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On Tax Day, Small Group Of Activists Explain Where Your Tax Dollars Are Going

Tax Day at Kelly Ayotte

On Tax Day, April 15th, a small group of activists took to the streets to inform citizens of how their government is spending their tax dollars.

Tax Day Flier 2015 IMAGE‘Activists affiliated with NH Citizens Alliance for Action, The American Friends Service Committee New Hampshire Program’s Governing Under the Influence project, and NH Peace Action stood outside Senator Kelly Ayotte’s office on Tax Day to draw attention to what they see as the Senators, “Misplaced Priorities”.

There is no denying that we as U.S. citizens are funding the worlds police force, aka the U.S. Department of Defense, with our tax dollars while nearly one-in-three children live in poverty.  The U.S. Government spends $640 billion dollars on the military and only spends $71 on education.  The government has lost sight of it’s priorities and duties to the people. We spend more on the military than the next eight highest spending countries combined.

Some of the reasons our government has lost sight of its true goals is because, lobbyists and military manufacturers are buying politicians.  Defense contractors are spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress to win lucrative contracts manufacturing equipment that we may or may-not even need.

Tax Day Flier Backside 2015 CD2-IMAGEOne activist, Iraq War Veteran, and Director of NH Peace Action, Will Hopkins said, “Senator Ayotte received over $30,000 each from Raytheon, Honeywell, BAE, and Lockheed Martin, and it is their interests that she has served in Washington.  We are here on tax day because the Senator has shown that she is willing to support planes that don’t fly, and tanks that go straight to boneyards any time a campaign donor has a profit to make.”

Over $120,000 dollars just from defense contractors here in New England.  Every dollar spent on lobbying returns $720 in return.

The small group stood outside for two hours on Wednesday and handed out leaflets on the federal budget, and US military spending compared to the rest of the world.'(images on the right).

4-15-15 AFT-NH Legislative Update: The Budget 

The State budget is now in the hands of the Senate Finance committee. They have set up several meeting with agency heads (see below for the schedule).

There have been many news articles stating that the Senate has several goals when putting together the budget:

  • uphold previous commitments, including using dedicated money for its intended purpose,
  • protecting the state’s most vulnerable citizens,
  • add money to the rainy day fund, and
  • improve the business climate, in part by reducing business taxes.


AFT-NH can agree with the first three goals, but as to the fourth we need to remember that by cutting business taxes there will be less revenue for the State. 

We know that in New Hampshire we have few revenue sources and we have a regressive tax system, meaning that citizens who have the least to spare pay the most. To read more on this click here. AFT-NH supports incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors.  All of this is vital to our shared economic success.

AFT-NH believes that the Senate should consider passing or including the following bills when putting their version of the budget together:

HOUSE BILL 634-FN-A;AN ACT
 relative to applying the interest and dividends tax to trusts, increasing exemptions, and extending the tax to capital gains; and relative to homeowners property tax relief.

Dramatic revenue shortfalls are having a devastating effect on funding for public services at the State and local levels. While our economy is now growing, the recent economic downturn, sometimes called the Great Recession, has limited our communities’ ability to provide the healthcare, schools, colleges, public safety and transportation that people take for granted in good years but that they increasingly rely on in bad times.

HB 634 will generate as much as $100 million in revenue each year once fully implemented, while providing approximately $25 million annually to cities and towns with the creation of a dedicated funding source for general revenue sharing. These are revenues which are much needed in New Hampshire. This revenue could also help to offset the increases in local property taxes that communities were forced to impose when the state no longer contributed its share to the NH retirement system for local government workers.

HB 551-FN, relative to preventing diversion of business income to tax havens.

Companies doing business in New Hampshire can still avoid paying tax by shifting income overseas to offshore tax havens–places such as the Cayman Islands that have very low or nonexistent taxes. Companies use a variety of strategies to accomplish this and our State loses millions every year in taxable corporate revenue.

To prevent overseas tax haven abuse, states can close the “water’s edge” loophole and require companies not only to report income in other states but also the income stored in tax havens as part of their combined reporting.

Tax reforms that close corporate tax loopholes are especially popular, commanding overwhelming support. Americans want to see corporations pay their fair share, rather than see cuts in education or major entitlement programs and this remains true across party lines.

Cracking down on tax haven abuse is a step toward fairness. Closing the corporate tax loopholes that simply help the rich get richer, while most Americans are paying more in state and local taxes, will tilt the playing field toward fairness.

