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Problem isn't gas tax, it's how those funds are spent

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

This is in response to Paula Trombi's letter in the December 6th Sun.

Paula, while I have to agree there are problems with properly funding the DOT and making sure our highways are properly maintained and patrolled, you are assigning blame to the wrong people.

It isn't that there isn't enough revenue flowing into the state's Highway Fund. That isn't the big problem. Instead, it's the monies being pulled out of the Highway Fund that are being used for state operations and programs that have nothing to do with our highways. What's worse is that by doing so, our government, including the state Legislature, is violating the state Constitution, specifically Part II, Article 6-a, by using those funds for purposes other than those laid out in the article. How can Health and Human Services, Family Court, and a whole host of other state agencies and programs lay claim to those funds that have nothing to do with "construction, reconstruction and maintenance of public highways within this state, including the supervision of traffic thereon and payment of the interest and principal of obligations incurred for said purposes"?

The Judicial Branch of New Hampshire's government does receive funding from the Highway Fund, or at least that part that deals with our highways, that being traffic court. But other than the DOT and the Department of Safety, how can any other state agency lay claim to money in the Highway Fund? They shouldn't be able to, but they do.

I recall seeing in an article a few years ago in the Union Leader that showed where money from the Highway Fund was going. At its worse a bit over 63 percent of the money allocated from the Highway Fund was going where it was constitutionally mandated to go. The balance went for purposes for which the fund was never intended. I even recall then-Governor John Lynch telling the Legislature that the Highway Fund "was not an ATM to be used by the Legislature" to fund non-highway related agencies or programs. Unfortunately that problem persists.

Before we look at raising gas taxes, registration fees, and other taxes and fees to generate more revenue for the DOT, maybe we should turn our attention at those raiding the Highway Fund and stop them from doing so. Otherwise all we will do is provide them with even more money to steal from the fund. Let's fix that problem first before we turn to ever increasing taxes and fees, shall we?

Dale Channing Eddy