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VERMONT. Any increase in the gas tax is not an acceptable solution for finding the $24 million we need to match federal funds for highway projects.
The gas tax is a regressive tax, falling disproportionately on the backs of the poor (who spend a higher percentage of income on fuel), rural residents (who need to travel to do basic things like go to work or the grocery store), farmers (who need to run large equipment) and small trade businesses like carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc. (who must often drive several hours a day to and from job sites), just to name a few.
At a time when market forces are already driving gas prices to painfully high levels for all Vermonters, compounding this problem with even higher taxes is both irresponsible and insensitive.
Our state legislators seem to want it both ways. Just this year, Vermont legislators introduced S.228 – a bill disallowing gasoline "price gouging." Last year JRH.031, "Strongly urging the Federal Government to take immediate steps to LOWER (caps added) gasoline prices," passed the House.
Our legislators in Montpelier clearly recognize that high gas prices are a problem, as are high taxes in general. Therefore, FreedomWorks-Vermont urges all our legislators to find the $24 million through spending cuts, and to do so in a way that also restores some Transportation Fund integrity.
Some suggested cuts:
- Bike Path Spending. Vermont already has more bike paths per capita than any other state. We’re number one! Good. But for now we’ve got the bike path issue covered. Let’s reprioritize those dollars to our crumbling roads and bridges.
- Similarly, Vermonters also spend more per capita on rest stops than any other state. While it’s certainly important to have a clean, safe and convenient place to go to the bathroom, is it really necessary to have half-million dollar palaces in which to do so? Again, priorities.
- Amtrak Spending. There is no need to continue subsidizing Amtrak – which has become a clichÃ© for failed policy -- to the tune of 3.3 million a year.
- In this spirit of getting transportation dollars back where they belong in the Transportation Fund, over $38 million is taken out of the Transportation Fund each year for non-transportation purposes. By returning this money to its rightful purpose, we could meet our matching obligations with millions to spare.