It’s not over yet. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

A year ago, New Hampshire – and indeed, the world – faced a global economic crisis when governments put a roaring economy on pause to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We can, and should, have a discussion about whether this reaction was necessary or overwrought. But, that is largely a matter of history. I am much more interested in where we go from here.

The initial impact of the pandemic shutdown was devastating. Unemployment in April 2020 skyrocketed to 17.1 percent. Workers employed by New Hampshire businesses contracted by 114,000 between February and April 2020. According to New Hampshire Employment Security, 52.2 percent of New Hampshire businesses reported seeing a decline in demand for their products or services.

And yet, the Granite State rebounded swiftly. By the end of 2020, unemployment was around 4 percent and currently stands at 4.1 percent. The state budget, which we thought would have been blown all out of whack, miraculously has a surplus.

All of this is due to our resilience and the state’s generations-long commitment to lower taxes, frugal spending, and fewer unnecessary regulations.

However, this macro view doesn’t tell the whole story. According to Yelp, 449 New Hampshire businesses indexed by the review site closed their doors last year, 280 of them permanently. Meanwhile, tax cuts for businesses were shelved due to a deal cut by the governor and the then-Democrat-controlled state legislature to make them contingent upon state revenue thresholds. That meant small businesses already hanging by a thread could not rely on needed tax relief.

As we recover, a great deal rides on current state budget negotiations and the legislature’s approach to onerous regulations.

Gov. Chris Sununu proposed a fiscally responsible budget in February. Under his plan, New Hampshire would resume tax cuts for small employers and hospitality businesses and government spending is kept in check. The Republican-led legislature would also like to add tax cuts for larger employers. But liberals in Concord are already perpetuating the lie that the budget will drive up local property taxes. This is untrue. The budget as currently constructed actually sends more money to cities and towns.

We need to understand that the liberals’ “downshifting” argument is a talking point and little more. It’s a strawman designed to distract from their real agenda: Higher taxes, more government spending, and in the fulfillment of their wildest dreams, an income tax.

Consider last year the liberals attempted to force a new income tax to finance paid family leave legislation. This hair-brained idea was soundly rejected in November. But it’s a fresh reminder that they will never quit trying to impose their agenda on employers and working families.

Their regulatory agenda isn’t much better. One example should provide a glimpse into what’s at stake for small employers should the liberals ever regain the reins of power in Concord. We all know restaurants have been among the most severely-impacted industries during this pandemic. Did you know liberals in Concord are pushing a new mandate on these businesses prohibiting polystyrene food containers, which are considered the cheapest and most hygienic way of serving takeout?

This is their mindset. They want to control our businesses. And they don’t understand or even seem to care about the effect their regulation would have on jobs and economic growth.

That’s why I’m honored to take up this cause to promote an agenda of economic growth and prosperity here in New Hampshire during an historic time as we seek to recover from an unprecedented pandemic.  Small businesses and working families need and deserve another voice at the state level as the governor, legislature, and Executive Council work to build New Hampshire’s economy bigger and better than it has ever been while keeping Granite Staters safe and healthy.

This week I relaunched STEWARD of Prosperty, originally led by businessman Fred Tausch, under the new brand New Hampshire Fiscal Steward. This grassroots organization will advocate tirelessly for employers, working families, and taxpayers while standing stand in fierce opposition to the liberal agenda in Concord.