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After Failing To Pass CACR 13, The NH Legislature Introduces It Again As CACR1

If at first you don’t succeed,  try try again.

This is the matra of the NH GOP in the 2013 legislative session.  After the two year battle over Right To Work (for less), former House Speaker Bill O’brien, once again submitted the Right To Work (for less) bill.  That is not the only bill making a comeback this year.

Last November Granite State voters rejected the idea of handcuffing the state budget in voting down CACR 13.

CACR13: [Art.] 5-c. [Income Tax Prohibited.] No new tax shall be levied, directly or indirectly, upon a person’s income, from whatever source it is derived. (1)

The bill would have mandated 3/5 majority to pass any tax or fee increases by the legislature.   Now in the 2013 session we have CACR 1:

[Art.] 5-c. [Increase in Rate of Taxation.] A 3/5 vote of the members present and voting in the house of representatives and the senate shall be required to pass a new tax or license fee or to increase a tax or license fee that has been levied by the state, or to authorize the issuance of State bonds.

I will tell again that this is a bad idea.  This was a bad idea last year, which is why voters rejected it.  I hope that this legislature rejects this amendment before it has the chance to be voed on again.

*    *   *   *   *

We have done a lot of research on CACR 13 and here are a few of the posts we put together in opposition to the Tax Change.

CACR 13 A Tax bill that will ultimately crush New Hampshire

CACR 13: Putting New Hampshire in a Financial Straightjacket

CACR 13: The Amendment To Stop Moving NH Forward

 

 

CACR 13: The Amendment To Stop Moving NH Forward

On election day Granite Staters will not only make the choice on who will lead us for the next few years, we will also vote on proposed changes to the New Hampshire Constitution.

There are two amendments being offered this year.

CACR 13: no new tax on personal income shall be levied by the state of New Hampshire.

CACR 26: the legislature and the chief justice of the supreme court shall have concurrent power to make rules governing the administration of all the courts of the state.  (More on this in another post.)

CACR 13 seems very simple and it is.  They want to change the New Hampshire Constitution to ban personal income taxes forever. The problem is that we do not know what tomorrow will bring. – and so we don’t know what fiscal options the Legislature may need, tomorrow.

Jackie Cilley ran a great campaign for Governor over the summer, mostly on the fact she refused to take “the (no tax) Pledge”.  She made the case that we have some serious funding issues in New Hampshire, and that our property taxes have risen to the point where people are being forced out of their family homes because they cannot afford their property taxes.  She campaigned saying “we need to look at all options” and that “pledges are handcuffs” to conversations.

Jackie even made national news after she released the “Pledge Zobies” ad.

Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, said

“If the amendment passes, it would tie the hands of future legislators and citizens and take their power away to deal with issues and challenges that are not contemplated today”.

While I am not advocating for a new income tax, I am not against the idea that an income or sales tax might – at some time in the future – be beneficial to New Hampshire.

Some members of House Leadership say that it would destroy the “NH Advantage”:

“Look at all the states around New Hampshire — they have an income tax,” Paul Mirski (R-Enfield) said. “New Hampshire is growing in this region because of our reputation as a low-tax state.”

Of course, the NH House Republicans seem to say that anything and everything will boost the NH Advantage.  Jack Kimball, chairman of the NH GOP said the same thing about the passage of Right To Work (for less).

“I commend the House and Senate for working together on Right to Work to ensure that New Hampshire’s economy will flourish while promoting job creation, competition and free market principles. If Governor Lynch believes in jobs for New Hampshire, he should sign this bill immediately.

Every candidate from State Rep to President is talking about how we need to make policy changes to protect our children and our grandchildren.  I agree we need to protect our children, and to do that we must oppose this amendment — because we cannot predict the future.  We must insure that when that time comes we have all the tools necessary to move New Hampshire forward.

 

NH State Rep Urges You To Vote No On Ballot Question 1 & 2

NHLN Note: Below is an editorial submitted to NHLN from Chris Serlin State Rep from Portsmouth. He also published this article on the Portsmouth Patch

New Hampshire Voters Should Reject Amendment Questions 1 and 2 this November

By Chris Serlin
State Rep 

This November election day, in New Hampshire, we will not only be voting to elect a President, 2 US Representatives, a new Governor and on down through the ballot – but we will all have a chance to voice our opinions on 3 questions that involve our State Constitution. They are referred to, simply, as “Question 1”, etc., and they will be at the bottom / reverse side of your ballots.

