Gov. Chris Sununu handed off his state budget to the House Finance Committee Wednesday, stressing what he called the plan’s “balance.”
Speaking to lawmakers via Zoom, Sununu was emphatic in pitching his budget as one that endeavors to keep more money in the pockets of all Granite Staters.
“What we’ve tried to do is not just create tax relief for businesses but for everyone,” Sununu said. “I really wanted to make sure we were covering the entire spectrum there.”
Sununu’s budget plan rests on a series of proposed tax cuts. He wants to drop the state Meals and Rooms tax, from 9% to 8.5%. He also wants to phase out the tax on interests and dividends. Dropping that tax, which in 2018 was paid by 53,000 people, will make New Hampshire more attractive to retirees, Sununu told lawmakers.
“That is just cash in their pockets,” he said.
Sununu is also proposing a cut to the Business Enterprise Tax, and wants limit its application to businesses with values topping $250,000. State revenue officials say that change will cut down on filers who paid little tax from having to file at all. In 2018, 74,000 businesses filed state tax returns; most paid no BET.
Sununu acknowledged that rate reductions will affect tax collections. But he argued that even taking a half a point of the rooms and meals tax will have an effect of consumer behavior.
“If people want to go out and get a meal it takes a little off the bill; it takes a little burden of the business,” he said.
He also said the recent bullish performance of state business taxes, taxes on real estate sales, tobacco tax receipts, and state liquor sales would offset any hit to state revenues.
Lawmakers said they looked forward to getting to work on the budget but had yet to receive the budget’s companion bill, where details on Sununu’s proposal will be spelled out.
“It very hard for the finance committee to proceed with their work until we get House Bill 2,” noted Mary Jane Waller, the committee’s ranking Democrat.