot.”

Talking with Will and Caroline, the word ‘agency’ kept coming up. “[The families] want agency for their young learners,” Will said. In other words, Acton Academy Bedford seeks to put their students in the driver’s seat of their own learning. 

Structuring their microschool around the Montessori and Socratic models helps facilitate this agency. “A big thing about the Montessori is that it’s self-correcting,” Will said. “We don’t want to create this hierarchy system like you see in traditional school where the teacher has all the knowledge.” 

He continued, “We don’t want the kids to think there’s one right answer in the back of the book. Everything is open for debate, discussion. So, the guides are very Socratic in the sense that they don’t answer any questions. That goes for all age groups. So, we want the young learners to be competent [and] feel like they can solve things on their own.”

Not a teacher, Will is Acton Academy Bedford’s full-time guide, setting the contours of the learning environment—namely, don’t hurt each other and always tell the truth—while the kids are free to take charge of their learning. 

“These young learners are coming up with their own rules for the classroom because we find that when they create the rules that they’re more likely to enforce them and hold each other accountable,” he said.

Central to the Forresters’ microschool and others in the Acton network is the focus on what they call the “Hero’s Journey.” Caroline said the emphasis is on using the power of storytelling, particularly the adventure rather than the ending, to encourage young learners to envision themselves in their own story of growth and self-discovery.

“Everything that we do at Acton is framed in putting themselves in someone else’s shoes, or how can they envision themselves as the hero?” she mentioned.

The Hero’s Journey, self-pacing, sparking and maintaining a love of learning, building conflict resolution skills—these are all ways in which the Forresters hope to invest students in their own education.

“We want to create that growth mindset where they’re going to fail, and that’s okay, that’s part of growing, and if you’re not failing, you’re not learning, and you’re not challenging yourself,” Will added.

In traditional public and private schools, first graders to eighth graders typically share classes with peers of the same age. Rarely, if ever, do students find themselves in a classroom with others of different ages.

But, like other microschools, Acton Academy Bedford introduces a mixed-age classroom environment, where the five-year-old students have an opportunity to share a class with and learn from seven to ten-year-olds, and vice versa.

“Because nowhere else in the real world is it like that,” Will noted. “You need to learn how to deal with people [of] different ages. You’re going to probably learn something from them, they’ll probably learn something from you. We have a seven-and-a-half-year-old that’s going to have an opportunity to be a leader in a class. What other institution provides that?”

He saw clear disadvantages with the alternative. “The fact that we split everybody up by age, even though they may have different interests or capabilities—you may have someone in first grade that’s operating at a fourth-grade level when it comes to math but you’re going to put them with a bunch of first graders just because [they’re] the same age? It makes no sense.”

Will and Caroline know there will be challenges to operating their own microschool, as well as frustrations among students adjusting to this new educational model. But as entrepreneurs, the Forresters are prepared and have the necessary flexibility to adjust to the needs of their students and the demands of running a small business. 

In fact, they’ve already begun adapting to the financial needs of their customers. In addition to accepting Education Freedom Account (EFA) funds, the Forresters also offer volunteer and sibling discounts to help make their services more affordable.

Acton Academy Bedford is open for its first year and operates Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., for 11 months. One month off may seem demanding, but the Forresters counter that, “When you love school, you want to be there.”

Hearkening back to his time in the Marines, Will closed with his motivation as a new education entrepreneur. “It’s not for me—I say it’s for my daughter—but it’s for the community, it’s for the greater good, and that’s the same feeling I got in the Marine Corps, so that’s really what gets me so fired up and excited.”

Acton Academy Bedford can be found online at https://www.actonbedford.org/.

The Competitiveness Coalition, in coordination with The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, find in a poll of 800 likely Republican primary voters, released Sept. 5,  that these voters want the federal government to focus on inflation, the cost of living and the economy, and not get distracted by attacking American tech companies.

On New Hampshire-specific issues, the poll shows huge support among Republican primary voters for ending the Interest & Dividends Tax, and little support for raising electricity costs to fight climate change. 