It is VERY important that voters make their thinking known on these questions.

Two of those questions, 1 and 2, are of great potential consequence to New Hampshire for decades to come, and I urge everyone to reject them – soundly. What follows are my thoughts on why we all should do so for Question 1. I’ll address Question 2 in a separate post – but I’ll give you a hint about why you should reject it: “Separation of Powers”. It’s what makes our system work, let’s not change it.

On to the question at hand.

Question 1 seeks to amend our constitution to forever prohibit an Income Tax. It’s “The Pledge” on super-duper steroids. The darling of today’s Republicans in New Hampshire; something they have dreamt about for so long, they used their super-majorities this past session to put this question to the people this November.

I believe this initiative is, at least in part, a typical GOTV effort. After all, in New Hampshire, how do you get your right-wing base to the polls? Talk about same-sex marriage? No, not really – not here. An Income Tax question? You betcha!

But taken as is, the question is, IMO, a cynical effort to play on the emotions of voters instead of a logical argument that might garner rational support. When people hear “income tax”, they say “where!? Yikes!” – and that’s what the New Hampshire GOP wants you to do. Don’t fall for it.

A bit of history: New Hampshire has no income tax. We never have, at least, in a manner that fits a modern definition of one (calculated upon a stated amount of actual revenue). In colonial times, pre and post Revolution, in reality we did have an income tax because then “Property” taxes were established based on a presumption of one’s ability to generate revenue based on the amount of property held and its use (timber, apples, grains, etc.). But that’s another conversation for another day – one which I hope we do have.

So, with no income tax, never having had one, and with current majorities and candidates opposed to one (for the most part), what’s the risk? Why must we enshrine a prohibition against a very specific revenue policy choice in the instrument that documents the core morals and beliefs we all agree to live by, and which establishes our system of government and defines its powers?

Well, I do not believe there is good reason to do so. Quite obviously our system works. We don’t have one and we’re not getting one anytime soon. Even if we did, magically, have an income tax passed through some (currently unimaginable) confluence of events – we have a unique political system in New Hampshire that allows “we the people” to completely change government every 2 years, from the Governor on down all the way into County offices. A repeal, under that bizarre circumstance, is all that would be needed to eliminate the tax if that was what the people wanted.

“Well”, proponents are arguing, “isn’t it better just to change the Constitution to eliminate even that chance?”

No. It is not.

Our constitution is not a sandbox to play with and see what ideas stick. As proponents most certainly know, (in fact they’re counting on this), once done it is *very* difficult to undo a change to our constitution. That’s the mechanism we have for such changes and it is a good one – assuming our constitution is changed with good reason, and careful consideration. But our system is setup so that only 34% of people voting on a given constitutional question (not 34% of the electorate and not 34% of those casting ballots on any given election day – 34% of voters who vote on the question(s) specifically) can hold the remaining 66% “hostage”. It’s a firewall against radical changes, in perhaps radical times. But as it applies to what revenue policy choices future generations, and their elected representatives *may* make, we will not be well served if such a minority can thwart the will of so many in some later time even during a period of crisis or national emergency. Revenue policy is best left to the fluid nature of our Legislative process – not set in concrete. None of us should feel safe giving such power to such a small group of the voting public.

But if a constitutional argument isn’t quite your cup of tea, I’ll offer another – the “law of unintended consequences”.

Question 1 specifically allows any tax already in place to stay in place, and provides that they will not be impacted by this amendment language. Also, though not currently in place, this amendment would *not* prohibit a sales tax in New Hampshire.

Spending and revenue to match will always be a controversial subjects. As well they ought to be in a republic like ours. But let’s agree that at times in the future the legislature will need to increase revenues to suit the needs of the day. To what sources might they turn, if an Income Tax is 100% off the table?

Property taxes. Hate seeing your property taxes always go up – wish there were a more equitable way to spread the cost of government, education, services? Don’t vote for Question 1.

Are you a business owner? If you vote for Question 1, BET and BPT are on the table for hikes in some future scenario even if most people would prefer to spread any necessary increases to the wealthiest among us . Own a business bordering VT, ME or MA? A sales tax is on the table. Will that make you more or less competitive? Are you retired, know someone who is – or otherwise derive any income from investments? Dividend and Interest tax is on the table. Restaurant or hotel in the family? Meals and rooms tax ripe for a bump.

