CONCORD – House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) today offered the following comments relative to the vote of the House Ways & Means and Public Works House committees on SB367, a bill that would, in part, raise the gas tax by 23%. The bill was recommended ought to pass by a vote of 26-11.

House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett)

“Whether or not you support the concept of a gas tax increase, there are many misconceptions about SB367. With all due respect to the bill and its supporters, before jumping into one of the largest tax increases in recent history, we need to take a hard look at the intricacies of this bill and the system by which the revenue would be used. Republicans offered reasonable amendments to fix some of our concerns, but none were adopted.”

“This bill, as written, removes tolls in Merrimack, which results in a loss of revenue to the Turnpike Fund. It also allocates 42% of revenue to the I-93 widening project. The I-93 widening was already allocated $50 million as part of the 10 Year Highway Plan.”

“Folks that were hoping for immediate relief for their local roads will be disappointed. Municipal block grants will not commence until FY2016 and will be just 12% of the prior years’ revenue. In FY2016, 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 <1% of that amount. Larger cities and towns may get 1%-6%. Once they receive the grants, towns are not required to spend their block grant on infrastructure repair.”

“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. SB367 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 SB367 won’t be disregarded or suspended for future budget years?”