Stephen will raise your property taxes

Last modified: 7/17/2010 12:00:00 AM
Republican gubernatorial candidate John Stephen's so-called economic plan will be an economic disaster for our state and our communities, leading to the largest property tax hike in New Hampshire history.

Stephen refuses to explain many of the details of his plan, estimate its cost or how he would pay for it. But Stephen's proposed revenue reductions and new spending proposals will conservatively cost at least $600 million.

Why wouldn't Stephen explain its details? Because he knows that New Hampshire homeowners would be the ones picking up his reckless tab through massive property tax increases.

Stephen could cut completely 10 state agencies, including the National Guard, the Veterans Home, Economic Development and Environmental Services, and that would still only pay for less than 25 percent of his plan.

As health and human services commissioner, Stephen secretly proposed to the federal government a radical plan that would have cut health care for pregnant women, children and seniors; forced seniors out of nursing homes; and required people to drive up to 95 miles for routine health care. Even that plan - according to Stephen's own numbers at the time - only saved $38 million.

So where does the money come from for Stephen's $600 million plan?

Aid to cities and towns makes up nearly half the state budget, and that is the only place where Stephen could cut enough to pay for his so-called plan.

Stephen's plan would require New Hampshire's cities and towns to make devastating cuts to education, fire and police - and still hike local property taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars. Our local taxpayers cannot and should not afford John Stephen's reckless price tag.

Stephen is already suggesting that he will cut at least $120 million from state aid to education. But we know the cuts - and the property tax increases - would have to be much steeper in order to pay for Stephen's plan.

Sadly, Stephen's plan comes as no surprise to those of us who have watched his 20-year career as a government bureaucrat. As Christopher Boothby, a Republican Belknap County commissioner, wrote during Stephen's rocky tenure as Health and Human Services commissioner, in a letter co-signed by seven fellow Republicans: 'John Stephen appears to have one thing in mind: Dump state of New Hampshire costs onto property taxpayers.'

Stephen has a long record of fiscal mismanagement. State taxpayers could be forced to pay more than $40 million from lawsuits and federal audits resulting from his tenure at Health and Human Services. Even a Republican member of the House Finance Committee said you couldn't trust Stephen's numbers.

And we can't trust Stephen's numbers now.

There is a reason that Stephen isn't telling us how he would pay for his plan, because his plan is going to raise our property taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars. That's Stephen's record and that's why we can't afford John Stephen.

(Steve Marchand is a former mayor of Portsmouth. Steve Shurtleff is a Concord city councilor and Democratic state representative.)

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