Hunt? Renewing your car registration? Selling real estate? Enjoy our park system? The list goes on. All of those taxes and fees would be fair game in any effort to raise revenue if an Income Tax is off the table until such amendment could be repealed; itself an arduous process matching passage. Regardless of how severe the need, the process of repeal could take years – even generations. It’s very difficult to get 67% of voters to agree on something.

“Well [Chris] we’ll keep spending super low, and none of those scenarios you just discussed will occur – we won’t need more revenue.”

Come again?

It’s fantasy to believe that we can keep cutting gov’t spending and not *ever* have to raise new revenue dollars or hike existing streams. That’s not because government is wasteful, it’s math and common sense.

Anyone try running a business w 2012-rate expenses but 1980s revenue streams? How well does anyone think that would really work? In many cases here in NH, that’s what we do. Our deficit is structural. And you can only cut so much. Sooner or later the Legislature will be forced to consider other revenue sources. And not necessarily to add to what we pay now. I personally favor an income tax to replace some or all of our property taxes. It is, IMO, a far more equitable way in which to generate revenue. But even replacing existing taxes w an income tax is off the table if Question 1 passes.

Some proponents of the question have said that the greatest legacy of this Legislature will be that we made it possible for the people to forever prohibit an income tax in New Hampshire.

As a legislator, citizen and father I believe the greatest legacy we can leave our children (and theirs, and theirs, etc.) is the freedom to make their own choices in their own time, just as we have been able to do. About all things. Revenue and spending most of all. That’s not risky – that’s liberty.

It most certainly will not be to bequeath to them a New Hampshire where in a single area of tax policy, we have forever tied their hands.

CACR 13: Putting New Hampshire in a Financial Straightjacket

Photo by Joseph Sawicki

On election day Granite Staters will not only choose who will lead us for the next few years, we will also vote on proposed changes to the New Hampshire Constitution.

One of those changes, CACR 13, would put our state into a financial straightjacket.

Right now, New Hampshire has a “crazy-quilt” approach to funding state government.

  • Business taxes account for almost one-third of the revenue necessary to run our state government.  New Hampshire has a business profits tax and a business enterprise tax.  We tax health care facilities and utilities.  Another 2% of state revenues come from a court settlement with tobacco companies.
  • So-called “sin taxes” and gambling revenue account for one-fifth of the state budget.  Between the tobacco tax, the beer tax, and transfers from the Liquor Commission, the Lottery Commission and the Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission, almost $450 million in annual revenues comes from sources that the “religious right” would condemn as immoral.
  • Property taxes don’t just fund local governments – they also account for a whopping 16% of state revenues.
  • Then there are so-called “consumption taxes”.  Taxes on meals and lodging are 11% of revenues.  Then we have taxes on insurance policies, telecommunications services, utility consumption, and real estate transfers.  Taxes on dividends and securities revenue.  Court fees.  Fees to register your car, boat, snowmobile, trailer.  License fees.  Transaction fees.  It seems like every time you turn around, there’s another small tax or large fee.

It’s the “crazy-quilt” to funding state government: New Hampshire raises revenue just about every way possible except by taxing wage income or retail sales.

Is that really the best way to fund state government?

And even if we decide it’s how WE want to fund state government… do we really have the right to decide for future generations how THEY are going to fund New Hampshire’s government?

If we change the state Constitution to eliminate any possibility of an income tax – at any time in the future – we would be putting a financial straightjacket on the state’s revenue system.

We’ve been dealing with nickel-and-dime fee-hikes and tax hikes for decades now.  CACR 13 would enshrine that “crazy-quilt” funding method in the state Constitution forever.

What moral right do we have, to tie the hands of future generations?

CACR 13 A Tax bill that will ultimately crush New Hampshire

As we move closer to the election people are now talking about the proposed Constitutional amendment on income taxes.  Below is what I feel will happen if we enact this CACR amendment.  This was originally written in October of 2011, just before the vote to approve the CACR. 

