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Second Gas Tax Increase Proposed in New Hampshire

New Hampshire gas taxes increased four cents last July after a lengthy gas tax debate, but those funds were targeted toward specific repair projects, as opposed to the DOT's annual budget, which will be cut by $88 million unless funds are found.
March 24, 2015, 8am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"Republican budget writers signed off on millions of dollars in cuts to the state highway fund yesterday, a move officials say will have devastating consequences on public safety and trigger nearly 700 layoffs at the state Department of Transportation," writes Allie Morris of the Concord Monitor. However, three Republican representatives want to avoid the $88 million budget reduction, so they "plan to propose an increase of 7 or 8 cents to the state gas tax when the DOT budget bill comes up for a full House vote Wednesday (March 25)."

It's been less than a year since the legislature passed a 4.2 cents increase in the gas tax last year to help fund specific road and bridge repair, but not basic maintenance. "An increase of 7 cents in the gas tax will generate about $49 million a year for the state highway fund, which finances road and bridge repair and maintenance," writes Morris.

The highway fund draws revenue largely through vehicle registration fees and the gas tax. It is projected to amass a cumulative deficit of more than $1 billion within the next 10 years, DOT officials have said.

New Hampshire Public Radio reports that the increase will be a "tough sell for House Republicans." [Listen here].

Diversions of Highway Funds

"During the 2015 fiscal year, $78 million of highway fund money was diverted to the Department of Safety," writes Morris. According to their webpage, the department is charged with the "safety and preservation of the quality of life of New Hampshire citizens and visitors to our state on the highways..." The department even includes the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Funny how that works—when general funds and other non-gas tax revenue sources are directed toward DOTs, I haven't seen the word "diversion" applied, yet when highway funds go to non-asphalt highway purposes, it's diversion!

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Published on Thursday, March 19, 2015 in Concord Monitor
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