The key findings of the poll include:

  • More than 70% of GOP primary voters believe there is too much government regulation.
  • New Hampshire Republican presidential primary voters are focused on the economy: just under half (48%) of primary voters said either inflation and the cost of living (28%) or jobs and the economy (20%) were the most important issues.
  • At just 4%, breaking up large technology companies is a bottom-tier issue position for Republican presidential primary voters in New Hampshire.
  • Fully 72% of GOP primary voters are opposed to the Biden Administration establishing new regulations that would break up large technology companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google, including 47% who are strongly opposed.
  • If these regulations were to go into place, these voters are concerned about the impact they would have on their own lives, including Google starting to charge for their services (34%), and Apple no longer being able to ensure the safety and security of downloaded apps (also 34%).
  • Supporting breaking up large technology companies has the potential to be electorally damaging for Republican candidates, especially when informed this could give the advantage to Chinese tech companies. Seventy-four percent (74%) of GOP primary voters are less likely to vote for a Republican candidate after hearing that, including 59% who are much less likely.
  • Fully 80% of GOP primary voters support eliminating the Interest & Dividends Tax to make New Hampshire truly income-tax-free. 
  • Asked how much more they’d be willing to pay per month in higher electricity costs to convert New Hampshire power plants from natural gas to renewables, 59% said they’d be willing to pay nothing more, 23% said $5 more, 9% said $25 more, 4% said $50 more, and 3% said $100 more.

“It’s clear that Republican voters in the First In The Nation state oppose the misguided Biden antitrust agenda and believe it will exacerbate the challenges of Bidenomics,” said Scott Brown, a New Hampshire resident, former U.S. Senator and Ambassador and chair of the Competitiveness Coalition. “The candidates competing in the Granite State would be wise to take heed and advocate for policies that will bring economic relief rather than additional pain. We have far too much regulation on our innovators already, and breaking up successful American success stories to the benefit of the Chinese Communist Party is the exact wrong approach.”

Andrew Cline, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, added that the poll reinforces that New Hampshire voters are looking for basic good governance, not more government activism. “The message from Republican primary voters in New Hampshire is simple. They’d prefer to restrain the federal government, not American businesses,” Cline said.  

Additionally, the poll, which was conducted after the first Republican presidential debate, shows Donald Trump with a significant lead on the Republican presidential primary ballot. The former President currently garners 47% on the primary ballot, giving him a more than 30-point lead over his closest challengers (Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, both at 10%).  Chris Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy both sit at 8%, with no other candidate receiving more than 5% of the vote.

  • Trump: 47%
  • Ron DeSantis: 10%
  • Nikki Haley: 10%
  • Vivek Ramaswamy: 8%
  • Chris Christie: 8%
  • Tim Scott: 5%
  • Mike Pence: 4%
  • Doug Burgum: 2%
  • Will Hurd: 1%
  • Asa Hutchison: 1%
  • Larry Elder: 1%
  • Undecided: 4%

On behalf of the Competitiveness Coalition and The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy,  NMB Research conducted a statewide survey of N=800 likely Republican presidential primary voters in New Hampshire. The survey was conducted August 25-31, 2023 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46%.  All surveys were conducted by live interviewers, with 78% of interviews conducted with cell phone respondents (N=623) and 22% of interviews conducted with landline respondents (N=177).

Launched in April 2022, the Competitiveness Coalition is a first-of-its-kind group educating the public and advocating for policies that put consumers first while fostering innovation and attracting new investment. For more information, please visit competitivenesscoalition.com. Members of the press can contact the coalition at [email protected]. The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy is New Hampshire’s free-market think tank.

New Hampshire voters rank affordable housing as the state’s No. 1 problem, according to a UNH Survey Center poll released on August 28. State business and political leaders agree, saying housing affordability is the top problem holding back the state’s economy. 

“Oh, it’s number one,” Gov. Chris Sununu told Drew Cline, president of The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, on the WFEA Morning Update. “The lack of housing for middle and lower-income families is absolutely number one because…. Without the housing, you don’t have the employees. Without the employees, the businesses can’t grow. If the businesses can’t grow, then economically everything becomes stagnation.”

In June 2023, housing affordability in the state reached a new record low for the second consecutive month, according to the New Hampshire Association of Realtors. With an affordability index of 61, the state’s median household income was only 61% of what’s necessary to qualify for the median-priced single-family home at current interest rates.

