Free Press: On budget and taxes, ‘agreement’ is the word of the day

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.

Just before 2 p.m., Shumlin, House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morristown, Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Windsor, and a slew of lawmakers formed a shoulder-to-shoulder arc in the governor’s ceremonial office to announce a deal on the tax bill, a measure that had until that moment the most potential to create a roadblock in the march to adjournment this week.

“We have come to an agreement on revenues and the budget that will allow us to leave this session without raising additional taxes,” a smiling governor announced. The House and Senate budget negotiators would be tasked with finding and agreeing on about $10 million in additional savings, Shumlin added.

The deal means that except for the increases in the gasoline and diesel taxes that already have become law, the Legislature would drop further consideration of a long list of taxes the House and Senate assembled to supplement projected revenues next year.