So today I spent some time trying to find out what I could about the status to the vetoed H.B. 218 and the immediate future of the capital intensive New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority.
It didn't take me much time to see how politics works. "I continue to support the rail authority." said Executive Councilor Ray Burton in response to my inquiry. This is interesting because right after the house passed the amended bill (Senate version) he stated that he "hoped the Governor would sign the legislation."
Flip flop, flip flop.
This is a DRAFT copy of a letter to the Editor that I'm working on:
Governor Lynch has vetoed legislation that will have a long-term consequence to New Hampshire. And I think higher taxes.
This past legislative session the house and senate passed and amended House Bill 218, a bill that would have dissolved the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority; an appointed quasai state agency that has financial and bonding authority to establish passenger railroad service between Boston and Nashua, Manchester and Concord on a route called the capitol corridor. And it will be expensive to do this. It will cost in the area of $53 million dollars. “The New Hampshire business community has made a clear statement that it sees rail, in the words of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, as "a proven economic catalyst that will spur economic development and create jobs."said Gov. Lynch in his veto message. I’d question the validity of this reasoning. NH tried passenger rail service on the capitol corridor in 1983 and it ended up on the skids. And since that time both the state rail plan and private consultants have studied the capitol corridor and their results are essentially the same: substantial capital costs and not enough ridership to justify the service.
But somehow the issue still persists; I’ve heard members of the rail authority proposing adding a property tax surcharge in places like Manchester and Nashua to pay for the trains. Even if it is enacted it’s questionable whether this surcharge will raise enough money so the rest of New Hampshire will likely be paying an additional tax to serve the interests of a few train riders going from southern New Hampshire to Boston. “I continue to support the rail authority.” said Executive Councilor Ray Burton in response to my concerns over increased taxes and the feasibility of the whole idea. Burton offered no reasoning why he would support the large expenditure, including the $17 million dollars a year in operating costs. No response at all.
Is the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority and example of taxation without representation? Of course it is and now they have the authority to do it. Contact your legislator.
Steven J. Connolly