N.H. House Finance Chairman Says Transportation Cuts Will Pass Committee

Mar 18, 2015

The N.H. House Finance Committee debates cutting more than $88 million in Department of Transportation funding from the Governor's proposed budget.
Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The Department of Transportation is warning New Hampshire House budget writers from voting to slash more than $88 million in funding from the Governor’s proposed budget.

The House Finance Committee is expected to vote on the bill Thursday morning.

Deputy Commissioner of the department Patrick McKenna said he is appalled by the cuts,  adding that it would result in the loss of more than 600 jobs, the closure of hundreds of bridges and would drastically affect the state's infrastructure by limiting road maintenance and plowing. 

Chairman Neal Kurk, a Republican from Weare, said Wednesday after the vote was delayed, that he is confident the bill will pass committee and says he will support an unspecified increased gas tax to help with added revenue when it hits the floor next month.

The measure was passed after lawmakers rejected Governor Maggie Hassan's proposal to increase car registration fees to boost the highway fund.

Democrat Daniel Eaton of Stoddard argues that it is “irresponsible” to allow this bill to move forward.

“It is going to mean basically the highway department is not going to exist, they are virtually shuttering the doors of DOT. They will not have plowing, they will not be able to fix potholes, they will not be able to do road maintenance,” Eaton said.

Governor Hassan has reached out to her supporters to contact lawmakers, asking them to lobby to restore the funding she proposed.