New Hampshire: Tax Fundamentalism Threatens Fundamental Functions

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People of different political leanings often have quite different views about the proper and necessary role of government in society. Most would agree though (probably almost unanimously, in fact) that one of the essential functions of government is the administration of justice. Yet, in New Hampshire, the state's budget shortfall is so severe -- and the traditional hostility to taxes is so great -- that officials announced this week that the state will suspend jury trials for the month of February. It also will likely leave open one pending vacancy on the Supreme Court and seven existing trial court vacancies (out of a total of 59 such judgeships).

Needless to say, when government begins to falter in performing its most fundamental responsibilities, it is clearly time to re-examine some of the fundamental beliefs, such as the state's long-standing opposition to an income or sales tax, that contribute to such difficulties. Without new thinking, can announcements that local police and fire departments have been disbanded or that school children have been sent home for the year be far behind?

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