My Turn: What state budget delivers for the people of NH

For the Monitor
Published: 7/11/2021 8:30:05 AM

Every two years, lawmakers at the State House and the governor come together, roll up our sleeves and work to deliver a budget for the people of New Hampshire. To be successful, every budget requires compromise and balance, and most importantly every successful budget gets signed, assuring the people of New Hampshire that Washington-style gridlock is never acceptable here in our state.

This budget makes real, substantial progress for the people of our state, and citizens can rest assured that we are delivering results. With the lowest unemployment rate in the nation and the lowest poverty rate of any state in America, New Hampshire is opening up doors of opportunity like never before.

This transformational budget for the people of New Hampshire will cut taxes across the board, lower property taxes, increase educational freedom for our children and finally deliver a voluntary paid family medical leave program — without an income tax.

Much has been discussed about the budget process this year, with misinformation and half-truths flying around, so let me explain why this budget delivers for the people of New Hampshire.

Tax relief. From seniors retiring in our state to the family of four going out to eat, to the small business just getting started, this budget cuts taxes across the board by fully eliminating the interest and dividends over the next five years, cutting the rooms and meals tax from 9% to 8.5%, once again reducing BPT and BET small business taxes, and exempting 30,000 small businesses from even filing taxes by raising the minimum thresholds

I’ve always said when times are good, you don’t increase spending, you return it to the people. In the darkest days of the pandemic, we worried our state would face a half a billion dollar shortfall. Because of strong management, our state eliminated this deficit and realized a surplus greater than $250 million. This budget adds money to the Rainy Day Fund to prepare for the next crisis. This is in addition to the fact that all together, this budget creates over $1 billion in tax savings for the citizens of New Hampshire over the next 10 years.

Property tax relief. Instead of downshifting costs to municipalities, this budget downshifts cash by sending back $100 million in direct property tax relief to municipalities, increasing the meals and rooms tax revenue distribution, returning $50 million more to cities and towns, which will allow them to target key areas of need, investing $30 million to school districts for school building aid.

Delivering a paid family medical leave program — without an income tax. This plan is truly voluntary, available to all who want it, and not forced upon anyone who does not; financially solvent, run by the private sector, and will not grow the size of government; a huge step forward for our state. For years, democrats have tried imposing an income tax to pay for paid leave, but we got it done, without an income tax.

In addition to these historic achievements, this budget also increases educational opportunities for low income families by establishing Education Freedom Accounts. Those families can now choose the best path for their child like everyone else. Further, our budget spends more money per pupil for public education than ever before, ensuring there are no funding gaps in the system.

One of the downsides of every budget process is that ultimately the legislature includes non-budgetary provisions. I don’t like the inclusion of these amendments, but it has happened with every budget since the dawn of time. Special interest groups outside of mainstream thinking will use these items to spread whatever misinformation they need to further their political cause.

Like most Granite Staters, I don’t live in extremes on either side. I am pro-choice, but also like most Granite Staters (and Americans), I support a limit on abortions performed in months seven, eight and nine of pregnancy. This change to our laws brings New Hampshire in line with 43 other states. So when the legislature added this provision, I chose not to veto a $13 billion budget and shut down government over it. Doing so would have caused Washington-style gridlock right here in New Hampshire, and I won’t allow that to happen.

This budget, like every good budget, was the result of compromise, and the pro-growth initiatives contained within like tax cuts, paid family medical leave and property tax relief are sound policies that benefit everyone across the Granite State.

(Chris Sununu is the governor of New Hampshire.)

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