Rep. Porter Op-Ed: Tax Fear Is GOP Fabricated Bug-a-Boo

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By Rep. Marjorie Porter, D-Hillsborough

My husband is normally an undeclared voter, so he gets courted by both Republicans and Democrats at election time. Unlike most of us, he keeps all those shiny postcards that come his way. He’s got quite a stack now.

I admit to taking a peek at them once in a while myself. And boy oh boy! The things you learn!

First off, I must tell you, Gary lived and taught high school social studies and civics in Delaware for many years. He taught in a rural district, similar to Hillsboro-Deering, and the highlight of the school year was always the field trip to Washington, DC. At the time, Joe Biden was one of Delaware’s senators. Over the years Gary has told me stories about the kind and personal reception they always got from the senator, about how Joe himself would take them on the tour and spend extra time with the groups.

Rep. Marjorie Porter, D-Hillsborough

Gary has a lot of respect and fondness for ole’ Joe Biden.

So when he started getting those bleak, gray postcards telling him the earth will open up, plumes of hellfire and brimstone will spew forth, and giant spiders will start raining down from the sky if Biden is elected President, he put them in a special pile. “Those I’m returning to sender,” he told me, “with a handwritten note.”

But that’s national politics and thank heavens I don’t have to concern myself here with that. The state and local is enough for me, thank you.

I try to be objective about the mail that comes to him form the state parties. I really do. But honestly, looking them over, it seems like ours are telling people what we are for—renewable energy, strong public schools, a livable wage, to name a few—and theirs are telling us what they are against—TAXES!

Their solution to everything seems to be cutting taxes. (Except of course, property taxes. They forget that cutting taxes at the state level results in increased taxes at the local level. Really. There have been studies!) Magically, things would improve if only you could save that ten cents on your ten-dollar lunch.

Republicans seem to be especially terrified of income taxes. And they hope to scare you away from voting for Democrats because they are sure we have a secret plot to impose one as soon as we have the chance.

So here’s the thing. Democrats have been in the majority in the NH House for eight of the past fourteen years. I’ve been serving for ten of those fourteen. And not once have I seen or heard a bill brought forth by a Democrat advocating for an income tax debated on the House floor.

In fact, I can only remember one bill in all that time that dealt with income taxes at all—it was a bill to allow counties to establish one. Democrats were in the majority, and I was the chair of the committee that heard it. We voted unanimously to kill the bill; the full House did too, with a voice vote.

If we were so keen to sneak an income tax on you, we certainly could have done so by now. We haven’t. Why?

Because this is New Hampshire. And a few years back there was a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would have banned an income tax in the state for all eternity. Although it did not get the two-thirds majority needed to pass, 58% of the voters voted in favor. That’s a pretty high percentage. It’s obvious people in NH are not in favor of an income tax at this time. We listen.

It’s important for me to note here that NH does in fact already have an income tax. It’s called the Interest and Dividends tax, a tax paid on the income earned on savings and investments. It accounts for 4% of our tax revenues—more than the Lottery! Many seniors rely on this type of income in their retirement years.

This income tax was put in place long ago when Republicans ruled the roost.

So, if Democrats are not rushing to establish an income tax, and in fact have not filed any bill to do so, what are our Republican friends to do to scare you?

Why, make one up, of course.  And that’s precisely what they have done.

Here are a few questions for you. Do you have health insurance provided by your employer? Do you pay into the plan with a deduction from your paycheck? You are paying for it with your income. Is that an income tax?

According to the governor’s logic, it is. Bear with me.

The Family and Medical Leave Insurance bill has passed both the House and the Senate several times now. The bill sets up an insurance program that provides paid leave at 60% of salary for workers who need to care for a newborn, an ailing family member, or themselves. Like employer-provided health insurance, the premium for this insurance is deducted from a worker’s paycheck.

This program is highly popular with the public. According to a poll done last year by the Carsey School at UNH, 78% of Granite Staters are in favor. Many employees, especially those in low wage jobs, lack even the option of a paid sick day. The governor recognized the need for such a program during this pandemic by instituting paid family and medical leave as one of his emergency orders.

Which is surprising, seeing as how twice now, the governor has vetoed this very popular bill. Why? Because, he says, it is—are you ready?—an income tax! It’s paid for with income, after all.

A fabricated bug-a-boo. Insurance premiums are not income taxes.

Democrats listened to the people of NH. Too bad the governor did not.

And finally, today: Thank you to all the people who offered me support and kindness after the discovery of my defaced signs. I especially want to thank Lt. Derek Brown and the Hillsboro Police Dept. who are taking this seriously and investigating on my behalf.

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