CarriageTowneNews.com, Kingston, NH

My Opinion

March 21, 2013

My Opinion: March 21, 2013

RAYMOND - HB-617 - increasing the rate of the road toll and establishing the NH State and Municipal Road and Bridge Account. This bill would jump the current gas tax of 18 cents per gallon, to 33 cents per gallon over a 4-year period, an 83% increase.

New Hampshire’s gas tax and highway funds are very confusing to many people, including some legislators. All the state’s highway work, whether new construction, routine maintenance, or repairs, are paid for only with money generated with user fees. There is only so much revenue, depending on how much comes in for vehicle registrations, tolls, gas taxes, and a few other fees. If we have a bad year for roads, whether from much needed repair work, a lot of snow, or flood damage, that means there’s less funds available for regular projects.

There are two separate funds: (1) Turnpike Fund, gets its money from its tolls, and (2) Highway Fund, which gets all the other fees and the gas taxes. The big problem with this fund is that some money, currently about 30%, is diverted to other non-highway purposes. Former Speaker O’Brien, myself, and a couple other representatives attempted to stop this drainage with an amendment to HB-617, that the Democrats killed on the House floor. We must stop diverting these monies from this fund. Our highway infrastructure condition is worsening, but we won’t solve the problem by increasing the

Tax; it must be solved by honest budget work, not foolish gimmickry.

The idea to limit the use of highway funds to road construction and repairs has been with us for years. A little over 16 years ago, Ovide Lamontagne and Jeanne Shaheen, during a recorded Gubernatorial debate, discussed red-listed roads, and the highway fund, and both supported not diverting any highway funds away from road and bridge construction and repairs. So why do the Democrats now want to spread the money around?

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