Home » Opinion » Editorials
Gas tax games: A huge hike still
Earlier this month the House approved House Bill 619, which would raise the state's 18-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax by 15 cents, or 83 percent. House Republicans pointed out that it was a $1 billion tax increase. They also noted that the state diverts close to one-third of gas-tax revenue out of the highway fund and to other departments, mostly the Department of Safety for partial funding of the State Police.
Per House rules, the bill had to go back to the Ways and Means Committee for further review. There, the increase was trimmed to 12 cents, and all of it was dedicated to highway maintenance, repair and construction. That version of the bill is up for discussion today.
The Ways and Means Committee vote was split by party, with all Democrats supporting the bill and all Republicans opposing it. We are likely to see a similar split in the full House; only 15 Republicans voted for the earlier version of the bill. In the majority-Republican Senate, the bill faces a cold reception.
This is not simply because Republicans don't like raising taxes. The idea that the state needs at least a little more revenue for road repair and maintenance is fairly widely acknowledged, at least in private. It is because the Democrats pushed such a huge tax hike all at once, knowing they could get it through the House because their majority was so large. (Republicans behaved similarly in the last session.)
There was an opportunity here to bring all sides together early on to find more highway revenue without a massive tax hike. (There is support in both parties for a small tax hike and for reducing the non-highway diversions from the highway fund.) But that is not how politics tends to work. Compromise and problem-solving come last, gamesmanship first. We might get the compromise eventually, but for now it's each side painting the other as extreme, with the debate dragged out for weeks for maximum political impact. How lovely.
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Celebrating Claremont: A 250th birthday party - 0
- Trashed lunches: Brownies, broccoli and bucks - 18
- Surprise, surprise: Obamacare funds abortions - 60
- Casino gambles: Hopes dashed all over - 8
- USNH's raw deal: Part deux - 2
- Every vote counts: Here is the proof - 5
- Burning rubber: And public dollars - 0
- Hassan was right: 'Bullying' bill goes too far - 12
- Strategery: A war by any other name - 28
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Vailas rallies UNH football to 29-26 win over Richmond - 0
- Dave D'Onofrio's Patriots Notebook: Raiders should be tucked away early - 0
- St. Anselm football wins home opener, goes to 3-0 - 0
- SNHU golfer Nutter earns weekly honor - 0
- Dover's Helliwell wins ACT Invitational - 0
- Concord, Pinkerton, Coe-Brown runners win - 0
- Nashua South gets on track by beating Merrimack - 0
- Pinkerton stuffs Salem late, holds on - 0
- Dartmouth football wins opener over Central Conn., 35-25 - 0
Goodell vows domestic violence change
NH's future: Dean Kamen highlights a problem