At the same time, median prices for single-family homes in New Hampshire hit their highest point ever at $495,000—an increase of $30,000 from the previous month’s record high. Condos notched a record median price of $400,000 in June too. 

Rents are also hitting new heights. The median cost of a two-bedroom apartment soared 11.4% over the past year alone to $1,764 a month.

Despite New Hampshire’s growing economy—ranked fourth overall, third in economic growth, first in economic opportunity, and last in poverty rate by U.S. News & World Report—the state is 36th in housing affordability.

“I would rate housing affordability number one currently among issues or challenges impacting New Hampshire’s economy,” Michael Skelton, president and CEO of the Business & Industry Association (BIA), told The Josiah Bartlett Center.

“It’s unquestionably the single most important problem facing New Hampshire’s economy,” said Jason Sorens, senior research faculty at the American Institute for Economic Research and author of The Josiah Bartlett Center’s landmark 2021 study linking local land-use regulations to the state’s housing shortage. 

Several leaders also agree that land-use regulations are a leading cause of the issue. 

“Most of the affordability problem is due to local land-use regulations,” Bob Quinn, CEO of the New Hampshire Association of Realtors, concluded. “They increase development costs or eliminate the opportunity to build entirely.”

“Local land-use regulations are certainly part of the issue, on par with NIMBYISM [Not-In-My-Backyard-ism],” Keene Mayor George Hansel said.

It comes down to a problem of supply and demand: Limited supply of housing with steady or increasing demand leads to an increase in prices. By restricting what can be built and where, zoning laws are suppressing the supply of housing, resulting in New Hampshire’s current housing shortage, state housing experts and business leaders say.

“There is simply not enough housing for people to rent in New Hampshire,” Ben Frost, deputy executive director of New Hampshire Housing, said on WMUR.

According to the CATO Institute’s Freedom in the 50 States—an index of personal and economic freedom—New Hampshire ranks 40th in land-use freedom, a product of local land-use regulations obstructing supply.  

These zoning regulations include minimum lot size, setback, frontage, minimum square footage, and design requirements, among others—all of which make it difficult to build and/or increase the costs of building.  

“We know developers are interested in building more housing and there are generally financing options and capital available to do so, [but] the challenge they most often face is finding a place to build,” BIA’s Skelton observed. “Local land-use regulations and zoning (minimum lot size being the most prominent) and infrastructure (water/sewer, etc.) availability and requirements, to me, are the most significant local regulatory issues impacting what can be built and where.”

As the New Hampshire Zoning Atlas demonstrates, single-family housing is allowed by right on 90% of the state’s 3.6 million acres of buildable land, yet most municipalities don’t allow single-family homes on small lots (less than one acre). 

In fact, homes on lots of less than one acre are permitted on only 16% of the state’s buildable land. 

The median lot in New Hampshire is 49,223 square feet, according to the Angi U.S. Lot Size Index. This is the second-highest in the country. 

In New Hampshire, minimum lot size requirements can exceed dozens of acres. Districts in Groton, New Boston, Peterborough, and New London require lots to be a minimum of 25 acres (1.089 million square feet).

Zooming in on the Greater Manchester Area, 89% of the buildable land in the city and surrounding towns (Auburn, Bedford, Goffstown, Hooksett, Litchfield, Londonderry, and Merrimack) allows single-family housing, but only 33% of that buildable area is open to new single-family homes (after accounting for existing development, vacancies, and growth potential). 

Just 21% of Greater Manchester’s buildable land allows single-family homes on small lots. This drops to merely 7.8% when considering only vacant or underdeveloped space.

“It’s not the only factor, but it’s the predominant factor, and it’s easily the most important factor we can actually do something about,” Jason Sorens, the principal investigator on the New Hampshire Zoning Atlas, noted about local zoning laws. 

“We can’t do much about steep slopes and poor soils, and expanding sewer and water service takes time and expense. Growing the construction workforce is another lever, but that will take a long time. Local land-use regulations drive at least 50% of the affordability problem, and we can change them,” Sorens added.

