Misconception #2: All of this new tax revenue will be distributed to help fix secondary roads and bridges in NH. No. This bill allocates 42% of revenue to the I-93 widening project. The I-93 widening was already allocated $50 million, a part of the 10-Year Highway Plan, HB-2014, which has already passed the House and is currently in the Senate.
Misconception #3: A large portion of tax revenue will be distributed to cities and towns to immediately help repair municipal roads. No. Municipal block grants will not commence until FY2016 and will be just 12% of the prior years’ revenue. In FY 2016, additional aid to towns and cities resulting from the tax increase will be just $4 million per year statewide. Once divided up, most NH towns will get less than 1% of that amount. The largest cities and towns may get 1%-6%. Towns are not required to spend their block grant on infrastructure repair.
Misconception #4: The new revenue is in a “lock box” and can only be used by DOT for infrastructure improvements. RSA 9:9-b allows the legislature to divert up to 27% of highway fund revenue to other state agencies, above and beyond what those agencies are appropriated through the state budget. The 2012-2013 budget violated RSA 9:9-b by diverting more than the specified amount. The 2014-2015 budget suspended RSA 9:9-b to divert even more than the previous budget. Since RSA 9:9-b took effect in its current form, 2 out of the last 3 of state budgets have gone over the limit. In the last 2 budgets alone, $38 million has been diverted from the highway fund in excess of the allowable amount in RSA 9:9-b. SB-367 may state that the new revenue can only be used for specific purposes, but if the legislature can’t even follow a reasonable standing law regarding highway funds, how can we say that the provision in SB-367 won’t be disregarded or suspended for future budget years?
In closing, let me say, in my 8 years in the House, this was one of the worse bills ever passed, and it was pushed through by the Democrats. Not good for our New Hampshire.
(Editor’s Note: NH State Representative Mike Kappler can be reached at email@example.com)