CONCORD — Citing an apparent contradiction in Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s position on increasing the federal gasoline tax, and her support long ago for a state sales tax, state GOP chairman Jennifer Horn on Monday charged that the Democratic incumbent is a “proven liar” on taxes.
Horn charged in the strongly-worded statement that Shaheen “is willing to do and say anything to get elected, break her word and then saddle working families with higher taxes once in office. Jeanne Shaheen has proved that she is a two-faced Washington politician who cannot be trusted to hold the line on taxes.”
The New Hampshire Democratic Party and the Shaheen campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Horn’s charges.
The Portsmouth Herald reported early in June that Shaheen, speaking to transportation officials from throughout the region, expressed support for a “whole variety” of move to shore up the federal highway trust fund.
The story said the moves included “raising the gas tax.” It did not quote Shaheen directly, but rather paraphrased her as including a federal tax tax hike among the moves. According to the Concord Monitor, Shaheen’s campaign “could not confirm or deny” if the Herald story accurately reflected her position.
Last week, Shaheen said in a televised interview she would not support a hike in the gasoline tax.
The NHGOP Monday accused Shaheen, of “trying to shift her position and hide her support for a gas tax hike.”
Horn said that with the state gas tax hike having gone into effect on July 1, Shaheen “is trying to walk back her comments and hide her obvious support for more taxes.”
The GOP noted that Shaheen initially pledged to veto broadbased taxes when she ran for governor in 1996 and went on to say, “as your governor, we won’t have one.”
She renewed her pledge against broadbased taxes in 1998, but in 2000, running for a third term as the state struggled to find a solution to the education funding dilemma in the aftermath of the Claremont school funding decision, Shaheen did not take the pledge and went on to propose a sales tax.
The proposal went nowhere at the State House, but Republicans have often recalled her support for a sales tax through the ensuing election years.
Today’s statement from the NHGOP cited Shaheen’s support for a sales tax, saying she has “a history of hiding her position on tax increases during election years.”
Although the state Republican Party has opposed the state gasoline tax hike, opinions are far from unanimous among officials and top activists. The chief sponsor of the bill to hike the “road toll” was Republican state Sen. Jim Rausch, and fellow Republican Sens. David Boutin, Peter Bragdon, Bob Odell and Nancy Stiles backed the bill in the 15-9 roll call vote.
Rausch, Bragdon and Odell are not seeking reelection and Boutin and Stiles have been facing criticism about their vote in direct mail from the conservative issues advocacy group Americans for Prosperity.
Former New Hampshire House speaker Donna Sytek last week posted on her Facebook page:
“With all the hype about the increase in the gas tax I expected to see all the stations post prices 4 cents higher than yesterday, but that didn’t happen. My personal unscientific survey today showed gas selling for a low of $3.52/gal in Derry to a high of $3.75/gal in Salem. Lots higher than last year at this time, but it’s hard to believe that the tax increase alone is going to make the economy grind to a halt. With record prices for crude oil and seasonal variations the gas tax increase like a snowball in an avalanche.”
Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey wrote:
“A number of legislators who voted against this increase are also in business. I asked each to sell me their product at 1991 prices. All demurred. I like low taxes but I want the best roads in America. Iit helps tourism and our economy in general.
“So while I agree with AFP on lots of things, complaining about a 22 percent increase is both misleading and doesn’t consider that it is the first increase in 22 years.”