Multifamily development is heavily restricted as well. While housing for five or more families is permitted on 44.2% of New Hampshire’s buildable area, only 21% of this land allows these large-family developments on smaller lots.

Reforming a city’s zoning regime can be quite an undertaking. “Keene has dramatically streamlined and rewritten our land-use codes in the last three years,” Mayor Hansel said. “This was an expensive effort, costing more than $500,000 on top of internal staff time devoted to the rewrite effort. Smaller communities, without full-time planning staff, would have a hard time tackling something like that.”

Though some communities might want to avoid a full rewrite, smaller changes such as reducing minimum lot sizes, eliminating overlay districts (zoning districts that overlap original zoning districts), and increasing density limits (how many housing units can be built in a given area) would have significant impact.

Mayor Paul Callaghan offers Rochester as a model for other municipalities looking to make quick progress on this front. 

“In 2018 we increased the density allowance in and around our three urban centers (East Rochester, Downton Rochester, and Gonic) to allow for more density (and therefore less cost to developers),” Mayor Callaghan said. “And then in 2019 we did away with density requirements altogether in Downtown Rochester and allowed for some residential units on the ground floor level.”

“The system really works when it’s clicking, and the number one thing holding it all back…is housing,” Gov. Sununu told Cline. “And it isn’t, ‘Well, the government needs to build more housing.’ We’re investing more in housing than we ever have.” 

In fact, the 2024–25 state budget spends a record $25 million for the affordable housing fund. 

“But the locals need to permit it,” the governor continued. “Local, even small towns, need to talk to their businesses who are struggling to find employees and say, ‘Maybe if we just put five units up here or we let a small multifamily complex with seven, ten units go over here,’ that in itself can just be a game changer for a lot of small businesses in town to make them more economically viable.”

Capturing the full economic extent of the challenge, the governor added, “Everything moves positively when you have the housing and you can bring in the employees.”


Large majorities of Granite Staters support changing local land use regulations to allow the construction of more housing, the latest annual affordable housing survey from the Center for Ethics in Society at St. Anselm College reveals.

Support for more housing options has surged in the last year as home prices and rents have hit new records in New Hampshire. But despite huge and unprecedented levels of support for relaxing local regulations, news stories show that local boards continue to block new housing proposals when small groups of local residents turn out to oppose them.

In our hyper-partisan era, it’s unusual to get anywhere near 80% public support on an issue. Yet in New Hampshire, 78% of registered voters now agree that “my community needs more affordable housing to be built.” Only 18% disagreed. That 60-point gap was a 40-point gap last year. 

Opposition to housing construction often comes from older voters who don’t want to see their communities change—and who already have homes. Younger people who face the prospects of huge rents and few available starter homes tend to take a more permissive view of new housing construction. The effect of high rents and home prices on younger voters was shown in the results of this new poll. In the survey, “not a single voter under 35 disagreed with the ‘more affordable housing in my community’ position,” according to the Center for Ethics in Society. 

Voters have grown more receptive even to the idea that affordable housing should be built in their own neighborhood. The survey found that 58% of voters agreed that “My neighborhood needs more affordable housing to be built.” Support grew threefold in one year, from +7 in 2022 to +21 in 2023.

Significantly, voters have come to link the state’s severe housing shortage to local planning and zoning regulations. The survey found that 60% of voters agreed that “New Hampshire towns and cities should change their planning and zoning regulations in order to allow more housing to be built.” That 26-point gap was just a 12-point gap last year.


When the Josiah Bartlett Center asked voters in our 2021 poll whether they “support relaxing some local regulations to make it easier to build homes for people who need them,” 45% said yes and 34% said no. The growth over just two years in support for relaxing local land use regulations is remarkable. 

Highly restrictive local land use regulations became pervasive throughout New Hampshire because they once had broad support. The damage they’ve done to the state’s housing market has become so obvious that support for anti-housing positions is collapsing.

The Center for Ethics in Society asked voters if “New Hampshire should do more to prevent housing development and keep the state the way it is.” Only 45% of New Hampshire voters disagreed with that statement in the 2020 survey. (Support was at 31%, with the rest undecided.) In this year’s survey, 59% of voters disagreed, representing a 14-point swing since 2020. 