The Senate Education Committee will be holding public hearings on:

HB 491:  relative to immunity for school personnel using reasonable force to protect a minor. This bill would permit a teacher or other person entrusted with the care or supervision of a minor or pupil to use reasonable force to end a disturbance, to maintain safety, or to remove the pupil or minor from the premises under certain circumstances.  AFT-NH will continue to support and advocate for this bill to pass.

HB 323: relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program.

AFT-NH believe in assessments that support teaching and learning, and align with curriculum rather than narrow it; that are developed through collaborative efforts, not picked off a shelf; that are focused on measuring growth and continuous development instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn; that rely on diverse, authentic and multiple indicators of student performance rather than filling in bubbles; and that provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools to improve, not just impose sanctions that undermine them.

Further, we believe that assessments designed to support teaching and learning must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing. Specifically, we call on the consortia currently developing assessments aligned to the standards to do their part in solving this by including the crucial voices of teachers in the development of these assessments. We know that collaboration with educators is necessary to ensure that high-quality instruction and content are given their proper emphasis.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

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You can also follow us on Twitter at @8027aftnh.

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UPCOMING HEARINGS 

Wednesday, April 15

10 am House in Session

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
9:00 a.m. Public Employee Labor Relations Board
9:30 a.m. Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food
10:00 a.m. Liquor Commission
10:30 a.m. Department of Corrections
11:30 a.m. University System
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Thursday, April 16

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
9:30 a.m. Executive session on SB 5, relative to transfers into the revenue stabilization reserve account,

Friday, April 17

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
11:00 a.m. Department of Justice
12:00 p.m. BREAK
1:00 p.m. Judicial Branch
2:00 p.m. Judicial Council
2:30 p.m. Department of Information Technology
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Tuesday, April 21

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 242-L, relative to amending the budget in towns that have adopted official ballot voting.

Thursday, April 23

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
SB 242-L, relative to amendingthe budget in towns that have adopted official ballot voting.

Tuesday, May 5

House HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS, Rooms 205-207, LOB
10:00 a.m. Kids Count presentation.

Organizations and Small Businesses Call on Governor to Reject Business Tax Cuts, Voice Concern for State Budget

More than 40 organizations, including 18 small businesses, sign letter urging Governor to reject business tax cuts   

Concord, NH – Representatives from New Hampshire’s small business, nonprofit, education and faith communities gathered in Concord today to speak against proposed business tax cuts. More than 40 organizations, including 18 small businesses, have signed a letter urging Governor Hassan to reject business tax cuts in upcoming or future budgets; the letter was delivered to the Governor’s office on Tuesday morning.

 

“The business tax cuts passed by the Senate earlier this year would drain nearly $28 million out of the upcoming state budget and reduce revenue by more $80 million each biennium once fully implemented, making it all but impossible to restore funding for local aid, services for the developmentally disabled, the state’s public colleges and universities, or a variety of other areas vital to New Hampshire’s high quality of life,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. 

 

At a press conference held at the Legislative Office Building, McLynch and representatives of several organizations and businesses who signed the letter to the Governor outlined concerns regarding the FY 2016-2017 state budget and proposals to cut business taxes at a time when the state cannot afford to fund critical needs. 

 

“Forty-one thousand school-age children in our state come from homes where there is an uncertainty of having enough food for all household members because of insufficient income or other resources,” said Scott McGilvray, president of NEA-New Hampshire. “Business tax cuts would endanger the public services on which these students and their families rely, and shift the burden for paying for such services directly onto the backs of those who need them most but can least afford them.”

 

As the version of the budget passed by the New Hampshire House illustrates, the state lacks adequate resources to meet the needs of its citizens, maintain vital infrastructure, and build an economy that works for everyone. The tax cuts proposed by the Senate will drain millions of dollars out of this and future budgets and leave the state further behind. More details pertaining to the fiscal impact of the SB 1 and SB 2 tax cuts are attached

 

“We know that substance misuse costs businesses more than $1 billion per year in lost worker productivity,” said Kate Frey, advocacy director for New Futures. “Can New Hampshire really afford costly business tax cuts at a time when revenues are already insufficient to meet critical needs such as substance abuse prevention treatment and recovery?” 

 

Promoted as means to create jobs and spur economic growth in the state, proposed business tax cuts would benefit primarily large corporations, offering little benefit to most small businesses.

