Vt. lawmakers reach deal on gas tax - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. lawmakers reach deal on gas tax

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From large truck stops, to mom and pop shops, prices at the pump across Vermont are expected to jump soon. Wednesday, members of the House and Senate reached agreement on a compromise transportation bill. It covers three years, and will raise the effective gas tax by 6 cents this May, and the diesel tax by 2 cents come July.

"We have a bill Vermonters can afford, yet maintain our bridges and highways," said Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle County.

But lawmakers say the tax is just a patch. They're looking to Washington, D.C., for a long-term solution. Federal rates haven't changed for 21 years. Taxes currently cost Vermonters about 45 cents per gallon of gas-- 27 cents of which is due to Vermont. Under the new plan, that tax will go to 51 cents on every gallon of gas.

Diesel currently registers 29 cents per gallon in tax, but will be bumped to 31 cents this July and 33 cents a year later.

Legislators say the consumption tax model is outdated, but will suffice until mileage-based methods are feasible.

"I just feel that it would put a lot of pressure on people who have to travel to work," said Roy Blanchard of St. Johnsbury.

Blanchard commutes 25-50 miles a day. We caught up with him as he refueled with a little lunch. Blanchard says the roads need work, but worries about the cost to residents.

"I can do it, but I wonder how many low-income people will have a tough time with it," Blanchard said.

He says he's never considered making the short trip from where he works in Wells River to New Hampshire to fuel up. Wednesday, it wouldn't earn him much in savings; the price only currently differs by 2 cents.

New Hampshire's House recently passed a proposed 12-cent hike to its gas tax. The change would occur over three years and bring the Granite State's tax to 30 cents a gallon. At least six states are considering raising gas taxes this year.

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