by NH Senator Denise Ricciardi, District 9
While politicians in Washington have been fueling inflation and driving up prices on everything including gas prices to more than $5 per gallon nationwide, Republicans in New Hampshire have been working hard to put money back into the pockets of Granite State families.
Our Democratic colleagues argue that we need to increase government revenues with more taxes and fees and higher tax rates. If we “make businesses pay their fair share” they argue we can use that extra tax revenue to lower property taxes. Republicans have a different approach. We believe that you can’t lower taxes by raising taxes. The best way to lower taxes for everyone is greater economic growth.
And boy is New Hampshire’s economy growing! This is thanks to the sound fiscal management of New Hampshire Republicans, who have been working for years to reform our business tax climate and make our state a better place to start and grow a business. This means more jobs, higher paychecks, and ultimately higher tax revenues for the state at lower rates.
Through the end of May, state revenues are running $400 million ahead of plan, and that’s just for this fiscal year. We expect higher revenues through this year and into next year as well. One of our top priorities has been to find ways of getting those surplus revenues back to cities and towns so that they can lower property tax rates. In total over the last two years, we are proud to have delivered more than $500 million in property tax relief at the state, county, and local level.
The top goal for my first term in the state Senate was to increase the amount of revenue the state shares with cities and towns from the rooms and meals tax. For years budget writers have shortchanged local communities in order to spend more money at the state level. I introduced a bill to fulfill the Legislature’s promise. And while I didn’t get everything I wanted, we did create for the first time a dedicated fund for 30% of rooms and meals revenue sharing. This not only means more money going back to your town hall to lower property taxes, it also will make it harder for future budget writers to lay claim to a bigger share of the pie.
Last year, the new revenue sharing formula generated an increase of more than $31 million for municipalities in New Hampshire. Next year’s local revenues will be even higher!
Fixing the rooms and meals tax was a priority for me, but just one piece of the half-billion property tax relief package we’ve put together this session. The budget we passed last year increased spending on Adequate Education Grants by $102 million over existing law. We lifted the cap on school building aid projects and added another $30 million for local school construction projects. We included new funding for towns starting up full-day kindergarten programs. This year, we established Extraordinary Needs Grants for towns with the greatest financial need. This will provide an extra $24 million across the state over the next two years.
We supported our first responders with funding for the Granite Shield Program, an ongoing initiative to target heroin and fentanyl dealers. We created a new grant fund for police body cameras and have provided a one-time state subsidy for local police and fire retirement contributions.
Republicans supported local transportation infrastructure with $30 million for municipal road construction and $36 million for municipal bridge projects.
We invested in clean water for New Hampshire communities. The budget included $8.5 million for the Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund and $6.5 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. This year, we appropriated an additional $12.65 million in state funding for wastewater projects and added $25 million to PFAS Remediation Loan Fund. This money will help cities and towns access safe, clean, and reliable drinking water without increasing local property taxes.
In fact, all of these programs should ease the burden on local homeowners and businesses. And don’t forget that we’re delivering $100 million in direct property tax relief starting July 1 with a cut in the Statewide Property Tax.
When we lower tax rates, we make the Granite State a better foundation on which to build a business. That means more money in your pocket, more money coming into the state, and a half-billion in property tax relief across every community in New Hampshire.
This op-ed appeared in the Union Leader