On March 11, 2008, residents in 88 towns considered a warrant article that
urged elected officials to reject the Pledge. As the article
misidentified the Pledge and used euphemisms to hide the obvious effects of spiking it, we thought we'd fill voters in.
The Pledge in question is the famous New Hampshire promise to oppose broadbased sales or income taxes.
The warrant article misled voters into thinking that the Pledge is a promise to oppose all new taxes.
It isn't. That is a different pledge circulated by Americans for Tax Reform.
Compounding the article's dishonesty, it then blamed the Pledge for rising property taxes and
claimed that getting rid of the Pledge will allow lawmakers to "adopt a revenue system that lowers property taxes."
Both premises are false.
First, state income and sales taxes do not replace property taxes.
Government simply takes the new revenue on top of the old, and the people are left paying even more.
Second, if the Pledge caused rising property taxes, then why are they rising faster in other states?
Consider Connecticut. In 1990, Lowell P. Weicker Jr. ran for governor of Connecticut as an independent.
He won. A month after he took office in January, 1991, he proposed an income tax.
The New York Times noted in 1991 that Weicker was a politician "who after being elected made the establishment of an income tax the centerpiece of his first year in office." Note the phrase "after being elected."
Weicker vetoed every budget that did not contain an income tax, and in August he finally got his wish: a 4.5 percent state income tax that went into effect that fall. (It is now 5 percent.)
In 1990, the Tax Foundation ranked Connecticut's total state and local tax burden 32nd highest in the country. It is now 8th. New Hampshire's is 49th. So much for the idea that a new broadbased tax will lower your tax burden.
The Tax Foundation studied state and local property tax burdens from 2000 to 2005 and found that Connecticut's rose 13.5 percent. New Hampshire's rose 9 percent. So much for the idea that a broadbased tax will lower your property taxes.
Connecticut's per capita property tax burden is higher than New Hampshire's. So in addition to paying more in state and local taxes than Granite Staters do, Connecticut residents now pay higher property taxes, too.
Weicker did what New Hampshire politicians used to do before the Pledge. He hid his income tax plan, hoping to spring it on taxpayers once elected. We suspect that is what the chiefs of the Granite State Fair Tax Coalition, which wrote the anti-Pledge warrant article, are really after.
Its co-founder, Mark Fernald, ran for governor in 2002 on an income tax platform and was clobbered. Now Fernald and his pals figure that if only they could get rid of the Pledge, they could sneak a broadbased tax by the people and finally get what they want.
That is what you will vote for if you vote for the anti-Pledge warrant article. It is not a vote for lower property taxes. It is a vote for higher taxes and less honesty from candidates for state office. Is that really what you want?
• Goffstown voters not duped on Pledge article