CONCORD — Speaking on "The Exchange," broadcast by New Hampshire Public Radio, yesterday, Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), who chairs the N.H. Senate Finance Committee, expressed her opposition to increasing the gas tax, suggesting instead that the Legislature consider "a combination of a lot of different things."
Last year, legislation to raise the gas tax from 18 cents to 30 cents a gallon in three annual increments of four cents carried the House of Representatives but foundered in the Senate. This year Senator Jim Rausch (R-Derry), who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, has introduced a bill to index annual increases in the gas tax to the rate of inflation, beginning with a four-cent increase on July 1, with all the projected revenue of $31.9 -million appropriated to the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Forrester acknowledged the challenge of funding the maintenance and improvement of roads and bridges and said that she appreciated Rausch's effort to address it. However, she added that "the fact is that the money that would be raised by the four cents he is recommending will not cover the operational shortfall." She said that without an increase in its budget, the DOT will face a $48-million deficit by July 1, 2015. A four-cent increase in the gas tax, Forrester called "a finger in the dyke."
Forrester noted that $250-million is required to complete the widening of I-93 between Salem and Manchester while $12-million to $15-million is needed for paving and another $15-million for bridge repairs. She said that with another $50-million the state could maximize federal matching funds for highway projects. "This is a big number," Forrester said. "Four cents is not going to fix that problem."
Between 2006 and 2013, Forrester said that the DOT has spent $100 million on roads and bridges every year, but the agency's operating budget has risen 22.4-percent. She said that her concern about raising the gas tax is that "it's not going to go to fix roads."
When a caller asked host Laura Knoy to press Forrester to explain how she would tackle the problem, she began by calling for "a serious look" at the $81 million in highway funds that are appropriated for other purposes, particularly to the Department of Safety. She also favored "fix it first," a concept touted by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which lends priority to repairing, rebuilding and maintaining existing roads before undertaking new projects. But, in reply to a question about completing the widening of I-93, she answered "we should finish that."
Forrester also suggested "private-public partnerships," in particular arrangements with public utilities to bury transmission lines in the state-owned right-of-way. Senator Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) has sponsored a bill directing the DOT to designate corridors where transmission lines could be buried and negotiate lease with developers of energy infrastructure. Representative Candace Bouchard (D-Concord), who chairs the House Transportation Committee, discounted the suggestion, claiming that the leases would not generate significant revenue.
Last year the Senate leadership proposed introducing casino gambling and earmarking a share of the revenue for roads and bridges. The proposal failed in the House, but this year the a handful of bills to authorize expanded gambling are again before the Legislature. Asked if the Senate would again offer gambling revenue as a means of funding infrastructure improvements, Forrester replied flatly "not me."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 03:02
GILFORD — Police are investigating a robbery at the Big Apple convenience store on Country Club Road early Saturday morning.
According to police, two unarmed men entered the store at 1:02 a.m. and stole three bottles of wine.
Authorities said one of the two may have stolen a hotdog as well. They said a half-eaten hotdog was that was still warm was found near the place police think the two men got into a car. The half hotdog was collected as evidence.
Police said the two men pushed the male clerk out of the way when he tried to stop them from leaving.
Police said the clerk described the two man as being between 5-feet 10-inches tall but said he didn't see their faces.
There is video surveillance tape in the store and police said they will be reviewing it.
Anyone with any information is asked to call Sgt. Dustin Parent at the Gilford Police Department at 527-4737.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 02:54
BELMONT — Police have charged an 18-year-old high school student with one count of endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of prohibited uses of a computer.
Police said Brent Minery, 18, of 614 Shaker Road in Canterbury turned himself into the Belmont Police on January 14.
According to police, Minery sent a obscene photo to a 14-year-old girl. The photo apparently made the rounds within the school and Shaker Regional School District officials notified police.
Minery has a court date in March of 2014.
In other Belmont Police news, a Laconia man was charged with one count of theft by unauthorized taking and three counts of fraudulent use of a credit card.
Tyler Hobbs, 24, of 50 Fenton Avenue allegedly went to a former friend's home in Belmont and took her debit card. He allegedly made three unauthorized withdrawals.
On Thursday, police charged a Belmont man with discharging a firearm within 300 feet of a home. According to police, at 9 p.m. police responded to a disturbance on Tee Dee Drive.
Justin Lindbloom, 18, of Tee Dee Drive was charged with the unlawful discharge. A second teen, Bryan McLelland, 18, of Wildlife Boulevard was charged with one count of unlawful possession of alcohol.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 02:51
Circumstances of alleged rape on Batchelder Street outlined in court; suspect held on $15,000 cash bail
LACONIA — A Batchelder Street man accused of raping a woman who came to his house is being held on $15,000 cash-only bail after appearing in the 4th Circuit Court yesterday.
Fatmir Gasi, 51, of 72 Batchelder St. is charged with one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault.
Police affidavits obtained from court said two women allegedly met Gazi on Church Street sometime on the morning of January 17. Sometime between 12:30 and 1 p.m. the two women went to Gazi's home.
The alleged victim said her friend left the house sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. to go to the store. During this time, the victim said Gazi went into his bedroom and called for her to join him.
She told police when she entered the bedroom, Gazi allegedly grabbed her by the throat with one hand and choked her for about five seconds. She said she could barely breath.
She said Gazi allegedly grabbed her by the face and pushed her on the bed, forcing her to have non-consensual sex with him.
The victim went to the hospital on Saturday and police responded there. She was able to pick him out from a photo array.
Police got an arrest warrant and went to Gazi's home where he agreed to speak to them. During the interview, affidavits said he admitted he had sex with one of the women at his house.
Should Gazi post bail, Judge Jim Carroll ordered him to have no contact with either woman including through the internet. He also ordered Gazi was to have an interpreter at all future hearings.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 02:48
- Question arises as to why bus drivers are only school employees to be drug tested
- Kenney tops Boothby for GOP nomination to Executive Council
- Hathaway House hearing tonight
- County jailer rears number of prisoners will rise beyond repair
- A Correction & An Apology
- From Dixville Notch to Nashua, N.H. 'Rebellion' marches in name of 'Granny D'