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Senate Denies Tax Rebate For Elderly And Disabled

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Tennessee Watson
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A bill to address the financial challenges faced by poor Wyomingites who are elderly or totally disabled did not make it out of this year's legislative session.

House Bill 127 would have restored a decades-old program that provided a small tax rebate to qualified applicants. A budget compromise did restore $625,000 to the program, but not the $2.3 million the bill was requesting.

Kim Deti with the Wyoming Department of Health said in the final years of the program over 6,000 elderly and disabled people received an average rebate of $600 from the program.

"It was really intended to be a little help for people who might have had trouble paying their taxes," said Deti. "And in Wyoming, you're mostly talking sales and property taxes, as well as utility costs. It was just a little help."

Deti said the department ended the program in 2015 following a $90 million budget reduction.

"So a lot of decisions that were tough to make had to be made," said Deti. "What we did try to do was focus on things that were essential to our ongoing health-related mission."

Now that the state is on more stable financial footing, the House tried to restore half the funding, but the Senate killed the bill.

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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