By now I'm sure most of you have read the news surrounding Merrimack's upcoming toll revolt planned for August 27th in which people using the toll booths at exits 10, 11 and 12 will be paying their tolls in pennies. At 12:20 there will be an extra protest in that a group will gather in a motorcade and stop one by one at each of the 3 tolls paying in full in pennies.
The revolt has been a long time coming due to the government of New Hampshire continually ignoring the pleas of the people of Merrimack to eliminate the tolls. Merrimack is the only community in NH where you can not get on or off the highway without paying a toll regardless of what direction you travel thus placing an unfair burden on the town. While not the answer Merrimack was looking for Deb Pignatelli at least offered to toss some form of table scraps by seeking to offer a discount. Gov. Lynch stripped that option away from the executive council. That was the final straw, the people of Merrimack are now at war with the state and this is the first of what I hope to be many different forms of protesting that will continue until the tolls are removed (ideally from everywhere in the state).
The papers are predicting the protest could cause the machines to jam up leading to backups in traffic. Personally I think this will be just a glimpse of what the tolls will look like once the Outlets off exit 10 open but that's a different issue. Regardless of the outcome, the protests are already working in that they are getting papers to discuss the unfairness of the tolls and getting other forums across the state to likewise discuss the unfairness of them.
So the question remains will the state listen to the people it works for? Will it seek to eliminate the tolls or will it continue the unfair taxation on the people of Merrimack to the point they need to continue pushing for more forms of protests that will eventually impact the entire state to the point they will have to listen?
Here's something to think about...
Tolls tax only those who travel those roads. Since the tolls are not equally distributed through the state the amount people pay have very little to do with how much traveling they actually do on the roads so in other words it taxes based on location rather then by use.
The tolls in Merrimack bring in about $3 million from the tolls collected. Half to two thirds of that goes back to simply running the toll booths themselves. That leaves the state with about $1.3 million revenue.
The state uses about 715 millions gallons of gas per year.
A single one cent tax on gas would bring in $7.15 million a year equally collected across the state based on how much people drive and how environmentally unfriendly their car is. Far more then the $1.3 million or so revenue the Merrimack tolls actually take in. And the one cent gas tax would be better for the environment as cars would no longer need to idle needlessly at toll booths and the money would be collected for more efficiently since 50% or more wouldn't be going toward the method of collecting. A 10 cent per gallon tax would collect over $71.5 million again far more then the $63 million or so the state wide tolls collect and it would do so in a more efficient manor and collect more evenly across the state without the need to place unfair burdens on certain locations over any others.
Alas, instead of looking at reasonable and efficient forms of taxation which do not place unfair burdens, the state like always does everything completely backwards. Yup, they are looking to put in MORE toll booths along the Nashua border which would place more of a tax burden those who work in MA. Sure it would collect some from MA residents who are coming to NH for tax free shopping, lower price cigarettes or just weekend get always at one of our lakes or destinations, but a gas tax would likely bring in money from those same people, not to mention the toll may end up harming many of the southern businesses in NH as it could discourage those living on the border from shopping here if they were forced to pay 50 cents or more just to cross the state line.