At the Josiah Bartlett Center, we’ve warned for years that if local governments continue to choke the housing supply by maintaining overly restrictive land use regulations, support for blanket state laws to override those regulations will grow. Sure enough, that is happening. 

In 2021, 37% of voters supported and 38% opposed “a bill to allow property owners to build duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes on any property served by municipal water and sewer, and where the zoning allows residential development.” Opposition to such a law has fallen nine points to 27%, and support has risen to 43%. 

In the Legislature, opposition to such legislation is driven by a perception that voters back home disapprove. But that disapproval is eroding. If local governments don’t swiftly change course and begin allowing more housing, legislators will be pushed by voters to offer a state solution.

Manchester has made strong gains, approving approximately 2,000 new units’ worth of new construction in recent years, according to city officials. But projects still run into road blocks there, and in many other municipalities local boards routinely thwart new construction as a matter of course. 

A few recent examples:

  • Portsmouth’s Zoning Board of Adjustment voted against a plan to convert an abandoned animal hospital into 16 housing units. 
  • Swanzey’s Zoning Board of Adjustment voted against a proposal for an 18-unit residential development. 
  • Seabrook’s Zoning Board voted against a 332-unit luxury apartment development at the former greyhound track. 
  • Brady-Sullivan continues a two-year fight to convert old office building to apartments. 

A sentiment often heard at local planning and zoning board meetings is that multi-family housing belongs in cities like Manchester, not in smaller communities. But most voters disagree with that, and the disagreement is growing stronger.

This year’s survey found that 64% of voters disagreed with the statement, “Our suburbs and rural towns should have mostly just single-family homes. Apartments, duplexes, and townhouses should be built only in cities.” That’s up from 61% two years ago. 

After years of surging housing costs—and a concerted effort by reformers (including the Josiah Bartlett Center) to highlight the role local regulations play in driving those costs higher—overwhelming majorities of Granite Staters now support relaxing local land use regulations.

It’s now up to voters and boards to take up this cause at the local level. If they don’t, it’s only a matter of time before legislators pass state laws to free developers and property owners from the local regulations that prevent the market from supplying people with the homes they want and need.   

New Hampshire’s district public schools had the nation’s largest percentage increase in staffing relative to enrollment from 1994–2022, a new study has found. 

The study by economist Ben Scafidi, director of the Education Economics Center at Kennesaw State University, found that district K-12 public school staffing in New Hampshire increased by 55% from the 1994 to 2022 fiscal years even as student enrollment fell by 11.2%.

“The staffing surge in New Hampshire public schools was the largest in the nation between 1994 and 2022,” Scafidi said.

New Hampshire’s gap between staffing growth and enrollment—66.2 percentage points—was by far the largest margin among all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Seven states had larger percentage increases in staffing, but they all had large increases in enrollment as well, which produced smaller gaps between enrollment and staffing than New Hampshire’s. 

For comparison, Florida’s increase in public school staffing was only 7.1 percentage points greater than its bump in student enrollment. Massachusetts’ gap was 44.1 points, Maine’s was 44.7, and Vermont’s was 26.6. The national gap was 28.1 points.

Nationwide during those years, district public school enrollment increased by 7.5% and staffing surged by 35.6%—nearly five times above what was necessary to accommodate the rise in student enrollment. That staffing surge was larger than in public higher education and all other state and local government services.

For public higher education nationally, the gap between enrollment growth (25.5%) and staffing growth (35.8%) was just 10.3 percentage points. During this same period, all state and local government staff excluding public education grew by 11.6% as the U.S. population grew by a much larger 32.3%. 

“Many advocates and leaders of public schools routinely claim that public schools are not a priority in America,” Scafidi said. “The data show that to be the opposite of the truth. For decades, K-12 public schools have been the employment priority for state and local governments across the United States.” 

New Hampshire found itself among 22 states (plus the District of Columbia) that experienced declining enrollment during this time. Among those states, 19 saw both declining enrollment and increased staffing. 

In other words, New Hampshire was in the minority of states that hired more personnel to serve fewer students.

