CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Kevin Smith’s name won’t be on the ballot in New Hampshire next month, but he’s still trying to round up votes -- for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the state from adopting an income tax.
Smith, who lost the Republican gubernatorial primary to Ovide Lamontagne, said Friday he is leading an effort to educate voters about the proposed constitutional amendment to ensure "that when voters head to the polls this November, we send any notion of ever having an income tax in New Hampshire to the ash heap of history."
Smith, who was joined by elected officials and grassroots activists at a news conference, said he will oversee an effort that will involve an aggressive grassroots campaign as well as paid advertising through the No Income Tax PAC. The campaign’s honorary co-chairmen include former Republican Govs. John H. Sununu, Stephen Merrill and Craig Benson.
New Hampshire is one of nine states that do not tax personal income, though it taxes interests and dividends. Supporters of the amendment, which needs the support of two-thirds of voters to take effect, argue that keeping it that way was key to preserving the "New Hampshire advantage" -- a tax climate that has helped New Hampshire weather the economic recession better than other states. Opponents argued that businesses ultimately will bear the burden if future lawmakers increase existing taxes.
Though both candidates for governor have taken New Hampshire’s traditional "pledge" to veto a general sales or income tax, Democrat Maggie Hassan opposes the constitutional amendment. She argues that the constitution shouldn’t be amended in response to tax policy debates.
Lamontagne believes the door should be closed forever on an income tax as an option. The pledge, he argues, does not protect voters who say one thing during the campaign and do another after getting elected.
A WMUR Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center in August found that 40 percent of likely voters would vote for the amendment while 41 percent would not. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.