From the Burlington Free Press
May 15, 2013 – Written by Aki Soga, Free Press Editorial Page Editor
Lawmakers can claim quite a list of accomplishments for the just-ended legislative session, including the passages of a few highly controversial measures.
The Legislature sent to the governor bills that would allow physician-assisted suicide, decriminalized marijuana, migrant farmworkers to obtain driving privileges even if they couldn’t prove they were in the country legally, and that would expand the free school lunch program to all children from low-income families.
The governor also signed into law changes to the equal pay act that protects workers who seek a flexible working schedule or ask co-workers about their pay. In fact, the list of headline bills passed by lawmakers gives the session a decidedly progressive cast — if you overlook the budget and tax measures. Continue reading
From the Rutland Herald/Barre-Montpelier Times Argus
May 12, 2013
As the legislative session headed into its final days and hours, the Legislature was poised to pass a tax reform plan that could benefit the majority of Vermont taxpayers. Oddly, Gov. Peter Shumlin continued to stand in the way even though legislative leaders had devised a way to make the tax package revenue-neutral.
Tax reform became possible after stronger-than-expected revenues eliminated the need for the Legislature to pass tax increases. They had already passed an increase in the gas tax, made necessary by the decline in gas consumption. In order to balance the budget, legislators had turned to a variety of taxes on other goods and services, including bottled water, satellite TV and restaurant meals.
But a rumble of complaints from across the countryside had started to make Democrats nervous. After revenue showed unanticipated strength, the Democrats were happy to back away from the new taxes and the inevitable criticism that would have been theirs. Continue reading
Full article at Vermont Digger
by Anne Galloway | May 14, 2013
The final budget deal was set on Monday after 10 days of negotiations between House and Senate leaders.
The chairs of the two Appropriations committees pieced together $10 million in savings as part of an agreement with the Shumlin administration. Legislative leaders agreed to rescrub the budget in lieu of raising new General Fund taxes.
A new revenue report in April that projects a $16 million surplus for fiscal year 2013 helped to ease that budget reduction process. House leaders were insistent that lawmakers leave the session with $9 million in cash reserves in order to prepare for anticipated federal cuts next year; the surplus enabled them to set aside $8 million without having to raise revenues. Continue reading
May 10 – From WCAX
WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-
MONTPELIER, Vt. –
Disagreements between the Shumlin administration and Vt. lawmakers Friday, despite last week’s agreement not to raise new taxes. And it means work at the Statehouse will spill into next week.
The Senate, the House and the governor still remained at loggerheads Friday evening, with no agreement. In fact, that Saturday adjournment they’ve been targeting for some months now is out the window. Legislators will come back Monday and Tuesday, and they say they still might not reach a tax agreement. That might fall and this year’s current policy may simply continue. Continue reading
Full article at the Burlington Free Press
May 8 – Written by NANCY REMSEN, Free Press Staff Writer
MONTPELIER — Financial advisors to the Legislature and the governor presented House and Senate budget negotiators with $6.2 million in savings – two-thirds of the $10 million goal set in the tax avoidance agreement Gov. Peter Shumlin and legislative leaders announced Tuesday.
Negotiators had yet to accept any of the six options, but that could come as soon as today. Continue reading
Full article at the Burlington Free Press
May 7, 2013 – Nancy Remsen, Free Press Staff Writer
MONTPELIER — Throughout the lunch hour, while the smell of barbecue wafted up the Statehouse staircase, the governor’s legislative liaison escorted a parade of senators to meetings behind closed doors with Gov. Peter Shumlin.
The senators all sit on the Senate Finance Committee — the panel charged with writing tax legislation.
Most had no comment when they came out, except for Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Windham, who said, “It was like the one meeting I had with the governor where I agreed with him.”
Agreement was the magic word of the day, it turned out. Continue reading
From the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus
The Legislature has done a good job so far smoothing the rough edges of proposals emanating from the Shumlin administration and injecting common sense where the administration fell short.
One of the surprising stories of the present legislative session has been the failure of Gov. Peter Shumlin to accurately read either the times we are living in or the thinking of the Legislature.
As the week drew to a close the Senate was putting finishing touches on its version of welfare reform. Shumlin had pushed a bill imposing a five-year cap on benefits received by jobless people, and the House had modified his proposal, keeping the cap but making it less cumbersome. The Senate modified the bill further, pushing back its effective date by a year, among other changes. Continue reading
by Alicia Freese | April 29, 2013
Full article at Vermont Digger
The Senate Appropriations Committee has settled on a five-year time limit for Reach Up, the state’s family welfare program. As part of the budget bill it passed this afternoon, the committee finalized its adaptation of the administration’s welfare reform plan. Continue reading
by Alicia Freese | April 23, 2013
Full Article at Vermont Digger
Issue ads tend to ebb in between elections, but a nonpartisan nonprofit is reviving the airwave discourse with a radio ad opposing Gov. Peter Shumlin’s proposal to gut the Earned Income Tax Credit. Shumlin’s proposal would take a large chunk of the state portion of the EITC, which benefits low-income working people, and use it to expand the state’s child-care subsidy program.
Public Assets Institute doesn’t normally partake in political skirmishes — in fact, this is the first time it’s weighed in on Vermont’s airwaves.
Public Assets’ ad hit six radio stations Friday with the intention of reaching as much of the state as possible. It was scheduled to end on Tuesday, though executive director Paul Cillo says they may decide to extend its run. Continue reading
From Vermont Digger
April 22, 2013
Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, who lives in Williston.
Although it took me awhile to find Vermont and settle down here, I am glad that Vermont is my home. I am proud to live in a place where people care about each other and believe that everyone has something to contribute to the community. I am also proud of the business that we built here in Vermont, and I appreciate the lessons I have learned as our business has grown.
One thing that I have learned is that you have to make smart investments in people if you want a strong community and successful community members. Ben & Jerry’s has a commitment to paying our workers a livable wage and paying our suppliers a premium price for high-quality ingredients. We don’t do this only to make awesome ice cream, but also to ensure that the people who work with us have good lives and can reach their full potential. Continue reading