CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s tax on gasoline and diesel would rise for the first time since 1991 under a bill being voted on by the House next week.
Supporters say the proposed 4-cent increase would provide much-needed money to fix deteriorating roads and help finish the expansion of Interstate 93. Opponents say the hike would cost consumers and truckers at the pump and lead to higher prices on goods and services.
The bill would increase funding for highway improvements for two years, then earmark about half the proceeds to pay off $200 million in borrowing to finish the Interstate 93 expansion. Once the debt is paid off in roughly 20 years, the tax increase would expire. The bill also would eliminate the Exit 12 ramp toll booths in Merrimack.
A joint House committee is recommending passing the Senate bill directly to Gov. Maggie Hassan who has said if a consensus is reached on a tax increase, she will sign the legislation.
The bill is one of two measures aimed at making needed highway improvements. The House passed a 10-year highway plan that outlines a way to help pay the remaining $50 million needed to finish the I-93 expansion and proposes borrowing money to replace the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge between Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine.
The bridge includes a rail connection to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard that is used to carry nuclear waste. Lawmakers believe the bridge’s replacement would give the two states more leverage should another round of base closings include the shipyard as a potential candidate for closure.
The tax bill is a compromise between the two chambers over highway funding. Last year, the Senate killed a House gas tax proposal and the House rejected a Senate casino bill that earmarked some profits for highway improvements.
New Hampshire’s 18-cent tax is the lowest in New England and would remain the lowest if it is increased 4 cents.
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