Concord, N.H. – As the New Hampshire Senate begins work on the state’s budget, business leaders are calling on Senate Republicans to restore funding for critical economic development priorities championed by Governor Hassan in her fiscally responsible budget, including restoring funding to move forward with commuter rail and undoing cuts to tourism promotion.
See below for a coverage roundup:
Union Leader: Manchester group wants to restore rail funding
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen is expected to vote on Tuesday to send a letter to state Senate budget writers urging them to restore funding for the next phase of a plan to bring passenger rail to the city.
On Monday, the board’s Special Committee on Economic Development voted unanimously to recommend sending the letter, after representatives of the city’s business community spoke in support of the project.
Michael Skelton, the president and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, told the committee that the work of the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority needed to continue in light of the report it released late last year that concluded there would be substantial economic benefits to establishing passenger rail service between Manchester and Boston. [Full article]
Nashua Telegraph Op-Ed: Tourism promotion is essential to NH
Rusty McLear is co-owner and president of Mill Falls at the Lake in Meredith. Alex Ray is owner and founder of The Common Man family of restaurants. Together, they are the principals of Granite State Hospitality, the company that is currently building the new state welcome centers on I-93 in Hooksett.
When the House of Representatives voted to cut New Hampshire’s tourism marketing budget, they put at risk revenue from tourism, one of the cornerstones of the state’s economy and of the state’s tax base.
Tourism is New Hampshire’s second largest industry, generating more than $5 billion of economic activity per year in the state. In 2014, the tourism industry supported 68,000 jobs in New Hampshire.
The number of visitors to the state has been growing steadily, tied to the growth in promotion by New Hampshire’s Division of Travel and Tourism Development (DTTD). In 2014, 4.7 percent more visitors came to the state than in 2013, and their total spending increased by 6.9 percent.
In 2009, the legislature passed a law dedicating 3.15 percent of revenue from the rooms and meals tax to tourism promotion. The Legislature has suspended this law to cut $3.77 million, almost half of the Division’s total budget, from DTTD’s Tourism Development Fund.
Most states, including nearby Maine and Massachusetts, spend more than New Hampshire currently spends on tourism promotion. With cuts of this magnitude, New Hampshire will have one of the weakest tourism promotion budgets in the country.
What happens to tourism after a state stops promoting? When Colorado cut its tourism marketing budget from $12 million to zero in 1992, the state lost 30 percent of its market share within a two-year interval. After Colorado reinstated its promotional spending, it took 11 years to regain the market share it lost.
A reduction in tourism to New Hampshire would be devastating to our economy, and it would severely diminish tax revenue for our state government. A study by The Institute for New Hampshire Studies at Plymouth State University has determined that DTTD’s promotional activities generate at least $585 million in tourism spending annually. Losing that amount of spending would result in a loss of $53 million in net tax revenue to the state.
We understand that the Legislature faces many tough decisions as they decide on the state budget for the next two years. However, cutting promotion for tourism is short-sighted and fiscally irresponsible. In fact, we would argue that an increase in the tourism budget is the more logical path to solving our financial problems. In Fiscal Year 2014, state and local governments took in $9.23 of tax revenue for every dollar invested in tourism promotion.
Joined by members of the N.H. Travel Council and others in the tourism industry, we urge the Legislature to approve a budget that continues to fund tourism promotion at its previous level. It’s an investment that benefits all New Hampshire residents.
February is that exciting time of the year when the governor gives us a special valentine in the form of her budget address. Much better than candy or flowers, it is an outline of the two-year state budget – the policy document that guides every little thing the government does and defines an administration. With government currently divided, we should listen carefully to see if this critical address is meaningless theater or the first step toward something constructive happening despite political antagonism. Click here to keep reading.
This week, the Capitol Corridor Rail and Transit Study’s final report was released. The study, which began in 2013, examined a number of transit options for the corridor, with most of the public and political attention focused on the possibility of extending commuter rail into the state. The final study looked at 7 transit options, three for commuter rail, three for bus and a ‘no build’ option. These options were reduced to 5 with the elimination of two of the bus proposals from further consideration. This piece details the commuter rail options presented in the report. Click here to keep reading.
Last month we celebrated School Choice Week here at the Center, highlighting all of the great things that happen when parents are empowered to make get the best education possible for their children.
A short documentary, Live Free and Learn, was produced by our friends at Cato, that details the School Choice Scholarship Tax Credit here in New Hampshire, and the impact it is having on education.
And a podcast featuring our own Charlie Arlinghaus discussing education reform in New Hampshire. Click here to listen.
Key Point: “[Marilinda] Garcia is not ignorant of the [passenger rail] issue, and Williams knew it. As a state representative, Garcia has a track record of opposing commuter rail initiatives. Williams, a knowledgeable business advocate and student of state government, called her on it.
"Most amazing about Garcia’s embarrassing response is that she clearly wasn’t prepared to address the issue. Hello. This is Nashua. Commuter rail is an important issue here. It’s an important issue to the Chamber of Commerce as well. An astute candidate attending a political forum in Nashua, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, would have anticipated the question and been ready to offer an intelligent response. Garcia was not, and for that there is no excuse."
See here or below for the full editorial:
“Be prepared” is the Boy Scout motto. It’s also a song from Disney’s “The Lion King.” And it should be the motto of any candidate for public office sitting down to talk politics with Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Williams, especially with more than 100 business people and the media watching.
Witness 2nd District congressional candidate Marilinda Garcia. The Salem Republican, who is seeking to unseat Democrat incumbent Ann Kuster, was paddling along quite nicely Thursday morning, regurgitating her carefully constructed talking points, when Williams adeptly sliced a few holes in her fragile little dingy.
The issue that rattled Williams’ cage the most was extending commuter rail service to Nashua and places north. Garcia pleaded ignorance of the issue and told Williams, “I’ll get back to you on that.”
Garcia is not ignorant of the issue, and Williams knew it. As a state representative, Garcia has a track record of opposing commuter rail initiatives. Williams, a knowledgeable business advocate and student of state government, called her on it.
Most amazing about Garcia’s embarrassing response is that she clearly wasn’t prepared to address the issue. Hello. This is Nashua. Commuter rail is an important issue here. It’s an important issue to the Chamber of Commerce as well. An astute candidate attending a political forum in Nashua, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, would have anticipated the question and been ready to offer an intelligent response. Garcia was not, and for that there is no excuse.
Office of New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan
CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan released the following statement applauding the Executive Council’s approval to move forward with a study evaluating the feasibility of extending rail service from Boston to the Nashua, Manchester, Concord corridor:
“Expanded rail service to Nashua and beyond has the potential to boost New Hampshire’s economy and create jobs. The only way we can understand the full impact of the project and ensure that taxpayer dollars are protected is to gather all of the facts. Using federal funds to study the rail project is a commonsense step forward that will allow the people of New Hampshire and their elected leaders to fully evaluate the options and make an informed decision. I thank the Department of Transportation for moving quickly to bring the item to the Executive Council, and I applaud the Councilors for their bipartisan approval of this important study.”