N.H. considering cutting state gas tax by 5 cents

Move would cut $6.6 million from highway budget

News Concord Monitor April 22, 2011
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States are revisiting the possibility of reducing the gas tax, and New Hampshire might be the first to make the move official—at least through June.

Lead by House Speaker William O’Brien and House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, both Republicans, New Hampshire is taking a hard look at cutting the state tax at the pump by a nickel to 13 cents a gallon. The move is estimated to produce a $6.6 million cut in highway funding.

“We know when we’re up here talking about this bill or that bill . . . for most of our constituents, what they are concerned about on a daily basis is the cost of living,” said O’Brien.

Some politicians actually believe the move could attract more in tourism, even if the trips only last as long as it takes to cross the border and fill up for cheaper gas.

“They could conceivably see a cross-border advantage of the five-cent decrease and end up coming up here and filling up here,” Bettencourt said.

New Hampshire does have an idea—albeit a shaky one—to replenish the highway funds. Gov. John Lynch signed into law two years ago a $30 car registration surcharge, which could be used to fill the gap left by the cut in the gas tax. However, Republicans are trying to eliminate the extra cost by June.

Lynch appears to be against the Republican strategy.

“This proposal is simply a political gimmick and would offer no relief at the pumps for the people of New Hampshire,” Colin Manning, a spokesperson for Lynch, told the Concord Monitor.

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