CONCORD – The state Democratic Party today promptly hammered Republican candidate for governor Walter Havenstein’s new economic plan that calls for a business tax cut, flat spending and right-to-work legislation as more of “the same failed Bill O’Brien/Koch Brothers cuts and far-right policies” that New Hampshire voters rejected in 2012.
The reference was to the Republican former New Hampshire House speaker, O’Brien, who was a lightning rod for controversy when he served from 2010 to 2012 and is now trying to regain the mantle, and to the billionaire co-founders of the Americans for Prosperity advocacy group. The Democrats have been focusing on O’Brien, the Kochs and the Tea Party in much of their messaging against most GOP candidates for office this year.
Havenstein’s conservative GOP primary opponent, Andrew Hemingway, dismissed Havenstein’s plan as “boring and ineffective.”
Havenstein rolled out a plan Tuesday that would cut the business profits tax from 8.5 to 7.4 percent in his first two-year budget plan, according to the plan laid out on his web site. He says it would reduce revenue by $90 million but also said that drop would be made up by “the natural growth of revenue that the state sees every year and keeping government spending flat.”
He would champion a renewed effort to pass right-to-work legislation and sign legislation that would take New Hampshire out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Havenstein would keep unemployment benefits level and would “reform” workers compensation.
His goal is to create 25,000 jobs in the state by Aug. 15, 2017.
Havenstein would also try to “align education with workforce needs,” through discussions with the university system and community college system, and he would “eliminate needless regulation” by allowing online business filings and creating a “systematic and comprehensive review of all business regulations.”
He says he would also aggressively market the state to businesses in the Northeast, Canada, the rest of the United States and Mexico, in that order. He pledges to veto a broadbased tax (as Hemingway and Gov. Maggie Hassan have also pledged to do) and wants to create more competition in the health insurance market.
Hemingway has called for eliminating the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax and instituting a 2 percent “business flat tax” that would include nonprofits.
“Those 11 pages could’ve been condensed in to one line that reads, ‘I propose doing what everyone else has proposed doing for two decades and watch history repeat itself,’” said Hemingway. “Reduce the BPT. Market the state. Pass Right to Work. I actually agree with some of these things, but the idea that this is going to create 25 thousand jobs or improve New Hampshire’s budget or economy to any level we need to, is a ridiculous assertion. “
The state Democratic Party called Havenstein’s plan “disastrous.”
“There’s really nothing new about it,” the party said. “Havenstein merely recycles the same failed Bill O’Brien/Koch Brothers cuts and far-right policies that Granite Staters already rejected in 2012.
“The people and businesses of New Hampshire support Governor Hassan because she has worked to bring common sense problem-solving back to Concord and has proven time and again that she can get things done to move our economy forward and help businesses like mine thrive,” state Rep. Ed Butler of Hart’s Location, a small business owner and chair of the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee. “Walt Havenstein would take our state in the wrong direction, and we can’t afford that.”
“It’s laughable to think that failed CEO Walt Havenstein could be trusted to help New Hampshire’s economy. Havenstein drove SAIC into the ground as his failed strategy cost the company millions of dollars, the company shed thousands of jobs and he left suddenly under a cloud of fraud and scandal,” said NNDP chair Raymond Buckley. “Now his latest strategy for failure simply repackages the same disastrous Bill O’Brien/Koch Brothers agenda we’ve seen up and down the Republican ticket.”
The Havenstein rollout came as the state reported unimpressive revenues for July.
Hassan blamed the O’Brien-led Legislature of two years ago, saying that “shortfalls in revenues from business taxes and the interest and dividends tax make it increasingly clear that the changes made to the tax code by the last legislature are having a negative impact on the state’s budget.”
She said she will direct state agencies “to put all potential large expenditures on hold, and the spending, out of state travel and hiring freezes that I enacted earlier this year will remain in effect.”