Business roundtable

Bruce Berke, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, as well as House Republican Leader Dick Hinch of Merrimack, Senate Republican Leader Chuck Morse and Mark Dell’Orfano of Sheehan Phinney participated in a roundtable discussion in Manchester on Monday in support of keeping lower state business taxes.

MANCHESTER — With the state’s $13 billion two-year budget stalled in negotiations, legislators and business leaders advocated Monday afternoon at the Jefferson Mill complex to keep lower employer taxes.

The National Federation of Independent Business and the New Hampshire chapter of Americans for Prosperity hosted a roundtable discussion with Senate Republican Leader Chuck Morse of Salem and House Republican Leader Dick Hinch of Merrimack in support of keeping lower state business taxes, which they say will continue to grow the state’s economy.

In June, Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed the budget after the Democratically-controlled Legislature repealed cuts to the state’s two main business taxes.

Bruce Berke, the state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, called the repeals an “assault on businesses” at the start of the meeting, which drew about a dozen participants, including business owners and representatives.

Morse, an owner of a landscaping business, said small business owners need to speak up against the repeals.

“We delivered what we said we’d deliver,” he said. “It’s working. It’s producing revenue in New Hampshire.”

Many Democrats think the tax reductions only benefit large out-of-state corporations, Hinch said, who called the repeals an “egregious tax increase” on businesses. He mentioned companies like Budweiser and Fidelity, which hire thousands of residents in New Hampshire.

“Although they may be out-of-state corporations, they employ our residents and our voters, so that word has to get out that the argument (opponents) have is just false,” he said.

State Rep. Timothy Soucy, D-Concord, said he is still researching the business tax repeals. He’s spoken with small business owners who say they worry about the increase.

“On the other side, we need money in the state and that seems to be a revenue source,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, D-Concord, previously criticized the veto as the act of an autocratic, stubborn leader.

“With so many crises facing our children, our families and our state, Governor Sununu’s veto of an entire state budget over one issue he didn’t ‘win’ on is just not the New Hampshire way. It is reckless, tone-deaf and Trumpian,” said Feltes, who has announced his own Democratic primary bid for governor in 2020.

The tax rate reductions were set to be phased in between 2016 and 2021. The repeal would bring business taxes back to the 2018 rates. The repeal would increase the business profits tax rate from 7.7% to 7.9%.

The other tax being talked about is the business enterprise tax, which is primarily paid by small business owners.

Christopher Maidment, owner of CJM Construction in Peterborough, said an increasing workforce has created an increased cost for quality labor.

“I’ve been looking for good help for over two years, and it’s just not there,” he said. “Everybody that wants a job seems to have one, and to hijack someone else’s labor you have to raise your prices. I’m starting unskilled labor at $15 an hour.”

The cuts on business taxes are needed to keep the state competitive and provide increased employment opportunities, said Greg Moore, the state director of Americans for Prosperity. Small businesses will be hit hard if the repeals stick, he said.

“This budget that was vetoed would cause real pain to real people, and real people aren’t just the business owners,” he said.

Sunday, October 20, 2019
Saturday, October 19, 2019