Republicans seek public input

MONTPELIER – The Vermont Republican Party is looking to the public to share their thoughts on how to make the state a more affordable place to live.

On Wednesday, the state Republican Party launched a website called “Make Vermont Affordable,” which invites members of the public to share their stories of struggles to pay the bills, and to sign a petition in opposition of a proposed carbon tax.

“This will be a forum for interaction on the issues that are being discussed in Montpelier that affect affordability and growth in Vermont,” said David Sunderland, chairman of the Vermont Republican Party.

David Sunderland (VPR photo)

David Sunderland (VPR photo)

With an image of a road sign bearing the words “GAS TAX INCREASE AHEAD,” the website – which can be found online at www.makevermontaffordable.com – invites visitors to sign a petition to “stop the crushing tax on working Vermonters.”

For the past week, the state Republican Party has been rallying the troops to oppose a pair of draft bills expected to be introduced during the upcoming legislative session in January that would impose a carbon tax and could raise gasoline prices by as much as 88 cents a gallon.

The bills include language stating nearly all of the revenue collected – 90 percent for one bill, and 80 percent for the other – would be used to offset other taxes, especially for poor Vermonters who would be hit hardest by the regressive tax.

Environmental advocates argue a carbon tax is an effective way to discourage people from using fossil fuels. A proposal from these advocates nearly a year ago to tax carbon was dead on arrival when the legislature convened in January, and some political observers believe it equally unlikely carbon tax will gain any traction during the upcoming session, which precedes an election year.

Still, Sunderland said he believes a carbon tax could be in the cards come January.
“It’s possible this will happen,” Sunderland said. “If you look to the past, nobody in million years would have ever thought we would enact state-run, single-payer health care, but it happened.”

The website repeats many of the positions that can be found on the VT GOP’s website, blaming Democrats for job losses, businesses closing their doors and high property taxes, while inviting the public to “share your story with us.”

Users can leave comments and answer the proposed question, “What do you think we should do to make Vermont an affordable place to live again?”

Sunderland said it is too early to decide what the party will do with these comments, and whether they will be posted online.

“We are going to stay on the side of working-class Vermonters, and this is a way for the public to interact with us on the things we are involved in,” Sunderland said.

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