Democratic Candidates for Governor Meet in First Debate

May 31, 2012

The three Democratic candidates for New Hampshire Governor – Jackie Cilley, Maggie Hassan, and Bill Kennedy – met at New England College for their first debate.

The three outlined their views on an income tax, which is seen as the most controversial difference between the three candidates. 

Former Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan of Exeter is the only candidate who would veto an income or sales tax as governor. Bill Kennedy of Danbury says he thinks an income tax is the most equitable way to ease the property tax burden on citizens. Jackie Cilley of Barrington says she will not rule out a broad based tax. 

The candidates also weighed in on the news of the day, the constitutional amendment on education funding being pushed by Republican Leaders and Governor Lynch.

Cilley went after the current version of an amendment

"Having watched what’s happened in the last two years," Cilley says, "Any amendment that would put more power into the hands of a legislative body who fundamentally does not believe in education, I would oppose vigorously."

Cilley’s opponents weren’t so zealous.

Former Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan said she hasn’t seen the proposed language, but she agrees something needs to give lawmakers a freer hand on education funding.

"One of the problems we still have is a gap, in spending between the poorest communities, spending per pupil and the wealthiest, and I think we need to focus on that gap," she explains.

Bill Kennedy said poorer towns need more school aid, but the legislature actions should still be checked by the courts.

The three are seeking to replace Democratic Gov. John Lynch, who has announced he won't seek a fifth term.

The candidates spoke in Henniker at a debate coordinated by WMUR-TV and the Concord Monitor.