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N.H. House panel pares proposed gas tax increase to 12 cents over 3 years

House Democrats yesterday pared down a proposed increase in the state’s gas tax, to 12 cents per gallon from 15 cents per gallon, though the proposal still faces loud opposition from Republicans.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted, 11-7, to endorse a modified version of a bill that passed the full House earlier this month. Instead of a 15 cent hike in the fuel tax, the bill now proposes a 12 cent hike, phased in over three years for gasoline and six years for diesel fuel.

“It doesn’t get us everywhere that we need to be, but it gets us a lot closer,” said Rep. Patricia Lovejoy, a Stratham Democrat and the tax-writing panel’s vice chairwoman, during a committee work session earlier in the day.

All 11 votes yesterday in favor of the bill were from Democrats, and all seven “no” votes came from Republicans.

New Hampshire’s gas tax has stood at 18 cents per gallon since 1991. Rep. David Campbell, a Nashua Democrat and chairman of the House Public Works and Highways Committee, has pushed this year to increase it, arguing the additional revenue is needed for the state’s deteriorating roads, red-listed bridges and infrastructure projects like the widening of Interstate 93.

“Both parties in this state speak of the New Hampshire Advantage,” said Rep. Thomas Schamberg, a Wilmot Democrat. “What is the advantage if you can’t get from there to here?”

The earlier version of the gas tax bill passed the House on a 207-163 vote March 7 that fell mostly along party lines, with 15 Republicans in support and 10 Democrats opposed.

It then went to the Ways and Means Committee for a second look and now heads to the House floor for a final vote that could come next week.

Minority Leader Gene Chandler, a Bartlett Republican, yesterday called it “the wrong bill at the wrong time.” And Rep. Jack Flanagan, a Brookline Republican, said Democrats are likely to attract little GOP support for it, even with the reduced increase.

“I just think that you’re asking for too much, and it’s really going to go down to become a partisan bill, not a bipartisan bill,” Flanagan said.

Rep. Patrick Abrami, a Stratham Republican, said yesterday he could support a smaller increase in the gas tax. But he said the proposed hike is just too much, even spread over several years.

“Should we increase the road toll a little bit? Yeah, probably,” Abrami said. “But not 12 cents.”

If the bill passes the Democratic-controlled House a second time, it will head to the Senate, where Republicans hold a 13-11 majority. Salem Republican Sen. Chuck Morse, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, has described it as “dead on arrival” there.

In addition to the bottom-line figure, the Ways and Means Committee made several other tweaks yesterday to the gas tax legislation.

The panel amended the bill to direct all revenue from the increase in the tax to road and bridge projects. Some money from the current 18 cents will continue to flow to other state agencies, such as the Department of Safety and the Fish and Game Department.

And the panel added language creating a special commission to study “alternatives to the gas tax, through user taxes or fees, for funding improvements to the state’s highways and bridges, ensuring that all motor vehicles contribute their fair share.”

Rep. Susan Almy, a Lebanon Democrat and the panel’s chairwoman, said the study is needed due to growing use of fuel efficient vehicles, including hybrids and electric cars.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or
bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

Legacy Comments15

Once again complaints about the Democrats. From yahoo news. GOP governor of Michigan Has has proposed boosting the gasoline tax from 19 cents to 33 cents a gallon and hiking car license plate fees by 60 percent, firmly grabbing what many politicians consider a third rail for consumers — gasoline prices. "This is common sense," he declared during his budget proposal, adding, "we need to make this investment." ------------------- In Virginia, GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell recently won approval for overhauling his state's highway maintenance system by raising diesel and retail sales taxes and creating a mechanism for a potential future gasoline tax hike. Pennsylvania Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has called for increasing a wholesale gasoline tax, with most or all of the increase passed to drivers.

Infrastructure is crumbling all over the country. It will be up to the states to fix it because Congress is paralyzed. They won't raise any new gas tax with half of them pledged to Grover Norquist.

A Republican, named Ronald Reagan, wanted to be nice to rich folks and give them a huge trickle down tax cut. Plus he wanted the military to have lots of new big sticks. But he (we) didn't have any extra money to pay for those spending increases. So he decided to effectively take out a 30 year mortgage, let's say in 1983 for simplicity, in the amount of $1.754 trillion (the debt increase under Reagan) at an interest rate of about 14%. A mortgage calculator and amortization schedule for that mortgage shows that 360 payments of $20.7 billion per month would be paid, and that the 360 payments would total $7.45 trillion over the 30 year term ending in 2013, if all the monthly payments were made on time. The difference between the $1.754 trillion borrowed and the $7.45 trillion total of 360 payments is the interest cost of $5.7 trillion. But things didn't go as trickle down planned. Nobody could afford to make any of the Reagan mortgage principal payments - not Reagan, not GHW Bush, not Clinton (with an exception in just one year), and not Obama. But they all did have to pay the $5.7 trillion interest portion of the payments (otherwise the United Stated would be in default). So how did the pay for the interest they couldn't afford?: They all took out new mortgages to pay the interest every year. But then the new interest payment mortgages caused more interest expense that they all couldn't afford - every single year. Then W thought Reagan was cool, handing out tax cuts and buying big toys with a huge mortgage and all, so he took out a huge tax cut/big stick mortgage too, in addition to another mortgage to pay the interest expense caused by Reagan. Now all those tax cut/big stick/interest expense mortgages, caused by Reagan and Bush, added together are about equivalent to our total US debt today. Republicans took a mile under Reagan and Bush and they continue to refuse to budge an inch to save America from default, or to merely raise the gas tax in order to maintain the infrastructure built from way higher taxation of the wealthy. Republican tax cut crybabying and credit card mentality has driven America into a $16T hole that we may never climb out of, unless Republicans start doing the math - great countries have come and gone in the past.

