National taxpayer groups are being invited to join New Hampshire’s debate over a proposed state constitutional ban of an income tax.
Granite State Taxpayers, a statewide taxpayer advocacy organization, is appealing for help, Chairman Jim Adams confirmed yesterday.
“We’re completely a volunteer organization and we don’t have the funds to push for this,” Adams said. “So we’re checking nationally, trying to get taxpayer rights organizations to come in here.”
They already may be making themselves known. Laurel Redden, a Democrat from Salem who is part of a coalition opposing the proposed amendment, Granite State Priorities, said she received a couple of postcards from groups advocating passage.
pletely expect it,” Redden said.
Voters will consider the constitutional amendment Nov. 6. Two-thirds approval is needed.
New Hampshire doesn’t have an income tax. It does have a long history of rejecting one.
Democrat Maggie Hassan and Republican Ovide Lamontagne, their parties’ nominees for governor, say they oppose an income tax but disagree on the amendment. Lamontagne supports it. Hassan is opposed.
Adams acknowledges the amendment would mean voters no longer have to rely on the word of a politician because the state constitution would prohibit an income tax.
Because we’ve never had an income or sales tax, we can see the folly in it,” Adams said. “The fact is money is the life’s blood of politics.”
Adams calls the amendment very timely because until a few years ago, the state was headed over a fiscal cliff due to spending.
“We are very much in favor of that
amendment not to have a broad-based tax. We encourage small government, low taxes, and taking care of those in need with a hand up but not for generations and generations,” Adams said.
Redden said there is no reason for the question to be on the ballot because there is no effort to adopt an income tax in the state.
“This is like putting weed killer on a dandelion in a sea of grass,” she said.
“There is no income tax being proposed. Beyond that, there is not even a whisper of a study of one,” Redden said.
Granite State Priorities includes representatives of churches, labor unions, and women’s and children’s advocacy groups.
Redden said the group opposes the amendment because it would exclude the possibility of putting all potential revenue sources on the table and examining their pros and cons.
Dave Lang, president of the Londonderry-based Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, said the union hasn’t taken a formal stand on the amendment, but isn’t in favor.
“The limiting of discussion of how we fund government is not conducive to governing,” Lang said.
Government finance involves discussion of both expenses and revenues, so banning an income tax would limit policymakers in that conversation, Lang said.
“From a firefighting perspective, this is the equivalent of pulling up in front of a building that is on fire and saying, “We’re not going to use any water today,’” Lang said.
New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien led the effort in the Legislature to put the question before voters.
“A fundamental component of the New Hampshire Advantage is not having an income tax. This amendment will guarantee that, for years to come, taxpayers of our
state do not have to fear that the state will begin taxing their wages,” O’Brien said.
The New Hampshire Republican Party supports the amendment, spokeswoman Meg Stone said.
So does the GOP’s nominee for governor.
“Our status as the only state in t
he Northeast without an income tax makes us exceptional and is the cornerstone of the New Hampshire Advantage. I believe that is
worth preserving through a constitutional amendment,” Lamontagne said.
“I support CACR 13 and I believe every candidate who has taken the pledge to oppose a broad-based tax should be doing the same,” Lamontagne said.
“I opposed CACR 13 because I believe that our political system works and that the people of this state debate and discuss how they want their legislators to fund our state government and they voice their opinions at the polls every two years,” Hassan said.
“Additionally, I do not believe it is appropriate to prevent future generations of New Hampshire citizens from making their own decisions about how to fund state government,” she said.
Amending the state constitution should be done with care and not in response to debates over tax policy, Hassan said.
New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Collin Gately said Hassan has made it clear she will veto an income or sales tax, as did Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat.
But the party is opposed to an amendment because it would restrict the choices future generations might want to make.
“The constitution is a sacred document and should not be amended lightly,” Gately said. “New Hampshire leaders and citizens have blocked an income or a sales tax for decades without the need for a constitutional amendment. We believe future generations should
be able to exercise their judgment.”