A front page article in the October 2, 2012 issue of The Eagle Tribune revealed the disagreement within all political parties in New Hampshire concerning casino gambling. The article broaches an even larger issue in the Granite State. How will the state generate enough revenue to protect its citizens, provide quality K-12 schools and affordable higher education, care for the elderly, the disadvantaged and rebuild the state’s infrastructure? Virtually no politician in any party advocates broad-based taxation, income or sales; therefore, increasing revenues within the current tax structure is the only alternative, unless gaming and other revenue enhancing strategies are on the table.
The current legislature in Concord has cut spending markedly in the last biennium: state funding for the University System of New Hampshire by 44%, the State Scholarship Fund has been suspended, funding for Planned Parenthood has ended and the Children In Need of Services program has been severely curtailed, etc.
This legislature has also passed legislation to reduce the Business Profits Tax (BPT) from 8.5 to 8.0%. It also voted to raise income levels that trigger payment as well as increase deductions and credits for both the BPT and the Business Enterprise Tax (BET). The BPT and BET constitute only 18% of the tax bill for business in New Hampshire, but the decreased revenue will be reflected in decreased state spending on child care, healthcare and higher education.
The current legislature believes that lowering taxes will spur economic growth and state revenue; however, according to the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI), the legislative proposals now before the legislature, if enacted, could result in a $100 million reduction in state revenue over the next two years. These reductions would devolve to the local communities; consequently, homeowners will bear the burden again. By the way, New Hampshire is dead last in state aid for universities and community colleges.