A prime concern for New Hampshire legislators and Governor must be to lower property taxes by undoing and preventing the downshifting of costs to towns and cities.
In the past, down shifting was done when State revenues went down. The promise was to reinstate those funds when revenue went back up. Listed below are a few controversial bills and tax reductions that impact property taxes around the state, including for Andover.
HB 20 – This bill would have created the most expansive education voucher bill in the country by allowing families to receive between $3,700 and $8,400 per student per in taxpayer-funded “Education Freedom Accounts” (vouchers). The funds could be used to pay for private, religious or charter school tuition, home schooling expenses, computers, internet, and other educational related costs.
Reaching Higher NH estimated the fiscal impact at $10.1 million per year for 10 % participation and $50.1 million per year for 50% participation.
Issues presented at the hearings included: no limitations on the type of education/service provider, establishment of a separate entity to administer the funds, no protections against discrimination by service providers, no requirements on the part of families or participating school; basically, no accountability for ensuring that the dollars were used for the stated purpose or whether this was an effective use of taxpayer dollars.
Public comment resulted in 1,107 people supporting the bill and 5,218 opposing the bill. Due to the comments presented during committee hearings, a few amendments were made to target funds and increase accountability.
On February 17, the House Education Committee reviewed the bill and determined there were still too many problems. They will continue to work on it and likely put it forward next year.
But, an almost identical Senate bill SB 130 (without the above amendments) is now scheduled for a hearing on March 2 at 9 AM. Read more at ReachingHigherNH.org.
The new online system allows members of the public to show their support or opposition without going to Concord. Go to GenCourt.nh.us and click on “Link to Remote Hearings” to see how this is done.
In the Governor’s Budget, revenue is the all-important factor in undoing downshifting to towns and cities. The Governor’s budget is focused on decreasing revenue by reducing corporate taxes and taxes paid by the wealthiest residents. Once revenue is reduced, then there is no money to send back to towns and cities. The Governor’s budget:
• Prioritizes reduced taxes for those best able to pay instead of making a concerted effort to help property tax payers; and
• Reduces ongoing revenue in a budget that is shored up by a one-time infusion of funds (estimated at $445 million) from the COVID relief bill that has not yet passed.
Top Revenue Reductions
Business taxes: Reduces the current business taxes mostly paid by corporations, reducing revenue by $100 million per year when New Hampshire is ranked 7th in the country for best business environment.
Interest and dividends tax: Takes steps to phase out this tax which provides $200 million each budget cycle.
Reduce the Room and Meals tax by .5%: A large portion of this tax is paid by visitors to the state and results in lost revenue of $12 million to $13 million. By law, the legislature should provide towns and cities with 40% of collected rooms and meals taxes; in 2020, it was 22%.
The Governor’s budget clearly shows the governor’s priorities. Pay attention to who cares about property taxes and how they vote.