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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Live Blogging the Tax Summit- Richard Ober

Richard Ober- New Hampshire Charitable Foundation

Ober says the move to implement "Current Use" was a sensible tax reform that assessed property taxes on what a property was, and not on what it could be. He says its the most important environmental tax reform of the last 50 years.

As New Hampshire's largest private charitable foundation and largest private source of scholarships, he says the Foundation made $33 million in grants last year. He says the Foundation's funding decisions are a microcosm of the Legislature's budget decisions.

Ober calls the non-profit sector the third sector of the New Hampshire economy, covering one in eight New Hampshire workers and almost 15% of the Gross State Product. He says business for non-profits is booming, but revenues are not.

He argues that non-profits handle many services in New Hampshire that are covered by state and local governments elsewhere. He says that means Granite Staters are more engaged in non-profits than other states, but should not be taken to an extreme.

Ober says when the state cuts services, demand for social services shifts to cities and town, to non-profit organizations, and to the future when they will cost much more. He says this year's Town Meetings were a tough environment for the local safety net. He says non-profits are also being asked to take up more and more demand, including significant increases in applications from state agencies looking for assistance, efforts to start new non-profits to meet gaps in state services, and increased demand caused by the recession.

He argues the Legislature needs to look at economic and demographic trends to address future needs as well as current demand. He says spending now to address substance abuse or energy efficiency saves much more money later. "Spend a little now. Save a lot later."

He says the fiscally prudent thing to do it structure a tax policy that looks ahead and encourages New Hampshire. He says New Hampshire need to address its tax policy is order to retain high-tech companies and keeps it econommic edge.

Ober says three principles are adequecy of state revenues to meet the state's needs, equity and fairness of the tax policy, and competitiveness and stability of the tax structure.

Ober says that the Committee should receive more information and more perspectives on long-term problems, especially when it is not under the pressure of the Legislative Session and a deadline to have an answer tomorrow.

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