This week the House Ways and Means Committee voted straight down party lines (15-5) to approve CACR 13. This is a bill that would change the State Constitution to read:

[Art.] 5-c. [Income Tax Prohibited.] No new tax shall be levied, directly or indirectly, upon a person’s income, from whatever source it is derived. (1)

This sounds very simple, and for many people they would agree “No Income Taxes forever”.  This is how the House Leadership is pushing this resolution.  By adopting this resolution to the New Hampshire Constitution the State cannot create a new tax on your income. I want to know what exactly are “Indirect Taxes”.  This creates a large area of uncertainty in the language of this bill.  If you think about anything charged by the State could be levied as an “Indirect” Tax on your income.  Does this mean that it would take a Constitutional Amendment like this to charge $1.00 more change the registration costs of your cars?  Yes, I believe it does.

In a Press Release (2)  from House Speaker Bill O’Brien he says: 

“The passage of CACR 13 is a great protection against future generation big spenders and ensures the state’s tradition of frugality and local control. I am confidant when the legislation reaches my colleagues in the House for a vote they too will support the measure to further protect the New Hampshire Advantage. We must remain good stewards of taxpayers’ money. Good government is one that serves the people and is limited and fiscally prudent.”

Is this really a good idea?  I like living in New Hampshire and I like not having an Income Tax, however this Constitutional Amendment is much more that that.  There are some good and bad things about this being pushed as a Constitutional Resolution.First, the Resolution must pass by 2/3’s the house.  With the Super Majority that Could Happen.Second it must go before the Voter’s on the 2012 Ballot.  It will read:

IV. That the wording of the question put to the qualified voters shall be:
“Are you in favor of amending the second part of the constitution by inserting after article 5-b a new article to read as follows:
[Art.] 5-c. [Income Tax Prohibited.] No new tax shall be levied, directly or indirectly, upon a person’s income, from whatever source it is derived. (3)

Notice how it is marked as Income Tax Prohibited. This is not just about Income Taxes, (have I said that enough yet).  It is about FEE’s.  So while the House is pushing to reduce the Fee’s on Enterprise Taxes, Meals Taxes, and Communications taxes (HB 37, HB 154, HB 166, and HB 213) they would be making it nearly impossible to ever change these fee’s again.  Some of you may remember when the Meals Tax in New Hampshire was only 5%, or 8% in the 2000’s.   These small increased are what keep New Hampshire operating and help to keep the “Broad Income Tax” out of New Hampshire.By passing this resolution in order to change any fees or taxes you would have to amend the NH Constitution again.  Therefor requiring a 2/3’s majority and voter approval to make the change.
You don’t have to take my word for it!

Rep. Susan Almy, D-Lebanon, led Democrats in fighting the amendment. She said the bill, “is nothing like simple, or clear, I’m afraid.”
Almy argued that by barring even indirect taxes on income, the amendment would block new taxes of all kinds, because all taxes are paid from income.
“I can see us fighting over the meaning of the Constitution on every tax change,” she said. (4)

It costs money to run the state and inflation and rising costs require small changes to the fee’s and taxes set forth by the state.  Can you imagine what our state would be like if we were operating on a budget that from 1970? As bad as some of our roads and bridges are now, how much worse would it be if we had no money to fix them.  What about our schools? Is the House Leadership saying they the schools will never need more funding from the State than they currently get?  We all know this is not the case.  I hope that this resolution will not be another partisan issue in the House.  I hope that all of our State Reps understand that by locking this into the NH Constitution they will forever tie the hands of our State Legislature and slowly eat away at the state budget till we cannot afford anything.Even though this seems like a simple short line amendment, it is very confusing.  It is a bad way to run a business and even worse for our State.  Now lets all say it together, “Its not just about Income Taxes”.

NH House Kills CACR 6 and Passes CACR 13

The NH House also defeated CACR 6, by a 220-137 vote.  This was the amendment that would mandate 3/5th majority to increase any taxes or fees.  This would have crippled the state in the coming years and I am glad to see it failed.  There was much discussion on CACR 6 and how this would effect the NH Bond ratings.  Either way it has failed. 

We cannot celebrate too much today.  The New Hampshire House did get one of the three Constitutional amendments through the house.  CACR 13 passed through the house.  CACR 13 is the ban on any new taxes on personal income.  The language of this amendment is very poor and hopefully we can get our message out to the people before November.

From press release published by Union Leader

– House Speaker William O’Brien: “This is one more step in transforming state government to protect what is special about our state and ensure that our prosperity is secured long after we are gone.”

