- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Gov. Maggie Hassan vetoed a change to the state’s business tax structure that was originally sought by gym company Planet Fitness, but she said Monday she would consider the proposal as part of the ongoing state budget negotiations.

“As long as the tax cut (the bill) contemplates is paid for, I am willing to address the tax relief it proposes, as well as the larger issue of business tax reductions,” Hassan said in her veto message.

Hassan and Republican lawmakers have been sparring over business tax cuts since she vetoed an $11.3 billion state spending plan last month over reductions in the rate of the state’s two largest business taxes. She said in Monday’s veto message she would consider all of the business tax changes if the budget includes another way to pay for lost revenue.

Planet Fitness officials came to lawmakers in May seeking a change in the state’s tax laws that would’ve kept them from paying higher business profits taxes when the company goes public, as it is preparing to do. Lawmakers eventually broadened the bill to affect numerous types of businesses. If passed, it would have allowed business to avoid paying higher taxes on certain gains in value. If the business chose not to declare the new value, it would lose out on future tax deductions.

The Department of Revenue Administration said it could not determine how much revenue the state could lose under the change, but critics estimated it could be millions of dollars.

Planet Fitness threatened to move its headquarters out of state if the change wasn’t made. The Newington-based company employs between 150 and 175 people at its headquarters, officials said.

A spokeswoman for Planet Fitness said the company would like to stay in New Hampshire but is continuing to explore “all options regarding the company’s future in the state.”

“We are committed to this issue and urge both sides to continue to make changes to this law a priority for business and job growth in the state,” spokeswoman McCall Gosselin said in a statement.

Republican lawmakers said Hassan’s veto shows she is anti-business.

“This bill eliminates a huge disincentive for start-ups here in New Hampshire. Hundreds of good jobs are at stake, and we want a tax code that attracts start-ups to our state,” Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said in a statement.

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