- Associated Press - Thursday, December 22, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan is soon heading to the U.S. Senate after four years leading New Hampshire.

Hassan, 58, considers passing Medicaid expansion, increasing funding for higher education and strengthening the state’s economy among her biggest accomplishments.

She sat down with The Associated Press on Thursday to reflect on her tenure and what’s ahead. Her comments have been edited for space and clarity.

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Q: What is one of your most memorable moments from your time as governor?

A: I think about the signing of the Medicaid expansion bill a lot, just the bipartisan nature of the effort. … There’s those kinds of moments that are memorable because we’ve done something together that will strengthen people and communities and the economy at so many different levels.

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Q: What is your biggest disappointment?

A: One of the concrete things that I really wish we had done - and I think our economy would be even stronger if we had - was restore and raise the minimum wage. We have people working so hard full time, more than full time, who are living in poverty. That’s, one, just not right in a democracy, and two, it really does hold us back economically.

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Q: Republicans will be fully in control in Concord for the first time in a long time. Is there anything you are concerned or worried they might dismantle?

A: What I would urge the next set of leaders to think through is that our New Hampshire Medicaid expansion program was created by a bipartisan agreement. In addition to bringing coverage to over 50,000 Granite Staters (it) has increased competition in the marketplace because of the way we structured the program. … I do see coverage of comments about changing our election system in a way that would suppress votes. … We have a really strong record of clean and strong elections in New Hampshire, and we have a very high voter participation rate - one of the highest in the country. … So I think people should be really careful.

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Q: What’s your first priority as a new senator?

A: I will keep focused on the heroin and opioid crisis. … I also want to continue to do the work I’ve done as governor, focusing on economic development and national security and safety. … I’m really excited about the work on the (Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions), not only in terms of making the case for improving the Affordable Care Act but not repealing it. … On the homeland security issues, of prime focus and importance will be cybersecurity - something we’ve been working on here in New Hampshire.

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