Organization Calls for Higher Taxes for Wealthy

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(HOST) A small group of wealthy Vermonters is urging Governor Douglas to raise their taxes rather than make cuts to the state’s Medicaid program. The proposal to raise several taxes that are paid primarily by people earning more than $125,000 a year is being organized by a group known as Southern Vermonters for a Fair Economy and Environmental Protection. The organization says it has 1,100 members in the state.

The plan includes higher income and capital gains tax rates, the elimination of a recent corporate income tax cut and imposing the sales tax on professional services. David Ellenbogen is a successful textbook author who lives in Colchester. He says he’d gladly pay higher taxes to provide a strong safety net for Vermonters in need.

(Ellenbogen) “In a spirit of co-operation fairness and justice I feel it is only right that those of us who have been given more economic advantage, even more economic advantage as a result of the Bush tax cuts, be called upon by the state to once again pay our fair share. We need to do this to help Vermonters who are in danger at present of falling through the safety net.”

(HOST) The governor has argued that new tax increases would have to be implemented every year to keep up with the current demands of the Medicaid program. Group spokesperson John Berkowitz says he feels it’s appropriate to raise tax rates until a comprehensive health care reform plan can be put into place.

(Berkowitz) “It could happen that way. But right now we’ve got a deficit of eighty-million dollars. And we need to deal with it. If we need to raise revenue next year, either part of the deficit or all of it, maybe additional tax revenues are called for then too.”

(HOST) The group is hoping to schedule a meeting with the governor in the next few weeks.

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