Speaker O’Brien is right, if this passes we will be cursing his name for years to come.

– House Majority Leader Pete Silva: “This amendment guarantees that our children and our future generation will be free from the threat of an income tax. ”

The amendment also guarantees that our children will see the highest property taxes in the entire country.  With out the option to have an income tax, property owners will have to make up the funds needed to run our schools and pay our public workers.

Taxes And Schools, An In Depth Look Into CACR 6, CACR12, and CACR13

It seems the hot topics this week are ‘Taxes and Schools’.  This conversation is spurred by three different constitutional amendments being put out for voter approval this november.   These three amendments CACR 6, CACR12, and CACR13.  While CACR6 & 13 are both relating to taxes and CACR 12 relates to school funding, I think that they are all tied together.

First lets talk about the amendments. CACR6:
 “PROVIDING THAT: a 3/5 vote is required to pass legislation imposing new or increased taxes or license fees, or to authorize the issuance of state bonds and providing that the general court shall appropriate funds for payment of interest and installments of principle of all state bonds.”  

This amendment was proposed by NH ALEC member Jordan Ulery.  This bill would make it very difficult to pass any new taxes or changes in fees.  This bill would essentially lock our current revenue stream where it is at.  We elect representatives to make tough choices and balance the interests of everyone in the state. This would virtually tie the hands of the representatives and will undoubtedly lead to much legislative gridlock .


The second amendment is CACR 13:
PROVIDING THAT: no new tax on personal income shall be levied by the state of New Hampshire

This one is pretty straight forward.  It would make a constitutional amendment that would ban any form of income tax in New Hampshire.  This is bill was sponsored by former State Rep DJ Bettencourt and Speaker O’Brien.

The third is CACR12:
PROVIDING THAT: the legislature shall have the full power and authority and the responsibility to define standards for public education, establish standards of accountability, mitigate local disparities in educational opportunity and fiscal capacity, and have full power and authority to determine the amount of state funding for public education.


This is another bill that was pushed by former State Rep Bettencourt, as well as Rep. Kurk.  This bill would allow the Legislature the ability to override the Claremont Decision.  It would also give the legislature the sole authority to determine which schools get funding and how much.  Laura Hainey President of AFT-NH has been opposed to CACR12 from the very beginning.  In AFT-NH’s most recent update Ms Hainey stated:

“There is much to worry about if CACR 12 passes next week in both the senate and the house. If passed this proposed constitutional amendment would be placed on the November ballot. The agreed upon language and the seven points sounds wonderful in theory to some but actions speak louder than words. It is abundantly clear to me that Speaker O’Brien and his fellow extremists having exclusive control over all education funding with no court oversight will turn the clock back to pre-Claremont. We know the first pot of money that such a legislature would raid in trying to make spending cuts. Their agenda for the past two years has been to divert much needed money away from our public schools. “

Even NH Gubernatorial candidates are speaking out against trying to take more money away from our public school system. 


NH Governor Cadidate Jackie Cilley said this yesterday about CACR12: “These constitutional amendments are about ‘whether’ — whether the state will fund your school. My administration would be focused on the ‘how’ –how we partner with your community to insure that every child has access to a quality education in our state. Education should not be an accident of geography. If NH is going to attract business with good …jobs for our citizens, it is imperative that we prepare students for the challenges of the 21 st century marketplace. CACR 12 sends us back to the days of using educational funding as a political football– powerful legislators snag money for their districts at the expense of yours. Parents, educators and most of all businesses,hoping for a well educated workforce, should stand united against CACR 12.”
So how do they all tie together and why should we reject all three of these amendments?

The answer is very simple.  Taxes pay for our schools, and the Claremont Decision ensures that all schools are given money fairly.  If we pass a law that makes it illegal to raise taxes or create new taxes then we will loose the ability to pay for our public education.  When you add in CACR12, that would mean that the Legislature would then decide how much of the General Fund would be used to pay for our schools.  They can pick and choose who gets money and who does not. It will be very easy to rob education funding to pay for other pet projects. Speaker O’Brien has already announced his budget cutting goals for next year if he is e-elected. Don’t forget they do not believe in funding our public schools so they see the current funding as extra money for them to use elsewhere. We will cities and towns pitted against one another again. This will also mean that there will be less and less money to pay for reconstruction projects at our local schools.  This will however lead to one thing, Higher Taxes.  What, how can that be? If we pass CACR6 and 13 then they cannot raise taxes! The taxes I am talking about are our property taxes.  If these amendments go through I guarantee you that your property taxes will continue to rise exponentially from now until your taxes  are more than your mortgage.   Look at what happened this year when the Legislature made 10% cuts to the State Budget.  I saw an $118 per month increase in my property taxes.  This increase was only to keep the status quo.