Earthling, you've laid all this out here many times before. At first I didn't know it or believe it. But it IS true. None of the conservatives here even try to dispute it anymore. But they repeatedly talk about how the national debt has increased $6T since Obama took office. Why is it never mentioned how most of the $6T was inherited? Why is it never mentioned that W and Cheney started 2 wars (after both dodged Vietnam) without funding them then CUT taxes? I'm not a big fan of the Tea Party movement but at least they would have prevented this (I think).

Gen-X-er, Thanks for doing the math. I guess the Cs on here must think America is some sort of political game. When they know their team knocked the ball out they all try to fool the refs by pointing in the direction that favors their team. Then, when they think the refs aren't looking again, they apparently think it's really fun to pull down Obama's shorts. It's a good thing quite a few refs were looking in the last election. Otherwise Romney would have repeated the same mistakes that created our debt mess. Sorry for sounding like a broken record on here. My hope is that someday soon it will suddenly dawn on the Cs that America is not a computer game - hopefully before the Republican Party's ridiculous tax cut debt causes a default and breaks America up into 50 pieces. I wonder if the Cs would be happy with no interstate highways, no US defense against China, Iran, North Korea, and the terrorists their cowboy bring it on Party created, no NRC, no Social Security, no Medicare, no base in Bahrain to escort the tankers, border crossings all over the place, etc., etc. Maybe they think all their billionaire puppetmaster idols, like the Kochs, would just be nice to everybody without jobs in a crashed economy depression and provide them with food, health care, housing, and heating oil, in exchange for all the Reagan and Bush tax cut entitlements that the billionaires have received over the last 30 years.

How come earthling you never chart out what President Obama has spent and what he spent it on? Instead you take the stance that whatever he does, he has to do because he inherited it all. That to me shows that you ignore his policies and what he decides to spend money on., Charts and opinions are great when you include the current President's record. The left does not want to take an honest look at what this President spends money on. Instead they give him a pass and say he had no choice.

You still don't get it? Here are the debt figures by president: http://www.skymachines.com/US-National-Debt-Per-Capita-Percent-of-GDP-and-by-Presidental-Term.htm Notice how the debt as a % of GDP and the interest costs have been steadily rising for decades? And here's a mortgage calculator: http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/mortgage-calculator.aspx Put the number 1754 (Reagan's debt increase in billions) at 14% for 30 years into the mortgage calculator. Then multiply the $20.78 (billion) in monthly payments times 360 months. Then subtract 1754 from the total you arrive at. Then keep pretending that Reagan didn't cost us $trillions in interest expense that no administration has been able to afford without borrowing.

facts presented are incorrect

You are correct sail. The Dems will be coming up with more and more revene sources. Be intresting to see how long it takes their supporters to realize they will be hit with new taxes everywhere. After all, they are the folks that actually believe the ACA saves money.

I live in Epsom. The Cumberland Farms station on Rte 4 is charging 3.59 a gallon and the one on Main St in Concord is charging 3.41. Why the difference? Don't they get the gas from the same place. And I have always seen the station in Epsom very busy so people do not seem to mind the mind the 18c difference. But if the state puts 4c extra on for road improvements everyone will be incensed? Better to let the oil companies with their billions in profits have your 4 cents. Don't understand that thinking.

Maybe I can help Tillie. Gas stations do get their gas from different places. That has an effect on what they charge. If you own a branded gas station, you get your gas from their tanks. There are other expenses that determine price of gas also at a gas station. Is there a store attached to a gas station, and if so what % of profit does the gas station owner get from that store. And folks will just go to the nearest gas station for convience. No matter what it costs. If i need a jar of mayo on the way home from work and a Mom and Pop Grocery Store is on the way and charges 50 cent more than Hanaford does, my guess is that I will stop at the Mom & Pop store for convience. That is why they are often referred to as convience stores.

Thankyou Rabbit, as Diane Feinstein would say, "thanks for the lecture, but I am not a 6th grader." I am not talking mayo here, If I buy a subway sandwich in Concord it costs the same in Epsom. The point I was making, Rabbit, is that people will pay 18c more in one town for the same gas, for the convenience you say, so 4 cents tax increase to fix our roads is just too much for them?

No thank you Tillie. Your post showed me how you react to folks who try to help you out when you ask a question. Obviously, my help was not appreciated. I made the huge mistake of actually thinking you wanted an answer to "Why The Difference In Price" Silly me. You will just have to manage on your own from now on.

Wow! They brought it down 3 whole cents a gallon. Big deal.

Tax and Spend democrats in Congress have also proposed an increase in the Federal Gas Tax .....you aint see nothing yet from these democrats - massive tax and spending to come

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