I WAS pleasantly surprised as I began to read House Democratic Leader Matt Wilhelm’s recent op-ed in the Union Leader. It is truly great to see that Democrats are coming around. After all, the first step to recovery is recognizing you have a problem.
Republicans could not agree more with lowering everyday costs for Granite Staters, protecting rights and freedoms, bolstering education. These are precisely what New Hampshire Republicans have been delivering for years. However, upon reading further, it seems Democrats have much more to learn.
Our neighbors are struggling with exorbitant energy costs. Last year, Republicans were responsible for the most comprehensive energy relief package our state has ever seen. But every term, Republicans fight against bill after bill that would increase the cost to ratepayers. Already this year, we have seen Democrats attempt to pass legislation that would saddle Granite Staters with an additional $40 million on their electric bills.
When questioned about this cost, the sponsor stated: “The money does not belong to the ratepayer.” I am sure when you look at your bill this month that you will disagree.
We will continue to work with all stakeholders to deliver further relief to Granite Staters — Republican-led if need be, but hopefully bipartisan — as we address long-term issues caused by Washington Democrats that have brought ruin upon our energy markets.
Rep. Wilhelm claims business tax reductions are causing skyrocketing property taxes. I am not sure what economics course he took in college, but I hope he gets a refund. Reducing the business tax burden is not a property tax trigger. Property tax structure starts at the local level.
The Legislature sent more than $200 million back to municipalities last year and even cut the state portion of property tax bills. If your town still continues to raise property taxes after this windfall, I suggest you vote your town officials out of office immediately.
Keeping New Hampshire’s business climate competitive will help grow our economy, which we have seen demonstrated in rising business tax revenue even as our tax rates were reduced. We will not waver in our opposition to tax and spending increases that will further fuel inflation and hurt Granite Staters where it matters most: their wallets.
Lastly, I would like to address the misinformation campaign the Democrats are waging against expanding education options in our state. Anyone who tells you the Education Freedom Account program is siphoning money from public schools is purely gaslighting you. Yes, more children are taking advantage of the EFA program than anticipated, but this is in fact costing the taxpayers less.
The average cost to taxpayers of a student in a traditional public school is roughly $20,000. The average cost to the taxpayers of a student in the EFA program is $5,000. When you hear opponents out there saying this program is costing taxpayers money, that is absolutely false. In reality, it is saving taxpayers $15,000 per student. That money is then available to the local public schools to continue to use for the students who continue to remain in the school. The bottom line is that public schools end up with more money for fewer students.
We will not waver or allow the Democrats, directed by their hyper-partisan labor union allies, to undercut and diminish the great progress we have made in expanding Educational Freedom in the Granite State. It should not be partisan to say that parents know what is best for their children. We should be supporting their efforts to help their children thrive, not hindering their choices.
The fact of the matter is Republicans are here to provide the type of bipartisanship that people want. Granite Staters expect those of us in government to be able to work together with those we disagree with on certain policy points, and there certainly are areas where real bipartisan cooperation can take place. In fact, the vast majority of the legislation we pass or defeat is done in a bipartisan fashion.
However, bad ideas are bad ideas and should not be entertained for the sake of appearances. Now, instead of doubling down on Democrat policies that create the problems we are all seeking to solve, I welcome my Democratic colleagues to join us in delivering real solutions.
Republican Rep. Jason Osborne is majority leader of the N.H. House of Representatives. He represents Rockingham District 4, which includes the towns of Chester, Sandown and Auburn, where he lives.