March 3, 2013
There is a plethora of information available to you from the state government to help you understand many of the issues facing us this year in Montpelier. First, here’s a link to Rep. Rebecca Ellis’s and my Town Meeting Report.
For a midsession report on the status of our efforts to move to the federally mandated health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act, click here. And here’s a link for even more information on the work of the House Health Care Committee.
For an opportunity to purchase a print of Sarah Lee Terrat’s painting “Washington County Crossing Main Street,” which was displayed in the State House in January, visit this link at the VT Strong website. Twenty percent of the proceeds will benefit the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund.
For our Joint Fiscal Office’s compilation of the FY2014 proposed property tax rates, click here. I am still digesting the numbers, but it looks like each of our district’s towns have different outcomes in terms of the size of the increase in local rates.
The Washington West Supervisory Union website is a gateway to our local school systems in Washington County, and the Chittenden East Supervisory Union website will take you to information regarding Smilie and Brewster Pierce.
March 1, 2013
Here is a draft of our 2013 Town Meeting Report. It has been an auspicious beginning to the session, and this report is just a thumbnail sketch of the work we have been able to do thus far. We will be exceedingly busy in the week after our Town Meeting break, as we will reach our crossover date on the Friday after we return. This is the time when all House bills intended for the Senate must be passed out of committee and vice versa. Much of the information in this report reflects the House’s work on these issues. More work will be done in the Senate before it is returned to us and, perhaps, on to the Governor for his signature.
In other words, stay tuned.
If you do not see an issue you are interested addressed within, be assured that we will provide updates on all of them as the session moves along.
February 8, 2013
With the release of the Governor’s budget proposals, the Legislature has been parsing out the dichotomies found in policy choices and funding mechanisms. The Governor laid out some ambitious ideas, most of which are in line with his core principles, but suggested funding from sources that, quite frankly, cannot be cut without a negative impact on those folks who currently benefit from them, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. While the bulk of testimony surrounding money issues will be handled in the Appropriations and Ways & Means committees, the policy choices will be debated in the relevant committees. And that is where the fireworks will be found.
The Earned Income Tax Credit, for example, is, in the opinions of many, one of the most successful tools created in recent memory to help low income Vermonters climb out of poverty (and reliance on Reach Up or other government programs) by providing a credit to help them climb over the benefit cliff that exists between Reach Up and a newly found self-reliance. The credit is only giving to individuals who have found work, and work that falls under a certain level. This credit is both state and federal, and the Governor’s proposal is to cut the state contribution by 75% percent (equalling 16% overall) and use those savings to fund increased child care subsidies for families in lower income brackets. The goal is laudable, but the funding mechanism, on the face of it, seems to penalize the folks who need it most — those just getting their heads above water. The House Human Services committee is investigating exactly who will benefit and who will not in the coming weeks and make recommendations to the Appropriations and Ways & Means committees. Read more