By Rob Roper
There is a bill currently before the House Transportation Committee — “an act relating to transportation initiatives to reduce carbon emissions (H.94) — that any Vermonter who has routinely experienced a miles-long, tooth-rattling ride over pot holes and frost heaves should be concerned about.
The purpose of the bill is to “appropriate money” for a number of climate-change-related programs, such as electric vehicle charging stations and subsidies for electric vehicle purchases, “no-charge” public transportation, electric bicycles, and the like. From where does this bill propose to get this money? From the transportation fund that should be used for road and bridge repair and maintenance. Here are some line items from the bill:
- $4,000,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund for Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Incentive Program.
- $600,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund to support the MileageSmart program, which provides up to $5,000 subsidies for the purchase of high mpg cars.
- $1,000,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund for the Replace Your Ride Program, which provides $3,000 incentive subsides for people buying new cars.
- $50,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund electric bicycles.
- $500,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund for EV charging stations.
- $2,700,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund to subsidize “fare-free” public Transportation.
- $1,200,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund for MTI Grant Fund to reduce use of single occupancy vehicles.
- And, an undefined amount for “compensation shall be provided to members of the Public Transit Advisory Council,” whatever that is.
All for a total of just under $10 million. And this bill has 71 sponsors. It needs 76 “yea” votes to pass the House.
It should be noted that an informal review of climate change policies revealed that Vermonters already spend between $200 and $250 million on these kinds of programs — roughly 25% of all the revenue raised through the personal income tax, just to put it in perspective.
So the next time you’re bouncing along Vermont’s highways and byways racing to make an appointment to have your wheels realigned, remember, your suffering and added expense are going for a good cause. Some dude in Burlington got $5,000 off his new Prius thanks to you.