Archive - Jan 31, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
EAST MIDDLEBURY — Serena Eddy Moulton has fond memories of frolicking with other children in the huge yard at the Middlebury Cooperative Nursery School (MCNS) off East Main Street.
She would return to the MCNS in East Middlebury a few decades later as an adult to make some new memories, tending to the yard in which she once played while watching her own children learn and recreate there.
“One of the things that I loved most is you could invest time in the school in exchange for a reduction in tuition,” said Eddy Moulton, who served a stint as “director of maintenance” at the parent-run MCNS. “It was a completely worthwhile investment.”
Parents made such investments in the MCNS for more than 75 years, making it one of the longest running cooperative nursery schools in the state.
January 31, 2008
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
MIDDLEBURY — A change in a tax on Vermont hospitals included in Gov. James Douglas’ fiscal year 2009 budget proposal could result in a $550,000 hit to Porter Hospital.
As a result of the tax change in the Douglas budget released last week Vermont hospitals fear they will have to raise fees and they won’t be able to fund care for low-income Vermonters or a statewide effort to use electronic medical records more widely.
The health care provider tax is collected by the state of Vermont, which in recent years paid an equivalent amount back to hospitals in federal Medicaid money. That repayment was based the need of the community that the hospital served. But there is a limit to the Medicaid match, and in 2009 the health care provider tax would exceed that limit by $16 million.
For a number of years, the state of Vermont has set the health care provider tax rate no higher than the amount that could be paid back to hospitals in Medicaid, according to Mike Del Trecco, vice president of finances for the Vermont Association of Hospital and Health Systems (VAHHS).
“If (hospitals around the state) have $70 million in taxes, the state has always promised to pay back at least $70 million,” he said.
However, the Douglas administration’s proposed budget for the 2009 fiscal year sets the provider tax at the maximum level of 5.5 percent of total revenue, Del Trecco said, which is projected to raise $71,176,974. With the maximum allowed reimbursement of $55,176,974, that leaves hospitals left making up $16 million.
The VAHHS is requesting that the rate be reduced to 3 percent.
January 31, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
MONTPELIER — State Rep. Michael Fisher, D-Lincoln, on Tuesday filed legislation challenging the federal government’s ongoing authority to call up National Guard troops to serve in Iraq, while urging Gov. James Douglas to bring home Vermont Guard soldiers now serving in that part of the Middle East.
Fisher discussed his bill with the Addison Independent on Monday and reiterated his plans at a news conference in Montpelier on Tuesday. Surrounded by Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, D-Putney, and a dozen other lawmakers, Fisher argued that the 2002 federal authorization to call up the state National Guard had expired.
He added he believes the authority granted by the Congress to use military force was based on two specific purposes: to defend the national security based on a perceived threat from Iraq; and to enforce relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions against Iraq.
Fisher argued that Iraq no longer poses a direct threat to the U.S., given the fact that Saddam Hussein is now out of the picture and a new government has been elected. He added the changed conditions in Iraq mean that enforcing U.N. Security Council resolutions has now become a moot point.
“Congress gave the authority in 2002 for a specific mission in Iraq,” Fisher said. “That mission does not exist today.”
All of this means that Congress must authorize a new mission in order to legally keep National Guard troops in Iraq, or control of those Guard troops must revert back to state control, according to Fisher.
Since Fisher believes control has legally reverted back to the state, he is calling upon Douglas, in his role as chief of the Vermont National Guard, to “take all necessary steps” to bring Vermont Guard troops back from Iraq.