Editor’s note: This commentary is by Deb Billado, chairwoman of the Vermont GOP.
Last week we told you how the Republican value of School Choice was winning on a local level. This week we are happy to report Republicans are also gaining ground on a tax cut we have been fighting for over the last five years.
The Vermont House of Representatives voted — for the first time — on amendments to give our military retirees a tax break on their pension income. Democrat leadership has resisted letting this even come to a vote on the House floor, even though the Governor and Legislative Republicans have been pushing for a full repeal of state taxes on military retirement income for years.
But instead of agreeing to a full repeal or a reasonable compromise, Democrat leadership stood against our retired military personnel. In fact, more than 75 percent of House Democrats out-right rejected an amendment that would have just partially exempted military retirement income from state taxation. Instead, they pushed through an exemption of the first $10,000 in military pension income — an insultingly low figure that does a disservice to our military retirees in Vermont.
Vermont Republicans have been pushing again, again, and again for years for a full repeal to give our military retirees the break that they well deserve. Yet, thanks to the efforts of Democrat leadership, this proposal was foiled again.
Now some Democrats are getting scared and are starting to see the political writing on the wall. Just this week, Democrat Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy both came out in favor of the repeal of military retirement taxation — standing in stark contrast to their own caucus. It’s about time.
Meanwhile, less than 24 hours later, Sen. Ann Cummings — the chair of the Senate Committee on Finance — reiterated her opposition to this common-sense measure.
Let me be clear: unlike our Democrat counterparts, Vermont Republicans aren’t sending any mixed signals. We have fought, and will continue to fight, for the full repeal of state taxes on military retirement income. We’re one of only three states that fully taxes military pensions. A full repeal is long overdue — not only to support our current military retirees, but to send a welcoming signal to others looking to settle down in Vermont.
It is only because Vermont Republicans have forced the Montpelier Majority to acknowledge this issue that this is even being debated. But while Vermont Democrats remain divided, the VT GOP will continue to stand strong on the side of our military retirees.
If you want to join the Vermont Republicans and show your support then please sign our petition calling for a full repeal of the Military Pension Tax. Once you’ve signed it you can share it with friends and family to help our movement grow stronger and put further pressure on Democrats in power to make this happen.