Shaheen may have new idea

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When the Democrats were clamoring for increases in the business taxes and a sales tax, I led the charge in Ways and Means to defeat her proposals even when Republicans were a minority.

CONCORD (AP) — A new tax on business and a statewide property tax will be part of Gov. Jeanne Shaheen’s proposed solution to the education-funding crisis, the Concord Monitor reported yesterday.

Shaheen will propose replacing the business-profits and business-enterprise taxes with a new tax that raises significantly more money, sources told the Monitor.

The Monitor and Foster’s Daily Democrat had the tax described to them as a uniform business tax; Foster’s reported yesterday it also could be a value-added tax.

Shaheen spokesman Brian Murphy would neither confirm nor deny the reports.

“I can’t confirm any details of what the governor is working on,” he said.

He said only that it will have three guiding principles _ providing quality education, satisfying the court order that mandated education-funding reform and spreading out the cost.

“We need to split up the burden of educating our children so that no one sector of the economy gets the entire burden,” he said.

The papers said the plan includes a statewide property tax of about $6 per $1,000 of assessed value that would raise about $400 million a year. Both also said it will include gambling at the state’s four racetracks, which Shaheen has supported in the past. Video gambling would raise an estimated $140 million.

Shaheen has publicly supported increasing and expanding the tobacco tax to raise an additional $50 million a year.

The plan reportedly would include other, unspecified sources of revenue for a total ranging from $900 million to $950 million.

That is significantly higher than the $707 million envisioned by Republican House Speaker Donna Sytek. The state Senate supports spending about $960 million a year on schools.

Senate President Clesson Blaisdell, D-Keene, is sponsoring a bill to permit video gambling at the tracks, which are in Seabrook, Belmont, Salem and Hinsdale. His bill would allow a total of 3,750 machines.

Sytek and many legislators of both parties oppose any expansion of legal gambling.

Foster’s reported Shaheen will make her proposal early next week, before Thursday’s scheduled House vote on other school plans. They include a combined income tax and statewide property tax proposed by Rep. Elizabeth Hager and Sen. Clifton Below, and Sytek’s modified statewide property tax.

Also pending in the House are Rep. Frank Sapareto’s statewide property tax bill and Rep. Andrew Peterson’s — percent consumption tax, which is similar to a value-added tax.

A value-added tax is a type of sales tax levied at each level in the production of goods and services.

The state’s existing business-profits and business-enterprise taxes together raise about $250 million a year. Shaheen hopes to keep the increase in total business taxes less than $200 million, the Monitor reported.

“There’s no one price that is settled. The numbers may well be different,” one source said.

Sytek, R-Salem, said raising taxes on businesses “would be the last place I’d go. We have a vibrant economic climate. I wouldn’t do anything to harm that.”

John Crosier, president of the state Business and Industry Association, said a $200 million increase would effectively double business taxes. He doubted any business organization would support such an increase.

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