State lawmakers focus on fuel taxes for highway funding

State lawmakers in the northeast continue to eye fuel taxes as they attempt to find sufficient revenue to fund transportation projects.

New Hampshire House members recently approved a measure that would increase state fuel tax by 12 cents per gallon. The hike would be implemented over a six-year period for diesel and three years for gas.

Various groups have held signature drives for petitions against the plan, including the Vermont Petroleum and Grocers Associations. The VPGA had gathered 20,000 signatures from state residents against the hike by April 10.

Massachusetts’ Senate was set to continue debating its transportation bill April 13, after the House approved its version April 8. Both proposals would raise gas tax 3 cents a gallon.

Gov. Deval Patrick said neither proposal meets the “immediate or long-term needs of the Commonwealth.” Political pundits recently have reported the Democrat governor appears less likely to veto the plan than he was earlier this month.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to sign a transportation bill that includes implementation of a new series of motor fuel taxes.

According to the Maryland Motor Truck Association, the sales tax rate on motor fuels will start at 1 percent this July. In 2015, it will increase to 2 percent in January and 3 percent that July. If Congress passes legislation permitting states to collect sales tax from Internet purchases, the sales tax will stay at 3 percent.

However, if Congress does not approve this measure, motor fuel tax will increase during 2016 to 4 percent in January and 5 percent in July.