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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gas tax bump passes House

CONCORD – The New Hampshire House of Representatives endorsed a 12-cents-a-gallon increase in the state’s gasoline tax Wednesday.

The House’s taxation panel had trimmed the tax hike from an earlier 15-cent increase in hopes of winning more support among the membership. ...

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CONCORD – The New Hampshire House of Representatives endorsed a 12-cents-a-gallon increase in the state’s gasoline tax Wednesday.

The House’s taxation panel had trimmed the tax hike from an earlier 15-cent increase in hopes of winning more support among the membership.

But this move and others aimed at sweetening the deal failed to attract any new supporters and the 206-158 vote was nearly identical to the House’s initial verdict given two weeks ago.

The current tax of 18 cents per gallon hasn’t gone up since 1991. The bill would raise the gas tax 4 cents in each of the next three years.

Diesel fuel would go up by 12 cents but at annual 2-cent intervals over the next six years.

Meanwhile, several Republican lawmakers made bald threats that the Democrats leadership supporting this tax increase will lose their majority at the polls in 2014.

“I believe anybody who votes for this gas tax should be fired and should be fired with the next election,” said Rep. Leon Rideout, R-Lancaster.

Rep. Andrew Renzullo, R-Hudson, compared this tax increase to new tax plans House Democrats advanced in 2009 on campground rentals and salaries paid to owners of limited liability companies.

Those tax hikes contributed to watershed victories for Republicans in 2010 who voters gave 3:1 super-majorities in the New Hampshire House and State Senate.

And Renzullo said House supporters got a Pyrrhic victory Wednesday because the state Senate will soon kill this tax hike.

“The real irony is that the folks across the hall are going to kill this bill anyhow so the bleeding will be for nothing,” Renzullo said.

Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, urged his colleagues to resist the political threats and insisted that most state residents realize the declining condition of our roads and bridges.

“Don’t be faint of heart. The people get it. They understand the issue. They just need to know the facts,” Campbell said.

And Campbell appeared to be warning the Senate that simply killing this gas tax increase won’t go over well with the voters.

“I truly believe the political consequences to those ignoring the need to solve our big problems will be worse than to those of us who are working cooperatively and in good faith to solve them,” Campbell said.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com . Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).