Hard working families should be a much higher priority than tax cuts for corporations.
By Scott McGilvray, NEA-NH President
The New Hampshire Senate deserves some credit for improving the budget sent to it by the House. But given the House plan, it would have been impossible not to. The Senate used more realistic revenue estimates than the House, and thus had more flexibility when it came to spending. Underestimating revenue, as the House did, is a longstanding trick used by politicians who want to cut spending on important programs like Meals on Wheels, the State University System, and road and bridge repairs.
The Senate budget contains a proposal to phase-in cuts to the Business Enterprise Tax. The Association of which I am president pays that tax, meaning under the Senate plan NEA-NH will pay less. I don’t support this cut, or cuts to the Business Profits Tax. The needs of hard working families in this state should be a much higher priority than tax cuts for corporations.
The immediate effect of the Senate’s cuts is a loss of $14 million this biennium. Fully implemented, these cuts will cost over $90 million every budget cycle. Taxpayers are left to pick up the slack for this gigantic gift, and NH will be forced to cut services to our elderly, our infirmed, and our school children, while we helplessly watch the deterioration of our roads and bridges continue unabated.
To hide the effects of their cuts, the Senate plans on using $34 million of surplus. They would rather use a surplus to give businesses a big tax cut than keep tuition down for kids who want to stay in New Hampshire for their college education. They could put the surplus in the Education Trust Fund to give more money to public schools, or increase local aid to cities and towns, which has been declining for nearly four years. Both of these alternatives would actually cut property taxes.
The Senate has also has a plan to increase property taxes by reducing education funding for some communities through the elimination of stabilization grants. At the same time, they are seeking to increase money given to charter schools. Public schools now receive $3,456 for every student as a result of the Claremont lawsuit. But, if you run a charter school, you receive an extra $2,000 per student. The House and Senate want to add to that amount an additional $250 to $1,000 per student, and build-in automatic annual increases. This means taxpayers are funding charter school students up to $3,000 more than every public school student in the state.
Unlike public school funding, money given to charter schools does not lower property taxes. Tax dollars given to charter school are spent by an unelected board with no accountability to taxpayers, and not all charter school teachers are required to be certified. Charter schools are called public schools, but that is nothing more than a legal fiction – like corporations are people too. In this Legislature, corporations and charter schools win big, while public schools and property taxpayers take it on the chin.
If the Senate believes tax breaks lead to job creation, then let’s tie tax cuts to new jobs. Let’s not throw money in the corporate wishing-well hoping these jobs appear. Give tax breaks to businesses that create jobs first, good paying jobs with benefits, and keep them in New Hampshire. Make business invest first, then receive the benefit of improving our economy with tax cuts. Until that happens, the business tax reductions need to come out of the Senate budget.
There are many proven ways to improve our economy and create jobs immediately. Fixing our roads and bridges now will create jobs. Increasing aid to schools and to municipalities will create jobs. Ask any prudent business leader and they will tell you an educated workforce and a reliable infrastructure matter as much or more than tax breaks when determining where to locate news businesses or expand existing ones.
The Senate budget isn’t a blueprint for prosperity, it’s a road map to the deterioration of our quality of life.