Now that New Hampshire state government is firmly in the hands of the Republican Party again, it’s time to start a dialogue between those who believe in local control and those who will end up paying for services. The question is: Should municipalities be allowed by state statute to raise it’s own taxes and fees beyond what is allowed today.
Municipalities are required to provide certain services through state and federal mandates. If the state or federal doesn’t want to pay for them, shouldn’t the municipality be able to raise enough money to fund them? The only major source of revenue allowed by NH state statute is the property tax. Self-funding user taxes are allowed for motor vehicles and utility bills. Fees such as permits and licenses are allowed.
To the arguments :
“Local taxes will demean the viability of a city resulting in lower vibrancy.” – That won’t necessarily be the case. Let the city decide if they want to take the chance.
“Cities with more services attract welfare and homeless cases.” That’s a falsehood… a fallacy. All cities, towns and county governments are required by state law to provide those services. Allowing them to create a self-funding fee wouldn’t attract any more or any less welfare and homeless cases.
A departure from the topic of taxes:
The shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is the latest tragedy caused by the divisive politics being practiced by radicals on the American political scene recently. Who’s to blame can be debated, but it’s clear to me that tactics of spreading fear (those who are feared, are hated) are responsible for pushing over-zealous and mentally imbalanced individuals over the edge.
But, who’s really responsible for allowing Sarah Palin’s targeted cross-hairs ad over Gifford’s congressional district, or Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle’s “Second Amendment Solution” to become a legitimate part of political dialogue in this country? Even the new moniker for the initiative to repeal the “job killng healthcare bill” is a veiled reference to murder.
Aristotle’s “Doctrine of the Mean” described how courage is the middle ground between rash action and cowardice. It’s the common reference for the oft-repeated adage, “All things in moderation.”
The radicals are responsible, but it’s the moderates who allow this kind of behavior in their political parties who are to blame. The voters who buy into fear tactics are to blame. Those of us who don’t march in the streets to peacefully protest the manipulation of our political and economic systems are to blame. We share the blame because we lack the courage to stand up and stop this insanity.
And now we are at war with each other. And moderation is losing.
A good job with benefits. A nice house, with affordable property taxes. Good schools and colleges. Paved and plowed roads. Sturdy bridges. Functioning courts. Police and fire protection. Clean air and water. Parks and playgrounds, libraries and museums. Treatment, not prison, for the mentally ill. All of us–if we live to be elderly, or become disabled– able to access programs that reduce our obstacles, let us stay in our homes and let the people who would otherwise care for us keep their jobs. A good place to live, raise children and retire.
This could be New Hampshire. But not under the budget coming to a vote in the House on Thursday (March 31, 2011).
Cloaked in fiscal responsibility, this budget is an ideological dagger to the heart–of the middle class, of economic prosperity and job creation, of the Granite State itself.
If this was ever in doubt, the House Finance Committee confirmed it last week, with late-night amendments to the budget bill: a Wisconsin-style assault on unions and $100 million in tax cuts–rather than restoration of services–set to go into effect if “extra” revenues should come in.
Let’s remember that we have unions to thank for creating the middle class.
Let’s remember that the public employees in our state–the teachers, cafeteria workers, police officers, fire fighters, and snow plow drivers–are our family members, our neighbors. The jobs they do build the New Hampshire we depend on. They are better educated, but make 12 percent less than their counterparts in the private sector. They contribute to the economy. They pay taxes just like the rest of us.
Let’s also remember that the unprecedented size of the budget gap we’re facing was caused by the Great Recession. Revenues plummeted. It’s a revenue problem.
Nor was the Great Recession a random act of nature. It was a predictable outcome of intentional policies. Since the 1970s, under both political parties, federal policies have been enabling Wall Street gambling and enriching the wealthiest tenth of one percent, at the expense of everyone else. Intentional policies allowed General Electric to pay no taxes at all last year.
Cloaked in “the free market,” these policies are an ideological dagger to the heart of the American Dream.
Our budget “crises” are a matter of choice. Federal policies reduce revenues by cutting taxes for billionaires and redistributing wealth ever upwards. New Hampshire’s fiscal policy shows we’d rather spend our money giving millionaires one fourth the tax rate of those living in poverty than maintain our state’s most basic functions. It’s a choice.
In hard times, it’s easy to look for someone or something to blame. It’s easy to only notice your taxes buying food stamps for the underpaid people who work at WalMart and not the big subsidies you’re buying for WalMart itself. It may be easy to scapegoat public employees–you can see the salary they draw to plow the roads, but the taxes billionaires aren’t paying remain invisible, unimaginable.
Someone’s laughing all the way to the bank, but it’s not you, it’s not me and it’s not the guy who plows your street.
Cloaked in fiscal responsibility, in a masterstroke of misdirection, the House insists we have a spending problem, and the only way to solve it is to cut spending. And dig deeper, by cutting taxes. And punish the very people who keep our state working.
Our budgets express our priorities and taxes are our investments in those priorities.
We have a choice to make. Do we really intend to balance this budget on the backs of the poor, the middle class, even the upper middle class, while eroding the infrastructures that invest in people and create jobs? Or is it time to ask those at the tippy top, who reap the greatest benefits from government, to chip in their share too?
Cathy Silber is the Executive Director of the Granite State Fair Tax Coalition.