The Download: How does New Hampshire do it?

For years, New Hampshire has been like an oasis in the desert to antitax forces.  The “Live Free or Die” state has no income or sales taxes, and yet it seems to survive and at times even thrive. In a new report, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s New England Public Policy Center asks: “How does New Hampshire do it?”

As a whole, New Hampshire state and local government takes in and spends about 20 percent less money than the average New England state. The only areas where New Hampshire spends significantly more than its New England counterparts are highways and parks and recreation.

Jennifer Weiner of the policy center says New Hampshire spends less than its neighbors partly because it can (underlying costs tend to be lower and it has fewer poor people needing government assistance) and partly by design (it restricts eligibility for Medicaid and spends less on pre-K schooling).

One chart shows New Hampshire ranking third in New England on overall labor costs, behind Connecticut and Massachusetts. But New Hampshire ranks fifth, ahead of only Maine, in terms of what it pays state and local government employees.

On the revenue side, New Hampshire looks very different from most states. It assesses hefty property taxes at the state and local level (only Connecticut’s per capita property tax revenues are higher) while aggressively pursuing revenue-raising initiatives. Its state liquor stores thrive because there is no tax on alcohol and its low tax on cigarettes generates a higher volume of sales. Revenue from the tobacco tax and liquor sales account for about 12 percent of the state’s general and education funds.

New Hampshire doesn’t have an income tax, but it does have something pretty close — a flat-rate Business Enterprise Tax, which taxes wages, salaries, interest, and dividends paid by corporations. The BET is collected from companies, but it is essentially a tax on income paid to individuals. “Given its base, the BET more closely resembles an individual income tax than a corporate income tax, although not a traditional one,” Weiner writes.

                                                                                                                                                                        –BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

The Springfield Republican reports on the austere 2012 state budget.

WBUR’s Radio Boston examines why pols like Rep. James Miceli of Wilmington changed their minds about banning gifts to doctors.

The Wall Street Journal takes note of the House’s recent vote on public-sector health care.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Salem City Council, with several councilors reversing course, fails to override a veto by Mayor Kim Driscoll of an ordinance that would have let elected officials take a city job  or serve on a paid city board within a year of leaving office. The Salem News has the story.

Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk says she plans to lay off eight municipal workers, the Times reports.

David Bernstein believes Boston Mayor Tom Menino is gearing up for another run.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Globe reporter Sally Jacobs, who has been working on a biography of President Obama‘s father, due out in July, reports today that the elder Obama never completed his PhD in economics at Harvard, as he often claimed. Jacobs has had documents showing Obama’s father never received the degree since 2009; the story, which is presumably told as part of her upcoming book, was pushed into the Globe following release of the same documents this week by the Arizona Independent.

The New York Times spotlights the latest Tea Party sensation, Florida Rep. Allen West.

ELECTION 2012

See Jack Connors’s house, and get your picture taken with President Barack Obama, all for the low, low price of $10,000.

The Lowell Sun, in an editorial, gives an early endorsement to Sen. Scott Brown’s reelection. “The senator is speaking our language,” the paper says. “It’s good to know there’s at least one person in Washington who does.”

Rep. Michael Capuano, a past and possibly future Senate hopeful, elbows Brown over redistricting.

Jon Huntsman returns from China, and a campaign operation awaits him.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

New figures released by the Census bureau shows that Asian-owned businesses grew by 40 percent in Norfolk County and 33 percent in Suffolk County over the last decade.

Two new studies indicate the rich don’t flee high-tax states, WBUR reports.

A University of Massachusetts report finds that the state’s high tech sector has helped keep the Bay State economy afloat.

EDUCATION

The Berkshire Eagle says if middle-aged folks can’t handle the state’s controversial sex education website, they should surf elsewhere.

CHARITY

Ten more of America’s richest families have added their names to the campaign to give away half of their fortune to charity, bringing the number to 15 percent of the country’s 403 billionaires who have signed onto the Giving Pledge started by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet.

REDISTRICITNG

Conservative scholar Abigail Thernstrom writes in the National Review that “racial gerrymandering” for urban areas is counterintuitive as more blacks migrate to the suburbs to be part of the middle class.

HEALTH CARE

Cambridge-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals received approval from a key Food and Drug Administration review panel for its drug to treat hepatitis C.

TRANSPORTATION

Paul McMorrow, in a CommonWealth Back Story, reports on the financial pinch the T finds itself in and how the Patrick administration’s mantra is shifting from reform to revenue. As the Patrick administration begins talking about new transportation revenues, Governing magazine says calling a gas tax a “user fee” is logically and factually wrong.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A new wind turbine bylaw in Bourne may spell trouble for a project in development.

Congress pushes new funds for nuclear power, even as the economics behind nuclear construction impede the construction of new reactors.

FISHING

New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang blamed federal restrictions for the demise of one of the city’s biggest fish processors after officials voted to keep strict caps on haddock catch limits for boats hauling in herring and mackerel..

GAMBLING

The Globe reports that charity poker rooms are thriving throughout the state, even as the attorney general shut down a more elaborate poker operation recently at Raynham dog track.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz is coming under fire from all sides over his decision to prosecute a Stonehill College student for rape of a child. A grand jury this week declined to indict the student, who was tutoring an 8-year-old girl in Brockton.

Defense lawyer John Salsberg, in a Globe op-ed, decries Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley‘s campaign against Boston Municipal Court Judge Raymond Dougan.

INTERESTING ASIDES

The Weekly Standard’s Jonathan V. Last says Marvel comics’ decision to have Superman abandon his fealty to America and become a “citizen of the universe” strips the Man of Steel of his moral compass.

WBUR lets us listen in at the Rethink Music conference hosted by the Berklee College of Music and Harvard University.

ACROSS THE POND

On the occasion of the royal wedding, Andrew Sullivan contemplates the British monarchy and hopes it survives “forever.”