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Letter: It’s not unconstitutional – but it’s also not right

In her Jan. 19 column (“We’re not misusing highway funds,” Sunday Monitor Forum) Concord state Rep. Candace Bouchard says my Jan. 12 column was misleading and that I implied the state Department of Transportation is unconstitutionally diverting New Hampshire’s Highway Trust Funds.

For 23 years, the state has diverted millions of federal highway dollars to pay for non-highway projects – from trolleys to trains. There is no reason to believe those diversions were unconstitutional. That doesn’t make them good policy.

Proponents of a gas tax increase build their case on inflation and declining revenue. They say diversions don’t contribute to the problem because diversions don’t affect revenue (true, but irrelevant), they’re legal (ditto) and they’re required (not true).

The state has not signaled any shift in its policy of diverting supposedly scarce funds from the revenue-producing highway side of its business to the revenue consuming transit side.

Even during last year’s failed effort to raise the gas tax, while state officials were telling us highway revenue was declining, they were still shamelessly diverting highway dollars to pay for a rail study and a train station.

This year, tax proponents are again bombarding us with orchestrated articles, editorials and columns telling us we must increase the gas tax – as if there are no other options.

As a prerequisite to raising the gas tax rate, diversions should be ended – not because they’re illegal, but because they’re diversions. They divert scarce highway revenue away from the critical highway and bridge improvements they were collected for.

As Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement says, “it’s a catastrophic situation.” We can no longer afford to divert highway funds.

DICK LEMIEUX

Concord

Legacy Comments5

For the longest time, the legislature and governor have viewed the fuel tax receipts as a slush fund to finance whatever pet projects, social spending or other government functions they deemed fit. This spending was done at the expense of our roads, bridges, rest areas and even storm budgets. Now, the chickens have come home to roost. In a state where HHS spends almost $1500 for every man, woman and child living here, whether or not they collect benefits, maybe it's time to take a very hard look at HHS's budget. Maybe, just maybe, we should start with not allowing Lutheran Social Services to import refugees only to dump them on our welfare rolls/programs. Just a thought...

According to a recent comment on upping the speed limit to 70... doing this reduces fuel consumption by as much as 15%. Why not just raise the speed limit on all roads by 5mph, and you have an instant revenue increase by up to 15% without a direct increase on taxes. Those that drive the 65 will save money, those that go above will spend more. Just a thought.

Wow, there is no end to the levels of hypocracy obtainable by those who post within these forums.

This is typical of a liberal, progressive, Democrat. They suck at the Left nipple of government and have no issue changing over to the right nipple at will, sucking the well dry. It is poor policy to divert any funds, that is why we are in trouble now. Government budgets are not a slush fund, they are structured to provide services as specified. Not surprising attitude for a Democrat.

Are you implying that no republican has diverted funds. I say BOTH sides are equally guilty.

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