March 2019

Bill to double heating-oil tax advances in Vermont House

Gov disagrees, hasn't committed to veto

Article courtesy: MyChamplainValley.com

By: Spencer Conlin

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Vermont Gov. Phill Scott told reporters Thursday that a proposal to double the tax on home heating oil is a step in the wrong direction, but he has not yet decided whether he’ll attempt to veto the bill if it gets to his desk.

House lamakers approved the measure Wednesday and say the additional revenue generated would be used to bolster the state’s weatherization assistance fund.

The Joint Fiscal Office projects the new four-cent per gallon tax would generate an additional $4.6 million for the fund, which helps low-income homeowners make efficiency improvements and reduce carbon emissions.

But opponents say it would end up hurting the very Vermonters it’s supposed to help.

Matt Cota of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association said two cents might not seem a lot, but “it is a big deal for those that are on a fixed income.

“It’s a big deal for people who will never realize benefits for the low-income weatherization program,” Cota said.

An amendment to reduce the increase to one cent was rejected.

Cota and other opponents to the bill could be the breaking point for renters, homeowners and businesses.

“You have to meet certain income criteria in order to receive weatherization services, so two pennies may not seem much. But that is real money for people working on fixed incomes,” said Cota.

The House will also consider exemptions to the tax for nonprofits like hospitals or churches.