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Tax bill wins preliminary approval in Vt. House - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Tax bill wins preliminary approval in Vt. House

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Wednesday, the Vt. House of Representatives began debate on spending and revenue plans voted out of committee last Friday. Before the measure could hit the floor, Gov. Peter Shumlin voiced his opinion during his weekly press conference.

"Obviously it doesn't do everything that I wish, but no budget does," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.

The governor praised the House Appropriations Committee, which has suggested spending less than the governor did this January. But Ways and Means-- tasked with generating revenue-- ignored the governor's request not to raise income, meals or sales taxes.

"I would go for the highest building I could find to jump, to make sure that I wasn't here to see the tax package become law," Shumlin said.

While House members and the governor largely agree on funding priorities, they can't agree on the numbers. Both claim the other plans will take more out of the wallets of Vermonters.

"I think it's healthy for the political process that we have disagreement," said Rep. Shap Smith, D-Vt. House Speaker.

The governor believes taxing break-open tickets could generate $17 million. The House saw only $7 million and scrapped the plan.

"We just weren't willing to take that bet," Smith said.

Instead, the House plan raises an additional $27 million over this year's system, by limiting tax deductions, raising taxes on the top bracket and making changes to the sales tax, among other small tweaks.

"There's a point of no return on progressive taxation," Shumlin said.

Speaker Smith says they fund needed programs, and refill reserves, with fears that federal funding may dry up. Governor Shumlin refuses to say if he would veto such a bill should it pass.

The bill won preliminary approval Wednesday evening on a vote of 85-55. The measure needs final House approval before going to the Senate.

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