By HOUSE MINORITY LEADER DON TURNER (R-Chittenden-10)
A little past 11 p.m. on the dimly lit floor of the House of Representatives last Wednesday night, a vote of 74-73 was cast to pass an amendment offered by Rep. Scott Beck of St. Johnsbury and others to put Gov. Phil Scott’s plan for property tax relief into law. I had been counting the votes and actually thought we had finally won a vote on a significant piece of legislation. Moments later, after conferring on the rules, the Speaker cast a vote with special interest groups, ultimately removing up to $26 million in initial savings and eliminating the possibility of negotiating teachers’ health care at the state level from Vermonters’ pockets.
While Vermont taxpayers may have lost that battle, I remain confident they will win in the end. I continue to fight for them, and here is why:
First, the vote made it apparent who is interested in putting Vermonters first. Our caucus was able to work with many of our colleagues in the building to build broad support for this common sense proposal. Besides the 52 Republicans who supported the amendment, this plan had the support of six of the body’s seven independents and 16 Democrats; 74 representatives came together to put Vermont taxpayers above the special interests of the Vermont NEA. I believe good government starts when all members serve their constituents and not special interest groups.
Second, it showed we can still do this. Gov. Scott has continued to demonstrate his commitment to Vermonters and the need to make Vermont more affordable. Last Wednesday night, we showed him the majority of the members of the Vermont House of Representatives agree with him and will back him to ensure that this change happens this year.
Third, Vermonters for years have said loudly and clearly that they want property tax relief. Finally, a majority of the members of the House of Representatives heard you! Vermonters want us, their elected representatives, to fight for them to reduce their tax burden. We are doing our best to deliver that to Vermonters, but we need you to remain engaged in this debate.
I am very encouraged by the vote on Wednesday night, and when the House gets another opportunity to vote on this proposal I am are confident Vermonters will win! As leader of our caucus, I will continue to work with anyone committed to making Vermont affordable, push for strategic investments that grow the economy and protect the most vulnerable.
I look forward to representing you and your concerns in Montpelier. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I can be reached at the State House by calling 1-800-322-5616 or by cell at 373-5960. My email address is email@example.com. Thank you, and have a great week.
By SEN. CAROLYN BRANAGAN
Many readers will remember that the month of April is an important indicator of economic health for the entire fiscal year. Tax receipts are due, and it is the first month of the fourth quarter. This year was particularly important.
Revenue figures for April were disappointing. The general fund revenues collected for the month totaled $201 million, which is $22 million (9.7 percent) below expectation. Reasons for this shortfall vary, but an important one is that the personal income tax was $25 million below what was expected. The corporate tax for April was above expectations by nearly $4 million, but rooms and meals tax receipts and sales and use tax receipts were both flat. Overall, the general fund is below target for the year by $3.5 million.
Transportation fund revenue for April was $1.47 million below target, and education fund revenue was $1.22 million below target.
Our governor is exactly right in his cautions to the legislature to avoid new spending and avoid creating new programs. Revenue is way below expectations. We should never make plans to spend more than we have coming in. It seems to me that a revenue downgrade will need to be discussed by the Joint Fiscal Committee in July.
For more information on this or on any issue concerning state government, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to hear from you.