Commentary

LaClair/Savage: why won’t Legislature support military retirees?

By Rep. Rob LaClair and Rep. Brian Savage

For the past 5+ years, Vermont House Republicans have been working to exempt military retirement pay from state income taxes. Governor Scott has included this commonsense measure in every single budget he has proposed to the Legislature. In fact, Vermont is one of only three states that fully taxes military retirement income. Yet each and every year, the majority in Montpelier refuses to let this bill even be debated by the full House of Representatives. It simply dies slowly in committee.

But this April, things changed. The Vermont Democrats were eager to get a revenue-raising bill out of their committee, Senate Bill 53. This bill raises mutual fund fees by $6 million, the highest levels in the nation, and creates a new “cloud tax” on prewritten software. Bear in mind that these tax and fee increases are being proposed in a year when Vermont is receiving billions in unanticipated revenue windfalls and federal COVID-19 support. Let us be clear: there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to raise Vermonters’ taxes at a time when they need economic relief more than ever.

In order to maintain the illusion of affordability, the majority party attached an exemption of the first $10,000 in military retirement pay from state income taxes to this bill. This is an insulting half-measure. It would create one of the weakest military retirement relief schemes in the nation, and by far the weakest in the New England states.

A bipartisan group of legislators tried to raise this exemption to the first $30,000 of military retirement pay; a more reasonable step in the right direction. This modest amendment failed. Even though more than 90 percent of Republicans supported the measure, it died on the House floor because more than 75 percent of Democrats voted against it.

This is not about money. The cost of a $30,000 exemption would have been less than $2 million per year, while the cost of a full repeal would have been less than $3 million per year. This is a microscopic portion of Vermont’s $7 billion budget, which will be boosted by even more federal aid dollars this year.

Now more than ever is the right time to give our military retirees a break. Refusing to do so not only sends a poor signal to military retirees already living in Vermont, it also discourages military retirees from around the country from looking to Vermont as a place to settle down.

In the midst of our efforts to reboot our economy and, in light of billions in extra revenue, we should not be raising taxes. We should be finding ways to provide relief. That starts with giving our military retirees a long overdue break, just like nearly every state in the country has already done.

Representative Rob LaClair (R-Barre Town) is the Vermont House Co-Assistant Minority Leader.  He serves on the House Committee on Government Operations

Representative Brian Savage (R-Swanton) is the Vermont House Co-Assistant Minority Leader. He serves on the House Transportation Committee

Categories: Commentary

7 replies »

  1. WHAT IS wrong here? Taxing the BENEFITS of those who have Served our STATE and COUNTRY? MONEY HUNGRY BASTARDS in MONTPECULAIR!!

  2. Yet another failure of the progressive orthodoxy. Diversity in all things except thought. Not even allowing debate on a recurring (at least 5 years in a row) bill. Several hundred military members retire annually in Vermont, but the number of military retirees living here remains static or slightly declines each year. They move and get a significant pay boost. Meanwhile we pay for 2,500 homeless people to live in hotel rooms… huh?

  3. Since the left has transitioned us away from any semblance of a merit-based society into one that worships victimhood, we value homelessness over public service when it comes to doling out benefits. Besides that, a tax break based on merit is not really a “benefit”, it is deserved. The freebees handed out to those who claim to not have a place to live is pure, non-entitlement welfare based on the honor system.

  4. Military retirees have a strong work ethic, are used to solving problems and getting the mission accomplished as a course of their day to day existence and they are generally very conservative.
    In my opinion, the progressives who control this administration and the legislature don’t want retired military to move to Vermont or remain here; they want more homeless, socially and economically disadvantaged aliens who will be more dependent upon the government so that the state government can expand. They don’t want more skilled, conscientious residents who don’t need their handouts.

  5. These people had better not talk about how much they support and appreciate the military after all this. Much as I love VT, I’ll be gone within a year- it’s not the state I grew up in.

    • That’s exactly what they want you to do Bill. If you don’t agree with their progressive ideology, they want you to leave to make more room for more dependent sheep.

  6. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. When Vermonter’s go to the polls and vote for the same candidates voting cycle after voting cycle you end up with the same poor representation you already had. Wake up!!!

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