Budget and Spending

Budget and spending issues.

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House GOP seeks shorter session, narrow focus on fiscal issues

Rep. Linda Myers, R-Essex Jct., leaves the podium after speaking at a House GOP news conference highlighting the caucus' electoral and legislative goals. (Times Argus/Stefan  Hard)

MONTPELIER — Vermont House Republicans say they are gunning for a substantial pick up of seats and will be pursuing a two-year state budget process and a complete focus on fiscal issues rather than new policies. More than two dozen House Republicans and Republican candidates gathered for a State House news conference Tuesday to highlight their goals for the upcoming general election and legislative biennium. House Minority Leader Don Turner, of Milton, said he hopes to lead the House in a new direction after the election. “It’s time for a new direction and a new way of thinking in Vermont. I want to lead that change in the House and I want to be looking for support from all the Republican colleagues, across party lines — independents and Democrats — because I believe that we cannot sustain this pace of heavy spending and recklessly taxing Vermonters to no end,” Turner told reporters. Continue Reading →

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Scott rolls back proposed capital gains tax cut

(Courtesy photo)

MONTPELIER — Republican gubernatorial nominee Phil Scott is scaling back a proposal to cut taxes on capitals gains in the economic plan he rolled out two weeks ago after it was based on incorrect information. Scott, the incumbent lieutenant governor, distributed a glossy pamphlet at a news conference in Colchester on Sept. 15 that included a number of proposals he intends to enact as governor. Included in the pamphlet was a plan to restore a 40 percent exclusion on capital gains earnings that was reduced in 2009. But Scott spokesman Ethan Latour said the campaign made a mistake when crafting the proposal and based it on wrong information. Continue Reading →

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Merger of Johnson, Lyndon State Colleges approved


MONTPELIER — The Vermont State Colleges System Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday to merge Johnson and Lyndon State Colleges into a single institution with separate campuses. Thursday’s vote followed preliminary approval from the board in July. Officials say merging the two colleges will expand opportunities for students and improve finances within the state college system. “Unification will create new academic and experiential opportunities for students, a bigger and more diverse faculty environment, advantages for recruiting new students and a significantly strengthened financial foundation,” VSCS Chancellor Jeb Spaulding told the board. “They are pivotal institutions in their regions and they are beloved by their alumni, faculty, staff and current students. Continue Reading →

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Minter outlines tax policy


MONTPELIER — Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter says she will seek tax fairness as governor and look to lower the burden on low- and middle-income Vermonters by closing loopholes enjoyed by the wealthy and corporations. According to Minter, the tax policies she will propose as governor may incorporate some elements of the Blue Ribbon Tax Structure Commission report released in 2011. The report, which was shelved by policymakers in Montpelier, recommended expanding the sales tax to “all consumer-purchased services with limited exceptions for certain health and education services and business to business service transactions.”

Minter expressed an interest in dusting off the commission’s report during a WDEV radio debate on Sept. 14, saying she would look at expanding the base of the sales tax to include services. Her Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and the Vermont Republican Party pounced, announcing to Vermonters in a coordinated effort that Minter wants to tax hair cuts, among other services that Vermonters pay for. Continue Reading →

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Story + Podcast: Shumlin narrows focus in final months

Gov. Peter Shumlin

Listen: Capital Beat Podcast with Gov. Peter Shumlin

MONTPELIER — With just three months left in office, Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin says he plans to push hard to complete a handful of projects before his successor is sworn into office in early January — including an overhaul of how the state pays for health care services. Shumlin, who is not seeking re-election after his third term expires, reflected in an interview about his time in office and pledged to continue his work until his final day as governor. “This is the best job that anyone can ask for, being governor of Vermont. It’s been an extraordinary privilege. One thing that governors do every day is focus on what they were elected to do, which is to grow prosperity, grow jobs, make sure our state remains the best place to live and work and raise a family. Continue Reading →

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Scott releases economic plan, seeks tax cuts and credits

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, the Republican nominee for governor, discusses his economic plan at Firetech Sprinkler in Colchester. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

COLCHESTER — Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, the Republican nominee for governor, released an economic plan Thursday that he says will focus on major fiscal issues and lead to a more vibrant economy. Scott, who co-owns Dubois Construction with a cousin, released the plan at a news conference at Firetech Sprinkler, saying it will lead to job creation and help lift wages for Vermonters. He chose to hold the press conference Thursday morning rather than attend a debate hosted by WDEV radio at the Tunbridge World’s Fair with his Democratic opponent, Sue Minter. “As a small business owner myself, I put my faith in the skills, work ethic and ingenuity of working Vermonters every single day. That’s why Vermonters can count on me to lead a state government that leverages our talented work force and our commitment to hard work and innovation,” he said. Continue Reading →

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Economists: state revenues to grow less than expected

Economists Tom Kavet, right, and Jeff Carr, left, present a new revenue forecast to the Emergency Board on Thursday, July 21. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Economists for the Shumlin administration and Legislature issued a revised state revenue forecast for the current fiscal year Thursday that projects a total of $28 million less in revenue, but growth over the 2016 fiscal revenues. Tom Kavet and Jeff Carr, consulting economists for the administration and lawmakers, issued their revised revenue forecast Thursday to the state’s Emergency Board, which includes the governor and the four chairs of the Legislature’s money committees. Revenue for the state’s general fund was lowered by $21 million, while revenues for the transportation and education funds were lowered by $3.5 million and $3.4 million, respectively. Still, revenues are expected to grow above the 2016 fiscal year, which closed on June 30, both Kavet and Carr said. “The upturn continues, that’s the good news,” Carr told the Emergency Board. Continue Reading →

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Revenue downgrade expected Thursday


MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration is expecting economists to issue a downgraded revenue forecast this week, continuing a trend of lackluster revenue growth in recent years. The state’s Emergency Board — comprising the governor and the heads of Legislature’s four money committees — will gather Thursday to receive a new consensus forecast. The updated revenue prediction is not expected to be good news. Administration Secretary Justin Johnson said the administration expects Tom Kavet and Jeff Carr, consulting economists for the administration and lawmakers, to predict lower revenues for the 2017 fiscal year than they first forecast in January. The revenue forecast accepted by the Emergency Board in January already included a $9.1 million downgrade for 2017. Continue Reading →

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VSEA prevails with the Vermont Labor Relations Board


MONTPELIER — The Vermont Labor Relations Board ruled in a split decision Tuesday in favor of the Vermont State Employees Association in its contract dispute with the Shumlin administration. Both parties agreed to seek a two-year labor contract to succeed the current deal that is set to expire on June 30. The two sides had difficulty agreeing to terms, however, and reached in impasse. A deal was still elusive after mediation efforts, resulting in the appointment of a mutually agreed upon fact finder who held two hearings in January. Both sides submitted their last best offers to the Vermont Labor Relations Board last month and it was tasked with choosing between them. Continue Reading →

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State and VSEA send labor contract dispute to the Labor Relations Board

Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson

MONTPELIER — A labor contract dispute between the Vermont State Employees Association and the state is now before the Vermont Labor Relations Board, which will hold a hearing early next month on the ongoing disagreement. Both parties have agreed to seek a two-year labor contract to succeed the current deal set to expire on June 30. But coming to terms on the finer details of deal has been elusive. After reaching an impasse in negotiations, both sides agreed to mediation, but still did not find agreement. A fact finder was appointed and held two hearings in January. Continue Reading →

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