Granite Staters Commute Longer Than Most, Paying Quarter Billion In Income Taxes To Massachusetts

Correction: A calculation error in the text on the fourth slide has been corrected.
At 6:15 every morning, Christine Suchecki leaves her house in Windham, NH, and spends the next hour and twenty minutes driving almost 40 miles to her job as a nurse in Boston. Her husband drives in a similar direction, to Waltham, MA. “We just look at it as either you’re going to pay financially in your proximity to the city, or with time in your commute,” Suchecki says.

Suchecki and her husband are among the more than 80,000 Granite Staters who commute down to Massachusetts each day for work. In fact, only people traveling between Maryland and the District of Columbia commute across state lines more than Granite Staters.

Together, New Hampshire residents earned more than $6 billion in income in Massachusetts in 2011. They pay around $250 million in taxes to the state of Massachusetts each year.

Because of traffic congestion, commuters who drive into Boston – like Suchecki – spend 53 extra hours a year in their cars on average, according to a report from Texas A&M University. Suchecki says most of the traffic she hits is near the Leverett Connector in Massachusetts, not in New Hampshire. But NHDOT’s Bill Boynton says near the Massachusetts border, I-93 carries more than twice as many cars as it was built to carry in the 1960’s. That’s why the state has embarked on its $800 million effort to widen I-93.

Boynton says about $163 million in new and ongoing projects will be starting up again this season near the border as the ground thaws. $250 million is still needed to widen I-93 between Salem and Manchester.

While Christine Suchecki is getting into her car in Windham each morning, Stacey Smith is stepping onto a train in Dover. She spends an hour and forty minutes getting to work in Boston each day. Smith says she took the job because of the train, and “wouldn’t even entertain driving.” The train is less stressful, she says, and more enjoyable because of what she calls her “train clan.” “There’s a subculture that emerges,” Smith says. “We’re there for each other.”

Smith spends $299 every month on train fare. She says she’d like to be able to visit friends in Nashua and Concord by train, too, though that’s a long and hotly debated topic in the state.

In February, Governor Hassan and the Executive Council approved a $3.9 million feasibility study of the Capitol Corridor Rail Project – which would bring a commuter rail line through Nashua and Manchester, to Concord. Around the same time, Nashua city Aldermen approved $1.4 million in spending for a six-acre tract of land to be used as a potential rail station.

Comments

  • PJ

    Great maps, but one quick thing to note: 13,000 is about 1 percent of NH’s population, not 10 percent (on the last map). I hope this helps!

  • Peter Hudson

    That’ss great, but hopeful those commuters leave that Mass – Ideology behind…

  • ds

    You would think with the state of Massachsetts collecting all that income tax they would give our children “in state status” for college entry!

  • df

    No need for a commuter rail from Nashua to Concord while the good paying jobs are in Mass. spend some of the 3.9 million on figuring out how to attract high paying employers/industries. Imagine NH families keeping $250 Million per year in the state instead of paying it to Mass income tax

  • Mark Trafton

    Seems that the quarter billion dollars in NH residents´ income paid to Mass. and lost to NH is due to our states “religious”, and knee-jerk opposition to taxing income, based on one´s ability to pay. This loss is an unavoidable cost of reliance on property taxes, one of the most regressive ways to tax people. It is punitive and confiscatory to those who are not wealhty. Maybe some of the myths of the so-called “NH Advantage” are becoming more visible to more people. Seems that that maybe the real benefactors of the NH Advantage are tax coffers of Massachusetts and Maine.

  • John Dough

    Seems like the 80,000 NH residents who derive $6 billion in income have more to gain from passenger rail than the other 1.24 million residents. Why don’t they pay for it?

    It also looks like MA gains more in income taxes ($250 million per year!) than NH does ($0) from those 80,000 workers. Maybe MA should pay for it.

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