The Vermont House is debating legislation that makes a significant change in the way that the state taxes the sale of gasoline.
The bill moves the state away from the current per gallon tax and towards a sales tax on the price of gas.
Backers of the bill say it’s needed because gas sales have dropped dramatically over the past 7 years. And that’s resulted in a $35 million shortfall in the Transportation Fund.
House Transportation chairman Pat Brennan says that unless more revenue is raised, the state will not be able to take advantage of all the federal matching funds that are available to help repair roads and bridges across the state:
"This downward trend in gasoline consumption is not going to stop it’s going to increase. This kind of puts us between a rock and a hard place in the fact that we need to generate money to reconstruct our transportation system and a key component of a our revenue the fixed cent per gallon is declining," Brennan said.
And Brennan says imposing a 2 percent tax on the price of gas, which amounts to a roughly 8 cent increase, is the best way for the state to meet its transportation obligations:
"We are suffering declining revenues that will decimate our infrastructure going forward. What H510 does is shift the gasoline tax primarily from a fixed cent per gallon and a percentage tax," Brennan said.
The House will consider a number of amendments to the bill Wednesday afternoon and legislative leaders expect an active debate over some of these proposals.