WHEN DEMOCRATIC candidates for the New Hampshire House of Representatives campaigned in 2018, what was the constant refrain echoing from the White Mountains to the Seacoast, from the Merrimack to the Connecticut River Valley?
Our property taxes are too high.
They heard about people forced to leave their homes, young families unable to buy their starter home, and soon-to-be retirees on fixed incomes being forced to move out of the state. Why? Because it would be impossible to afford the property taxes on their home.
Coupled with the complaints over property taxes were concerns about the state of public education. Even though property taxes continue to increase, they cannot keep up with the state’s failure to adequately fund education. Schools are losing nurses, guidance counselors and teachers at alarming rates and class sizes continue to grow, adversely impacting our state’s children.
Towns and districts are even being forced to shut down schools entirely — like in Berlin, where they just closed the doors to their elementary school, forcing those students into the local high school.
Nearly every voter we spoke to also voiced concerns about health care. The cost of health insurance continues to rise every year — in New Hampshire and across the country — with no end in sight. It is critical in 2019 that legislators work together to make sure every Granite Stater has access to quality, affordable health care.
Keeping New Hampshire healthy also requires the adoption of family-friendly economic policies like paid family and medical leave, to ensure Granite Staters don’t have to choose between financial security and caring for a loved one.
As the newly-elected House majority we remember hearing these concerns from our neighbors when we campaigned, and we will act on them. Just last week the House Democrats voted on their priorities and the three that rose to the top were education funding, healthcare and paid family medical leave.
So, the question now is how do we move forward on these issues?
For too long, New Hampshire has been cutting taxes for big corporations while increasing the burdens borne by everyday Granite Staters. This must change. In 1999 property taxes made up half of our total tax burden, but today, property taxes are about two-thirds of our total tax burden. New Hampshire has downshifted costs onto hard-working Granite Staters and we need to change that.
Our plan starts by stabilizing the corporate tax cuts, freezing small business taxes and applying the existing interest and dividends tax to the capital gains earned by those in the highest income brackets. We use the increased revenues to fund education in each town, based on needs, immediately creating property tax relief for Granite Staters.
This year we are confident that we can pass paid family and medical leave and have already worked to address some of Gov. Chris Sununu’s concerns from last year when his threatened veto tanked the bipartisan paid leave bill in the Senate, after it had passed a Republican-controlled House three times.
We must provide protections for hard-working Granite State families that need to care for a loved one or be home to take care of a new child. Not only is this good policy it will help New Hampshire become more attractive to a younger workforce, while addressing our critical caregiving needs and helping to resolve the opioid epidemic.
New Hampshire House Democrats heard your concerns this past fall. Now it is time to get to work.