Saturday, March 14, 2009

Shouldn't The Government Abide By The Constitution?

Why is it government, federal and state, figure they aren't required to abide by either the US or state constitutions? President Obama figures the US Constitution is more of a guideline rather than the law. Governors and/or legislators figure their state constitutions don't apply to them, particularly when it comes to taxes, spending, and restrictions on freedoms.

In my home state of New Hampshire, both the Legislature and the Governor decided some time ago they could ignore constitutionally mandated funding and raid the state highway fund and use the money for purposes other than those required. Though the present governor made mention in the past that the highway find isn't an ATM to be used by the legislature, he's done nothing to stop them from doing just that.

As the New Hampshire state constitution says in Part II:


[Art.] 6-a. [Use of Certain Revenues Restricted to Highways.] All revenue in excess of the necessary cost of collection and administration accruing to the state from registration fees, operators’ licenses, gasoline road tolls or any other special charges or taxes with respect to the operation of motor vehicles or the sale or consumption of motor vehicle fuels shall be appropriated and used exclusively for the construction, reconstruction and maintenance of public highways within this state, including the supervision of traffic thereon and payment of the interest and principal of obligations incurred for said purposes; and no part of such revenues shall, by transfer of funds or otherwise, be diverted to any other purpose whatsoever. (emphasis added)

That seems pretty straightforward to me. There's little, if any, wiggle room. The taxes and fees collected as described in the article must be spent as the article states. I don't see any exceptions, nor any ambiguities that would allow the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars out of the highway fund to a general revenue fund to be used for purposes that have nothing to do with our highways.

This theft, for that's what it is, has left the highway fund short well over $100 million and that deficit is growing. The answer from the state legislature to fill this hole?

Raise the gas taxes by 15¢.

Yeah, as if the Legislature won't steal that money, too. They've already talked about using the extra revenue to fund and subsidize a commuter rail line between New Hampshire's biggest city, Manchester, and Lowell, Massachusetts. Never mind that to do so would be unconstitutional as a rail line can in no way be considered a highway.

Of course all they would really need to do is return the money they've 'appropriated' from the highway fund and the 'need' for the gas tax hike would disappear. But that would also mean they wouldn't be able to fund a host of other pet projects and unneeded social programs.

It's time for the New Hampshire state legislature to start following the law. It's also time for President Obama to reread the US Constitution and discover that none of his beliefs about the necessity to 'redistribute the wealth' is written anywhere in that document. (But then we must remember that like most leftists, he believes the Constitution is a 'living' document that can be ignored when it's inconvenient for them to follow it.)

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