Welch reluctant to increase gas tax for Transportation Fund

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(Host) Senate president pro tem Peter Welch says he’s reluctant to increase the gas tax as a way to help raise money for the state’s Transportation Fund.

Vermont needs to raise roughly $25 million if the state is going to take full advantage of the new federal Transportation law.

It’s believed that about $10 million could be raised by increasing various transportation related fees and two House committees are also proposing a gas tax increase to raise the additional funds.

Speaking last night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Welch said he’s not backing this approach at this time:

(Welch) “I think in the Senate there’s much more support for fees than there is for the gas tax. You know the gas tax is really hitting people pretty hard these days, especially our farms which use a good deal of diesel fuel. So I think if there’s a way of avoiding a gas tax I think a lot of us would like to find it.”

(Host) Governor Douglas opposes a gas tax increase – instead he’s suggested that lawmakers consider delaying some projects. Welch is calling on the governor to be much more specific:

(Welch) “Well it’s his job to make the proposal. That’s just burden shifting and trying to duck the responsibility. I really think the governor’s got to tell us what projects he thinks should be delayed so we can talk to those communities. And I think if he’s suggesting there be cuts in the budget, all of us obviously are willing to look at that. But he’s got to identify exactly what those are.”

(Host) The House is scheduled to debate the gas tax plan later this week.

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