Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, thank you for opportunity to speak here today.
On behalf of the over 30,000 members of the New Hampshire chapter of Americans for Prosperity, I am here to oppose House Bill 185. This legislation would increase by 25% the tax on heating oil for the fuel oil discharge cleanup fund. We believe that the added burden placed on those who rely on oil heat is coming at exactly the wrong time.
Moreover, we view House Bill 185, coupled with House Bill 617, which increases the gas and diesel tax by 67%, and House Bill 306, which increases electric rates through eliminating RGGI credits, as part of a larger War on Energy Consumers that has come to the Senate from the House. If all three of these bills were to become law, it would cost many New Hampshire residents more to turn on their lights, heat their homes or to drive to work.
At a time when we are seeing historically high energy prices, while simultaneously attempting to recover from a recession, this is exactly the wrong strategy to get our economy moving again, while leaving fewer dollars in the wallets of the hard working families of New Hampshire. AFP-New Hampshire feels that these three pieces of legislation are headed in exactly the wrong direction for our state and will undermine our ability to be more competitive and create jobs.
Beyond this, when many people across the state are already struggling to pay their oil bills, especially with the much-publicized effort by the Obama administration to reduce heating assistance, why would New Hampshire be raising taxes on heating oil?
AFP-New Hampshire believes a better solution for the long term solvency of the fuel oil discharge cleanup fund involves better program management, as well as the legislative changes included in House Bill 184, which, as the Chairman knows, recently was recommended Ought To Pass from the Senate Energy Committee and will be on the Senate floor Thursday.
Finally, if those steps still do not ensure solvency of the fund, then the legislature should consider taking a portion of the tens, if not hundreds, of millions in settlement funds from the MTBE litigation and use a portion of those dollars in this fund to protect the working families of New Hampshire against another energy tax.
For all these reasons, we ask you to find House Bill 185 Inexpedient to Legislate and to look to find ways to look to reduce the tax burden on our citizens, not add to it.