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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Editorial Roundup

The Union Leader offers three perspectives on the state's budget crunch on this morning's editorial page.

First, Marie Harris pens a column on the importance of arts funding at the state level:
Leaving aside for a moment the incalculable effects of literature, music, theater, dance, visual art and craft on our personal lives and the lives of our children, consider the considerable leverage a single dollar spent on the arts exerts on overall job creation.

Arts organizations are the source of innumerable skilled and unskilled jobs. They attract audiences to our cities and towns, creating a demand for dozens of support industries from communication and design services to transportation to hospitality to equipment and supplies. And there are many opportunities for technologically related arts jobs in the future in a myriad of e-businesses. Artists themselves are independent small businesspeople whose activities benefit the economy.

The lead editorial argues against raising gas taxes on New Hampshire drivers:

The state gas tax is 18 cents per gallon. House Bill 644 would raise that by 15 cents to 33 cents a gallon over the next two years. New Hampshire would go from having the lowest gas tax of all of its neighbors to having the highest. (We cannot assume that proposed gas taxes in Massachusetts and Vermont will pass.)

Supposedly, New Hampshire cannot pay for all its needed road repairs and maintenance without that extra 15 cents per gallon. Yet the state diverts tens of millions of dollars a year from its highway fund for other purposes, then whines that the highway fund runs out too quickly.

And finally, the editorial page says that drivers with EZ Pass should pay the same as those without:

With widespread adoption of E-ZPass, the justification for the discount is no longer so strong. Why should people who have E-ZPass pay less than people who don't when both produce the same amount of wear on the toll roads?

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