By AFP-NH Director Corey Lewandowski
Two weeks from today, NH voters will have the opportunity to ban a state income tax by voting Yes on the proposed constitutional amendment, Question 1.
Amending the constitution is an arduous process that should be approached thoughtfully and rarely. The system is designed to ensure this is the case.
First, both bodies of the legislature must approve a proposed constitutional amendment with a 60% majority to place the issue on the ballot.
Then the responsibility turns, as it should, to the voters, 2/3rds of whom must approve the question for the constitution to be amended. This November 6, it is the voters’ responsibility to decide if they want to change the constitution so that our state remains free of an income tax.
NH residents believe in smaller government. We pride overselves on having no broad-based state tax. This hallmark of NH residency dates back to Governor Mel Thomson, the author of the modern-day anti-tax pledge.
The issue at the core of Question 1 is whether the people or the government should maintain control over more of our money. Don’t forget; it is our money. When the government provides you with a tax break, all they are doing is returning some of the money they took from you in the first place.
Unfortunately, when the government is permitted to keep more of our money, they usually find a way to spend it rather than returning it to the taxpayers. This was certainly the case with the legislators in Concord from 2007 to 2010 who came up with 100 new or increased taxes and fees to burden NH taxpayers. From cars and real estate, to businesses and boating, and beyond; there seemed to be an endless number of items to tax.
By voting Yes on Question 1, NH voters have the ability to limit future legislature’s ability to tax us by taking a state income tax off the table. This does not mean that they cannot raise other taxes or fees or preclude them from creating news ones. It doesn’t even stop future legislatures from pursuing the same path and amending the constitution to allow for the implementation of an income tax someday. Approving Question 1 just makes it more difficult for them to do these things. And shouldn’t taking more of our hard-earned tax dollars be a little bit more difficult?
NH is not the first state to face this question. In 1991, CT adopted a state income tax that was sold to the taxpayers as a much-needed short-term solution to the state’s budget crisis. Twenty-one years later, the taxpayers of CT labor under one of the heaviest tax burdens in the country. The property owners in CT also struggle with the 3rd-highest per capita property tax collection, the 2nd-highest median property tax bill, and the 4th-highest property taxes as a percentage of median income – demonstrating the argument that an income tax would help lower property taxes, which are set at the local level, is a fallacy. We only need to look at CT to see what can happen when government takes more of our money and more of our freedom.
But these statistics are not limited to CT. Across the country, people who have means vote with their feet and they are resoundingly leaving states with high personal income tax rates for those with lower or no state income taxes. In fact, over the last 10 years, on net, more than 4.2 million individuals have moved out of the 10 states with the highest state and local tax burdens (measured as a % of personal income) while at the same time, 2.8 million Americans migrated to the 10 states with the lowest tax burdens. On average, every day 1,265 individuals left high tax states – nearly one per minute.
We speak with frequency about the NH Advantage – the characteristics that make this state a great place to live. An important component of that advantage is our lack of a state income tax. We should not heed that advantage to any legislature for a short-term spending spree or alleged quick budgetary fix. We should etch it in the granite this state is nicknamed for by voting Yes on Question 1 and amending our constitution to prohibit a state income tax.