Using the “CNBC — America’s Top States for Business — 2012” report, House Democratic Leader Rep. Terie Norelli has claimed that Republicans made New Hampshire less attractive for businesses. That is not so. Just look at the report Norelli used.
The report used 10 major indicators of a state’s business competitiveness. By choosing only one indicator, Norelli left the impression that New Hampshire is 34th in competitiveness. We are ranked 19th best overall, ahead of all our New England neighbors. Massachusetts, the closest to us in ranking, is 28th. Rhode Island is 50th. We even beat New York (34th) and California (40th). Our overall ranking in 2010 was 19th also, and that was when the Democrats were in control. If being 19th is bad now, it had to be bad when the Democrats controlled the Legislature.(Please go to http://www.cnbc.com/id/46413845 and review the results for yourself.)
For business friendliness, New Hampshire ranked 2nd. This is consistent with what I hear from business leaders all the time at the House Business Coalition (HBC), which meets every Tuesday afternoon when the House is in session. We invite business leaders in every month to discuss their issues. These leaders find the New Hampshire business climate friendly, but their top concerns are health care and energy costs and the business enterprise tax. This coalition is bipartisan, but only Republicans show up each week. Where are all those Democrats volunteering their time to help our business climate?
Rep. Norelli pointed to education cuts at the university system as a reason for our ranking. We ranked 8th best among all states in this category. CNBC looked at traditional measures of K-12 education, including test scores, class size and spending. The study also considered the number of higher education institutions within a state.
As I wrote back in May in the Exeter News-Letter, “Dartmouth College, a private institution, when faced with financial problems during the same period (as UNH), chose to cut some 30 non-core classes … that was a rational action on their part. Why is it when Dartmouth cuts $100 million from its budget over two years it is considered good management, but when UNH does similar cuts, they are branded anti-education?”
Our more streamlined state university system is still producing excellent graduates for our local businesses to hire, and so is Dartmouth College. Bravo to our community colleges and other colleges as well.
Rep. Norelli’s comments about the impact related to infrastructure and transportation were also not substantiated by the CNBC data. We currently rank higher in that category than in 2010, when she was speaker of the House. All the New England states ranked in the bottom 20 percent because this category is measured by the value of goods shipped by air, land and water. Big industrial states will always have the advantage in this category.
New Hampshire ranked 1st in the quality of life category, up from 4th when the Democrats were in control. The reason we rank so high in quality of life is because of those conservative, long-standing New Hampshire values that we all cherish, such as living within our means.
Rep. Norelli is trying to make voters forget about the nearly 25 percent increase in spending over four years when Democrats were in control and the nearly 100 increases in new taxes and fees required to pay for all that spending. These taxes included the infamous LLC tax, the camping tax, and the gambling tax. The outcry about these was so great that one by one they have been repealed.
These past two years of Republican control of the House and Senate have seen a return of fiscal responsibility. At HBC meetings, business leaders are always thanking the current Legislature for our fiscal discipline and for restoring a business friendly approach to governing. I would listen to the men and women who take risks and grow business that create jobs when it comes to whose approach to governing the voters should have confidence in. They will choose Republicans every time. Don’t forget what a Concord Monitor editorial stated in 2010 about the Democrat budget: “it was balanced on a wing, a prayer, and a credit card.” Do the voters really want to return to that kind of governing?
Patrick F. Abrami is a Republican state representative from Stratham.