By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
CONCORD — Voters in state Senate Districts 16 and 24 found fliers in their mailboxes today hitting Republican state Sens. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, and Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, for their support of the recently-passed 4.2 cents-a-gallon hike in the state gasoline tax.
The conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity’s fliers contain grainy black-and-white photos of the two incumbents against a colorful background, stating that each “stood with Gov. Hassan’s plan to increase NH gas taxes,” that each “voted to raise your gas taxes by 23 percent,” and also sponsored the original bill that would have imposed additional automatic increases “every four years.”
That automatic increase provision was later removed by the sponsor, Republican state Sen. Jim Rausch, R-Derry, who is not seeking reelection.
“Middle class NH families can’t afford a (Boutin/Stiles) gas hike,” the fliers say.
Boutin said the mention of the automatic increases in the gas tax in future years “is a false and misleading issue” since the provision was eliminated and is not part of the law.
He criticized AFP pouring “out-of-state money” into the state and said he backed the hike because, “We have a problem with our roads and bridges.
“AFP and Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire (which has criticized Boutin and Stiles in radio and television advertising) are good at saying ‘no’ but they don’t come up with solutions to our problems. We get elected to find solutions.”
He said the tax had not been increased in more than 20 years and also cited the need for the revenue to fix “crumbling roads and bridges” and to continue the Interstate 93 widening project, which, he said, is important to his constituents.
Stiles said she inquired with the Attorney General’s Office about the piece but decided against pursuing any action. She said she “believes in the First Amendment,” but she said she believed parts of the flier were inaccurate.
Stiles is facing a primary challenge from businessman Steve Kenda of North Hampton. Boutin is expected to face a primary challenge from state Rep. Jane Cormier, who recently moved to Hooksett from Alton.
Democrat Patrick Arnold, the former Manchester mayoral candidate, recently said he will not run for the seat.