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Douglas: Ag relief plan is one more tax hike

Gov. Jim Douglas today expressed his disappointment that Democrat leaders in the House and Senate are supporting the House Agriculture Committees plan to increase the property transfer tax. The house committee has proposed to increase the property transfer tax by $3.7 million to fund a the continuation of an $8.9 million emergency farm-relief package proposed by Douglas, and approved by the emergency board, in July. The governor said he understands the needs of Vermonts farmers, but not the Democrat Partys desire to raise taxes. Im very willing to look at ways to fund a continuation of my farm relief package using existing revenue. But I cannot support raising a tax that makes Vermont less affordable for renters, small businesses and camp owners, among others, the governor said. We must take more aggressive steps to make Vermont more affordable and our families more prosperous. Thats why I will continue to advocate for legislation that is consistent with my Affordability Agenda and oppose legislation that is not. This proposal fails the affordability test. In an ironic twist pointed about by the governor, only hours before endorsing the $3.7 million tax hike, Sen. Shumlin said: There is no more tax capacity in Vermont. There is no more money in the bank. Heres the bottom line, Douglas said, Achieving the prosperity and peace of mind we desire for every generation of Vermonters requires that we take steps now to moderate the cost of living. This property transfer tax will make Vermont less affordable for Vermonters and I wont support it. Douglas Affordability Agendaa plan to cap property taxes, reduce health care costs and make homeownership and higher education more affordableis a centerpiece of his legislative agenda.

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