In the Granite State, district K-12 public schools were clearly the employment priority of the state and local governments from 1994–2022. Public higher education staffing in New Hampshire grew by 23.3%, though enrollment grew by just 1.1% in those years. That 22.2-point gap is much larger than the national gap of 10.3 points. But it’s roughly a third of New Hampshire’s 66.2-point gap between enrollment and staffing in K-12 public schools. 

All other state and local government staff increased by only 13.1% as the Granite State population grew by 27.2% during those years. 

These figures reinforce the findings in The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy’s school funding study, also written by Scafidi, which we published this spring. In that study, Scafidi found that inflation-adjusted spending on K-12 public education in New Hampshire skyrocketed 40% from 2001–2019. 

With a decades-long surge in public school spending and hiring, why are we seeing reports that some school districts are having difficulty recruiting teachers going into the 2023–24 school year?

Simply put, New Hampshire’s district public schools have tended to devote their increased resources to hiring more staff, which leaves them with less money to spend on teacher pay. As we pointed out in a previous analysis, while average district public school spending in New Hampshire is 14.4% above the national average, teacher salaries fall 5.3% below the national average. 

From 2001–2019, teacher salaries grew by only 12% in New Hampshire. At the same time, current spending on a per-pupil basis (spending that excludes debt service and capital expenditures) surged by 74%, showing that the focus was hiring, not increasing teacher pay, even as enrollment fell.

What’s more, very little of New Hampshire’s staffing surge was dedicated to hiring more teachers. Our study published this spring showed that the number of K-12 public school teachers in the state grew by only 2% from 2001–2019. The number of instructional coordinators (considered district administrators by the U.S. Department of Education) and other district administrators, on the other hand, ballooned by 61% and 57%, respectively. Student support staff and paraprofessionals/aides each increased by 41% and 40%, respectively—again, as enrollment in the state fell.

Scafidi’s new study shows that the district K-12 public school staffing surge occurred nationwide over the last three decades, but it was particularly large in some states and greatest in New Hampshire. New Hampshire policymakers often boast that the state leads numerous national rankings. Unfortunately, this is not a ranking that such a famously frugal state should want to lead.  

The saga of the Elizabeth Gurley Flynn state historical marker drags on. Flynn—a labor leader, feminist, founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and an avowed member and chairperson of the Communist Party USA—was recognized this spring with a historical highway marker in her hometown of Concord.

Facing immediate backlash, the state removed “the rebel girl’s” marker soon after erecting it. The state now faces a lawsuit claiming it didn’t follow the rules for removal.

As state leaders debate whether or not to recognize a Communist who left the Granite State when she was about 10 years old, led the Communist Party USA, and received a Soviet state funeral in 1964, let’s not overlook the Concord capitalists who built companies and invented products that improved lives. 

Putting their own ingenuity to use, these inventors and entrepreneurs made a lasting impact on the New Hampshire and American economies. Comrade Gurley Flynn became a celebrity through her writing and organizing. These capitalists, on the other hand, received far less attention while helping to build the New Hampshire and U.S. economies, create jobs, and advance their fields.  

Levi Hutchins

If you set an alarm to help wake up at a certain time this morning, you can thank Levi Hutchins. Born in 1761, Hutchins lived in Concord from 1772 to 1777 and 1780 to 1855. And it was in Concord where Hutchins invented the first American alarm clock. 

Trained as clockmakers, Hutchins and his brother Abel opened their clockmaking shop on Main Street in Concord in 1786 and were successful businessmen. Hutchins understood the need for many to wake up on time for work, including himself. While alarm clocks were already in Europe, Hutchins was determined to bring one to America. 

In 1787, Hutchins designed and built the first American alarm clock. It was constructed in a 29-inch by 14-inch wooden cabinet, and each clock could only be set for one specific time (in Hutchins’s case, 4 a.m.). Hutchins never bothered to patent his clock or mass produce it. But he did wake up on time for the rest of his life and tinker his way into the history books. 

Sylvester Marsh

A stalwart of New Hampshire’s significant tourist economy, the Mount Washington Cog Railway was the first of its kind in the world when Sylvester Marsh designed and built it.

