Radio Host Gets Legislator to Admit TCI Is a Tax

January 6, 2020

by Rob Roper

WDEV’s morning host, Dave Gram, likes taxes and doesn’t like it when people refuse to call a tax a tax, which, he feels, demeans taxes. This led to a clarifying exchange between himself and Rep. John Killacky (D-S. Burlington) on December 31 over the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), which is nothing more than a regional carbon tax on motor fuels. Here are the transcript highlights:

JK. The other big dance [in the upcoming legislative session] is going to be this regional pact, the

Rep. John Killacky

Climate Initiative.

DG. The Transportation Climate Initiative.

JK. The governor has now put out a draft MOU to have Vermont join with eleven other states and the District of Columbia to do a cap and trade on carbon emissions. It’s a really interesting idea. Some people are calling it a carbon tax. I don’t think of it as a carbon tax. It’s a regional thing, and what happens is the money that is going to be taken out of this will be invested back into green energy and a green economy here in Vermont. And, if these other states do it surrounding us and Vermont doesn’t do it, the money will be invested in Maine and New Hampshire [Note: NH has already pulled out of the program.] and different places, so, it seems to me– but to get twelve states to agree is going to be interesting and to get our state – I think the legislature and the Democrats seem see the validity and the importance of this. The governor – he put out the draft, so I think he’s testing the waters on this….

DG. I’m going to give you a little push back on this tax thing. I’ll tell ya. I’m somebody who likes to keep language as clear and simple and direct as possible. That’s what I’ve always pushed for in my work as a reporter and also these days on the radio. I like to call things what they are…. I think shying away from that word sort of leaves a lot of voters with the impression that you’re trying to dodge something. I’m saying, if it is a tax, if we need to have a tax…. Why can’t we call things what they are?

JK. Well, you know Dave, I don’t mind calling it a tax. I think the distinction I hear, and maybe it doesn’t change that in your framework it could a tax, is that it’s invested back into the state. That this money isn’t just –

DG. That’s all the taxes that we pay! I pay taxes and it’s invested back into public safety. It’s invested back into (Talking over each other)

JK. Okay, then, I-I don’t disagree with you.

DG. When people hear people say, uh, it’s not a tax, it’s a fee or some other magical formula where, yes, you’re going to pay more money but we’re going to get all these benefits. I thought that’s what other taxes are….

Yes, that is what all taxes are, and TCI is a tax. A $20-$90 million carbon tax (5¢ – 17¢ per gallon) on Vermont drivers.

Proponents of TCI, like Rep. Killacky and many others, have been traveling the state in advance of the legislative session to peddle the notion that TCI is not a tax because the money raised will be “invested” in government programs with the full expectation that we, dumb citizens, will buy actually buy it. This is perhaps one of most absurd and disingenuous arguments ever put forward by elected officials (which is saying something), and Gram demonstrates just how easy it is to blow this argument out of the water. Thanks for that.

Here’s the full interview, with the relevant bits found between 1:20:00 – 1:25:00.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 

If you have an opinion about TCI, they are asking for public input. Make your voice heard HERE.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

forbes morrell January 7, 2020 at 3:28 am

This proposed “TCI”, code name for additional taxes on gasoline,diesel fuel, home heating oil, propane/nat gas et. will break the backs of most of Vermonters ! It is the “Trogan Horse of our time. Of all the problems facing Vermont, this could top them all and bring havoc upon it`s citizens . Call your legislator and let them know just how you feel on this crippling legislative proposal, if it even makes it that far !


William Hays January 12, 2020 at 4:44 pm

Isn’t that a “Trojan” horse? Does one “bring” havoc? I always thought it was “wreaked”. Will check that out… TCI = ‘Tax Complacent Individuals’.


James Stuart January 7, 2020 at 11:50 am

These people in Montpelier need to think about what is good for the residents of this state. The carbon tax is not one of them. They need to learn that fixing a problem is just not raising taxes. If the resolution passes the money will be wasted and not used for it’s original intent. I don’t think the legislature will be happy unr=til they bankrupt us all


Linus Leavens January 7, 2020 at 11:51 am

The monetization of carbon is driven by wealthy elites who have pre-positioned their investments in carbon trading & carbon sequestration, railroads, & natural gas. Non-profits, NGO’s, Trusts, & Foundations use “philanthropy” to secure political clout through campaign donations, & public policy through advocacy groups. There is no better example of how unelected non-profits inculcate public policy to forward top-down agendas than the pseudo-governmental VT Council on Rural Development. “Neutral convener” …seriously? Their “Climate Economy Summit” is the textbook example. The next assault on taxpayers is going to come from another NGO, the Transportation & Climate Initiative. TCI’s core funding comes from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which is directly behind TCI, RGGI, in fact all the anti-carbon policy we are seeing in Vermont. The carbon tax is economic death for the working people of Vermont. Instead, we need to clear out the leeches who hold public office for self- emolument, & tax the “philanthropic” foundations into the stone age.


Jim Fitzgerald January 9, 2020 at 2:24 pm

This is a tax period, call it anything you wish. The problem with this is Vermonters don’t have a severe carbon tax like lets say California. People who are pushing this in the Vermont legislature know better than to call it what it really is.


Doug January 11, 2020 at 1:12 pm

Let’s see? If TCI is NOT a tax, because the $pending will benefit Vermonters………

Then that must mean that other things called “taxes,” do NOT benefit Vermonters, those $$$$,$$$,$$$ are just thrown out the window, to pay more bureaucrats to figure out how to waste those $dollars.


William Hays January 12, 2020 at 5:15 pm

Alas, Rep. Killacky is the epitome of a P-NG (Pencil-Necked Geek), but he, at least, “tells it like it is” with his “D-S” sobreiquet, ILO Bernie’s posing as an “I” (Independent).


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