NHDOT chief warns of cuts, says gas tax needed
Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Odell, R-Lempster, tried to keep the conversation focused on a proposal by fellow committee member Sen. James Rausch, R-Derry, to increase the state's 18-cent gas tax by 4.2 cents a gallon, but the conversation kept turning to gaming as an alternate revenue source.
Opponents of Rausch's bill, SB 367, warned that it would do serious harm to the state's transportation and forestry industries, with cost being passed along to consumers.
"Those sponsoring the bill say it will only increase the cost $16 per passenger vehicle per year, based on 25 miles per gallon, traveling 10,000 miles per year," said tree farmer Tom Thomson of Orford, honorary chairman of the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity. "What they don't tell you is how this tax will have a devastating impact on the trucking industry."
"The others will just pass the increase onto the consumers," he said. "Stop and think about it. Everything we consume moves by diesel. Raising the tax makes the price of everything, including food, higher due to any increase in the diesel tax."
Under Rausch's proposal, the state's gas tax, which has not been increased since 1991, would increase about 4.2 cents a gallon and produce about $30 million in new revenue for transportation projects. A formula using the Consumer Price Index would be reapplied every four years to adjust the gas tax to align with inflation.
Senate President Chuck Morse, also a committee member, pressed Clement on the growth in his budget in recent years, saying it had gone up 20 percent a year over five years at a rate that simply was "not sustainable."
Efforts to raise the gas tax, or road toll as it is known, failed in 2009 and again in 2013 largely because of Republican opposition.
This year, Rausch's bill has two Senate Republican co-sponsors, Sen. Nancy Stiles of Hampton and Sen. David Boutin of Hookset, along with House Republican John Cebrowski of Bedford.firstname.lastname@example.org
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