At a time when New Hampshire is falling behind other states in its ability to attract new businesses with good jobs for our citizens, the Free State/Tea Party legislature in Concord is putting our economic future at even greater risk. On Wednesday, May 30 a legislative committee of conference passed CACR 13, a constitutional amendment that, if approved by the voters in November, will forever ban taxes on incomes.
One doesn’t need to be in favor of an income tax, something I’m sure to be accused of, to understand that a constitutional amendment of this nature may well be easy to sell and far harder to explain its long term damage to our state.
However, unless the business community is willing to settle for rising business profits taxes, as well as getting less for their money to boot from a deteriorating infrastructure and educational system, and unless property taxpayers are willing to see their property taxes rise faster and by greater percentages, folks better take a long hard look at where this simple sounding solution to all of our fiscal woes will actually lead.
In their cynical ideological rush to tie the hands of future generations’ ability to consider any alternative to rising property and business taxes, the legislature has managed to pass a badly flawed bill that experts say will involve years of court battles and whole new bodies of constitutional law.
For example, Professor Marcus Hum of UNH's School of Law points out this amendment could put nearly all taxation issues into the hands of New Hampshire's courts. CACR 13 would, says Hum “start a cascade of constitutional questions that could take years to settle” and “inescapably require the Supreme Court to develop whole new bodies of constitutional law and … to make judgment calls where clear or even workable definitions are probably impossible.”
But the legislature didn’t stop at just passing a constitutional amendment to forever ban consideration of taxing someone’s income (poorly defined though that may be), they also passed another amendment CACR 6, that requires a two-fifths majority to pass any new or increased fee or tax – double whammy and boatloads of additional damage.
Unfortunately, in today’s halls of power one can’t get two-thirds to agree on whether the sky is blue. There is far greater loyalty to partisan ideology than anything remotely akin to what might be best for our citizens or our long-term sustainability as a state.
Since the beginning of my campaign for governor, I've made clear that we must have an adult discussion about how we fund the investments that make New Hampshire strong – quality education, robust public and private sectors, and the infrastructure needed for our state to compete in the 21st century marketplace.
Our state is already not making sufficient investments in these areas, the very investments that attract good businesses with good jobs. Businesses are now reluctant to relocate or start up in our state. Last year alone, New Hampshire lost 3,800 jobs while Massachusetts and New York created jobs.
CACR 13 and CACR 6, linked together, fail to do anything to meet these needs to revitalize our economy and attract businesses to our state and they will significantly impede our ability to fund such priorities in the future. In fact, there is every likelihood that the combination of the two will make the North Country, that has been losing jobs for more than five decades, seem to be a beehive of economic activity.
If the voters of the state care about its future, they need to swiftly defeat these destructive amendments in November and vote out the ideologues that passed them.