This weekend, the Union Leader reported on how the New Hampshire Republican Senate candidates' refusal to support suspending the gas tax has caused chaos among New Hampshire Republicans — pitting the GOP Senate field against Republican leaders. Chuck Morse is a thorn in Chris Sununu’s side as Sununu is desperately trying — and failing — to get the legislature to pass a state gas tax break. For Morse, “a gas tax break is not his top priority” and instead of offering solutions to lower costs, he continues “to box himself in” on the issue to remain in the good graces of Big Oil. While Morse is blocking progress in the legislature, Sununu has resorted to “injecting election politics” into the discussion to distract from his abject failure to get his Republican legislature to lower costs for Granite Staters. Meanwhile, the gas tax issue “has revealed splits among Republicans running for other offices,” like Kevin Smith, who was lambasted by a Republican at a GOP press conference last week for opposing Senator Hassan’s proposal to suspend the gas tax. Read more below: Union Leader: As other states move, Sununu pleads for gas tax break
With several states moving quickly to suspend their gas taxes, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu pleaded with the Republican-led Legislature to give drivers some relief from soaring prices at the pump.
On that front, House budget writers stumbled badly out of the starting blocks, offering and then dropping two attempts to craft some cash benefit for New Hampshire car and truck owners.
But now Sununu finds himself playing catch-up, watching his peers from both parties help their residents:
—Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a conservative Republican, signed a state law suspending his state's 29.1-cent gas tax for three months starting March 11.
—Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a moderate Republican, signed his own 30-day suspension of that state's 36.1-cent tax effective March 16. Last week, he said the state should consider extending it another few months.
—Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a liberal Democrat, will within days make his state the third to act, signing a 90-day suspension of its 25-cent tax unanimously adopted by the legislature.
—California Gov. Gavin Newsom, also a liberal Democrat, predicted he would soon have the most ambitious proposal, which would hand residents up to two $400 debit cards to offset the 53.3-cent gas tax in the Golden State, where prices average $5.90 a gallon.
Senate President Chuck Morse of Salem, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate, said a gas tax break is not his top priority.
Morse won’t say it publicly, but he appeared to box himself in on the issue by calling Hassan’s federal gas tax holiday a “phony gimmick.”
Late last week, Hassan said her tax-cutting record in the Senate included doubling the research and development tax credit as governor and cutting taxes for small businesses hit hard during the pandemic.
"As governor and senator, I have successfully cut taxes many times, for small businesses, Gold Star families, parents, and New Hampshire start-ups," Hassan said in a statement.
"As the governor knows, it is members of his own party — including Chuck Morse — who are blocking action to help bring down gas prices and provide Granite Staters with much-needed relief."
The issue has revealed splits among Republicans running for other offices.
GOP Senate candidate Kevin Smith of Londonderry ridiculed the federal tax holiday.
But Gail Huff Brown of Rye, a GOP hopeful for the U.S. House, disagreed.
"I don't think it's just malarkey that we have to find a way to put money into people's pockets," Huff Brown said.
"Don't talk to me about the long-term debt and government spending. We need money in people's pockets."