Thursday, March 21, 2013

WVTK Local & State News March 21, 2013

The Vermont House today voted 105-37 to increase the state sales tax on gasoline.  The tax will add a 4 percent increase to the price of gasoline at a time when many small businesses, including farmers and other working Vermonters, are struggling to make ends meet.  Debate over the increase lasted nearly all day yesterday with Republicans proposing various amendments.  The bill is now cleared for a final, formalized vote in the State House within a few weeks.  If it passes, the tax would be phased in over two years.

The Addison Central Supervisory Union Board on Wednesday evening offered the job of superintendent to Peter Burrows, principal of Willamette High School in Eugene, Ore., and Burrows accepted.  Burrows will replace Superintendent Gail Conley, who will retire at the end of June.

A new report is showing thousands of Vermont children are living in poverty.  The report released Wednesday by Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reveals child poverty rates have not improved in 13 years.  The highest rates are in Orleans and Essex Counties with 27-percent of kids living in poverty.  The county with the lowest level is Chittenden, at eleven-percent.  Various organizations in the state are working hard to keep children in their homes and fed, and say they've seen a steady increase in need, blaming unemployment and a high cost of living.

Lawmakers in Montpelier have tabled the idea of new tax to satellite television subscribers.  Satellite subscribers across the state got an email this week telling them the House of representatives is quote "considering a tax hike that will force you to pay 5-percent more EVERY month for the service you love”.  The bill had no sponsor and had been floated by the cable industry.

New York Lawmakers have reached a deal, signing off on a new budget last night.  New York's budget is due each year by the end of March.  Governor Cuomo and legislislative leaders announced last night that they have an agreement on a 136-billion-dollar budget.  That means a spending increase of about 2-percent over last year.  The budget includes plans to raise the minimum wage from 7-25 an hour to 9 dollars an hour, in stages over the next few years,  and a 350-dollar tax rebate for middle class families.

The maple syrup season is on hold right now, due to the most recent storm and very cold weather.  While the sap had been running, temperatures dipping into the teens brought it to a halt.  Owners of maple syrup operations say if there's a frozen obstruction in the one-inch lines running from trees it takes more than one 34-degree day to free it up.  The hope now is the slowly rising temperatures will get the sap flowing once again.

The Vermont State Police will be going cyber tomorrow, joining more than 100 agencies across six countries in one giant Twitter event.  It's a 24-hour Tweet-a-thon to draw attention to the use of social media by law enforcement.  Agencies will tweet using the same hash-tag to create awareness about police work.  So far, the agencies who will take to Twitter tomoow include dozens in the U-S, Canada, England, Sweden, Iceland and Australia.