 

“I calculated how much these proposals would save my company when they are fully implemented and it came to less than $150 per year,” said Tom Strickland, president and co-founder of Sequoya Technologies Group, a small IT company with eight employees based in Peterborough, NH. “$150 out of a million dollar budget isn’t going to influence my business decisions. I won’t be hiring new employees or buying new equipment as a result of this tax cut.”

 

Strickland moved his family to New Hampshire 18 years ago to start a business and raise a family, attracted by the state’s high quality of life. Strickland encouraged lawmakers to invest in things that businesses need but cannot do for themselves, such as high-quality schools, well-maintained roads, and high-speed broadband internet. 

 

Participants stressed that businesses and the state would be better served by investing business tax revenue in areas that benefit the state overall – a well-trained workforce, good schools and affordable higher education, safe infrastructure, and health and support services that increase employee productivity and reduce employer costs.

 

New Hampshire has enacted numerous business tax cuts since 2010. In its 2014 report, the New Hampshire Business Tax Study Commission concluded that business tax cuts were impractical at this time and ranked low on the list of business priorities. 

 

The Reverend Jonathan Hopkins of Concordia Lutheran Church, president of the board of directors for the New Hampshire Council of Churches, closed the press conference with the following remarks: “It is good business to care about our entire community, and it is the right thing to do. To give tax breaks to businesses while cutting services desperately needed by the most vulnerable in our state would be morally wrong, and fiscally foolish. I hope all people of conscience will stand with us and say that we need a budget that makes sense for all of the citizens of this great state.”

 

The full text of the letter to Governor Hassan and complete list of signatories is attached

 

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org

 

Senate Ways and Means Votes to Cut Business Taxes While State Struggles to Fund Critical Needs

CONCORD, NH – The Senate Ways and Means Committee today approved two separate bills that together would reduce business tax revenue by tens of millions of dollars at a time when the state is struggling to fund public services vital to New Hampshire’s economic future.

SB 1, which would lower the business profits tax (BPT) rate, and SB 2, which would lower the business enterprise tax (BET) rate, together likely would reduce state revenue by nearly $70 million on a biennial basis once fully phased in.

“The Committee’s action today shows where the Senate leadership’s true priorities lie,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “Rather than wait until it has developed a budget that ensures New Hampshire can continue to invest in higher education and other services that foster growth, the Senate now seems poised to put costly and ineffective business tax breaks at the head of the line.”

The committee amended both bills to extend the period over which they will be implemented with both taking full effect in 2020.

“Making these tax cuts more gradual does not make them any more affordable over the long run,” said McLynch. “It simply puts off the day of reckoning without a plan for how future budgets will accommodate the loss in revenue.”

New Hampshire’s revenue system has yet to fully recover from the national recession of 2007 through 2009. At the close of FY 2014, General and Education Fund revenue amounted to $2.17 billion. After adjusting for inflation, that sum is approximately 12 percent or roughly $290 million less than what the state collected from the same sources in FY 2008. Between FY 2008 and FY 2014, the combination of the BPT and BET, after adjusting for inflation, has dropped almost 20 percent or just over $136 million.

McLynch provided testimony outlining the shortcomings of proposed business tax cuts at the Senate Ways and Means Committee’s January 20 public hearing. The testimony is available online.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

SEN. Martha Fuller-Clark: Corporate Tax Cuts: The Solution in Search of a Problem

When you’ve spent as much time in the New Hampshire legislature as I have, you are used to seeing solutions proposed to problems yet to arise. This session is no exception. Currently, Senate Bills One and Two are pending in the Senate championed by some as needed to enhance our business climate.

While these bills would modestly reduce taxes on a very small percentage of New Hampshire’s businesses, they would blow a major hole in the state’s budget for the next two years – a budget that is already significantly challenged – and limit our ability to provide the vital investments that businesses have told us they want and need in order to continue to thrive in our state. 

Proponents of these bills believe that our current business climate – routinely ranked in the top ten in the country for attracting, growing, and creating new thriving businesses – needs fixing. They think that the only improvement in that climate our state government can offer is a reduction in taxes businesses pay. Yet any survey of the way that site selection professionals chose locations for new facilities makes clear that, while taxation levels are a consideration, they are an increasingly minor one. 

