Keeping our promise on a frugal budget
Last November, voters sent a clear message: They were tired of the overspending and flagrant borrowing going on in Washington and Concord. The Republican majority that was overwhelmingly elected to the New Hampshire House heard this message and is delivering results. While campaigning, we made a promise to the citizens of the Granite State. If you elect us, we would restore fiscal sanity. There would be no more tax and fee hikes on working families and businesses, no more borrowing and no more accounting gimmicks. We pledged that we would start budgeting the way the people do across the kitchen tables of New Hampshire. We understand that it's easy to hope for the economy to improve, but responsible budgeting demands dealing with reality. That's why we have ended the process of determining how much the state will spend then coming up with the tax dollars to pay for it. This irresponsible method is how we ended up with a nearly 25 percent increase in spending and over 100 new taxes and fees in the past four years. In fact, Republicans have committed to reducing taxes this year, particularly repealing the additional $30 car registration fees that hurt many low-income families. Also, we plan to eliminate the gambling winnings tax, which actually costs the state money when people stopped coming to New Hampshire to buy tickets. We have targeted rolling back increases on a number of fees, including auto inspection sticker fees, marriage license fees, vital records fees and pet store, restaurant and hotel licensing fees. These tax relief measures are merely a down payment on our plans to make the "Live Free or Die" state the most business-friendly, lowest-tax state possible. With an affordable government, jobs will return to New Hampshire. That's why we put a stake in the ground by releasing our revenue figures for the coming two-year budget. By making it known how much we have to spend, our budgeters can begin the process of tightening our belt to rein in state spending to fit within this number. Unlike earlier legislatures, we won't look for new ways to spend this money. Instead, we will treat taxpayer money as frugally as our citizens treat their own. Should we find that the state's revenue projections improve over the next two months, we have committed that we will use these funds for more tax reduction or to help rebuild our depleted Rainy Day Fund. None of this minimizes the challenges we will face in closing a budget hole that's projected by some to be nearly $1 billion. However, the answer will not be more taxes. Republican Rep. William O'Brien of Mont Vernon is speaker of the House. Rep. Pamela Tucker, R-Greenland, is deputy speaker. Rep. D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, is House majority leader.