Vermont gas tax could soon be higher; diesel unchanged

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, February 02, 2012

If one Vermont state lawmaker gets her way, motorists could soon be paying a bit more at the fuel pump for at least a little while. Oddly enough, truckers do not have to worry about paying more fuel taxes.

In an effort to help the state recover from Tropical Storm Irene this past August, Rep. Margaret Cheney, D-Norwich, has introduced a bill to increase the excise tax applied to gas to help come up with the money needed by the state to match federal funds.

As introduced, a to-be-determined gas tax increase would remain in place for two years and would be designated solely for local road repairs. The plan does not include a bump in the 29-cent-per-gallon diesel tax, which is nearly a dime higher than the 20-cent-per-gallon gas tax.

The August storm devastated Vermont communities in the southern and central portions. Shortly thereafter Gov. Peter Shumlin said he expected the price tag for reconstruction of roadways in the affected areas to exceed $1 billion.

More than 1,950 segments of local roads, about 917 culverts, and more than 200 bridges owned by municipalities were washed away following the tropical storm, according to Vermont’s regional commissions.

Cheney’s bill is intended to help cover some of the expense of making road and bridge repairs. The plan is touted as a way to get people from throughout the state and outside the state to chip in to cover the costs associated with needed repairs in nearly 40 towns.

A 1-cent increase in the gas tax is estimated to raise $3.3 million.

H540 is in the House Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Vermont, click here.

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