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Editorial: Raise the gas tax? Well, it’s about time.

The backfires could be heard within hours of Rep. David Campbell’s reasoned proposal Wednesday to raise the state gasoline tax from 18 cents per gallon to 30 cents. Campbell, a Nashua Democrat and chairman of the House Public Works and Highways Committee, also wants to increase vehicle registration fees by $15. The increase would be phased in over three years, and all of the money raised by the fee and tax increase would be used to repair the state’s crumbling roads and red-listed bridges.

“We adamantly oppose any increase in the gas tax or car registration fee,” said Corey Lewandowski, director of the state chapter of the conservative lobbying group, Americans for Prosperity. “Representative Campbell’s bill will increase the state gas tax by 67 percent over the next three years. The wages of New Hampshire residents will not increase that much over the same period of time. This is simply an unfair burden on them.”

“I don’t support it,” Salem Republican Sen. Chuck Morse said. “That’s directly out of the citizens’ pockets.” Morse would instead prefer to raise revenue by building a casino.

Critics of increasing the gas tax, which was last raised in 1991, need a math lesson. The increases Campbell is proposing would raise $115 million per year. Some of the revenue would be shared with cities and towns in the form of state transportation grants to help finance local road and bridge repairs. Some of the revenue would help pay to finish the widening of Interstate 93.

Yo-yoing gas prices mean that the 4-cent-per-year increase will scarcely be noticed. That’s not true of the $15 registration increase, which should be seen as a regressive evil made necessary by decades of deferred road maintenance. What critics don’t mention is that, though it may take time, taxpayers will get back far more than they’ll pay in additional taxes. The worse the roads they drive, and the faster those roads are repaired, the more they’ll get back.

Last year, the Federal Highway Administration estimated the annual added repair cost to motorists caused by bad roads and bridges. The figure for New Hampshire was $267 million or $259 per motorist. Since hitting just one nasty pothole can lead to a front-end repair bill that can top $1,000, that estimate seems conservative.

Additional repair costs are only one of the needless expenses that result from roads and bridges in poor and unsafe conditions. Vehicle values depreciate faster in places where road conditions are poor. Poor road conditions are a significant factor in one-third of all traffic fatalities, the highway administration said. Motor vehicle crashes cost New Hampshire more than $1 billion per year or $820 per resident in medical costs, time off from work, legal costs and travel delays.

Vehicle travel on New Hampshire roads increased by one-third between 1990 and 2010. Traffic delays, which cost Americans more than $100 billion per year in wasted time and gas, are increasing. Improving the roads and reducing congestion keeps money in the pocket of motorists.

Bad roads and congestion decrease air quality and increase health care costs. They make it harder for New Hampshire businesses to compete and cost consumers money in the form of higher prices for products. They make it harder for the state to attract and keep businesses, which means that they reduce tax revenue.

Critics of a gas tax increase should save the crocodile tears shed for consumers and drip them on something else. Raising the gas tax and vehicle registration fee in this case is a good deal for them.

Legacy Comments8

With some of these comments we see the typical "shoot the messenger" attacks but little on how we address these bridge and road issues. How else would Van, RabbitNH, and Jim Breagy solve these expensive repairs?

I can actually see a time in the not too distant future when Mr Campbell will suggest we tax the mileage accumulated on all senior disabled individuals using wheel chairs. Of course it will be necessary to install a meter on each chair so as to prevent cheating. A reasonable charge for the first year should be10 cents per foot in the home and 20 cents on the road.

So if the gas tax is raised who suffers? I kinda thought that the lefties were all about making sure that the middle class did not get hit in their wallets anymore. What about the average Joe or Jane that commutes to work 5 days a week? Do you think he or she can afford to pay more for that commute?

Wow it didn’t take the blood sucking the blood sucking democrat parasites long before they start raising taxes on the middle class. Taxing our car registration and taxing gas will definitely hurt the working stiff. The blood sucking democrat parasites even want to tax “Joe Sixpack’s beer. When it comes to taxing the middle class the blood sucking democrat parasites are like a swarm of black flies. What a surprise, not. That the elitists at Pravda on the Merrimack are cheering these blood sucking democrat parasites on to tax us poor peons.

Reading comprehension fail much? I guess you missed the part in the editorial that pointed out everyone benefits from the gas tax those "blood-sucking democrat parasites" will raise--from "Joe Sixpack" with his 10 year old Corolla to Donald Chump in his RR. The lessened number of potholes and the safer bridges will benefit everyone who uses the roads--and that's just about everyone. Your real beef should be with those who've shifted the total tax burden downward. The rich need to pay a lot more. Compared to other nations, we are not overtaxed as a % of GDP--it feels that way because the total burden has been down-shifted, and because of wage stagnation for the vast majority of Americans. You've followed the masters of misdirection too long.

Everyone needs to pay a little bit more and those who presently don't pay anything need to contribute something as well instead of sucking off of the nipple of dependency. I also don't care about "compared to other countries". Look at Greece.......Italy......other government dependency failures. The social safety net is one thing but a social hammock is quite another.

Glad to see your sudden concern for the "middle class.......working stiff......poor peons", like those living in high tax towns with low per capita incomes (like Claremont, tax rate $34.37, PC income $21,676), compared to those living in low tax towns with high per capita incomes (like New Castle, tax rate $6.39, PC income $87,146).

Van, Glad to see you back - I was beginning to think after that smack down/beat down at the polls you had just closed the lap top and went home.

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