Friday, January 16, 2015

WVTK Local & State News January 16, 2015

The Public Service Board wants the state’s high court to send back Phase 1 of Vermont Gas Systems’ pipeline case so they can take another look. In an order issued earlier today, the board said that the estimate for the project has increased twice from the original $86.6 million to $121.6 million, and then to $153.6 million. They want to look at whether the pipeline is still in the public good.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is proposing a payroll tax hike on state businesses as part of his budget. Shumlin delivered his budget address to lawmakers yesterday, saying it is his most difficult budget yet. The governor says the payroll tax increase would raise 41-million-dollars and would be matched with 45-million-dollars from the federal government.

The Cuomo Administration has outlined a $1 billion broadband program for the Empire State. A press release says the New NY Broadband Program would use public and private resources to ensure every New Yorkers has access to high-speed internet by 2019. The $500 million program, would utilize capital funds from bank settlements to incentivize the private sector to expand high-speed broadband access in underserved and unserved areas.

A new study says legalizing marijuana in Vermont could produce millions in tax revenue if no other nearby states also allow it. That was one estimate in the Rand Corporation study released today of what legalization could mean for the state. The study says legalization could generate up to $75 million a year in tax revenue. Gov. Peter Shumlin has said Vermont should eventually legalize marijuana, but he wants to learn from the experiences of the state of Washington and Colorado first.

Vermont's Agency of Transportation has started a statewide study on bicycle use. It's collecting information in the busiest bike-use corridors in the state. Data will be gathered through the spring. The state plans to release its rankings of roads that see the most use and those which are most in need of upgrades. The improvements could include signage, striping and widening.