Voters will get their say on constitutionally banning an income tax in New Hampshire come November. There will be many arguments made for rejecting the ban, some by those favoring the tax, and some by those who merely want to keep their options open.
The smart move is to ensure that the option isn't kept open, to ensure that one more opportunity to increase the overall tax burden is foreclosed — and for good reason.
Charles M. Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, in his July 17 column in this newspaper, made the most compelling argument possible for a constitutional ban on an income tax in New Hampshire — or anywhere else. He merely pointed to Connecticut, and its experiences — and where the state finds itself today. The facts are devastating.
As is always the case, Connecticut taxpayers were told the income tax would be good for them, that other taxes would go down, that the resulting system would be more equitable.
It was all a lie. Just like the lie that said allowing casino gambling would flood the state's coffers with revenue and solve all of its fiscal problems the income tax hadn't corrected. Well, from a practical standpoint, the casinos really have flooded Connecticut's coffers with revenue: $4.87 billion was generated through December of 2008, $3.3 billion for the state and $1.6 billion for the state's cities and towns. It wasn't enough. Even though the state already had a sales tax — and a corporate income tax.
In Connecticut, as in other states, the sales tax has gone up. And has been extended to more items and services. And the income tax has gone up. And the tax burden, as Arlinghaus noted, has increased — and much faster than in New Hampshire.
It's simple: Give government more and better ways to generate revenue, and government will continue to increase its spending at the expense of those it taxes. Big government exists to redistribute income — much of it to the very bureaucrats who claim to be serving your interests.
The solution is equally simple: Limit, or eliminate, the potential taxing sources. And a ban on a state income tax is a major step in that direction. It ends the age-old debate. It takes the issue off the table.
Government will expand as long as it can find access to money to finance its schemes. It will encroach further and further into the lives of individuals. It will claim it is protecting the public interest, without ever defining what that interest might be or, even, who it truly serves. That is important to remember since, more often than not, those it serves are the bureaucrats benefiting from your tax dollars.
State government is big enough. It is costly enough. It does not need to add another revenue source. It needs to be told that option is gone. The history is clear. Just look at Connecticut, where an income tax, casino gambling and an ever-increasing sales tax only helped it dig a deeper fiscal hole it can't escape.
Don't let New Hampshire fall into the same stupid trap. Join Florida. Put the ban in the state constitution.