Wednesday, 27 April 2011

House gives its OK to cutting gas tax by 5 cents

The House Wednesday approved a two-month reduction in the state’s gas tax, but the proposal faces an uncertain fate in the Senate.
The House voted 201-108 to approve the 5-cent gas tax reduction from 18 cents a gallon proposed by House Speaker Bill O’Brien, who has said the decrease will provide some relief for consumers and will bring more people across the border to buy gas, lottery tickets, food and other goods and services.
But opponents argued consumers will never see the benefit, while repairs to the state’s roads and bridges will be delayed.
Gov. John Lynch called the reduction a “political gimmick” that will not result in a price reduction at the pumps. “It will never happen.” he said after the Executive Council meeting.
Asked if he would veto the bill, he said that would be speculative because “I don’t believe it is going to get to me. I think the Senate is going to look at it and recognize it for the gimmick that it is.”
The reduction was included in Senate Bill 78 (click to view text), which eliminates the $30 surcharge on auto registrations. The bill passed on a 208-98 vote.
During the House debate, Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, said the gas tax reduction will have a negative impact on the state’s roads and bridges and will not have the desired results because consumers will never see it.
“Look at the conditions of our roads and bridges,” Campbell said. “The timing couldn’t be worse.“
The 5-cent decrease will cost the highway fund $7 million, which includes $840,000 earmarked to help cities and towns repair their roads and bridges, he added.
“That nickel will be gobbled up by the big gas companies and the big oil companies . . . Who are seeing record profits,” Campbell said.
The price of gas in surrounding states with higher gas taxes are often lower than they are in New Hampshire, he noted.
But supporters argued out-of-state motorists are buying their fuel in New Hampshire today, and a drop in the tax will bring even more people over the border.
Rep. Ken Weyler, R-Kingston, said half the cars at a gas station in his community are from Massachusetts and that station is two miles over the border.
The tax cut “will bring more people from out-of-state and other sources of revenue,” Weyler said. “This talk about damage to road and bridges I don’t see.”
Off the $7 million, he said, $2 million would go to the Department of Safety, while another $2 million would go to the betterment program. That leaves only $2 million for roads and bridges, he said.
Weyler said the arguments against the gas tax reduction are “more tales of gloom and doom that never come true.“
House Majority Leader B.J Bettencourt, R-Salem, said while some call the gas tax reduction a gimmick, politicians in Massachusetts don’t think so and neither do senior citizens living on a fixed incomes.
“It is easy to call this a gimmick and oppose this, but it is much more difficult to put out a plan of your own,” Bettencourt said.
The Senate will have to vote on the gas tax proposal.
O’Brien said he hopes the Senate will take up the plan next Wednesday when it meets.
However the Senate does not have to do that and could take several weeks or more to take up the proposal.

1 comment:

  1. This is nothing more than a cheap gimmick. You watch how these elected officials will bluster over how they cut taxes and kept their promises. I've yet to hear the analogy of the kitchen table budget where the family that is struggling for cash says...."hey I have an idea, lets cut our income to help make ends meet"
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