CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire's Senate continues to weigh a proposed 4-cent hike in the gas and diesel tax to help pay for highway improvements.
The Senate voted 14-9 in support of the increase and will take a final vote later this month. The chamber's Finance Committee holds a hearing on the bill Thursday and then will decide what to recommend to the full Senate. If the Senate passes the bill, the House then would consider it.
If enacted into law, the state's 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.
Supporters estimate a 4-cent increase would cost $16 a year for someone who drives 10,000 miles a year and gets 25 miles per gallon.
Sen. Jim Rausch, a Derry Republican and the bill's sponsor, 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 says 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.