The New Hampshire House has voted 207 to 163 to hike the tax on gas and diesel fuel 15 cents per gallon.
The floor debate lasted a full two hours. Nashua democrat David Campbell, the bill's key architect, implored colleagues to view this first increase of the tax since 1991, as responsible.
"Does anyone in this chamber really believe that a 15 cent phased-in increase over 4 years the gas tax, will have a greater negative impact to our economy than crumbling roads, ever more bridge closing and our major economic lifeline, I-93, a clogged and failed artery?"
But opponents said that hiking the gas tax would hurt middle and low income people. Some also warned passing this bill would come at a steep political cost. Here’s former House speaker Bill O’Brien.
"It is not right of leadership to ask you to engage in kamikaze legislating."
A key Senate republican appears to share O’Brien’s view. As soon as the House vote was tallied, Senator Chuck Morse of Salem, the senate’s top budget writer who favors paying for roads and bridges with a casino, declared the tax hike "dead on arrival."
But this bill could change before it gets there. It next goes to the House Ways and Means committee, where it could be amended. Whatever emerges must clear the full House again to reach the senate.