Area Development, a leading trade publication for industrial real estate professionals for over fifty years, published a comprehensive 10-part series in the fourth quarter of 2014 based on their 28th annual survey of corporate executives.[1]The results will not surprise anyone who has worked with economic development professionals, business leaders, and industrial realtors. Taxes are important, but other factors have long-since eclipsed tax rates as the leading priorities for businesses looking to expand. 

The top six factors cited in the Area Development survey all reflect priorities that Gov. Hassan stressed in her inaugural address and that Democrats agree need to be adequately funded in order to actually improve our business climate. These include a more market-ready workforce by making higher education more flexible and more affordable (Factors 1[2] and 3[3]), improved transportation infrastructure (Factor 2[4]), and a “robust” information and communications technology infrastructure (Factor 5[5].) Factors 4[6] and 6[7] both concern the price and cost of physical plants and turnkey facilities, variables that the State of New Hampshire could help address if more financial resources from the state were allocated to help communities lower their property taxes. 

The survey goes on to address the impact of state and local taxation, citing it as the seventh most important factor.[8] The discussion of the impact of taxes is mitigated, however, by the understanding that states with extremely low taxes often cannot supply crucial services. Area Development quotes Larry Gigerich, managing director of the site selection firm Ginovus:  

“We talk to C-suite people who say that we’ve hit a tipping point on corporate taxes now because of examples like Kansas. They’re saying that there are basic services that governments provide, and if states cut taxes too much, they don’t have the revenue to do it. They want states to be able to pay for services and infrastructure and workforce development.” (Emphasis mine) [9]

Meanwhile, New Hampshire continues to attract new businesses like Albany International and Revolution Energy, both here on the Seacoast, as well as grow existing ones, both large and small.  The right-wing Tax Foundation, who lauds Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) on their  blog’s front page[10], rates New Hampshire seventh in their annual State Business Tax Climate Index for 2015, continuing its long run in the top ten states for business climate based on taxes.[11] The Tax Foundation has consistently found New Hampshire to have one of the most attractive tax climates in the US, notably throughout the terms of Democratic governors Shaheen, Lynch, and Hassan. 

It is important to note the number of companies that would benefit from SB1 and SB2. Three out of every four businesses in New Hampshire (75.7%) currently pay no taxes under the business profit tax (BPT) that would be cut under SB1 while almost half (43.9%) of New Hampshire businesses pay no taxes under the business enterprise tax (BET) that would be cut by SB2. Another 10.9% pay less than $1000 and would surely be unaffected by the SB1 cuts. Another one in three businesses pay less than $1000 under the BET and would see no benefit in the reduction proposed by SB 2. Altogether, fewer than 17,000 businesses out of the more than 120,000 businesses registered in the state paid more than $1000 dollars in business taxes in 2011 and might see some tax relief. [12] 

Clearly the impact on the business climate of tax cuts proposed in SB1 and SB2 would be almost de minimus, while the loss of revenue to the general fund, projected to be  $78,008,824[13] over the next two years, would be significant to an already cash strapped budget. This would mean less support for higher education and local schools, including school building aid, fewer miles of roads paved and red lined bridges repaired to name but a few of the services so essential to a healthy business climate and a thriving economy.  Creating a well-educated and skilled workforce, investing in a well maintained and modern infrastructure, including available and effective broad-band and cloud service and ensuring a safe and healthy environment will have a far more positive impact on our business climate than any small tax cut offered by SB1 and 2 – a tax solution to a potential  problem that, in reality, despite the rhetoric, will only affect a very small number of large and successful businesses. More importantly, we should listen to business professionals and prioritize our economic development strategies accordingly.

[1] http://www.areadevelopment.com/Corporate-Consultants-Survey-Results/Q1-2014/28th-Corporate-Executive-RE-survey-results-6574981.shtml

[2] http://www.areadevelopment.com/skilled-workforce-STEM/Q4-2014/skilled-labor-critical-site-selection-factors-7221554.shtml

[3] http://www.areadevelopment.com/labor-costs/Q4-2014/labor-costs-critical-site-selection-factors-272611.shtml

[4] http://www.areadevelopment.com/logisticsInfrastructure/Q4-2014/highway-accessibility-critical-site-selection-factors-700913.shtml

[5] http://www.areadevelopment.com/logisticsInfrastructure/Q4-2014/critical-site-selection-factors-ICT-infrastructure-2929217.shtml

[6] http://www.areadevelopment.com/construction-project-planning/Q4-2014/site-selection-factors-occupancy-construction-costs-282721.shtml

