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Carbon tax, solar arrays spur debate

Posted on April 16, 2015 |
By John Flowers



WEYBRIDGE — At the legislative breakfast at the Congregational Church of Weybridge on Monday, lawmakers discussed the future of education reform in Vermont (see story, here).

Other discussion at Monday’s breakfast focused on:

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Community Forum: State faces revenue, not spending challenge

Posted on April 16, 2015 |
By Jack Hoffman



This week’s writer is Jack Hoffman, a policy analyst for the Public Assets Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit organization in Montpelier.

All we’ve heard from Montpelier this year, from the governor to legislative leaders, is that Vermont has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. A new analysis by the Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) shows this conventional wisdom is wrong.

The JFO data show state spending has gone down as a percentage of the economy over the last 10 years.

full story

Lawmakers: Health reform is on track, but new taxes loom

Posted on April 9, 2015 |
By John Flowers



SHOREHAM — “It’s been extraordinarily frustrating,” Rep. Diane Lanpher said of Vermont Health Connect’s track record to date. The Vergennes Democrat gave those remarks during a discussion with other local lawmakers of the state’s health care exchange at a Legislative Breakfast in Shoreham Monday morning.

“What started as really good policy at the federal level could not be rolled out in a way that … met where the policy was going,” Lanpher added.

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State budget passes key hurdle

Posted on April 9, 2015 |
By John Flowers



SHOREHAM — Local lawmakers at Monday’s Legislative Breakfast at the Shoreham Congregational Church shared details the fiscal year 2016 state budget of $1.46 billion.

Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, a member of the House Appropriations Committee explained what was a difficult process of closing a $113 million revenue shortfall. The committee ultimately recommended $52.8 million in long-term cuts, $23.8 million in one-time cuts and revenues, $35 million in new fees and taxes, and $1.7 million in earnings from renting prison beds to the federal government.

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Education reform effort moves to the Vermont Senate

Posted on April 9, 2015 |
By John Flowers



Sharpe2.jpg

SHOREHAM — The Education finance reform bill approved by the Vermont House last Thursday would accomplish three things, according to Rep. David Sharpe: set a statewide education property tax rate, cap school spending for three years and create larger school districts.

The Bristol Democrat, who chairs the House Education Committee, described the bill at a Legislative Breakfast in Shoreham on Monday, where local lawmakers also shared details of what has already been a busy April in the Statehouse.

Bill H.361, as described by Sharpe on Monday, would:

full story

Editorial: Senate can tweak H.361, but must keep ball rolling

Posted on April 9, 2015 |
By Angelo S. Lynn



As the Senate takes up the House passed education bill, H.361, the goal in the legislation is to take small steps toward progress, allow for local control and not threaten schools or communities with repercussions that cause undue hardship. The legislation does this, ironically, by being purposely imprecise. But it’s that imprecision that critics have attacked.

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Opinion: With this budget, everyone loses

Posted on April 8, 2015 |
By Ivan St. George



Let me get this straight: The House of Representatives and the Senate, dating back some six years and with support for the governor’s office in recent years, have consistently outspent income by a wide margin yet we are supposed to feel good about this year’s balancing act because all is well with the efforts to cut spending.

There is no victory in this budget.

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Farmers debate their role in Lake Champlain cleanup

Posted on April 2, 2015 |
By Zach Despart



AgLunch7360 .jpg

BRIDPORT — A bill before the Legislature that aims to clean up Lake Champlain was the hot topic of a Monday legislative luncheon that focused on agricultural issues.

Two members of the House of Representatives, Democrat David Sharpe of Bristol and Republican Harvey Smith of New Haven, were on hand at the Bridport Community Hall to hear residents’ concerns about the bill and other farming topics.

The bill, H.35, would limit municipal, commercial and agricultural sources of pollution into the Lake Champlain watershed.

full story

Eric Davis: Beverage tax would hurt the poor

Posted on April 2, 2015 |
By Eric Davis



Legislative committees are considering whether to impose a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. In my opinion, this tax will raise less revenue than its proponents expect and will adversely affect low-income households and small retailers.

Lawmakers are considering a beverage tax in order to increase payments to health care providers whose patients are covered by Medicaid. Because Medicaid payment rates are low, providers shift their costs to patients covered by employer and individual insurance policies.

full story

Legislative Review: House panel refines state budget

Posted on April 2, 2015 |
By Rep. Diane Lanpher



Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, is member of the House Appropriations Committee

The first day of spring produced a sighting missing since Jan. 28 — a balanced budget! “All in” truly is the theme this year. A great deal of heavy lifting by all committees achieved this goal.

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