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Posts from the ‘Waterbury’ Category

When Others Say it Better Than You Can Part 2

June 20, 2017

reptomstevens

This opinion piece was written by Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson and published around the state. It is a straightforward and honest description of the dilemma we are facing as a Legislature and a state — how do you react to a situation where you are faced with a negotiation over something less than tangential to what you are negotiating over, and when the opposition, in this case Governor Scott, refuse to negotiate in good faith? It is easy to call this “spin,” especially if you don’t agree with it, but in this case, it speaks to the truth. The Vermont Legislature, and Democrats/Progressives in general, passed a budget that raised no taxes or fees, and an education tax yield bill that lowered the statewide property tax rate. This is fact. The Governor’s initial budget proposal would have required a substantial rise in the statewide property tax, and his desire in these negotiations is to take savings negotiated by local school boards for statewide purposes. We fundamentally disagree.

When your state representatives were sworn in January 4th, each pledged faithful, honest service to the people and constitution of Vermont. In my opening remarks as Speaker of the House, I asked them to do this by evaluating and prioritizing our state’s needs to support the long-term health and wellness of our state. Given the vast uncertainty at the national level, and your voices at the local level, your legislators crafted a budget that carefully balances Vermont’s diverse, sometimes competing requests. We worked across political aisles to find budget reductions. Together we invested in housing, higher education, water quality, economic development, childcare and mental health. We put more money into the education fund to reduce pressure on your property taxes and raised NO taxes and fees. We spent less than the projected revenues, building savings that will mitigate uncertainty in federal funds. Read more

2017 Town Meeting Report

March 3, 2017

reptomstevens

screen-shot-2017-03-03-at-10-34-50-amHere is a link to a PDF of our 2017 Town Meeting Report. Rep. Theresa Wood and I are sharing our initial thoughts on the new session with this report. Please feel free to contact us with questions at anytime.

Housing That is Affordable Matters

March 25, 2016

reptomstevens

Luna Moth

Creating housing that is affordable is expensive. That paradox paralyzes everyone who can identify the need for affordable housing and housing that is affordable. If you are a private developer and building a new house or new rental units, the sweet financial spot you have to meet after purchase of land, infrastructure (especially water and septic), permitting, labor and construction loans, along with profit, is pretty high and can make that housing unaffordable for most Vermonters. If you are a nonprofit developer, you have the same costs and many, if not more, regulatory hurdles to overcome, but you have mechanisms that allow for outside investment, and that allow for rents that are affordable to Vermonters at the lower end of the economic spectrum.

The need for affordable housing, and housing that is affordable, is clear. Housing is a key component to economic development and growth in Vermont. Without housing, businesses will have a harder time choosing to locate here, or to grow here. Without housing, working Vermonters will not be able to afford to rent or buy a home, so they can live and raise a family in the community they choose. And, as this article from Pacific Standard illustrates, creating housing stability is one of the surest paths to a middle class life.

So what makes an apartment, or a home, affordable? By federal definition, the costs associated with your housing — rent, mortgage, insurance, taxes — will be affordable if they are less than 30% of your annual income. In Vermont, nearly 48% of renters are paying more than that, and are considered to be “cost burdened.” And just under 50% of those folks are paying over 50% of  their income for housing, and are considered “severely cost burdened.” For owners, our information shows that 33% are cost burdened, and just over a third of those are severely cost burdened. Read more