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Northeast boaters say taxes will sink industry

Boating season hasn't begun yet, and Mason's Island Marina owner Eileen Morehouse already has felt the ill effects of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed increases to marine-related taxes - a move that industry veterans claim will repeat mistakes that proved economically devastating.

A customer recently told Morehouse she was moving her sailboat and Boston Whaler from the Mystic marina to neighboring Rhode Island, about 15 minutes away.

"She's afraid that so many people are going to be running to Rhode Island," said Morehouse, who has customers from as far away as Pennsylvania.

States across the U.S. are embracing increasingly creative ways to bail out budgets mired by years of sinking revenue. But in New England, where boating traditions date back centuries, marine business owners say talk of taxing boaters will cripple an already-struggling industry and send boaters looking for better harbors in lower-tax states.

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Meanwhile, a Texas lawmaker is floating the idea of a tax break for yachts, saying the state needs such incentives to keep up with Florida.

"We're losing our yacht sales in Texas to Florida," Republican Rep. John Davis, whose House Bill 2187 first caught the eye of the Texas Observer and has since been discussed on Sean Hannity's website, told the San Antonio Express News.

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