What will happen in 10 years, 20 years, or 50 years?
 I think you will find me living in Massachusetts!

Constitutional Amendments Would Undermine Critical Public Services and Investments– From AFT Update

AFT-NH
Constitutional Amendments Would Undermine Critical Public Services and Investments
June 1, 2012

New Hampshire lawmakers next week will take up two proposals that could permanently undermine the state’s ability to provide important public services and to make investments that foster economic growth. 

The House and Senate are due to vote on Wednesday,  June 6th  on constitutional amendments CACR 6 and CACR 13. In brief: 

CACR 6 would prohibit any increase in a tax or fee without a supermajority of lawmakers (60 percent) approving it. The proposed tax cap would:

  • Increase the likelihood that the legislature will resort to one-time fixes or accounting gimmicks to address future budget shortfalls.
  • Empower a very small number of legislators to block action on important priorities
  • Increase pressure to keep state spending at or below 2010-2011 levels, including deep cuts to higher education, health care and human services.
  • Lead to higher borrowing costs for the state and further cost-shifting to communities.

In sum, the proposed supermajority requirement is inimical to sound fiscal policy. It would unduly constrain the flexibility New Hampshire needs to respond to changing economic circumstances or to shifting public preferences and would likely lead to a greater reliance upon temporary solutions to future budgetary shortfalls, more frequent legislative stalemates, and higher borrowing costs. New Hampshire has one of the lowest levels of taxation in the nation, even in the absence of such a requirement. Consequently, instituting a supermajority requirement seems, at best, unnecessary and, at worst, harmful to the state’s long-term fiscal condition.

CACR 13 aims to ban any new tax on a person’s income but would have consequences will beyond that. It would:

  • Lead to prolonged legal wrangling in the courts over definitions of certain words and concepts.
  • Deny future generations the right to make decisions about how best to meet the needs of the state and to hold their elected officials accountable
  • Freeze the state’s tax system in place, making it much more difficult to address New Hampshire’s reliance on property or business taxes.

Finally, it is worth noting that the move to create a constitutional prohibition against any new tax on income enjoys relatively low support among the general public.  The WMUR Granite State Poll conducted in February by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center asked over 500 New Hampshire adults whether they would vote for such an amendment to the constitution.  Just 39 percent of respondents indicated that they would, in fact, support such an amendment, while 41 percent stated that they would vote against it.

To read more on both these CACR’s please visit  NEW HAMPSHIRE FISCAL POLICY INSTITUTE.

ACTION REQUEST

It is time to contact your Representative(s) and Senator and ask that they vote against the passage of CACR 6 and CACR 13 for the above reasons.

Thank you for all of your hard work this legislative session.  We still have some battles left as we enter the final days of this legislative session!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

