To The Daily Sun,
Once again the state Legislature has put needs of their concept of reality before the needs of the citizens of the state. The governor, reluctantly, has signed on to a hacked-together budget compromise. Everyone agrees that taxes are just about the worst way to collect money. It ranks right up there with begging. Unfortunately both are used by those who need for whatever reason need some help to get by on the margin of poverty, to be educated, to supplement inadequate care for their children and an allowance to medical needs.
If I may, let me point out some ways their budget fell short. The obvious problem is they didn't adequately plan for the payment for the needs they are trying to ignore in hopes they will go away. Can anyone defend cutting taxes in the face of so many glaring needs. Here are some of the ways they made changes to fees, not taxes. New Medicaid enrollees can be ignored for a couple of years because it is 100 percent funded by the federal government. User fees are popping up all over the place.
One that really galls me, an old-timer, is the announcement that fishing license for those over 68 will now cost $10. It has been free for about 20 years. The Fish and Game Department has been using volunteers for all sorts of things that would be left undone because of lack of staff. Now, after volunteering for some task, I can't go down to the riverbank without paying the state $10 a year after I have registered boat and trailer for about three times that amount. I am not overly fond of fees. You can't even park without paying a fee at some of the states recreational facilities.
Someone has to do a needs analysis for the state government. What are the fixed costs of running the various departments. A few years ago there was a court case that was trying to answer the question: What is an adequate education and what does it cost. I don't think we ever solved that little conundrum. They weren't even addressing the college cost and how to address them.
What about the roads and highways in the state? How many bridges are being ignored? How many roads formerly maintained by the state are now the responsibility of the towns? Can the towns afford that cost? The state's dirty little secret — cost-shifting to the counties and the towns — is revealed as we at the local level struggle to make sure we tax our real estate to cover the needs.
We also run food banks in church basements to provide an adequate diet for those that state is failing in provide for in so many ways. To sum this up for all those legislators who still have a conscience, there is a solution based on the age-old concept of fair taxation. User fees have their place but fair taxation is the solution. Taxes should not fall on those already in need. Business profits can be taxed but that is not the most fair tax. At some point we have to face the fact that large individual incomes should be taxed at a rate equal to that paid out by the vast majority in federal taxation. Yes, the dirty word in New Hampshire, income taxation is long overdue if we are going to address budget needs. Local real estate can't stand another jolt. So let's get real during the next budget go-round. Some of you may take some heat but who knows, some of us will be cheering as we go to our well deserved lunch at the senior center.