Lawmakers propose rival plans to bolster highway revenues

January 24, 2020 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire lawmakers are considering two opposing plans for bolstering state highway revenues.

Lawmakers heard two bills on Tuesday that propose new systems for vehicle registration fees in the state in response to a decline in gas tax revenue and road maintenance funding, New Hampshire Public Radio reported.

One of the bills would impose higher fees on more fuel efficient vehicles. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Norman Major, of Plaistow, said officials need to find ways for vehicles that use less gas and generate less gas tax revenue to pay into the highway fund.

“If we don’t maintain the roads, what’s going to happen to our economy?” Major said.

The alternate plan would redo how registration fees are calculated to incorporate a combination of the vehicle’s gross weight and how many miles it travels each year. Democratic Rep. Peter Somssich, of Portsmouth, who is sponsoring the bill, said it would raise more money than Major’s bill.

The majority of the people who testified on the bills agreed that the highway fund needs to become less dependent on gas taxes, especially as fuel efficient cars become more popular.

The state Department of Transportation is expected to release a report on the state of the highway fund and gas tax revenues in the next month.