LOCAL VOTERS PRESS LAWMAKERS TO DITCH “PLEDGE,” WANT OPEN DISCUSSION ON TAX REFORM

CONCORD, NH – March 15, 2007 – Voters in seven towns this week passed a resolution calling upon state lawmakers to ditch “The Pledge” and begin an open, honest discussion about New Hampshire’s tax system. The resolution was drafted by the Granite State Fair Tax Coalition, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization formed to educate voters about the effects of “The Pledge” on the property tax, and placed on warrants by citizens in these towns.

Amherst,Cornish, Harrisville, Holderness, Milton, Sandwich, Sharon and Westmoreland were the first of 14 towns to vote on the resolution, and all towns passed it but Sandwich. The six remaining towns – Francestown, Hancock, Henniker, Hinsdale, Peterborough and Plainfield -- will vote on the same resolution this weekend at their town meetings.

Milton's voters went overwhelmingly for the resolution, 531-246, at the same time they also voted down a $950,000 bond for a new fire station. Coalition organizers interpret this in part as a signal of the voters’ increasing inability to cope with the current reliance on property taxes.

Amherst voters, who also rejected many spending measures, voted 1,268-1,225 in favor of the resolution, in spite of the town’s Ways and Means Committee recommendation to vote against it.

“In a state that has for almost four decades squelched any discussion of tax reform as a means to alleviate the increasingly unfair property tax, this vote sends a message to state lawmakers that citizens are getting fed up with the current system,” said David Lamarre-Vincent, president of the Granite State Fair Tax Coalition. “Citizens understand “The Pledge” has outlived its usefulness and perpetuates an unfair property tax, and they want serious conversation to replace the rhetoric,” he said.

The Coalition has held forums in towns over the past month to explain the resolution and provide an overview of the state’s tax history, today’s economic drivers and some of the consequences of relying on property taxes to fund state services. Forums have been well attended, said Lamarre-Vincent. “People are beginning to see evidence that the system is dysfunctional, inequitable and, above all, unsustainable. What may have worked 35, 40 or 200 years ago no longer sustains today’s economy,” he added.

The Fair Tax Coalition is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization formed last year as a public policy project of the NH Council of Churches. It soon attracted individuals and organizations interested in joining forces in an effort to educate the voters of New Hampshire on the effects of their current revenue system.

The group includes partnering organizations such as the League of Women Voters NH, the NH Council of Churches, and the Episcopal Diocese of NH. The group’s ultimate goal is fostering an environment where candidates for statewide office no longer feel they need to take “The Pledge,” and can instead commit to an open and honest debate about tax reform, and a revenue system that is fair, just, and sustainable.

For more information about the Coalition, its members, and its educational materials, please visit the coalition’s website, www.fairtaxnh.org.