Secretary says Douglas reluctant to sign package with payroll tax

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According to Administration Secretary Charlie Smith, Governor Jim Douglas will have a very difficult time signing on to a compromise health care reform package that includes a payroll tax.

Speaking last night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Smith said the governor believes a payroll tax, like the one proposed in the Senate plan, will hurt economic development efforts and will undoubtedly be raised by lawmakers in the future:

(Smith) “We also don’t think as we look at the Senate plan as a whole that’s there’s much likelihood that the payroll tax stops at three percent. This gets into issues beyond the financing issue but we see a much higher and larger horizon for where an open ended broad based tax would be likely to go in the process of a growing ambition to finance more and more health care under the Senate plan.”

(HOST) House and Senate negotiators are now meeting in an effort to draft a compromise bill. House Health Care chairman John Tracy, says he likes the philosophy behind the Senate’s payroll tax.

But he says he’s concerned that both the Senate plan and the governor’s proposal represent only incremental change to the state’s health care system:

(Tracy) “It’s kind of like building yet another addition on to this house that we’ve been building additions to as time goes along. And I think we need to re-engineer the way we design health care and make it more integrated.”

(HOST) Tracy says he remains optimistic that a compromise plan will be adopted by the Legislature and signed by the Governor before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

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