Could A Tax On Lift Tickets Be Coming For New Hampshire?

As part of a plan to help out New Hampshire residents with the continually rising costs of higher education, several state representatives are looking to pitch a plan to raise one of the taxes in the state, which would include taxing the sale of lift tickets.

This comes from the idea of new legislation to create a Working Families Scholarship for New Hampshire high school graduates wishing to attend one of the state's public colleges. The plan is to offset some of the cost associated with higher education so more students can stay in state, instead of leaving New Hampshire.

“More New Hampshire high schoolers leave their home state to attend college than anywhere else in the country, in large part because we rank last in higher-education funding while simultaneously charging some of the most expensive in-state tuition in the nation. By offering these scholarships we can reverse this trend and keep more of our state’s most valuable asset -- our young people --- here at home,” said Representative Craig Thompson (D-Harrisville), who introduced the legislation with Representatives Jennie Gomarlo (D-Swanzey), Joe Shapiro (D-Keene), Lee Oxenham (D-Plainfield), and Michelle St. John (D-Hollis).

The funding for the scholarship would come from extending the existing rooms and meals tax, which also applies to rental cars and to one, two, and three-day lift tickets at ski mountains. However, the tax would exempt season passes and skiers ages 18 and under. Rep. Michelle St. John said, “Normally, the average skier wouldn't equate educational scholarship and skiing, but the opportunity to help support students whose family income falls in the middle--not enough to fully pay for college and too much to qualify for a substantial financial aid package--is one way we can keep great students in New Hampshire. For $6-8, about the price of a hot drink and a snack, the long-term outcome of having young people stay in our state for education and possibly raise a family is worth the investment."

The question then becomes, will a change in this tax have an effect on tourism and those who depend on that tourism. Rep. Joe Shapiro was quoted as saying, "A small expansion of a tax born mostly by out of state visitors is a small price to pay to give working families the assist they need to send their sons and daughters to NH schools, while at the same time benefiting the economy and vibrancy of our state now and into the future.” With that said, those representatives who sponsor this legislation do accept that it will be those visiting the state who are most affected by this plan. Will those tourists decide that an increase in the rooms and meals tax is enough of a reason to visit elsewhere? It could be a possibility.

It should be noted that some of the funding from this plan will be going to other educational opportunities, not just to those of New Hampshire high school students. Included in the legislation is a set aside of $500,000 or 10%, whichever is greater, for the development of college and vocational classes within the New Hampshire Dept. of Corrections. Rep. Craig Thompson has said, “It costs over $40,000 a year to incarcerate an inmate in New Hampshire. The recidivism rate is at 44% -- meaning nearly half of those released from one of our prisons will be back inside within 3 years. The single best way to reduce recidivism is education. When we reduce recidivism, we’re on the path to saving New Hampshire taxpayers money. That’s something we can all get behind.”

Will this new legislation be a wonderful thing for the families of New Hampshire that have children that wish to further their education after high school? Or will this raise the cost of tourism in the state to a point that tourists go elsewhere in New England to ski and the NH mountains and businesses suffer because of it? Time will tell, however, the legislation may never go into effect. Governor Chris Sununu has already said that he would veto the legislation if it comes to him.

Photo Credit: Aerial View Of Attitash Mountain Resort, Bartlett, NH - Attitashmountain [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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