Our LPNH gubernatorial candidate (http://www.babiarz.org
) is doing extraordinarily well. He is being included in the televised debates, getting great press, and his message seems to be well-received.
Here is a front-page article from the debate last night (it will be broadcast next week):
Gubernatorial hopefuls clash
over taxes, economic issues
By TOM FAHEY
State House Bureau Chief
DURHAM â€” Candidates for governor ended their day the way they began it yesterday: in a debate.
Republican Craig Benson, Democrat Mark Fernald and Libertarian John Babiarz debated the issues before a small audience and the cameras of New Hampshire Public Television last night. The debate will be aired on Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.
In a session that concentrated on economic issues, Fernald argued the state needs to change its tax system, Benson said the state needs to spend more efficiently, and Babiarz said state spending needs to be cut.
Fernald, an attorney and state senator from Sharon, said he blames the statewide property tax for the stateâ€™s problems with under-funded state services, development sprawl and a miserly approach to school funding. He favors an income tax to solve the stateâ€™s funding crisis.
He said lack of adequate funding leaves New Hampshire with â€œthe only 19 towns in America that donâ€™t have public kindergarten.â€ He said he considers K-12 education part of the stateâ€™s obligation to provide an adequate education to all children, and would phase it in over four years.
The state doesnâ€™t need to raise any more money, he argued. It just needs to raise it more fairly.
Benson, wealthy co-founder of Cabletron Systems, said Fernaldâ€™s income tax idea will make it hard for small business to succeed, and will deter new businesses from moving into the state.
He said he wants to establish â€œopportunity regionsâ€ that will draw new businesses to areas of the state now hurting for jobs. He wants to diversify the stateâ€™s economic base of high technology jobs by adding biotechnology, pharmaceutical and financial service firms.
Benson said adding a new industrial base to the stateâ€™s economy will create jobs in depressed regional pockets, help New Hampshire college and high school graduates stay in the state to build their lives and diversify the stateâ€™s economy before another economic slowdown occurs.
He said heâ€™d use his experience in the high tech field to boost the use of computer technology to make state government more efficient, both in the service it delivers and the cost to taxpayers.
Babiarz, a private businessman from Grafton, said state government has grown too big, with too many bureaucracies in place. Only by cutting the size of government can the state cut taxes, he said.
â€œWe need to cut them for the sanity of taxpayers, because theyâ€™ve just about had it,â€ Babiarz said.
Fernald said that for most taxpayers, the income tax is the answer. Property taxes hit most heavily those who can afford it the least, he said.
â€œMy grandmother pays 9 percent of her income to support her schools. I pay 3. And I suspect Mr. Benson pays less than 1 percent,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™re not taxing the wealthy. Weâ€™re taxing the retirement income of many retirees.â€
The three-man field touched on other issues as well: health care costs, changing the governorâ€™s two-year term, the Second Amendment, environment, welfare reform, and gambling, but the exchanges on those topics were brief.
Babiarz, who thinks most decisions should be left to local government, included gambling as a local issue. It should not be handed over to a select group of special interests, he said.
Fernald said he is against expansion of gambling, saying â€œA lot of people see gambling as a magic bullet. But itâ€™s not.â€
Benson said he does not support gambling. He warned that while some predict it would bring $200 million in new revenue, it would be in the $50 million range because Massachusetts and other states would follow and their residents would no longer travel here to gamble.