Governor Tom Vilsack’s threatening to veto a utility sales tax break Republicans propose if it’s not paired with a 20-million dollar plan to provide heating bill assistance to low-income Iowans. The 20-million would come from a one-year extension of a tax many Iowans have paid for years on their natural gas bills. Most are charged two bucks a month and it’s used to pay for energy efficiency projects and heating assistance.Vilsack says the G-O-P sales tax cut amounts to about five bucks per household, which he says is of little help to Iowa’s neediest citizens.Vilsack invited 69-year-old Cecil Calvert of Des Moines to tell about his circumstances. Calvert’s monthly income is eight hundred dollars, and nearly half goes to pay the mortgage.Calvert says he and other poor Iowans wear used clothing and take other cost-cutting measures to try to get buy.Republican legislators say they’re trying to find money, somewhere, to help low-income Iowans pay their skyrocketing heating bills. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says he’s not sure 20-million is the G-O-P’s target.Rants doesn’t favor extending the two-dollar-per month tax paid by Iowans who are natural gas customers. He says it taxes people already hit by higher prices, and it singles out some Iowans for the tax.The House Ways and Means tax-writing committee is debating the issue this afternoon.
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