July 18, 2008
Seacoast Online

By Rep. Chris Nevins

One can really tell that the election season is upon us when our local papers start to fill their editorial pages with letters from “concerned citizens” who often turn out to be our own elected officials.

Recently, the Portsmouth Herald, Hampton Union and Exeter News-Letter has demonstrated that the season of political pandering is once again upon us with coordinated letters from both the N.H. Majority Speaker Teri Norelli and Greenland Rep. Michael Marsh. I can only hope that we Seacoast residents will be able to separate biased myth from fact and truly come to understand what has occurred in state politics these past two years.

As one of the Republican representatives on the Seacoast it might be easy for me to become combative after two partisan perspectives filled the morning paper with election year banter yet I can’t help but feel it might be time to present a more enlightened view to what is going on in Concord. It is not a pretty sight.

What does it all mean: 10 percent, 17 percent, 3 percent? Some of you may have been following the recent debate over these New Hampshire budget numbers yet not truly understanding what they represent. Let me try to explain. We indeed have a budget that covers two years, which is called the biennial budget. The current total biennial budget was increased from $9.34 billion (2006-07) to $10.35 billion (2008-09). If we do the math for the total budget, the amount “only” increased 10.8 percent! But does this number reflect what comes out of the New Hampshire taxpayers pocket? Not hardly!

So where does the money come from to make up this total budget? Our New Hampshire budget reflects not only the taxes we citizens pay into our “General Fund” (slightly more than 30 percent of the total budget) but also federal funds, the highway funds, Fish & Game funds, the sweepstakes fund, the turnpike fund and others. Yet what we in New Hampshire pay in taxes goes directly to the General Fund. We citizens are not taxed on what the federal government returns to our state budget in New Hampshire but rather we are taxed only on those items that make up the General Fund. Do you have a choice when paying the tobacco tax, real estate transfer tax, meals & rooms tax, business enterprise tax or taxes on your utility bills? Obviously, you know the answer is no. So there lies the rub.

Compare what we paid in General Fund taxes during the last biennial budget (2006-07) of $2.714 billion to the current budget of 2008-09 of $3.189 billion. If you again do the math (new math or the old math) you can see that the “pound of flesh” the majority party extracted from us is indeed 17.5 percent.

So what say you? Do you care that your New Hampshire taxes were raised 17.5 percent or not? Do you think someone else is paying these taxes or could it be you who is “paying the piper?” Are you comfortable with this level of state taxes and those that will be forced on us in the near future? While personally disappointed with the use of the word “liars” in the speaker’s letter I would hope we can maintain a certain level of civil discourse as we seek to inform the electorate approaching Election Day. The voters deserve all the facts to make informed decisions not just politically expedient ones.

Rep. Chris Nevins is a Republican state legislator from Hampton, representing Rockingham District 15.