Since January of 2011, the focus of the non-partisan House Business Caucus has been to promote job creation and expansion of the economic base through strong, responsible business growth and success. As founder and Chair, I have led a large group of State Representatives that have worked together to pass good, pro-business legislation and stop bills that have a negative impact on job creators. We look forward to continuing these efforts in 2015 and beyond.
While the economy is doing better, the jobs picture is not as rosy. Unfortunately, a large percentage of our children and grandchildren cannot find career jobs here. While our unemployment rate is relatively low, the number of people working has stagnated, and many are “underemployed” in a position lower than their qualifications, have simply stopped looking for work or have left the state altogether.
The need for more great jobs is a top concern for the NH House Business Caucus, and something we believe can be fixed.
While there are so many things to love about our state, our competitive position has been eroding. CNBC ranks New Hampshire 30th in Business Competitiveness Overall Ranking, while in other national rankings we find ourselves 32nd in Cost of Doing Business, and 42nd in average workers compensation costs. Thumbtack.com gave us a B- in overall business friendliness based on a survey conducted in 2014, down from an A.
Whether it’s just perception or grim reality, New Hampshire needs to reclaim the business advantage it once had if we are to attract and retain employers – and the jobs they create – here in our state. Time is of the essence.
Our top goals for 2015 are based on discussions with businesses of all sizes in all industries, from all regions of our state.
Increase NH’s Competitiveness and Reduce Costs
New Hampshire does not operate in a vacuum. We need to compete with other states to keep our current employers, to encourage entrepreneurs to start a business here, and to attract employers to move here from other states.
New Hampshire’s business tax rates are NOT competitive. In fact, the Tax Foundation ranks us 48th in terms of corporate taxes. Fortunately, our overall rate is dramatically better (7th overall), which helps keep people here. However, between these high rates and numerous disadvantageous tax policies, many employers don’t find our state attractive. We need to lower these rates and reform policies to be better than adjacent states, such as Massachusetts, which are now lower than ours.
In addition to state business taxes, there are many costs that make it very expensive to operate a business in our state. We have some of the highest workers compensation, health insurance, and electricity costs in the nation. We must make public policy decisions that reduce these as soon as possible, without raising taxes.
Make it Easier to Operate and Create Jobs
It’s hard enough to run a business, but when the legislature adds numerous, unnecessary and over-burdensome regulations, it makes it harder than it needs to be for employers.
We need to get rid of rules and regulations that no longer serve a useful purpose, and avoid adding new ones. Whenever and wherever possible, we must remove red tape and make it easier; this can be done with streamlining processes, better coordinating between agencies, automating, clarifying and simplifying.
Making sure the rules and regulations make common and economic sense isn’t enough, however. We need to change the culture and attitude away from a control and enforcement mentality to a “how can we help you make this happen?” approach, both at the state and local level.
Continue to improve the match between educational outcomes and the needs of employers
There has been a “disconnect” between the capabilities of students graduating high school and college, and the skills needed by employers with job openings. We have seen much improvement in this area over the past several years, as greater collaboration and public-private partnerships have evolved. We hope to encourage more innovation at all levels to continually improve education without raising costs on students, parents or employers.
In 2015, the House Business Caucus will continue its efforts to improve the environment for businesses, so they can succeed and we can have more great jobs here. We look forward to working with everyone to make this happen.
Rep. Laurie Sanborn
Chair, House Business Caucus
NH House of Representatives