by Steve Schmidt – State Representative Wolfeboro (2010-2018)
I ran for the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2010 and subsequently served for four terms. My third term included serving as Deputy Majority Leader and my fourth term as Chair of the Labor Committee when the family leave bill was initially presented for consideration. More on family leave to follow. I represented myself as a “Common Sense Republican” who recognized the value of the “New Hampshire Advantage”, a significant factor that motivated my move from New Jersey. My belief that a good idea is a good idea regardless of origination and lastly, that I would consider the interests of my constituents first.
Let’s fast forward to the current Democrat House Majority which passed a budget increasing spending by a whopping 13 percent; proposing three new taxes including capital gains, an income tax to finance family leave and lastly an increase in state business taxes. Their budget assumed that these tax increases would pass, fully funding their proposed new programs. The first breakdown in “Common Sense” is that none of the proposed tax increases have the slightest chance of becoming law, including one or two that are even questionable in the Democrat controlled Senate. Now, pragmatic politics doesn’t seem to be in vogue.
Let’s review the taxes. The Republican Legislature enacted business tax reductions commencing in fiscal year 2016 despite Democrat opposition that the reductions would create a $90 million hole in the budget. The reductions resulted in Business tax revenues exceeding forecasts by $500 million including $30 million this past April alone. As a result our New Hampshire economy is booming. Does your “Common Sense” suggest that New Hampshire has a revenue problem or that the unparalleled success of the business tax reduction program be rolled back?
The proposed tax on Capital Gains to fund education spending is problematic at best. The Department of Revenue Administration has stated that House Budget writers have overstated potential revenue by $60 million. More importantly, if you live in Wolfeboro, Tuftonboro or Moultonboro you will not benefit from this tax. Our residents will pay capital gains taxes to fund property tax reductions in other towns! Perhaps “Common Sense” dictates that your elected Representatives should consider your interests first. No one disputes that
education funding is an important issue for all New Hampshire taxpayers. I would suggest that a much better solution is available through a bi-partisan legislative effort to examine stabilization grants and the definition of educational adequacy.
The family leave bill recently vetoed by the Governor and financed by a 5 percent income tax on all employees was deeply flawed. The bill would have created a massive increase in State Bureaucracy to administer and given authority to that unelected bureaucracy to raise taxes as it so determines. What advocates have never discussed is that of the 750 thousand New Hampshire workers, how many would actually benefit. A review of New Hampshire’s working population demographics suggests to me that the majority of workers paying this mandatory tax would probably never exercise the benefit while supporting the needs of a minority that would. Does this sound fair to the majority of New Hampshire workers? Meanwhile, the Governor has presented a plan that is truly keeping with the “New Hampshire Way”. If you think that voluntarily subscribing to a paid leave insurance benefit is to your advantage, then you will have the opportunity to do so. Sure, seems like “Common Sense” to me and in the best interest of all New Hampshire employees.
New Hampshire is at or near the top nationally in lowest unemployment rate, median wage, best state to live or retire to and many more. There will always be problems to solve but the efforts and good will of citizen legislators through the decades have made New Hampshire unique and a standout among its peers.
Let’s hope that “Common Sense and Politics” will not become mutually exclusive here in New Hampshire.