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Jul 23, 2015 10:42 AM

Landrigan: Hassan offers new NH budget plan: Cigarette tax, motor vehicle fee hikes to pay for business tax cuts


CONCORD - Gov. Maggie Hassan offered a permanent state budget plan that cuts both business taxes as Republican legislative leaders wanted, but pays for them by raising cigarettes taxes, motor vehicle fees and stiffer business tax auditing.

Hassan agreed to drop one of her chief proposals, making permanent right away the N.H. Health Protection Program set to end without legislative approval next May.

She sought more money to continue evaluating the program that provides coverage to 40,000 low-income adults.

The two-term Democrat’s proposal is the first offer to become public from either side since Hassan last month vetoed the budget the Republican-led Legislature gave her.

"It provides Republicans with what they have indicated is their highest priority - cutting corporate taxes - in a faster time frame while addressing concerns about long-term fiscal responsibility and protecting our ability to support critical economic priorities,’’ Hassan said.

The plan would also include a state worker pay raise, $5.9 million more than the vetoed budget dedicated to battle the heroin epidemic and $2.5 million in tuition relief for community college students.

"While people on both sides of either party may still want a different plan than the one I am proposing, this plan attempts to address the concerns of both parties in order to reach a common-ground that has enough votes from both sides of the aisle,’’ Hassan said. "I hope that this proposal and serve as a basis for bipartisan compromise and negotiation.’’

House Speaker Shawn Jasper’s leadership team rejected Hassan’s plan as a non-starter.

"At first glance these seem to be nothing more than warmed over proposals that have already been floated and rejected,’’ said House Majority Whip Richard Hinch, R-Merrimack. "Perhaps the governor’s time would be more wisely spent discussing these matters with legislators in person rather than trying to negotiate these important issues through a press conference.”

Hassan’s business tax cuts would lower the 8.5 percent tax on corporate profits down to 7.9 percent in 2017, three years earlier than the vetoed state budget would have.

The Republican budget also cut across the board the state’s tax on business activity paid by nearly all firms in the state.

Hassan instead offered to raise the no-tax filing threshold which would eliminate the levy for 5,500 businesses.


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