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Education reform effort moves to the Vermont Senate

Posted on April 9, 2015 |
By John Flowers



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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:

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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



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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.

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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.

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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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Educators say small school subsidies have a place in Vermont

Posted on March 26, 2015 |
By Lee J. Kahrs



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ADDISON AND RUTLAND COUNTIES — As the Vermont Senate Education Committee continues its work on an education funding reform bill this week, small schools are once again under scrutiny as lawmakers consider the proposition that school and district consolidation equals cost savings.

Now, a new report names specific small schools in Addison and Rutland counties as examples of what’s wrong with Vermont’s school districting system.

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Shap Smith: Health care reforms a top priority

Posted on March 19, 2015 |
By John Flowers



Smith says health care reform a top priority.jpg

MIDDLEBURY — Education finance reform and the estimated $112 million revenue shortfall continue to get the most attention in Montpelier, but Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith said he and his colleagues are committed to passing health care reforms aimed at closing the cost-shift in Medicaid funding and recruiting more primary care physicians to the state.

Smith was speaking on health care issues at Porter Medical Center’s annual meeting on Monday at Middlebury College’s McCardell Bicentennial Hall.

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State budget deficit: How deep should cuts be?

Posted on March 19, 2015 |
By John Flowers



BRISTOL — Citizens who attended the weekly Legislative Breakfast on Monday heard from lawmakers about their struggle with the fiscal year 2016 general fund budget, which is facing a projected $112 million revenue shortfall.

Among the proposed cuts under consideration to shore up the budget are two of the Vermont Department of Public Safety’s four Public Service Answering Points (PSAPs) — better known as E-911 dispatching centers — in Derby and Rutland.

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Eric Davis: Dems' 2016 hopes ride on education bill

Posted on March 19, 2015 |
By Eric L. Davis



Several legislative committees have been working on bills to change Vermont’s system of K-12 education finance and governance. The package is likely to come up for a vote on the House floor soon. While the final shape of the legislation is yet to be determined, the political consequences of the issue have become clearer in recent weeks.

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