CONCORD -- The Democratically controlled state Senate voted along party lines Thursday night on legislation (SB 135) to put off for two years the next round of business tax cuts.
Senators then endorsed a related measure (SB 301) to cancel those tax cuts outright and use up to $83 million in higher revenues to increase state aid to cities and towns.
All 14 Senate Democrats embraced the two measures, while the 10 Senate Republicans opposed them.
The Senate then voted to place both on the table, likely as placeholders, until the Senate adopts its own version of a two-year state budget plan later this spring.
The House of Representatives initially endorsed a similar measure canceling those tax cuts, along with a second bill to impose a capital gains tax that would support more education aid grants for local school districts.
Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, D-Concord, said the "disproportionate" benefit from the next business tax cuts would go to out-of-state corporations without headquarters here.
"I don't know tangibly what Amazon and Walmart gave to New Hampshire as a consequence" of earlier tax cuts, Feltes said.
Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, warned the Senate these changes could slow economic growth for New Hampshire, which has the lowest unemployment and lowest poverty rates in the country.
"What we are doing today and what we are doing this session with all these bills (on taxes, regulation etc.) is going to undermine the very strong economy we have. Mark my words," Bradley said.
The state has been cutting business taxes since 2015, when the business profits tax was 8.5 percent and the business enterprise tax, essentially a payroll tax, was at 0.75 percent.
After a series of cuts approved for 2016 and another round in 2018, the BPT stood at 7.9 percent and the BET at 0.65 percent and that's where they will stay until at least 2023 if either Senate bill would become law.
If those two reductions were left in place, by 2021, the BPT would be at 7.7 percent and the BET would be at 6.6 percent.
Gov. Chris Sununu has vowed to oppose any legislation that suspends those planned business tax cuts.