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Steve Winter
State Representative District 3

September 2, 2011
"Reason and the Tea Party"

Steven Winter represents the towns of Newbury and Sutton, Merrimack District 3, in the NH House of Representatives.

Representative Winter is a member of the House Executive Department & Administration  Committee, The Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Reform and the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR).


"Error of Opinion may be tolerated where Reason is left free to combat it."  - Thomas Jefferson

I was glad to see that a fellow columnist changed the subject last week. He discussed the accomplishments of Doctor Jim Squires. Dr. Squires was originally from New London as I recall and was a leader in the health industry of this state back in the early 1990s. Squires went on after retirement to become a State Senator and ran for Governor on a platform espousing the implementation of "a carefully crafted and focused income tax", according to the author.

That statement got me wondering how a "crafty" income tax could come about. Part II, Article 5 of our constitution requires that all taxes be by "proportional and reasonable assessments" within each taxing authority. Each town is a taxing authority as are school districts crossing town lines. Thus each can have a different property tax rate within that district that is unique to that district. The state-wide property tax (SWPT), being applied across the entire state, must have the same rate for all taxpayers in the state. That is why the SWPT has a different rate from your local or school property tax.

The same would be true for an income tax, if we had one. I frequently hear that we should install a "progressive" income tax in this state. We canít; our constitution does not allow it. If we had an income tax, the state would need to charge the same rate to all taxpayers regardless of income or location. How could one implement "a carefully crafted and focused income tax" under that constraint?

This change of pace, however, was a welcome relief from my friendís constant rhetoric regarding the failure of what he calls "The Great Experiment", which he claims is the result of the "Tea Partiers" and "Free Staters" who have been elected to the New Hampshire legislature. I estimate that fewer than 100 of the 298 Republicans elected to the NH House in the last election were members of either of those groups.

But the energy and commitment of those folks has installed a spine in the rest of the Republican members in answering the call of the electorate to stop the borrowing, increased taxation, slight of hand accounting, and the phony sale of state property that never took place. The call of the electorate was to stop encumbering our children and grandchildren with debt for our profligacy.

I have never attended a Tea Party meeting or rally and have lived in New Hampshire for over 30 years and am therefore not a "Free Stater". Like a friend said, "I was probably a Tea Partier before there was a Tea Party movement, a Free Stater before there was a Free State movement, and more Jeffersonian than Jefferson." I too have always espoused smaller, leaner government.

Congresswoman, Frederica Wilson of Miami, has joined the hate brigade.  "The real enemy is the Tea Party," she asserts.  That's like saying Washington, Franklin, Jefferson and Adams were the real enemy in 1776.


Steve Winter, Representative, Merrimack District 3
Newbury and Sutton, New Hampshire 

Telephone:  603-271- 3125 and 271-3319

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