Bettencourt remarks at NH Grocers Association Press Conference

Press Conference this morning announcing new initiatives and a discussion of current economic trends regarding New Hampshire tourism and cross border sales.

Good morning and that you all for joining us this morning:

Today is about promoting the New Hampshire Advantage and its critical role in our state revenue system. It is an advantage that those of us who represent boarder communities know very well. This legislature understood and respected that our cross boarder advantage presents us with a budgetary tool and we put that into practice in our budget.

Let’s be very clear, at this time overall state revenues are not sagging behind projection. In fact, we are currently running a surplus over $10 million. However, our economy is far from out of the woods and we must remain vigilant. But we took several steps this legislative session to sharpen our cross boarder advantage because we know it is part of the solution in strengthening our economy.

It is well known that this budget cut the tobacco tax by 10 cents, but that wasn’t all that we did to sharpen our advantage, as Speaker O’Brien referenced. For communities like Windham and Salem, which I have the honor to represent, successful efforts to eliminate the lottery winnings tax and the rooms and meals fee reduction were critical. We also passed 43 pieces of legislation that deregulated our small businesses. Saying that small businesses, such as grocers, are the back bone of our economy must be more than a nice campaign slogan. Rather it is a philosophy to be governed on and we are doing just that.

All of this will have a positive impact on our economy and is already leading to job creation. In fact, just this month we are seeing the impact of the Republican pro-growth initiatives bringing confidence to both employers and workers. More than  2,200 New Hampshire citizens were able to find jobs this month, helping the working families across the state.  What’s more important is that almost 2,000 residents decided to get off the sidelines and join the labor force, showing that they are betting on a brighter future for our economy. We need to make sure that government is not a barrier to growing our economy

I do want to take a moment to debunk a myth that is being promoted by the critics of this budget. The idea that the tobacco tax cut was made at the expense of other services or caused budget cuts to be deeper is ludicrous. Budget writers moved forward with this tax cut on the basis of several economic studies that established that cutting this tax would produce greater revenue but the worst case scenario being that it would be revenue neutral. This is important for the public to remember as critics attempt to spread misinformation about this budget.

Additionally, while there has been a rush to note that tobacco revenue has lagged behind projections thus far, I remind everyone that this is a two year budget and we are less than 5 months into it. There is a long way to go and to say that this tax cut has not worked out at this early juncture of the budget is unwise and I would suggest is partisan politically motivated.

This legislature is focused, and will remain focused, on our economy and getting our citizens back to work. Some have suggested that raising taxes or implementing a sales or income tax is the only answer. We reject that kind of lazy legislating.  Our taxpayers and our economy simply cannot afford it. Instead, we made difficult but responsible spending reductions and found innovative cost savings.

Those of us in the I-93 corridor can appreciate that we put out an “open for business” sign on our state and are putting our citizens back to work by fostering a prosperous business-friendly atmosphere. We must become a magnet for new, relocating, or expanding businesses. We will continue to do this by seeking to cut taxes that affect the New Hampshire Advantage and scale back expensive mandates that have hurt the ability for businesses to thrive here.

These are the areas that this legislature has been focused and these are the areas we will remain focused.

Thank you for joining us this morning.