[7] http://www.areadevelopment.com/economic-analysis/Q4-2014/building-availability-critical-site-selection-factors-398297.shtml

[8] http://www.areadevelopment.com/taxesIncentives/Q4-2014/corporate-tax-rate-critical-site-selection-factors-222449.shtml

[9] ibid, note 8

[10] http://taxfoundation.org/blog

[11] http://taxfoundation.org/article/facts-figures-2014-how-does-your-state-compare

[12] http://www.revenue.nh.gov/publications/reports/documents/ar-2014.pdf (see alsohttp://www.revenue.nh.gov/publications/presentations/documents/senate-ways-means-present-2015.pdf for recent revenue history of BET, BPT.

[13] Fiscal Notes for SB1 and SB2 http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/bill_status.aspx?lsr=189&sy=2015&sortoption=&txtsessionyear=2015&txtbillnumber=SB1

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/bill_status.aspx?lsr=868&sy=2015&sortoption=&txtsessionyear=2015&txtbillnumber=SB2

These are the stakes…To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die. LBJ, 1964

Capital Gains Proposal Would Generate New Revenue While Reducing Property Tax for Thousands

CONCORD, NH – The House Ways and Means Committee today held a hearing on a proposal that would both raise needed revenue for the state and begin to address the lack of equity in its tax system. HB 634 would expand New Hampshire’s existing interest and dividends tax to include capital gains, generating nearly $100 million in new revenue each year once fully implemented.

While bolstering the resources available for the FY 2016-2017 budget, the proposal would also reduce the taxes paid by everyday Granite Staters. It would increase the basic exemptions within the interest and dividend tax and update the Low and Moderate Income Homeowner Property Tax Relief Program to ensure more individuals and families can access rebates through the program. Additionally, the proposal allocates the first $25 million in revenue to restore dedicated revenue sharing with cities and towns, reducing pressure on local property taxes.

“This proposal would close a gap in New Hampshire’s existing tax system and allow the state to make important investments in education, public safety, and other services that support working families and strengthen the Granite State economy,” said New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch in his testimony before the committee.

“Most New Hampshire residents would see no change in the taxes they pay if this proposal became law, but everyone would see greater support for the services they count on state government to provide,” added McLynch. “Of those who would pay a different tax bill, many more would receive a tax cut than would experience a tax increase.”

New Hampshire has historically relied on taxes on property, the sale of property, and the income some property produces to help finance public services. Yet, New Hampshire currently excludes from taxation the income received from the sale of stocks and other assets, known as capital gains. IRS data show that 88 percent of all taxable capital gains reported in New Hampshire in 2012 accrued to taxpayers with incomes over $200,000; taxpayers with incomes of over $1 million accounted for 66 percent. As a result, 98 percent of the revenue generated by HB 634 will come from the top 20 percent of income earners in the state.

Due to a variety of factors, New Hampshire’s revenue system has yet to fully recover from the national recession of 2007 through 2009. At the close of FY 2014, General and Education Fund revenue amounted to $2.17 billion. After adjusting for inflation, that sum is approximately 12 percent or roughly $290 million less than what was collected from the same sources in FY 2008.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

AFT-NH Legislative Update 2-3-15: Kicking Off The Session

AFT NH Legislative Update

The 2015 session of the NH State legislature is underway and as always, there are many bills to follow and monitor.  Some legislative proposals will garner our support but others will earn our enmity and opposition as we defend the interests of our members and of working people in New Hampshire.  As we review proposed bills, we will determine our support or opposition based upon the basic legislative objectives listed below:

Education

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for neighborhood public schools that are safe, welcoming places for teaching and learning.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure that teachers and school staff are well-prepared, are supported, have manageable class sizes, and have time to collaborate so they can meet the individual needs of every child.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to make sure our children have an engaging curriculum that includes art, music and physical education

Retirement

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for universal access to secure retirement plans into which the state of NH and its cities and towns pay their required yearly contributions.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure all workers are covered by retirement plans that provide consistent and adequate income to maintain a reasonable standard of living.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure earned retirement benefits are fully funded and safeguarded from market volatility or changes in employers’ economic situations.

Public employees

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for first-rate public services that support communities and keep them safe, healthy and vibrant.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure public employees are well-prepared and supported so they can provide the high-quality services our communities depend on.

