House Majority Leader Blasts Governor's Choice of Gas Tax and Toll Supporter to Head the Department of Transportation

CONCORD – House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt (R-Salem) and Salem Selectman Stephen Campbell today blasted the decision by Governor Lynch to nominate a supporter of “any and all sources of revenue,” including tolls, as the next Commission of the Department of Transportation.  At last Thursday’s hearing for his nomination, Chris Clement indicated that he would wait for additional revenue – higher taxes, fees or tolls – to complete the expansion of Route I-93.

House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt

“It’s clear that Governor Lynch is committed to increasing the cost to New Hampshire’s citizens to drive in their own state with his choice for DOT Commissioner.  Mr. Clement has indicated his willingness to "hold hostage" the I-93 expansion project until he can dig more deeply into the pockets of our taxpayers, and that’s an outrage.  The governor has always said he opposed a gas tax increase, so that’s clearly off the table.  The Republican legislature just repealed the massive car registration fee from the Democrats this year, so they have to know that’s a non-starter.  That leaves toll hikes as way to get more funding.  Mr. Clement  needs to receive the same lesson that his predecessor, George Campbell learned when he planned to put a toll on I-93 in Salem – that the communities of Southern New Hampshire will not tolerate a new tollbooth, and that Governor Lynch needs to be clear exactly what his nominee means when he claims to support ‘any and all sources of revenue’ need to be raised.”

Salem Selectman Stephen Campbell

“The idea that the I-93 project would be stopped as a way to leverage more money from taxpayers should offend everyone who uses the highway.  This is clearly the most important infrastructure project in New Hampshire and it is critical to both the residents and businesses of Salem.  There is no way we will stand for a tollbooth in our community, and the notion that the two should be linked is irresponsible.  Governor Lynch should reconsider this nominee and come back with someone who is more committed to meet the transportation needs of the state and not growing a bureaucracy with more taxpayer dollars.”