NH Tax Structure Returning as Top Issue

New post on InZaneTimes

NH Tax Structure Returning as Top Issue

by aalpert

5-19-2012 NEC 010
Laura Hainey of AFT-NH
Fall Election May Hinge on Debate Over Fiscal Future
Months of State House wrangling over marriage, collective bargaining, and whether the Speaker of the House is a tyrant are about to give way to a more usual topic: New Hampshire’s archaic tax structure.  In addition to a gubernatorial election which could pit a status quo candidate against a reformer, voters could face as many as three proposed Constitutional Amendments with profound fiscal implications. 
The one getting the most attention so far is CACR 12. (CACR stands for “Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolution.”) It seeks to undo the Supreme Court’s Claremont decisions,which declared education to be a fundamental right and ordered the Legislature to provide adequate funding for the state’s public schools.   House and Senate negotiators will meet this week to try to iron out the wording. 
While some amendment advocates say a change is needed to allow the State to target aid to poor communities, critics note that state’s failure to target aid is due to lack of political will, not Constitutional restrictions.  Moreover, the amendment could make it possible for the State to withdraw from education funding completely.  “Freed of constitutional restraint, the Legislature would retreat to the bad old days of patchy and inadequate support of public education,” Laura Hainey, New Hampshire President of the American Federation of Teachers, told participants at the May 19 NH Progressive Summit held in Henniker.
If a proposed amendment gets support from 3/5 of the members of the House and Senate it will be placed on the ballot for the November election.  Then, if 2/3 of voters vote “yes,” it would be added to the State Constitution.
The House and Senate are also likely to approve CACR 13, which would prohibit “new” taxes on personal income.  The point of this one is to install the state’s aversion to an income tax into the Constitution and create a higher hurdle to ever creating a system in which taxes would be related to the ability to pay.  CACR 13 is held up so far only by a need to figure out how to make it clear that this amendment is not meant to restrict taxes on “corporate persons,” only “natural persons.” 
Clifton Below, a former legislator who attended the Progressive Summit, says “what 5-19-2012 NEC 013 they are proposing is the very antithesis of what the founders and adopters of our state Constitution understood to be the foundation that is fair, proportional and reasonable.”  Most of us now earn our income from wages, but that wasn’t the case when the constitution was written in 1784.  At that time, most income derived from productive land, livestock, and commercial property.  18th century lawmakers specified that “every person may be compelled to pay in proportion to his income.” 
In that sense, the state’s property tax began it’s life as an income tax.  Now, reliance on the property tax maintains regressivity in the system and makes it hard for property-poor communities to raise the funds they need for schools and other public services.
Then there’s CACR 6.  The House version would require a super-majority of the House and Senate to raise any taxes or fees.  The Senate version would freeze state spending at current levels adjusted by the rate of inflation.  The “compromise” under consideration might adopt both bad ideas.  According to Jeff McLynch of the NH Fiscal Policy Institute, this would “lock in
CACR 13 Would Freeze
the effects of the current recession,” including the drastic spending cuts made in the current biennial budget.
Arnie Arnesen used most of her time as opening speaker at the Progressive Summit outlining the threats posed by the 3 amendments.   She also criticized another bill which would provide business tax credits for contributions to scholarship funds for private schools. 
The state’s tax structure is already regressive, meaning it demands proportionally higher taxes from low income taxpayers than it does from affluent ones. Using figures from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, McLynch said the wealthiest 1% of Granite Staters (income over $480,000 a year) pay only 2.0% of their income in state and local taxes.  For the poorest 20% (income less than $25,000),  on the other hand, state and local taxes captured 8.3% of their income.  In other words, the poorest households are paying taxes at a rate four times higher than the richest. 
While New Hampshire falls in the middle of states ranked by overall tax burden, we are 4th lowest in net state and local tax burden on the wealthiest 1%.  The fabled New Hampshire Advantage?  “New Hampshire is an especially great place to live and (not) pay taxes if you are in the top 1%,” says Below.
The 1% NH Advantage is held in place by “The Pledge,” a vow of fealty to the demands of William Loeb, former publisher of the Manchester Union Leader.  In the 1970s Loeb made opposition to “broad based taxes” the major criterion for avoiding his editorial attacks.  Since then most candidates for Governor – and all the winning ones – have given Loeb their pledges even though he’s been dead for thirty years.
Speaking to a lunchtime forum at the Progressive Summit, two of three candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor made it clear they think the state’s status quo tax policy is no longer viable.  “I will not take the Pledge,” declared former Senator Jackie Cille5-19-2012 NEC 017y. 
Cilley is not calling for an income tax, but she is not shying away from the issue either.  She understands “the Pledge” keeps the State reliant on business and  property taxes. “I know full well what the property tax does to people,” she told a house party audience Friday evening in Canterbury. 
Bill Kennedy, another candidate who spoke at the Progressive Summit, advocates an income tax. 
Maggie Hassan began her campaign for governor by taking “the Pledge.”  But she does oppose CACR 12. 
The Progressive Summit diverted 100 people from a beautiful early summer day to class and conference rooms at New England College in Henniker.  In addition to tax and budget matters, conferees also attended workshops on topics such as affordable housing, immigration, proposed voter suppression laws, health care, and the attack on workers’ rights.  The “Summit” was sponsored by NH Citizens Alliance for Action, Granite State Progress, and the Department of Sociology and Social Work at New England College.

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