Collective bargaining

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for collective bargaining laws in the state of NH and will work to defeat any and all legislation that either erodes or repeals NH’s collective bargaining laws for public employees.

Revenues

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors, and vital to our shared economic success.

Charter Schools Accountability

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voices in school policy and program, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools.

So far this session the House Education Committee heard testimony on HB 116: relative to the renomination of teachers. This bill reduces from 5 to 3 consecutive years of teaching required for a teacher to be entitled to notification and a hearing if the teacher is not reappointed. This bill would falls under our objective of “AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure that teachers and school staff are well-prepared, are supported, have manageable class sizes, and have time to collaborate so they can meet the individual needs of every child.”

AFT-NH believes that all teachers deserve due process when being non-renewed.  Due process is the right to a legitimate reason, or “just cause,” before a teacher can be fired and requires a notice and an impartial just cause hearing before termination. We are asking to be treated fairly and without prejudice.

A Red Issue Alert went out this week about the above bill and if you have not taken action there is still time by clicking here.

They are also many bills moving through both chambers in regards to Common Core and state assessments. These bills would fall under the objective of; “AFT-NH will stand up and fight to make sure our children have an engaging curriculum that includes art, music and physical education.”

If these Standards and assessments are to work we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing the Standards:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice,
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class,
  • We must provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
  • We need to ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • We must communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students,
  • We must develop best practices and strategies along with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply,
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments,
  • We need to make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers,
  • We must be certain that assessments are aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • We need to have professional development and training in the Standards, and
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

With regards to assessments, AFT-NH believes in assessments that support teaching and learning, and that are aligned with curriculum rather than narrow it.  Assessments should be focused on measuring growth and continuous development of students instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn. Assessments should be diverse, authentic, test for multiple indicators of student performance and provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools improve.  Assessments should not be designed to deliver sanctions that undermine students, teachers and schools.  Development and implementation of such tests must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.

Further, AFT-NH believes that assessments designed to support teaching and learning must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing itself.

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on SB 1 reducing the rate of the business profits tax.This bill would fall under AFT-NH’s objective to “stand up and fight for incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors, and vital to our shared economic success.” AFT-NH has concerns with this bill. We have heard over and over that there is a $30 million shortfall in this current budget. With a hole of $30 million why would you cut roughly another $30 million in this biennium budget? How will this amount be made up or where in the budget will cuts be made?

Keep in mind that the state of New Hampshire already underfunds catastrophic special education aid to district by capping it at 72%.  With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million onto communities.  There has been a moratorium on Building aid which has hindered many districts from complete upgrades, making repairs to buildings or building new schools. Remember:  50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

Lastly, what are the assurances that by reducing the business profits tax jobs would be created?  I see this as only leading to reductions in the public services that all citizens of New Hampshire rely upon.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

Time to Close the State’s Tax Loopholes (Op-Ed By Rich Gulla Pres. NH SEA-SEIU1984)

HB 634First of Several Bills Aimed at Closing Tax Loopholes to Be Heard Monday

Rich Gulla President SEA-SEIU1984

Rich Gulla President SEA-SEIU1984

A recent study revealed that the wealthiest earners in our state are not paying their fair share of taxes. The top 1% income earners in the state paid an effective tax rate of 2.4%, while the lowest 20% of income earners in the state paid an effective tax rate of 8.6%. It is not hard to recognize that not everyone is paying their fair share in this equation. At the same time we continue to fall short of effectively funding critical needs like affordable higher education and maintaining our state’s infrastructure, things that help strengthen our economy and encourage economic growth.

While some New Hampshire residents are struggling to afford high property taxes, the wealthiest among us are enjoying the benefits of tax loopholes. In order to reduce property taxes, and fund the critical services of the State, State policy makers should consider closing the State’s tax loopholes.   By far the largest loophole concerns individual sales of investments and stocks. Currently, the sale of investments (called “capital gains”) by businesses is already taxed under the State business profits tax, and corporate dividends paid to individuals are taxed under the State interest and dividends tax. However, the sale of investments by individuals is not taxed at all, including stock sales and day trades on Wall Street by persons in New Hampshire.

It may come as no surprise that about two-thirds of the revenue that would come from closing this loophole would come from the top 1% income earners in the State. If this loophole were closed, and property tax relief was actually provided, we could fund critical services of the State and our system of taxation would treat the average Granite Stater much more fairly.