Marsh was born in 1803 and lived in Concord for the last five years of his life. An American entrepreneur, Marsh’s inspiration for the railway came from his near-death experience hiking Mount Washington in 1852 during a storm. Locomotives at the time weren’t able to climb Washington’s steep incline, so Marsh had to invent a new railway—the cog rail.

Though some state lawmakers laughed at Marsh, the Legislature gave him exclusive rights to a Mount Washington railway in 1858. And since 1869, the Cog has made regular trips year-round to the top of the tallest mountain in the Northeast as one of the Granite State’s oldest, most popular attractions and a boon to its economy. (Marsh is mentioned in the Cog Railway’s historical marker in the White Mountains but doesn’t have one of his own.)

Benjamin Ames Kimball

Northeastern railroad giant and Concord resident from 1854 to 1920, Benjamin Ames Kimball, born in 1833, was a railroad engineer, mechanic, and manufacturer, as well as a consequential figure in railroad expansion in New England.

Starting as a draftsman in the shops of the Concord Railroad, Kimball worked his way up to designing locomotives and running the locomotive department. He left to found his own manufacturing company and later returned as a director of the Concord Railroad. In 1879, Kimball led the merger of the Concord Railroad with the Boston, Concord, and Montreal Railroad, forming the Concord and Montreal Railroad in 1889. Serving as its president from 1895 to 1920, the Concord and Montreal Railroad was the principal railroad in the state under Kimball’s leadership.

The leading railroad figure in New Hampshire, Kimball is credited with overseeing a booming system that accelerated the state’s economy and facilitated increased tourism to the Lakes Region and White Mountains. 

Benjamin Holt

Go to any construction site in the country, and chances are you’ll see Caterpillar Inc. equipment on the job. The origins of both the company and the machinery can be traced back to one man: Benjamin Holt. 

Born in 1849 in Concord, Holt was an inventor who owned more than 45 patents. He’s best known, however, for inventing in 1904 the first successful track-type tractor—called the “Caterpillar”—a product that Caterpillar Inc. still uses. 

Determined to create a vehicle to help farmers, Holt and his company, Holt Manufacturing, designed a track-laying system that would allow heavy tractors to move over soft soil and mud. With his track-type tractor, Holt became the father of mechanized farming. 

During World War I, Holt even supplied treads for U.S. and British tanks. 

Holt Manufacturing later merged with a competitor to form Caterpillar Tractor Co., which eventually became Caterpillar Inc., the largest manufacturer of earth-moving equipment in the world. 

Though Holt did not receive a state funeral in Moscow, he fed more Soviets than Concord-born Communist hero Gurley Flynn ever did. During the Great Depression, the Soviet government needed agricultural equipment that its socialist, command economy couldn’t produce. So, they bought American tractors and combines from Caterpillar. 


Announcing her run for governor, former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte said she’d fight to prevent New Hampshire from becoming Massachusetts. It was as if she had insulted Bill Belichick’s mother.

Lowell’s city manager demanded an apology for Ayotte’s factual assertion that his city has long been a source of illegal drugs entering New Hampshire. Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham compared New Hampshire Republicans, along with all other Republicans, to the patrons of the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars, though she lost points for calling the cantina a “bar.”

“In New Hampshire, as in the rest of the country, the GOP has become the bar scene from ‘Star Wars,’ dominated by extremists, conspiracy theorists, culture war obsessives, and cultish devotees of former president Donald Trump,” Abraham wrote.

How offensive. Not to Republicans, but to all other Granite Staters who were so rudely and unfairly excluded.

Let’s face it, the bouncer at the Mos Eisley cantina would let most of New Hampshire in.

To the rest of New England, New Hampshire is a libertarian-ish hive of scum and villainy. It’s a land of Yankee hillbillies, anti-tax zealots, bearded weirdos, flannel-wrapped survivalists, home-brewing crypto farmers and gun-toting charity gamblers.

And to be honest, there’s some truth to that. But it’s not for the reasons New England progressives think. They think we’re just backwards rednecks. In reality, New Hampshire is a refuge in the region that attracts people who value freedom over order.

Eccentrics and frontiersmen are drawn to freedom like goth cosplayers are drawn to sites of unspeakable evil.

