UPDATE--I missed one of the Republicans who voted for the tax increase, so have updated the article. Ironically, the one I missed was the husband of former Speaker Donna Sytek who was known for saying, "Not on my watch!" One can only wonder whether, despite her husband's vote, she'd be saying, "Not on my watch" today!
When all was said and done, after nearly two and a half hours of debate (I plead guilty to taking ten minutes of that time myself), despite rumors that numerous Democrats would vote against David Campbell's nearly doubling of the state gasoline tax and that numerous Republicans would break ranks and vote for it...after all that, the vote fell pretty much along party lines.
That of course means that the tax hike passed. The margin was 207-163, and the bill now goes to the Ways and Means Committee for further consideration, but don't expect any changes there.
Only 15 Republicans (including two in Gene Chandler's leadership team--fidelity to my New Years resolutions prevents me from naming names here!) voted for the bill, a small number indeed since all Republicans on the Public Works Committee had voted for it.
Despite all the talk that enough Democrats would break ranks to make it close, only ten Democrats voted against the bill. (I had expected as many of 30 defections each way which would have left a victory margin of about 40 votes).
What we saw was rather depressing, if not for those who don't want to see a 15 cent a gallon increase in the gas tax, then certainly for those who expect any excitement out of the House for the remainder of the biennium.
Today's vote on this issue and on another bill to raise boating fees left no doubt that Chandler has no control over his caucus and that Democrats, more than ever, will march in lockstep with whatever their leaders tell them to do.
When you get approximately the same number of Reps from each party leaving the reservation, it doesn't take a math genius to figure out that Democrats will prevail on every major issue.
Leader Chandler has only himself to blame for surrounding himself with leaders who consistently vote against the wishes of the Republican minority. For example, on House Bill 411, to repeal a future reduction in boating fees, 110 Republicans voted in the 236-117 minority. Only 50 Republicans joined Democrats in passing the bill, but Chandler and his troika of leaders (from Hudson, Hooksett, and Londonderry--no names please!) joined all but seven Democrats. In other words, the Republican caucus is being led by people who went against the wishes of more than two-thirds of the caucus and do so on a regular basis.
No, Mrs. Calabash wherever you are, you just can't make this stuff up.
Democrats should be celebrating in the street; as long as Chandler keeps the dishonorable troika in place, no wins for Republicans should be forecast!
Here are the 15 Republicans who voted for the gas tax increase: McConkey, Tilton from Laconia, Graham and Danielson from Bedford, the unnamable one from Hudson, the unnamable one from Hooksett, Kidder, Lockwood, Sytek, Friel, Khan, Milz, Waterhouse, Grenier, and Takesian who is generally recognized as a Democrat who simply ran as a Republican to make it easier to win in Pelham which had been robbed of four seats it deserved by Republicans last year.
Sorry, but it's the truth.
Among the ten Democrats who voted against the tax increase, only three could be considered leaders--Election Law Committee Chair David Cote, Finance Division I Chair Peter Leishman, and Finance Division III Chair Cindy Rosenwald. The seven eight were Syndi White, Parkhurst, Yvonne Thomas, Carroll, Garcia, Barbara Shaw and Mike O'Flaherty (as usual) of Manchester. Even supposed Libertarian Joel Winters, who at one time would never have considered voting for an 83 percent tax increase, voted with his Democratic brethren. (He insists it's a user tax, not a fee even though most fees only hit the user one time and this tax/fee will hit everyone every time he or she fills up).
Only 15 Democrats and 11 Republicans were absent for the vote, and indication that parties were whipping people into attending, but don't think that means they were there for the entire day. Many missed earlier roll calls and/or scurried out after the 3:27 p.m. vote on the gas tax