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N.H. Court Rejects Tax Referendum

March 13, 1999

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ The Supreme Court of New Hampshire has blocked an effort to put an income tax proposal to the voters through a referendum, ruling that state lawmakers have to make the hard decision about enacting the tax.

The court on Thursday blocked the attempt by Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen to put two tax proposals to a public vote in a state famously intolerant of any broad-based taxes.

``We conclude that the bill proposes an unconstitutional delegation of power from the Legislature,″ the court said. ``If the people are to say, by way of popular vote, whether or not an act shall become law, they are put in the place of the Legislature.″

New Hampshire is one of only two states with no general sales tax, no state property tax and no income tax. Alaska is the other.

The state is under pressure to enact an income tax or a uniform statewide property tax because of an April 1 deadline by the Supreme Court to come up with a fairer way of paying for the state’s schools.

Last week, the Republican-dominated House shocked the state by passing an income tax and sending the measure to the Senate.

Shaheen had proposed leaving the decision up to the voters instead, with a referendum in which they could choose between an income tax and a package of taxes that would include a uniform statewide property tax.

Now that a referendum has been ruled out, Shaheen said an income tax is ``off the table″ as a possible solution.

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