Letter: The Case for Raising the Gas Tax
To the Editor:
Thank you for publishing the article on the gas tax (“Higher Gas Tax: Shumlin, Yes; Hassan Hedges,” March 5). Both states deserve credit for evaluating the controversial and serious issue of increasing the gas tax. They are not alone. The tax-averse state of Wyoming recognized that its gas tax revenues are not keeping pace with road costs and this year increased its gas tax. Furthermore, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which rarely advocates for tax increases of any sort, has come out in favor of raising the federal gas tax to improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
The gas tax is not just another way the government takes money, as some might argue. Our gas taxes pay for the roads and bridges we depend on. Neither Vermont nor New Hampshire is collecting enough money from the current gas tax to maintain our roads and bridges, let alone expand much-needed bus service and other projects. Our transportation system will become more expensive the longer we defer maintenance. For every dollar spent on maintaining a road that’s still in good condition, we will save $6 to $14 compared with repairing or rebuilding a road that has fallen into poor condition (see the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials’ report Rough Roads Ahead).
New Hampshire has had the same gas tax rate for over 20 years. Commodity and labor costs have not stayed the same during the past two decades. Asphalt concrete alone has risen about 460 percent over this period. Countless projects — including serious safety projects — have been indefinitely deferred and will be far more expensive to complete in the long run. Raising the gas tax now is the fiscally conservative and morally right thing to do.
Transportation Program Manager
White River Junction