By Corey R. Lewandowski, State Director, Americans for Prosperity- New Hampshire
New Hampshire voters sent a clear message in last November’s election that they want lower taxes, smaller government and less regulation by electing candidates who echoed and supported that message.
Our legislators deserve credit for passing a state budget that cuts spending by 11% WITHOUT raising taxes or adding any additional fees to New Hampshire residents.
Each legislative session is marked not only by the individual legislators but also by the times. Given the current economic climate and the reality that our state and our country are still emerging from the recent recession, being able to pass a budget that reduces spending without increasing taxes to pay for the reductions is commendable. Speaker Bill O’Brien and the rest of the members deserve our appreciation for doing exactly what the voters sent them to Concord to do – reduce spending and cut taxes. After an arduous fight, the current budget includes a reduction in the tax on cigarettes. While this does not impact every taxpayer directly, we all reap the indirect benefits as this tax cut helps New Hampshire businesses stay competitive with neighboring states, thus keeping their prices down and enabling them to maintain and create jobs.
The House and Senate passed SB 2 that caps spending on annual budgets in cities and towns in New Hampshire. Both chambers also approved SB 146 requiring state agencies in addition to their usual budget request to submit an additional budget that shows a reduction in their spending by 10%.
The House also passed CACR 6, a proposed constitutional amendment, which would have required a 3/5 super-majority vote to impose any new increases in taxes or license fees. Sadly, this is one of many pieces of legislation approved by the House which the Senate failed to act upon. The Senate also failed to pass HB 648, the eminent domain bill which sought to assert the rights of New Hampshire landowners against moves from foreign companies to take and utilize their private property. Both of these bills represented opportunities in which the Senate could have acted to protect and preserve the rights and prosperity of Granite State residents.
Perhaps the most notable instance in which the Senate failed to follow the will of the people is on the repeal of New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The House voted twice with veto-proof majorities to end our state’s participation in this failed cap-and-trade scheme. Unfortunately for the electricity ratepayers of New Hampshire, the Senate stalled, amended and watered down the RGGI repeal before finally passing it onto Governor Lynch without the amount of support needed to override the Governor’s expected veto.
Remaining to be addressed when the legislature reconvenes is the move to override Governor Lynch’s veto of the Right-to-Work legislation that was passed this session. This vital piece of legislation will increase New Hampshire’s competitiveness both in the region and around the country. We should encourage our legislators to stand with job creators across the Granite State and support an override of the Governor’s veto when this comes to a vote.
As we continue to monitor the votes in Concord, we must remember that the most important votes cast are those at the ballot box. Every two years we have the opportunity to assess the job performance of our elected officials. While the issues and candidates may change, what remains unchanged is the seriousness with which New Hampshire citizens approach this solemn responsibility.
Corey is a Windham, NH resident