(Host) Congressman Peter Welch is sponsoring legislation to provide tax relief for middle income Vermonters. The proposal includes $7 billion in new tax credits for child care, adult dependent care and higher education.
VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) Welch says the legislation is needed because many middle class families in Vermont are facing enormous financial challenges.
Welch made his remarks in a playroom at the Family Center of Washington County – a group that provides a variety of services to over 3700 adults and children.
Standing in a playroom with brightly colored floor tiles, Welch said many middle class families are having a very difficult time coping with the rising cost of gasoline, heating oil and health care:
(Welch) "I’m coming home every single weekend to visit Vermonters, and what I’m hearing from one corner of the state to another is how people are struggling. My conviction is that Congress has to have a long term commitment to the middle class and that commitment was really neglected in the policies of the previous Congresses, which put too much emphasis on helping those who are already doing quite fine."
Welch’s plan would double the existing child care tax credit, it increases eligibility levels for people who provide dependent care to family members, and it expands higher education tax credits.
Welch says paying for these programs is a matter of realigning national priorities:
(Welch) "That’s less than 2 weeks of Iraq and as we make that direct comparison I think more and more Vermonters and Americans are going to insist that we change priorities."
Liz Emmons is a mother of a 15-month-old child and she expects another baby in April.
She and her husband work full time and she says they definitely feel the burden of higher expenses:
(Emmons) "The costs of everything have done nothing but increase we are definitely feeling struggles I’m sure that many have had for a long time in just we’re right smack tab in the middle and it just seems like right now there’s no relief anyway you look around."
Welch says he’s also backing efforts to limit the impact of the alternative minimum tax. The tax was originally implemented to make certain that wealthy people couldn’t escape paying income taxes.
But Welch says that more and more middle income families are falling under the provisions of the AMT, and that’s why he’s strongly backing efforts to limit the use of this tax in the future.
For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.