The Mountain Times

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News from the ledge

It seems the legislature has officially passed into the second half of the session as the cross-over of bills between the House and Senate is underway. I was appreciative of the opportunity given by each of my constituent towns for a brief update to town meeting attendees. Now, after a return to committee work this week, the transportation bill has passed out of my committee with unanimous support.

The t-bill covers some technicalities of the Agency of Transportation operations and the budgetary package. This year, it includes the plan to raise revenue to restore a dramatically plunging shortfall that is the result of changing fuel prices, changing habits and greater vehicle efficiencies. A total of 36.5 million dollars is needed to secure federal match of 56 million dollars and adequately fund roads, highways, bridges and other modes of transportation. The proposed transportation spending reflects a decrease of 800,000 dollars, rather than an increase from 2013. The plan supports the completion of approved projects, including $110,000 dollars in Tropical Storm Irene recovery.

Through a combination of a Transportation Infrastructure Bond (TIB), some difficult cuts in road maintenance and projects, and a carefully structured tax adjustment, the investment in safe roads and bridges will support economic development. It will provide safe mobility of Vermonters, welcoming roads for tourism, and jobs in engineering and construction.

The first phase of tax increase will add a 2% sales tax at the pump from June of this year through December of 2014. In 2015, there will be a downward adjustment of 5.9 cents in the current per gallon tax, as well as an additional 2% sales tax. A consumer price index (CPI ) sensitivity is built into the per gallon tax as an insurance to the revenue plan, with a minimal impact to the consumer. 
Calculate your average annual miles, and divide by your average mpg, then multiply your answer by .067 (the tax on average current prices) and you will see an approximation of the annual cost to you. It is likely considerably less than a pothole damage repair.

The Appropriations committee just passed this bill out of their committee last Friday afternoon with a 9-2 vote. The House will vote on it next week, perhaps as early as March 19 or 20. Stay tuned.

Call or e-mail with your concerns anne.l.gallivan@gmail.com or 483-2854.