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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Live Blogging the Tax Summit- Gary Hirshberg

Gary Hirshberg- President, Owner, and CE-Yo of Stonyfield Farm Inc.

Hirshberg applauds the Committee for convening a seminar to focus on "how" the state raises money, rather than "how much" it raises. He says the state needs to look at real fundamentals.

He says "Shame on you" to anyone questioning the Committee for engaging "in a bipartisan and civil dialogue with citizens and business leaders on these issues."

Hirshberg adds, "Every thinking person in New Hampshire knows that our revenue model is broken, that we cannot meet basic needs, let alone address out declining infrastructures, and while we obviously cannot earily agree on a resolution or even a philosophy that would lead to an improved system, we will only get ther through a respectful and open-minded dialogue."

Hirshberg says that New Hampshire ranks just 22nd in when it's "Tax Freedom Day" lands, and that New Hampshire taxpayers have to work the first 100 days of the year just pay local, state, and federal taxes. He says the New Hampshire Advantage isn't a tax advantage, and that not everyone is always looking for the lowest cost.

He says the structural elements that are most vital are certainty, fairness, and rationality.

Certainty- Hirshberg says states can contribute to certainty by having clear, consistent, and stable business taxes.

Fairness- Hirshberg argues that New Hampshire should do more to tax incomes instead of taxing assets. He says when wealth was accurately measured by land, property taxes made sense.

Hirshberg says moving from a system that taxes property to one that incorporates an income tax would be a step in the right direction in terms of tax fairness.

He shared the results of a survey among his own employees, on how much each pays in property taxes, and how much those taxes have gone up over the past five years.

Hirshberg says politicians like to tax businesses versus individuals because businesses don't vote. But he says citizens need jobs, and greater business taxes can diminish their ability to hire more citizens.

He believes that just as individuals should be taxed on their income wealth, businesses should be too under the Business Profits Tax. He thinks its probably wise to include an exception for capital assets. And he says even unprofitable businesses should contribute, through the Business Enterprise Tax.

Rationality- Hirshberg says that basic economics teaches us that when you tax something, you get less of it. He wants to put this premise into action by taxing waste and pollution. He mentions "heat-trapping carbon emissions", which he says are both expensive and dangerous.

He says the RGGI states, including New Hampshire, have taken the first step to putting a price on carbon, and calls on New Hampshire to take a leadership role by further taxing carbon emissions. He points to carbon taxes in Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands, as well as similar measures in Austria, Denmark, Italy, the UK, and parts of Canada.

Hirshberg says much of the Department of Environmental Services budget is already funded by emissions-based fees.

He says the "Third Industrial Revolution" will be about wher we get energy and how we use it. He says green markets are faring better than others in the current downturn, led by green buildings, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and cleaner transportation. He says clean technology has overtaken biotech and information technology among venture capitalists. He says New Hampshire could create 8,500 jobs by aggressively pursuing energy efficiency, and help bring down energy prices that are among the highest in the nation.

He says a BET-liek minimum assessment could be put on small businesses with low emissions, and suggests vehicle registration fees could be higher for gaz-guzzlers than gas-sippers.

Hirshberg concludes that the best way to grow the economy is to promote behaviors we like and discourage behavior we don't.


  1. This is what I call a green bandit -- always blathering about green technology and stands to make big bucks from it.

    What a crock.

    I still say Almy should be ashamed to bring in outside groups like ITEP and GSFTC.

  2. Not only will I drive an SUV, I will drive an OLD SUV...no catalytic converters, nothing!!