CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire's Senate gave preliminary approval Thursday to a measure that would raise the state's gas tax by 4 cents a gallon but stripped out a provision that would have automatically tied future increases to the Consumer Price Index.
The vote was 14-9. It now goes to the Senate Finance Committee for a vote.
If approved by that committee and the full House then signed into law, the 18-cent tax would rise about 4 cents per gallon in July. It has not been increased since 1991 and is the lowest in New England. That increase is projected to raise $32 million annually for road improvements and the Department of Transportation.
"It has been a long, rough, bumpy road filled with numerous potholes," Sen. Jim Rausch, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and sponsor of the measure, said as he brought the bill to the floor.
Rausch said a 4-cent increase would cost $16 a year for someone who drives 10,000 miles a year and gets 25 miles per gallon.
Rausch, a Derry Republican, wants the trucking industry to support his proposed increase or face reductions in the amount of cargo they can haul on New Hampshire highways. He said if there isn't more money to maintain New Hampshire's roads something else has to be done and lowering the weights trucks can carry would cause them less damage.
The New Hampshire Motor Transport Association opposes the tax hike, saying it would hurt the trucking industry.
Gov. Maggie Hassan has said if a consensus is reached on a tax increase, she will sign it.