Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. Tom Sherman released a sweeping economic proposal Thursday targeting a range of issues impacting Granite State families. In a break with his party’s traditional positions, Sherman’s plan included targeted business tax cuts. However, it also included policies Democrats have long advocated, including a mandatory $15 an hour minimum wage and a state “prevailing wage” law that would drive up labor costs for private businesses.
The move came as polls continue to show the Rye Democrat trailing incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Sununu by double digits.
“Right now, people across New Hampshire are struggling with doubling electric bills and the rising cost of housing,” Sherman said. “We can lower costs by giving people the freedom to produce cleaner and cheaper energy in New Hampshire, incentivizing more affordable childcare, and lowering property taxes. And by producing more products, energy, and food closer to home, we can protect our supply chains against future disruptions.”
Called “Building a More Affordable New Hampshire,” the Sherman proposal focuses on six goals:
- Boost American-Made Products
- Lower Property Taxes & the Cost of Housing
- Expand American Energy
- Raise Wages
- Improve Access to Childcare
- Cut Barriers for New Hampshire Farmers
As part of his “Boost American-Made Product” proposal, Sherman touts his sponsorship of “the law that adds ‘Buy American’ provisions to state construction projects to support New Hampshire steel fabricators. When we purchase from New Hampshire manufacturers, that money then gets spent at local stores and restaurants and lifts our entire economy,” the memo reads.
Sherman also proposes waiving the first two years of business taxes for new manufacturing businesses in the state, and “tax breaks for companies that provide childcare.”
At the same time, Sherman said the state can “send more money back to cities and towns so they can lower property taxes…we just need to stop giving tax breaks to out-of-state corporations at the expense of Granite Staters.” Does ending “tax breaks for out-of-state corporations” mean raising business tax rates?
Sherman’s proposal also addresses rising utility costs, blaming “the state’s over-reliance on natural gas” for rising electricity rates. “New Hampshire needs to take control of its own energy future by producing more energy here at home. There have been multiple bipartisan measures to do so over the years, but Chris Sununu has vetoed them.”
Sununu has pushed back on this argument by noting that no matter where New Hampshire’s electricity is generated it all goes on the regional New England ISO grid. Natural gas accounts for the grid’s largest share of electricity generation, at 53 percent. According to Toby Rice of EQT, the nation’s largest natural gas producer, earlier this year, gas prices were four times higher in New England than in Appalachia.
“It very clearly illustrates the lack of pipelines causing unnecessarily high prices around the country,” Rice said. And New England, unfortunately, has been the biggest proponent of blocking pipeline infrastructure.”
And, Sununu notes, “it was Tom Sherman and liberal Democrats who shut down that Northern Pass project that would have provided 1,200 megawatts of clean hydropower.”
Sherman also included Granite State farmers in his proposal, part of the state’s economy often left out of the public policy conversation. Among his farm-friendly proposals are to “promote more locally grown & consumed food” and “increase capacity for animal processing in New Hampshire.”