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October 05. 2012 8:37PM

New group pushes to tell voters about income tax vote on Nov. ballot

CONCORD — A new effort to inform New Hampshire voters that they can decide whether the state would ever have an income tax was announced Friday.

With just over four weeks to go before New Hampshire voters go to the polls, the group, spear-headed by former Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Smith, hopes to inform voters that a constitutional amendment, outlawing an income tax, is on the ballot.

Smith said that, when he was campaigning for governor, he was surprised to learn how few people knew the question would be before voters in the general election.

Although always a political issue, there has not been a serious discussion before lawmakers for more than a decade. Other attempts to place the issue before voters as a constitutional amendment have failed in recent years, until this year when it was passed by the large Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

At a press conference announcing the effort and the formation of the No Income Tax Political Action Committee, Smith said the state has an opportunity to decide the issue once and for all.

“We've had this conversation many times over the decades. This is the time to put it to a close,” Smith said. “It is our job to make sure people know it is on the ballot.”

The effort has the backing of former Govs. John H. Sununu, Steve Merrill and Craig Benson, who serve as co-chairs.

“One of the wonderful assets of New Hampshire is that we have maintained the power and involvement of our citizens in community governance by keeping significant control of our tax base within our towns and cities,” said Sununu. “I believe that adding a prohibition of an income tax to our Constitution will strengthen our capacity to preserve that community-based character of New Hampshire.”

Smith was joined by legislative leaders and activists at the press conference including House Speaker Bill O'Brien who was a co-sponsor of CACR 13.

“We have an opportunity to enshrine an essential part of the New Hampshire Advantage in our constitution,” O'Brien said, “and protect that advantage for generations to come.”

The effort was also supported by former Congressional candidate and founder of the activist group We The People, Jennifer Horn.

“When we keep government out of our wallets, we are better able to keep government out of our lives,” Horn said. “That is why We The People, and the thousands of grassroots activists associated with our organization, will be actively engaged in educating the citizens of New Hampshire about the ballot question and making sure it passes on Nov. 6.”

Smith acknowledged achieving a two-thirds majority to enshrine an income tax prohibition in the state constitution will be difficult to achieve, but said he is hopeful and views the question as a referendum on the issue.

He said the group will lead an aggressive grass roots effort to educate voters as well as direct mail, phone banks, social media and paid advertising.

Voters in New Hampshire have pretty much made up their minds on an income tax, Smith said, but many do not know that the question is on the ballot. “We hope this effort will let them know it is (on the ballot),” Smith said.

The income tax prohibition is one of three ballot questions voters will decide at the Nov. 6 general election.

grayno@unionleader.com


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