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February 18. 2014 5:20PM

Tom Thomson: Prices for everything will rise if the state gas tax is raised

Another gas and diesel tax increase is back on the table in Concord. Senate Bill 367 would increase the fuel tax four cents per gallon, going from the current 18 cents to 22 cents per gallon — a 22 percent increase! Then it would tie it to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), so when the (CPI) goes up in the future so will your fuel tax automatically. This will make it much easier for the government bureaucrats to dig deeper into your pocketbook without any accountability. And you, the consumer, would have no say in the matter. 

Those sponsoring the bill say it will only increase the cost $16 per passenger vehicle per year, based on 25 miles per gallon, traveling 10,000 miles per year. What they don’t tell you is how this tax will have a devastating impact on the trucking industry. As a tree farmer, I know that a typical log truck gets about 3.5 miles per gallon and travels on average 64,000 miles per year moving forest products. This trucker will pay approximately $800 more annually if SB 367 is passed. This is in addition to the $3,290 these vehicles already pay in New Hampshire fuel tax. And, at this point, there is no telling what the tax increase will be in the future due to the (CPI) factor. All truckers have seen an increase of 250 percent in the last 10 years for diesel fuel; recently it was posted at $4.29 per gallon, far more than regular gas per gallon.

Today’s truckers are running on razor-thin margins, and any increase will put some out of business. The others will just pass the increase onto the consumers. Everything we consume moves by diesel, as many as three to five times before it reaches the consumer. Raising the tax makes the price of everything, including food, higher due to any increase in the diesel tax. So the prospect facing New Hampshire families is not only will this bill cost them more to fill up their tank to drive to the store, but when they get there everything they need to purchase will be more expensive as well.

In 2009 and again in 2013, the lead sponsor for the gas and diesel tax increase was Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, and both times it was defeated because Republicans stuck together and voted against this job-killing tax. What is shocking to me and others is that this year’s gas/diesel tax is sponsored by three Senate Republicans! They are Sen. Jim Rausch (District 19) (james.rausch@leg.state.nh.us), Sen. Nancy Stiles (District 24) (nancy.stiles@leg.state.nh.us), and Sen. David Boutin (District 16) (dboutin1465@comcast.net).

I encourage you to email to these senators today. I believe if they continue to support this huge tax increase on the people of New Hampshire, the Republicans will lose control of the Senate come Nov. 2014, and what a shame that would be. 

I, like many in New Hampshire, am appalled at what has happened to the position of the Commissioner of the Dept. of Transportation (DOT). Many of us thought it was a very important position in which the commissioner worked nonstop to provide New Hampshire with the best transportation system possible, while living within its financial means, becoming more efficient and streamlining every area within the department. Yet instead it appears that Commissioner Christopher Clement has decided to become DOT’s top “lobbyist” and take his Power Point presentation to every corner of the state claiming his agency is short of revenue by $70 million to $100 million. He threatens to lay off 300 to 700 DOT employees if he does not get additional revenues.

One phone call from the governor to the commissioner would end the DOT lobbying; one wonders why that hasn’t happened. The phone number for Gov. Hassan is (603)271-2121. Contacting her office may make the difference and may be the only way we can put the brakes on this gas and diesel tax increase.

Tom Thomson is an Orford is a tree farmer and the honorary chairman of the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity.


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