NASHUA BULLETIN February 10, 2017
Yes, our Super Bowl prediction was correct. And while we were still in shock form the big comeback, we had another busy week in Concord. This week found us focusing on issues related to our goal of attracting new business to New Hampshire and creating and promoting access to a skilled workforce. While that was the focus of our week, Governor Sununu also announced his state budget which is on a tight timeline for review.
House Labor Committee Decides Family and Medical Leave Bill Needs More Study (HB 628)
Last week, we told you about HB 628, the bill to create a family and medical leave insurance program for employees that are not covered by the federal FMLA. On Monday, our State Advocacy Committee devoted the greater part of its meeting to a discussion of this bill. The Committee came up with a number of questions which need to be addressed in order for the Chamber to be able to take a final position on the bill. The consensus was that the bill was not ready to be passed and that the Committee should retain the bill for further study in order to be able to answer the various questions posed by the Chamber and by other business groups.
Fortunately, that is the approach which the Committee decided to take, voting on Wednesday to hold onto HB 628 for further study. This means that they will have the rest of this calendar year to do further work on the bill, and then the full House will vote on HB 628 during the first week of the session next January.
Chamber Registers Support for Targeted Tax Credit Bills (SB 183 and SB 205)
This week, the Chamber supported two tax credit bills that were heard by the Senate Ways and Means Committee. With our goal of promoting access to a skilled workforce and attracting businesses to Nashua/New Hampshire, both bills are strongly in line with our strategic objectives.
- SB 183 – Establishes a New Hampshire technology sector marketing tax credit. The legislation would create a tax credit against the BPT, the BET or the insurance premium tax equal to 75% of the contribution made to the Community Development Finance Authority by an eligible business. The credit would be available to businesses chosen by the NH High Tech Council and certified to the CDFA as businesses that create employment for skilled and educated technology professionals to move to NH for a career in the technology sector. An important aspect of the bill is that the legislation requires the credit to be advertised as a targeted technology talent resource and marketing effort in order to position and promote New Hampshire as a viable and attractive place to work in the technology field. As Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley candidly said in his testimony before the Ways and Means Committee, this is a bill that is targeted especially at Massachusetts commuters. The purpose is to promote ways of filling open New Hampshire jobs.
- SB 205 – This legislation would create the small business jobs fund and tax credit. This one would be available to taxpayers that make a credit- eligible capital contribution to a small business jobs fund and are issued a tax credit certificate from the Department of Resources and Economic Development. The tax credit can be applied against the BPT, the BET and the insurance premium tax, and one quarter of the total credit can be applied in each of the tax years that include the third through sixth anniversaries of receipt. The bill recognizes the need “to attract capital that promotes the retention and expansion of existing jobs, stimulates the creation of new jobs, attracts new business and industry to the state, and stimulates growth in businesses that are prepared to make meaningful investments and foster job creation.” Thanks to Greater Nashua legislators Senator Kevin Avard of Nashua, Senator Gary Daniels of Milford, and Representative Dick Hinch of Merrimack for serving as co-sponsors to this legislation.
As Chamber members are well aware, the Chamber has been a consistent supporter of the use of focused tax credits and business incentives over the years as a way of attracting businesses to New Hampshire and retaining businesses in New Hampshire. We think that initiatives such as the economic revitalization zone tax credit and the research and development tax credit have been important to the economy of the state and in particular to the Nashua area. Because we are located where we are, we naturally are especially sensitive to the ease with which businesses can locate in Massachusetts instead of New Hampshire. As a result, we applaud efforts like these two bills that show initiative on the part of the state toward incentivizing business development in New Hampshire.
Chamber Opposes Removing Tax Exemption for Hospitals (HB 573)
The Chamber lodged its opposition to HB 573, which would remove the existing exemption from property taxation for charitable non-profit hospitals. The bill looks to limit the exemption to charitable non-profit hospitals so that the exemption would apply only to the main campus of the hospital.
We think that this is a bad idea.
- Our members consistently remind us that one of the most important challenges that they have is the high cost of healthcare. Since additional property taxes paid by hospitals undoubtedly will end up being passed on to healthcare consumers, it seems indisputable that HB 573 would exacerbate the healthcare cost crisis that already exists in New Hampshire.
- In addition, the bill would reduce the flexibility that hospitals now have in making their operations accessible throughout the community. For instance, Southern New Hampshire Medical Center expanded its behavioral health operations to its new West Campus in order to be able to more effectively provide the behavioral health services which are so critical at this particular point in time in our state. It seems to us that it is obviously beneficial to the state that hospitals be able to nimbly respond to public health needs and to counter public health problems like the substance abuse and mental health crises. So we are hoping the House kills this bill.
Governor Unveils Proposed State Budget
Amidst yesterday’s nor’easter, Governor Sununu unveiled his proposed state budget for the upcoming biennium. We will be providing further comment on the almost 1,000 page budget in the coming days. As for what happens next, the budget now moves into the hands of the House of Representatives, and specifically to the House Finance Committee (and more specifically to the three subcommittees of the House Finance Committee, known as divisions, which will be responsible for reviewing different parts of the budget).
Despite the length of the budget and the amount of money involved, the House does not have much time to do its review, because the budget has to be voted on by the full House no later than April 6th. Then the whole thing goes over to the Senate and the Senate gets its crack at it. As always, the budget will be the major legislative item of the year and it will be the last thing voted on by the legislature in June. Ah, June…