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Bloomberg BNA recently posed a series of tax-centric questions to the Republican and Democrat candidates for governor in New Hampshire. Below are the responses from Democrat candidate Colin Van Ostern.
Interview by Adrianne Appel
Colin Van Ostern is a business manager at Stonyfield Inc., a yogurt company based in N.H. He also has been part of the Executive Council, a body that advises and guides Gov. Maggie Hassan's (D) executive branch, since being elected in 2012. As an executive councilor, he strongly backed the expansion of Medicaid, renewable energy development and the restoration of funds to Planned Parenthood for birth control.
What are your priorities related to state and local tax, if elected?
New Hampshire's low tax structure contributes greatly to our state's competitive advantage, and it's critical that we maintain this to keep New Hampshire moving forward. I will oppose any efforts to impose a broad-based sales or income tax to New Hampshire, and I'll look for opportunities to provide tax relief for middle class families.
What existing state and local tax measures or initiatives would you seek to support? Or curb?
I oppose a state income or sales tax. I will work to continue the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Plan that's brought $608 million into New Hampshire and saved health care providers over $100 million.
What is the biggest hurdle you foresee to enacting your major tax-related initiatives?
Anything we do moving forward is going to take bringing Democrats and Republicans to the table to get things done. As Governor, I will work with Democrats and Republicans to keep New Hampshire income and sales tax-free and to keep taxes low for families throughout our state.
What is the biggest challenge you see facing New Hampshire from a tax and revenue perspective, in light of current and evolving market conditions?
For businesses to grow and create more jobs, we need to reduce the red tape business owners face today when they are forced to stand in line—often in Concord—to obtain state business certificates, trade names, trademarks, filing nonprofit reports and some other professional licenses and certifications. Red tape like this is hindering businesses from expanding and slowing young entrepreneurs from growing new companies. By continuing to move more business services online and by streamlining the state contracting process and making it fully electronic, New Hampshire businesses will be able to grow and be better positioned to compete to provide goods and services that bring and keep young families here.
Together, we will take this next step forward for New Hampshire by bringing and keeping more young people, young families, new businesses and startups in our state—and we'll build an economy that works for everyone.
Do you believe New Hampshire has the right balance right now in terms of overall taxes? Does anything need to be re-balanced?
Our low tax structure is part of New Hampshire's competitive advantage, and as Governor I will work to keep taxes low by opposing a state income or sales tax.
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