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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Havenstein says economic plan would restore NH Advantage

MANCHESTER – Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein said if elected he’d be a “enabler for business” to create 25,000 jobs by mid-2017, cutting taxes on corporate profits, making New Hampshire a right-to-work state and repealing the regional greenhouse gas initiative.

“I see the governor’s office as being a business enabler for job creation,” said Havenstein, a retired, defense contractor executive from Alton. ...

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MANCHESTER – Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein said if elected he’d be a “enabler for business” to create 25,000 jobs by mid-2017, cutting taxes on corporate profits, making New Hampshire a right-to-work state and repealing the regional greenhouse gas initiative.

“I see the governor’s office as being a business enabler for job creation,” said Havenstein, a retired, defense contractor executive from Alton.

Havenstein said he’d achieve the goal through consensus building with state agency heads, business owners and lawmakers just as he managed a fighter jet upgrade while running BAE Systems in Nashua 13 years ago.

“There are those in New Hampshire feel it is perfectly acceptable, the fact we have fallen behind Vermont and Rhode Island in job growth is acceptable. Well, it is not acceptable; frankly, it is an embarrassment,” Havenstein said at Herrick Tech Labs in Manchester’s millyard district Tuesday.

Havenstein would cut the current, 8.5 percent business profits tax down to 7.9 percent over the next two years and would propose it be cut further to 7.4 percent in 2017-18.

And he denied the business tax relief would go mainly to the state’s largest, profitable firms.

“It’s not just paid by the largest and biggest companies,” Havenstein said. “This will help small business.”

Havenstein’s plan got hit from both sides of the political spectrum as either too risky or too timid.

State Democratic leaders warned Havenstein’s tax cut costing $49 million over the next two years would lead to significant cuts in state spending on aid to higher education and human service programs.

“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,” said Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley.

“Apparently it’s not enough that Havenstein pledged allegiance to the Koch Brothers last week, he wants to push all of their failed polices that would hurt small businesses and middle class families, but New Hampshire voters won’t let him take the state backwards.”

Havenstein insisted the tax cut would spur state revenue growth he called “anemic” and the cost of the reduction would be covered as long as state spending was capped for the next two years.

“I am not identifying any specific cuts per se,” Havenstein said.

Republican primary opponent Andrew Hemingway of Bristol said Havenstein’s plan wasn’t bold enough in contrast to his business tax overhaul that would repeal the BPT and the .75 percent tax on all business activity replacing both with a 2 percent flat tax on businesses, non-profits and government.

“I see it as really weak. Walt seems to be speaking from fear that we can’t think big, we can’t make systemic changes,” Hemingway said during a telephone interview.

“We’ve been talking about cutting the BPT 1 percent for 15 years and where has it gotten us? We’ve got a business tax structure stuck in the mid-1990s and we’re no longer competitive because of it.”

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said Havenstein’s plan is doable, but Bradley defended his expansion of Medicaid coverage for low-income adults.

Bradley stressed the expansion coverts this coverage to private insurance next year and goes out of existence on Jan. 1, 2017 unless the Legislature and governor readopt it.

Havenstein has signed a pledge to repeal the expansion.

“Here’s the difference between me and Maggie Hassan. I am going to work on solving that issue before January 2017,” Havenstein said. “I’m not going to kick it down the road for the next governor.”

On right-to-work, Havenstein said New Hampshire would send as strong signal to potential employers by becoming the 25th state to outlaw unions requiring employees pay dues or cover the cost of collective bargaining agreements.

And doing away with RGGI would end electricity consumers having to pay to pick “winners and losers” of energy efficiency projects on their monthly bills, Havenstein added.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).