Some other tax loopholes should be closed as well.   In 2012, the Legislature passed – over Governor John Lynch’s veto – a loophole that allows individuals to form trusts to avoid paying the State’s interests and dividends tax.

Essentially, everyone who receives interest and dividend income pays a 5% interest and dividends tax, unless they are able to hire a lawyer that specializes in creating certain trusts, then they pay 0%. This loophole should be closed.

Lastly, some businesses don’t always pay the State’s business profits tax because their assets are located off-shore. This too should be closed.

The State is facing very difficult financial times. The average Granite Stater isn’t exploiting tax loopholes, they are meeting their responsibilities and in doing so are often struggling to pay their property taxes. It is time for State policy makers to close these loopholes, fund critical State services, and help move New Hampshire forward — for everyone, not just the wealthy.

New Report Show NH Tax Policy Hurt Low Income Families Most

New Analysis: Low-Income Taxpayers in New Hampshire Pay Three Times the Tax Rate Paid by the Wealthiest Granite Staters

CONCORD, NH – A new study released today by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) finds that the lowest income Granite Staters pay an effective tax rate that is three times that paid by the state’s wealthiest residents. The report, titled Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States, factors in all major state and local taxes, including personal and corporate income taxes, property taxes, sales and other excise taxes.

“This report provides important context for New Hampshire policymakers as they endeavor to build the next state budget,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI). “Our tax system asks much more of those individuals who are least able to pay, making it even harder for them as they struggle to get ahead. Policymakers should explore reforms that will make the tax system more fair to hard working Granite Staters.”

 Who Pays? examines how state and local tax systems affect non-elderly individuals and families at all income levels and finds that New Hampshire’s low- and middle-income residents pay a significantly higher percentage of their income in taxes than those in the top one percent. NHFPI has published an updated fact sheet to provide context for the Granite State. Key findings for 2012 include:

  • Individuals and families that comprised the poorest fifth of taxpayers in New Hampshire, on average, paid 8.3 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes.
  • Individuals and families in the middle of the income distribution, those with incomes between $44,000 and $70,000, paid 6.6 percent in taxes.
  • The top 1 percent of income earners experienced an average effective tax rate of 2.6 percent, with an average income of slightly more than $1.3 million.

New Hampshire’s tax structure will be the focus of a panel discussion at NHFPI’s upcoming conference, Building a Better Budget: Meeting Today’s Needs, Preparing for Tomorrow. Participating panelists include Carl Davis, senior policy analyst for ITEP. Building a Better Budget will be held on Friday, January 23, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, NH. The event registration fee is $45. Pre-registration is required via the NHFPI website; online registration is available through January 14. Complete details and links to register may be found at  www.nhfpi.org/nhfpi-policy-conference.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

Andy and Laurie Sanborn Failed to Pay Their Property Taxes At Least 25 Times in 20 Years

Sanborns have a steady history of failing to pay their taxes on time, with at least 25 tax liens against their private homes and businesses over the last 20 years 

Concord, NH – State Senator Andy Sanborn and State Representative Laurie Sanborn failed to pay their property taxes at least 25 times over the past twenty years, according to research by Granite State Progress. The Sanborns have had dozens of tax liens placed against their private homes and businesses over the past two decades.

“Andy and Laurie Sanborn failed to pay their property taxes at least 25 times over the past twenty years,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Those numbers are from Merrimack and Cheshire County alone as we have yet to even look at other areas of the state where they lived and worked. The Sanborn’s record of business bankruptcy, district hopping to run for political office, close relationships with the Free State Project, and now at least 25 tax liens in twenty years calls into question whether they are fit to represent New Hampshire.”

Not only have the Sanborns been delinquent on their taxes numerous times, they have feigned ignorance on at least two occasions when media outlets pointed it out. In May 2012, when questioned about tax liens against the Concord Monitor, Andy Sanborn said: “Honestly, I don’t know how we missed them, but we missed them. . . . We made a mistake and we corrected it today.”  Laurie Sanborn used the same line in February 2012 about a tax lien on a parking lot she owns, telling the Concord Monitor that she was unaware of a tax lien they questioned her about: “’I don’t know anything about that. Obviously, I’ll be taking care of that right away.” [Concord Monitor, “Tax liens peppered across city Unpaid taxes for 2011: $1.67 million.” 5.29.12;]

A 26-page list documenting examples of when the Sanborns failed to pay their property taxes is here.

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