New Hampshire Badly Needs a Pro-Child Tax Credit Mechanism: Here’s Why

This week, New Hampshire’s House Municipal and County Government committee will hear an important piece of pro-family, pro-child legislation. HB 294, the “child tax credit” bill, will be considered in the House Municipal and County Government Committee on Thursday, January 26th at 2:30 pm in the Legislative Office Building, 301-303. This is a bipartisan bill that should have the support of every Granite Stater who cares about the future of our state, regardless of party affiliation.
As a Christian organization, Cornerstone is dedicated to a New Hampshire where “families thrive.” Yet even those who are not pro-family should favor this bill.  That’s because New Hampshire is experiencing a rapidly growing crisis that has received far less attention than it deserves – as Ian Huyett pointed out in his recent article, New Hampshire is catastrophically old. For New Hampshire to remain competitive, we must give our communities more tools to attract and retain young families.

Consider these facts:

  • We are now one of only three states in the country that is experiencing more deaths than births in every single county.

  • In their book, Communities & Consequences II, demographer Peter Francese and coauthor Lorraine Merrill note that New Hampshire is second only to Maine in both our average age and the rate at which the state is aging.

  • New Hampshire has rapidly declining public school enrollment. It also boasts the dubious distinction of hemorrhaging the highest rate of graduating high school seniors in the country, most of whom permanently flee the state when they turn 18.

  • And, in a further alarming sign when compared with the other 49 states, New Hampshire also saw the largest percentage decrease of children under 18 in the ten years ending in 2020. That is a drop of 10.6%.

Why should we care? Simply stated, without young families and workers to replace those who are retiring, the economy, local services, and even the continuity of communities are in serious jeopardy.

Even so, we continue to promulgate policy that works against children and workforce-age adults. Our local governance, while an enviable aspect of our New Hampshire way of life, has helped “silo” communities whose residents often look at issues related to children and families as “not our problem” and undesirable.

Moreover, with strong resistance to building lower-cost homes, towns are struggling with workforce housing. So, not only are we losing New Hampshire’s families and their children, we are failing to attract others to move and stay here. Without the larger picture and more voices that are informed and willing to speak up across demographic lines in those town meetings, New Hampshire will continue to decline economically and demographically.

And what about those extra costs or tax credits related to families that may be seen as undesirable? In 2012, economist and former Executive Director of Cornerstone, Wendy Warcholik, painted a dim tax picture if New Hampshire fails to retain families and young people:

“In the long run, this is simply unsustainable since fewer people and a rising tax burden means that it will become much harder to generate economic growth. Without economic growth, Demographic Winter will be compounded by folks leaving to find greener pastures.”

In other words, the declining population that remains will find they are paying much more and receiving much less.

We are already paying the cost of our demographic winter. Despite the alarms sounded over a decade ago, New Hampshire has continued down an unsustainable demographic path. Businesses, drawn to New Hampshire because of our quality of life and low tax burden, find themselves unable to recruit and house enough employees, and it is only a matter of time before, like the workers before them, they leave the state for greener pastures.

HB 294 does not mandate a single child tax credit, but it does pave the way for municipalities to consider child tax credits in their planning. This would be an important first step in recognizing the importance of children and families to the future of our state. We urge you to voice your support for this critical bill by attending the committee hearing on January 26th, 2:30 pm, in the Legislative Office Building, or email all committee members here.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: 

1. Register your support for HB 294  by signing in in support of the bill here.

You can find step-by-step instructions on how to sign in here.

2. Submit written testimony. You can do this when you sign in. Simply hit “choose file” under step number four to upload a document with your testimony, or type your testimony into the provided box.

3. Come testify in person. We have step-by-step instructions on how to testify here. You can also reach out to us at cornerstone@nhcornerstone.org if you have any questions about the testifying process.

Important Note: A number of people have had issues with the House remote sign-in page. If you are encountering problems, you can also email the committee directly registering your support for the bill and/or submitting written testimony. You can find their contact info here or email the full committee at
HouseMunicipalandCountyGovt@leg.state.nh.us

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