Granite Staters have created a “live free or die” culture in which citizens are trusted with immense amounts of power, and government is rather tightly constrained. Here, 424 legislators are held accountable to voters in small, compact districts, governors are weak, and you can open carry into some bars (and cantinas) as long as you’re not drinking.

Massachusetts is a very different place. The most obvious difference is the preference for order over liberty. But it goes further than that.

“Apparently, our state is a freedom-hating, high-tax hell scape, teeming with drug dealers from Lawrence and Lowell who prey on the decent citizens to the north,” Abraham wrote in mock summary of Ayotte’s remarks.


Massachusetts does have:

If New Hampshire is the Mos Eisley cantina, Massachusetts is the Empire. Consider the similarities.

The Empire is run by a small group of elites who seek to consolidate power and impose order on the universe. If that’s not the progressive ideal, what is?

Massachusetts is effectively a one-party state where the primary political disagreements are over how much money to tax from the people and spend on behalf of favored constituencies, thus further consolidating the ruling party’s power.

One-party rule has created such political dysfunction that Beacon Hill has devolved into non-stop insider power plays that look a little like the constant infighting among imperial brass.

But most importantly, Massachusetts has for decades attempted to colonize New Hampshire by overrunning our state with its revenue agents.

From placing state police in N.H. liquor store parking lots to taxing the income of remote workers, Massachusetts has sought to leave no dime uncollected from anyone who lives, works, or has ever set foot in the Bay State.

Massachusetts literally sent troopers to New Hampshire to search for tax scofflaws, for crying out loud.

And the Bay State uses policy to maintain control and punish groups that constitute a challenge to its power. Last year it raised taxes on incomes of $1 million or more by 80%, successfully singling out both an opposing power base and an unpopular minority for financial exploitation and domination.

Massachusetts charges an estate tax (it’s one of only 17 states to do that). So even death is no escape from Massachusetts’ imperial reach.

The state even punishes owners of some businesses with an additional “stinger tax” on top of the regular taxes they have to pay.

On the whole, Massachusetts ranks 34th in business tax climate, while New Hampshire ranks sixth.

Massachusetts ranks 7th in state tax collections per capita. New Hampshire ranks 47th.

Government power in Massachusetts is protected through taxation, regulation, and propaganda. The state and local governments take aggressive positions on one side of divisive culture war issues.

When reforms do slip through the system, the establishment does its best to crush them. The state allowed chartered public schools 30 years ago. But it quickly capped the number of charter schools, and in 2016 establishment forces defeated a parent-led effort to lift the cap. Charter school funding is limited by a law that sets it at a tiny percentage of what district public schools get, to ensure that charters never become a competitor at scale. Larger reforms, such as Education Savings Accounts, remain illegal.

Now, obviously, Massachusetts no longer employs the level of violence it once used to enforce conformity. Its ruling elite now use policy and social pressure to satisfy the Puritanical impulse to purge heretics and reinforce orthodox views.

That’s progress. But it’s unmistakable that Massachusetts values order and orthodoxy over freedom and individualism, and this preference feeds the growth of an imperial state.

All states need to establish social order, and all cultures develop social norms. Some lean more toward order, some toward liberty. New Hampshire has always held freedom to be its core value, even when it hasn’t lived up to its own ideals.

It’s not an accident that no accused witch was ever executed in New Hampshire.

Given the choice, we’ll take the place that elevates liberty as its core value every time. And we’re not alone. More than 100,000 Bay Staters moved out of the state from April 2020-July 2022.

And in a sure sign of flight from power, the top two destinations for Massachusetts refugees are Florida and New Hampshire, states that have no income tax and rank high in individual freedom.

A survey by a travel website found in January that most Massachusetts residents said they’d move to New Hampshire if they could “have a clean break and move somewhere else.”

Given the choice, people tend to move from oppressive states to free ones. That’s why people generally move from Massachusetts to New Hampshire and not vice versa.

So when New Hampshire politicians say they don’t want our state to become Massachusetts, it’s not frivolous political rhetoric. It’s not a gratuitous insult. We know we’re the last hope for New Englanders who want to live free from domineering government. And we want to keep it that way. Forever.