Jul 20, 2015 6:50 PM
CONCORD - Gov. Maggie Hassan gave Republican legislative leaders another reason to be upset with her vetoing a business tax break owners of Planet Fitness had lobbied for and threatened to leave the state if they didn’t get it.
Hassan said the tax cut wasn’t paid for, but she held open the option of accepting it as part of a global settlement on a permanent state budget plan.
"She’s essentially pulling down the curtain and telling all the businesses in New Hampshire and across the country, we don’t want you here and we don’t want you to be successful,’’ said State Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, a major advocate for the break.
Republican reaction was swift and hostile to the veto of legislation that didn’t surface until weeks before lawmakers went home for the summer.
The bill did not have any public hearings before the House of Representatives.
"This is a very disappointing day for the business community and anyone who wants a great job,’’ Sanborn continued.
Planet Fitness made the pitch with ex-Republican Gov. and Planet Fitness partner Craig Benson serving as its chief salesman.
"It began as a special, 11th hour request by one company by one former governor with a profitable interest,’’ said Sen. Dan Feltes, D-Concord and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Tax experts say they advise owners to leave the state before the sale of their stock or property.
But critics say legislative leaders took an $8 million-a-year tax break and extended it to all companies.
"It evolved into a very broad tax loophole that would erase a major feature of our business tax code,’’ Feltes argued.
Hassan said in her veto message, ``In the meantime, however, we cannot continue to enact business tax reductions without transparently and honestly paying for them in budget.’’
But Hassan said arguments to make this change in business tax policy are valid and she’d support if it’s paid for as part of a state budget deal.Last month, Hassan vetoed a Republican-written state budget and said the two, general business tax cuts were a major reason.
Feltes agreed there could be a meeting of the minds.
"Is there a very narrow way to potentially address this? I think there might be,’’ Feltes added.
Hassan said she offered ways to pay for the general business tax cuts that legislative leaders rejected such as raising the state tax on cigarettes and closing existing tax loopholes.
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