Pollina takes aim at Douglas’s budget plan

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(Host) Progressive gubernatorial candidate Anthony Pollina says Governor Jim Douglas’s budget plan will increase taxes for low and middle income Vermonters and will give tax cuts to wealthier people in the state.

Pollina says his budget priorities would be very different.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) In his first formal press conference as a gubernatorial candidate, Pollina made it very clear that his approach to the budget problems facing the state will be very different from those of 3 term incumbent Republican governor Jim Douglas.

Pollina criticized Douglas for backing higher premiums for Vermonters enrolled in the state’s Medicaid programs and he said the governor had failed to properly fund local bridge projects – a move that Pollina says will lead to higher local property taxes:

(Pollina) "I want the governor to understand as I think most of us do that ignoring problems is not a solution…so these costs too are going to be shifted to local communities and local taxpayers and for a governor who talks a lot about making Vermont affordable and a governor who talks a lot about avoiding tax increases these shifts are a very different story and they gives us a reality that does not match the governor’s rhetoric."

(Kinzel) Pollina says Douglas’s proposal to eliminate the so called 40% capital gains tax exemption also highlights the different philosophies of the two candidates.

Douglas wants to use the roughly $20 million from the tax change to lower income tax rates for middle and upper income Vermonters.

Pollina wants to target part of the money for transportation programs and he hopes to leverage a lot of federal funds for these projects:

(Pollina)"It’s a good idea.  But here again, Douglas gets it wrong.  He doesn’t propose to address the needs of most Vermonters.  What he does want to do is cut income taxes for wealthier Vermonters, many of whom are the same people who benefited from the capital gains tax loophole in the first place, not to mention the Bush tax cuts."  

(Kinzel) Jason Gibbs is Douglas’s Press Secretary. He says Pollina’s analysis of the Governor’s budget isn’t accurate:

(Gibbs) "Well he’s wrong these are the same tired criticisms we’ve heard from other folks at the Statehouse without regard to the facts."

(Kinzel) And Gibbs says the governor’s plan to use money from changing the capital gains tax will primarily benefit middle income people:

(Gibbs) "The vast majority of the $21 million that’s generated by closing the loophole goes to the two middle income brackets it’s inaccurate it’s a mischaracterization to say that it’s somehow an income tax for the wealthiest it’s true that the governor is proposing to lower the top marginal rate but the purpose for that is to encourage job creation."

(Kinzel) Gibbs says the Administration does face some challenges in the funding of local transportation projects but he argues that there’s enough money in the Agency’s existing budget to address many of these needs.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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