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Transportation bill increases road funds

Was it smoke and mirrors, or is the current Vermont transportation bill really going to use only existing taxes without increasing either local or state taxes? Ed Mann, a conservative citizen critic of the Vermont legislature, and an opponent of state and local tax increases, said he wasnt so sure. The Vermont House last week passed a transportation bill that increases funding for town highway aid by over $2 million. The House restored $1 million in cuts made by Gov. Jim Douglas; the funds were restored to the Vermont Town Highway Class 2 Roadway paving. The House also added $1.2 million to town highway state aid to recognize the increases in costs of road maintenance. According to Democrat house source Alexandra MacLean, Two-thirds of the state's roads and bridges are maintained by towns and municipalities. Without state aid, towns and municipalities have no choice but to raise property taxes to pay for critical improvements to roads and bridges. The governor's proposed cuts to towns would have increased municipal property taxes. In addition to restoring funding for towns, the transportation bill creates a special fund so that, going forward, existing sources of revenues will be dedicated to towns and municipalities (8 percent of gas tax revenues and 9 percent of diesel tax revenues). The goal of this move is to provide more stability and consistency to town highway aid so towns can know better what to expect in state aid. According to Mann, State aid is just a fancy term for tax moneythis isnt free, funny money; it comes from the taxpayers. So, Id like to see how this bill will be executed without any state tax increases. The governor was made to look like the bad guy for trying to save the state money, but then thats business as usual in Montpelier.

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