Senate backs killing $30 vehicle surcharge

While New Hampshire lawmakers this session have had some trouble deciding whether to support expanded business tax credits, they’ve had no problem voting to cut motor vehicle registration fees.The Senate Wednesday joined the House in voting to eliminate a $30 surcharge that was imposed last year in what was supposed to be a temporary move, raising $6.5 million. But because of federal matching funds that translates into about $90 million over two years — a third going to local towns, and the rest to state programs.Unlike other fee increases, this one was hefty enough to drive drivers to contact their lawmakers. Sen. Jack Barnes, R-Raymond, said that this was a bigger issues than any other, including gay marriage.But without the fee, the Department of Transportation would lose millions to fix bridges and maintain roads, said Sen. Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord.She was joined by contractors, who opposed decreasing the fee because of the loss of millions of dollars worth of business, and what they said would be hundreds of jobs.But Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, argued that contracts covered by the fee had already been let out, so the Senate “is not going address it in this budget, but when we come back in January we will talk about it.”The problem, he said, is not lack of money but ongoing problems with the highway fund, aggravated by bonding. And it was Morse who had the votes. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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