Taxes and spending: Who has the money?
By N.H. UNION LEADER
It is public budget time in New Hampshire, and the grand question for aldermen, selectmen, council members, commissioners and legislators is whether to raise taxes or cut spending. And that raises two additional questions: Who would pay tax hikes, and how?
Raises are scarce, except in the public sector, where union contracts guarantee pay raises no matter the economic conditions. Personal bankruptcies were up 32 percent in New Hampshire last year -- and were double the 2006 rate. People are losing their jobs, even their homes. And in the midst of all this, elected officials are trying to pass costs on to their constituents, many of whom cannot afford another new expense.
Some school boards are particularly deaf to the concerns of taxpayers. In Bedford, the school board has just approved a new contract for support staff that raises taxes by $143,014. In Goffstown, the school board wants $800,000 more than last year, which would produce a tax hike of $1.14 per $1,000 of evaluation.
Enid Mackenzie of Goffstown spoke for a lot of taxpayers when she told the school board Tuesday night, "Don't you see all around you that people are losing their jobs and losing their homes, and you have the audacity to increase our taxes? That is immoral and unconscionable. We weary taxpayers are saying we have had enough."
Too many public officials want to continue their standard practice of approving large budget increases that contain large tax increases. That is not sustainable. We have reached the point at which too many taxpayers simply have nothing left to give.
Public officials are public servants. The best way they can serve the public this year is to make sure that the cost of government does not rise. If they have to cut services to do that, then that is what they must do. The people cannot continue shouldering additional financial burdens just because elected officials don't want to face the tough realities everyone else has to face.