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Legislative Notes for March 28, 2013

March 27, 2013

Increasing taxes was again the buzz around the Statehouse this week. The transportation bill came to the floor carrying a complicated funding formula that included an automatic escalator and proposals to increase the gas tax. The first increase of 6.7 cents per gallon would begin on May 1st and another increase on July 1, 2014. I did not support this increase and know that there were far more acceptable alternatives to funding our transportation needs than to raise the taxes on gas in this manner.

I understand that our transportation infrastructure (roads and bridges) are the heart and soul of our economy and ultimately of our state. We should not neglect it or short change other important programs to pay for it. However, over the last decade million of dollars have been re-directed from the transportation fund to other programs. This raiding of the transportation fund has played a major role in creating the problem we face today.

Understanding the importance of this issue led me to look for alternatives to the proposal that was being brought forth by the House transportation committee. I wanted to make sure that our alternatives raised an adequate amount of state dollars to allow us to draw down the maximum available federal dollars, included a plan to eventually eliminate future fund transfers, required all highway users pay a fair and equitable share of the costs associated with our highway infrastructure, required the Agency of Transportation, the largest state agency to identify efficiencies within their operation for future savings, prohibited the future automatic increases in the gas tax and finally an alternative to raising the gas tax. During the debate on the House floor, we proposed four amendments that accomplished all of these objectives. Unfortunately, they were all defeated which left me no alternative but to vote “NO” on the bill.

Many of my constituents and over 13000 other Vermonters have expressed their opposition to raising taxes on gas. The burden of this regressive tax will likely be carried by working Vermonters, people who have already seen a deduction in their pay as a result of the federal government and an increase in their property taxes passed by the legislature earlier this year. With an abundant of other tax increase proposals pending in the legislature, I have become even more concerned about the cost of living in Vermont. If we do not get our spending under control and our finances in order none of us are going to be able to afford to live here. As a result, I will not be supporting any new programs, expansion of existing programs or new revenue.

I look forward to representing you and your concerns in Montpelier. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I am very interested in hearing from you. During the session, I can be reached at the Statehouse by calling 1-800-322-5616 or by cell at 373-5960. My email address is dturner@leg.state.vt.us. My web-site address is www.donturnerjr.com. Thank you and have a great week.

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